Historic Echo Park
Pioneer Market Memories
|A colorized photo of the old Pioneer Market building. Date unknown.
Pioneer Market, a neighborhood
fixture for more than 60 years, closed its doors on Sunday, August 1, 2004. The EPHS' earliest records of the market date
back to 1932, when it was listed in the city's phone directory as Kampmann's Pioneer Meat Market (located about half a block
east of the current location.) The current owners, the Leum family, have been affiliated with the market since 1947.
The current Pioneer Market building,
located on Sunset Boulevard between Echo Park and Logan avenues, was built in the mid-1980s. The building will be divided
in two sections containing a Walgreen's drug store and a second retailer.
Submit your Pioneer memory by clicking here. Include your full name. Please give the date or time period you are describing.
I lived in Echo Park from 1988 to 1996 & frequently shopped at the Pioneer Market. Great Hispanic food, very friendly
people, & much fun during holidays.But my strongest memory is from the 1992 riot following acquittal of the police involved
in the Rodney King beating. I thought for sure Echo Park (& the Pioneer) were too far away from the looting & burning.
But the first day of the rioting (4/29/1992), I couldn't get into the parking lot because the entrances were blocked by grocery
carts. And on the next day, National Guard troops stood guard all around the store. It was truly bizarre to see this
friendly neighborhood grocery store that I'd shopped at for years surrounded by obviously armed military officers.
Market is Gone but the Memories Remain
Although I no longer live in Echo Park, it will always hold a special place in my heart as well as Pioneer Market. I
remember going there when it was the old store located right on the corner. I still remember my parent’s excitement
when the new store opened up and how we went to check it out. I remember walking there to but anything from milk to
tortillas to sandwiches from the deli (they were so good).
Pioneer was like a place where you were bound to bump into a classmate, neighbor, friend, or even a teacher. When I
moved to West Covina, I’d make it a thing to go back when I was in the neighborhood and take advantage of the specials.
I even showed my kids where I used to live and where we used to shop for groceries.
I heard they would be closing it, it made me very sad, but things go on and the memories will forever remain in our hearts.
After School at Pioneer
I remember going shopping with my grandma, all
the time there and going
home with a bunch of bag and remember hating that because we lived
right on the top of Laveta
Terrace. This was 1987-93 I also remember
when I would go to school every morning (I went to Logan St. School)
stopping by to play those video games they had, and stopping by
after school and meeting my brother, so we can walk home
just recently found out that Pioneer Market had closed I now live in
Las Vegas, and it does not compares
to that old neighborhood that I
loved so mush for many years.
I used to go shopping with my father at the market in 1950. I was
9 years old and we would get eggs, milk, and butter. He would complain about the price of eggs and butter, but he would always
buy them. I remember a colorful neon top on a sign; I remember the store being on the corner of Echo Park and Sunset Blvd,
with the parking lot in the back.
A Unique, Old Fashion Style
My memories are not that far back because I am only 23 years old. Anyhow, I still would love to share them. I remember
when I was a little girl my Mom and I would go to Pioneer Market all the time. I would go with my Mom like in the 80’s
and she would never say no to me when I wanted a coloring book and crayons. They were located right in the entrance
near the liquor store.
Actually I remember getting in line at the liquor store when all the other registers had long lines, it was way much
Pioneer Market had a lot of detailed artwork all along above the walls. There was a cute little house with a cat outside
drinking water out of his bowl on the wall right above the deli section. It was so cute that I always appreciated it.
The market had a unique little old fashioned style to it. Most markets are very simple and aren’t as old as Pioneer
I made sure to take pictures of Pioneer Market before they closed down.
The "Weenermobile" Arrives
My memory of the Pioneer Market was
that my mother used to take me there around 4 a.m. to avoid the crowds. We would go down the isles and shop for canned goods
and we were able to take our time. Oddly, I recall the labels on the cans were very beautiful and colorful and have seen few
like them since. Names like "Glorietta", "Oregon", "Reese", "LeSuer", "Iris" come to mind. I also remember buying "White Rock"
soda, which had a little winged lady on a rock looking into a mountain stream. I believe it must have influenced my future
vocation, because today I am a graphic artist and product packaging designer.
Around 1963 or so, BIll Stulla of KHJ TV's "Engineer
Bill" show came to the store and I got to meet him again. I was on the show in 1957. The Oscar Meyer Weenermobile came to visit one Saturday as well.
clearly remember seeing a small building being built in the parking lot in front of the liquor store around 1964 or so. It
was the "Pioneer Chicken Take Out" building. The liquor store was a fun place for a kid, since it had a great magazine rack
and I could read the comics for free. The clerk knew me and it was okay. A great place.
--Chris Anderson, Palm Springs
The Family Business
My memories started with my mother taking my brother and I down to the store every week to
shop and go out to lunch with dad. For over forty years, my mother has gone down to The Pioneer on Fridays to meet my
father for lunch. They would walk across the street to Barragan's, where a table was waiting for them. In fact,
if for some reason they weren't able to go, mom would call Irma at the restaurant so they wouldn't hold the table.
Working there on week-ends got me spending money, working there full-time since
1984 got me a house. Pioneer was my home away from home. Until its closure, my kids would come visit me, and play
hid-and-seek in the warehouse. Our family was the people who worked with us.
Closing the store will always be one of the most difficult decisions my family will have ever
made. Life will go on, and the memories I take with me are the people who I saw on a daily basis.
Saturday Night Shopping
From 1969 to 1976, I used to go with my grandmother
grocery shopping every Saturday evening. When we were done, we would get a Yellow Cab that would park on Sunset, but not before
getting a box of chicken. My favorite item in the store was a box of detergent that had a towel inside.
Sharing Recipies & Memories
Circa 1965, I stood in one of the crowded
aisles in the old store, baffled by the wide range of canned chiles offered. Just then a shelf stocker came by and asked
what I was looking for and I told him I wanted to make chile rellenos but didn't know which chiles to use. A fellow Hispanic
shopper handed me the right can (Ortega whole) and explained how to make them,
step by step. Her recipe has worked perfectly for almost 40 years.
--Judith Hansen, Kensington Road
Tug of War
Well, the roof leaked every winter--but the saw dust on the floors helped to absorb it. Standing behind the huge pillars
to get to the cash register was always a challenge.
For a while they were searching all of the
handbags. My son once brought in a gadget from home. The employees had a pulling contest to get it away from my three-year-old
son to see if it was something he might be stealing ( it was a shoe brush).
The produce was the
greatest and I liked their cuts of meat.
I lived in the Silver Lake area, but my best friend, Linda Hersh, lived in Echo Park, and I used to visit
there all the time. This was around 1960 - 1966. I remember the "ramp". It skirted the meat section. I
also remember that they had great chicken. It was a long, long time ago, but I am sad to hear that the Pioneer Market
is coming to an end.
-- Gloria Collie (Saucedo)
Growing Up with Pioneer
My most favorite memory is how the meat section would get flooded with water after it rained. The meat area used to be in the back or was it considered the side entrance? There
would be tons of towels on the floor with many “Beware of water” signs.
I also remember how Millie, one of the original
cashiers, would get irate if you read the national Enquirer while standing in line and not pay for it. If you put it back
she would charge you for it. Everyone always commented on the beautiful diamond rings she wore. She would say it was her hard
work at Pioneer that helped her buy a girl’s best friend.
I used to love the way the alley way used to look during X-mas. It wasn't an alley. It just took this magical look of Christmas. If you didn't have enough money to pay
for the tree, the tree guy would take what you could pay and say hurry up get your tree and go. You'll never know how much
this meant to me and my family during those times that my family and I where growing up. I was a teenage mom trying to make
a living and Pioneer was the place where my money was rubber, it went a long way.
I remember seeing a young Mike Leum being told by Leum Sr. how important it was to make the
customer happy no matter what. Now as for those wavy floors, I miss em. In this store you could find matsoball and pictures
of Christ and Jewish candles and candles with the Virgen De Guadalupe. I will miss you Pioneer.
You where a part of my growing up and becoming an adult.
My son got his first job there at the age of 16. This is where he learned to use a white shirt with a tie. I know for a fact it was the work ethic he learned from his dad and the ability to use it at Pioneer that
has made him a success.