George Simon opened George Simon Grocery in 1932 as a mobile business from the bed of his old Model T Ford pickup. When his business outgrew the truck, he opened a small grocery on Front Street. This was about the time three Conway grocery companies, M-K Wholesale, Clayton Wholesale and Plunkett & Jerrell Grocer, were struggling and Simon took over their business.
On October 1, 1936, the Log Cabin Democrat ran a small ad: “George Simon Grocery Now Open for Business as Successor to H.L. Clark. A complete line of fresh fruits and vegetables now on hand. Our stock of staple groceries will be replenished next week. Cash and carry.”
The next year, James R. Patton, owner of Patton’s Self-Service grocery on Oak Street for 11 years, sold his business to Simon. Simon’s brother Joe would manage the store on Oak Street.
In 1942, George’s brother, Frederick Peter “Fritz,” joined him in the business and over the years the small grocery prospered because of its reputation for quality meats and produce, reasonable prices and personal service.
The meat market was opened in 1942 with Louis Simon serving as the meat cutter at Simon’s for 28 years. In 1971, the meat department was remodeled to includes self-service meat selections, a new trend in shopping.
The bakery was added in 1946 when WWII veteran, Mr. Clois Blessing, started working out of the back of the store. His successor would be his assistant, Harold Kruse, who ran the bakery until his retirement in 1971. Ed Bradley would run the bakery until he opened his own shop, Ed’s Bakery, on East Oak Street.
Five times the store would be enlarged or remodeled with significant changes made in 1952 and 1965. In 1959, a paved parking area was provided. In 1965, George Simon, Jr. joined his father and uncle in the business.
In 1989, George Simon III decided to close the store and both he and Fritz retired.
The city of Conway purchased the Simon parking lot and turned it into a park. Simon Park on Front Street was named in honor of this family and their business that became an institution in downtown Conway.
Thanks to Nancy Breeden Mitchell who documented the Simon story for the Catholic Cabin. Beginning with the Spring 2020 issue of Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings, the Faulkner County Historical Society will be recounting the stories of Catholic families that were original settlers in the Conway area.
To see more Faulkner County artifacts, visit the Faulkner County Museum, its Facebook page or its website, www.faulknercounty museum.org. Help preserve our county’s history with your tax-deductible donation.