Word reached me the other day that Rife’s Market, in the Grandview neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, has closed. It was a five-aisle mom-and-pop grocery that would have been a throwback even 30 years ago. Fortunately, I photographed it in 2012 while it was still operating.


I was shooting Kodak Tri-X in my Pentax ME with a good old 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M lens. My goodness, could I ever shoot that combo happily for the rest of my life. I got some good, gritty shots of Rife’s. My friend Alice and I walked by midafternoon, and then again at dusk.


Curiosity took us inside. The butcher counter and produce section were right up front, filled with Ohio meats, fruits, and vegetables. Wandering the aisles for a minute, I found some Ohio-made potato chips. I love a good chip, so I bought a bag of each brand. One brand, Gold’n Krisp, was fried in lard. Oh lordy were they delicious.


I hear that Rife’s owners were ready to retire, but didn’t want the family store not to remain in the family, so they closed it. It’s got to be a ton of work to run such a store, for probably meager profit. But I imagine the family knew most of their customers by name. While I know not the first thing about the grocery business, and would probably stink at it, being part of a community’s fabric in that way appeals to me deeply.


How may stores like this could possibly remain around the country? Not enough, to be sure.


6 responses to “Goodbye Rife’s Market”

  1. ambaker49 Avatar

    Indeed, another piece of what made us “America”, has been lost.

    I’ve never been near Rife’s, but there was a “Rife’s” type of market in my childhood. Thank you for awakening that pleasant memory.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Something else makes America America now. Darned if I can figure out what it is sometimes. I’ll bet my teenage sons are hip deep in it. They probably won’t be able to articulate it until they’re middle aged like me though.

  2. Germanophile Avatar

    I’m from Traverse City, MI. We have Deerings market on 12th street. It’s been run by the same family for as long as most any of the natives can remember. They process deer in season, make the best jerky around and have a pretty good selection of wares for the meager space… 2 aisles!

    Down the street on Union is Maxbauer’s Meat Market. It too was a throwback 30 years ago. Unfortunately that indictment included wiring as much as layout and design. A fire in the smoke house shut them down for a few months. They have reopened with a wider variety of smoke house sausages (a german white with asparagus and white cheddar & lamb gyro sausage). It is still in the family, 4th generation butcher is in charge. And the store looks like one of those fancy places that is just wine and cheese but it still feels like the neighborhood grocer.

    The other family stores have expanded in the last 20 years to be competitive with the big box stores. There are artisanal bread and cheese shops, vintners and cider shops on every corner. It’s not like the old days to be sure. But I think sometimes we have over reached the hometown feel and become a farce of our own making.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Two aisles! That’s one small market.

      Here in Indianapolis, I know of (and visit from time to time) one old-fashioned butcher shop, Kincaid’s. It’s on Illinois St.

      I think the difference you’re putting your finger right on is that before, these shops went in to serve their neighborhoods; today, they go in to serve a demographic. It doesn’t feel as authentic.

  3. pesoto74 Avatar

    There were a lot of places like this around back when I was a kid in the 60’s. Seems like most of them were gone by the 80’s. The story of the owner wanting to retire and having no family that wanted to take over is a common one. Most of these stores usually were owned by somebody who was well thought of in the community. I can remember a few of these stores that I can’t think of without thinking of the owner. Definitely not something I do when I think of a place like Walmart. I remember reading a post about Bruce Williams store in Tuscola on Facebook the other day. Even though that store has been gone for decades there were more than 100 comments talking about what a great guy Bruce was. Like you, I have wondered about what things kids of today will have that bring up memories like that. Anyway the only old style grocery I know of around here is Thompson’s in Carmargo IL. Fortunately, it seems to still be doing well. http://saltofamerica.com/contents/displayArticle.aspx?3_41

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There was a five and dime in my neighborhood when I was a kid. They had a big stainless-steel soda fountain and a counter with maybe eight stools. Man, I lived there in the summer, drinking Green Rivers and having bean with bacon soup for lunch. The owner hung on as long as he could hoping to find a buyer to continue the business but he couldn’t, and closed around 2000 I think.

      We didn’t have any groceries like Rife’s; the closest was Cira’s, a seven-ish-aisle market four blocks away.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: