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Jacksonville History: Setzer's & Pic N' Save Drugs

Metro Jacksonville shares the history of the rise and fall of two major Jacksonville companies founded by Lithuanian immigrant and former Springfield resident, Benjamin Setzer: Setzer's Supermarkets and Pic N' Save Drugs.

Published October 12, 2012 in History      29 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

The story of Setzer's Supermarkets and Pic N' Save Drugs begins in 1910.  That year, Benjamin Setzer, a Lithuanian immigrant, arrive in the United States. Setzer, and other family members, came to Jacksonville as a result of his older brother's, Abraham, efforts to get out of Lithuania, which was then ruled by Nicholas II, "Czar of All The Russias."

After being in the ice business, Abraham and Bejamin Setzer established a lumber company called Setzer Brothers around 1918.  Their lumberyard was located at 438 Phelps Street, just northwest of the Old City Cemetery.  However, within three years, Abraham had become a peddler and Benjamin, a butcher in Springfield.


Setzer's Supermarkets

By 1921, Benjamin Setzer has relocated from the Eastside to Springfield, where he resided at 1516 Market Street.

At the time, he was employed as a butcher at a small Springfield market owned by Emmett and Wesley Peacock called Peacock Brothers.  Peacock Brothers was located in a two story mixed-use building on the northeast corner of 5th and Silver Streets. A year later, moved to an apartment above the store and took over operations, making the location the first Setzer's.


Setzer's general office and distribution center on North Liberty Street in Springfield.

By the end of the Great Depression, his store had expanded to become one of Jacksonville's early grocery chains, creating the need for a distribution hub. To facilitate the growing business, Setzer found a warehouse in the Springfield Warehouse District at 2301 Liberty Street in 1939.  It had been originally designed by famed Detroit industrialist architect, Albert Kahn, as a parts depot for the Chevrolet Motor Car Company.  At the end of World War II, this warehouse had grown to small for the company's needs so they relocated to 2323 Liberty Street, which was the location of the former Springfield Coal & Wood Company.  Here, the chain would establish its corporate offices and distribution center.  By the mid 1950's, Setzer's Supermarkets had expanded into a 40 unit chain, with stores across North and Central Florida.  In 1958, Benjamin Setzer sold his 40 unit chain to Food Fair Stores.  At the time, 15 stores were located in Jacksonville.


San Marco Square's Setzer's during the 1930s.  It later became a Pic N' Save.

Jacksonville's Setzer's Supermarket Locations in 1958

- 915 W Ashley Street
- 6754 Buffalo Avenue
- 901 Careville Road
- 425 Florida Avenue
- 1014 Forest Street
- 4128 Herschel Street
- 919 King Street
- 7926 Lem Turner Road
- 1253 Market Street
- 517 McDuff Avenue
- 3426 Pearl Street
- 1950 San Marco Boulevard
- 1305 Silver Street
- 12-21 E 7th Street
- 20 E 8th Street



Tallahassee's Setzer's during its mid 1950's grand opening.  This Setzer's anchored the first shopping center built in Florida's capitol city.

Food Fair was originally known as the "Reading Giant Quality Price Cutter" supermarket and was founded by Samuel N. Friedland in Harrisburg, PA during the late 1920s. By the end of the 1940's, the chain had become known as Food Fair.  After the purchase of Setzer's Supermarkets, Food Fair went on the acquire J.M. Fields Department Stores in 1961 and a small Philadelphia chain called Best Markets.  Best's private label brand was called Pantry Pride.  Eventually, the Pantry Pride logo became so popular, Food Fair converted the majority of its stores to the Pantry Pride banner.

By 1978, the 456-store, $2.7 billion company fell victim to financial problems.  The company emerged from bankruptcy by closing the JM Fields chain, closing several stores and changing its name to Pantry Pride Stores, Inc.  Between 1983 and 1984, the company sold their Jacksonville and Miami distribution centers to Supervalu, who in turn sold them to Winn-Dixie and Malone and Hyde.

Founder Samuel Friedland died in 1985 and the remaining Pantry Pride stores were sold to Gristedes Supermarkets of New York a year later.  That same year, Pantry Pride Stores, Inc. acquired New York-based Revlon Corporation, a cosmetics, skin care, fragrance, and personal care company, by hostile takeover. Now out of the grocery business, what was known as Food Fair and eventually Pantry Pride Stores, Inc., was rebranded as the Revlon Group. Although the last Pantry Pride store opened in 1991 in Sunny Isles, FL, all of the remaining Pantry Pride stores were either closed or sold by 2000.

Revlon operated a Jacksonville plant from 1979 to 2000, when the Colomer Group acquired Revlon Professional Products Worldwide.  Today, despite its U.S. headquarters being in New York, Jacksonville is the the firm's largest plant and hub for research and distribution.


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29 Comments

billy

October 12, 2012, 06:23:19 AM
I believe the family still owns Liberty Street warehouse.

gedo3

October 12, 2012, 07:50:54 AM
Such a shame!  Pic N' Save always had some really good buys (I still have a watch from there!), some very nice sales help--and the ones that had little restaurants in them often had some of the best desserts!  It would be interesting to have seen a Pic N' Save and a Walmart store in competition! 

thelakelander

October 12, 2012, 08:19:41 AM
I went through some of my MJ photo archives, in search of an image of the original Setzer's at 5th & Silver that was torn down around 2007/2008 for a condo project that was never built.  Couldn't find it but I did find a ton of images of isolated urban core buildings that have been demolished since 2003.  It's crazy and will deserve an article of its own.

fieldafm

October 12, 2012, 09:52:23 AM
You know you're a Jacksonville native when you give directions that end in '... Down near where the Pic N Save used to be'.  I do that a lot. 

finehoe

October 12, 2012, 09:52:49 AM
I didn't know that the Town & Country Pic N' Save was the first one.  Another great history article. 

duvaldude08

October 12, 2012, 10:07:26 AM
Pic N Save!! Whoot! Whoot! Whoot!!   ;D

duvaldude08

October 12, 2012, 10:08:38 AM
You know you're a Jacksonville native when you give directions that end in '... Down near where the Pic N Save used to be'.  I do that a lot.

Me too!!

duvaldude08

October 12, 2012, 10:26:44 AM
Spent so much time in Pic N Save as a child. 48th and main. I can remember going with 5.00 to buy my MC Hammer tapes (dont judge me)

Bike Jax

October 12, 2012, 10:28:48 AM
I worked for the Setzer's at the very Pic N' Save you have pictured above on Old Kings & Baymeadows in the late '70's. Despite being in high school and having a work permit to only work as minor one night a week till midnight. I worked 90 hours a week as a part time employee. I remember making jokes about when full time employees had time sleep. They where there when I got there and still there when I left. We referred to the place as Pic N' Slave.

Speaking of Slavery, I've never worked for a more openly racist company. It was openly known that black employees where only allowed to work in the cafeteria or as floor buffers. They where not ever allowed to be moved or promoted to stockers or check out. Even in the cafeteria, whites were the managers and ran the cash register.

Later after leaving Pic N' Save I took a summer job doing home construction. One of our projects that summer was to build and extension on a home at the beaches belonging to one of the Setzer's (I forget which one). One Friday as we were packing up for the weekend, one of the guys fell into the pool. He happened to be black. Hearing the noise and laughter from the crew Setzer came storming out and seeing what had happened and who had fallen into his pool, demanded that we stay, drain the pool and clean it. Seriously. I don't know the man who started business. But have I first hand knowledge that the later Setzer's were some most racist, bigoted people in this city. If we are going to remember history, lets remember it all, the good and the bad.

thelakelander

October 12, 2012, 10:41:25 AM
Spent so much time in Pic N Save as a child. 48th and main. I can remember going with 5.00 to buy my MC Hammer tapes (dont judge me)

Don't tell me you have a long lost pair of Hammer pants in your closet?

finehoe

October 12, 2012, 11:02:09 AM
Despite being in high school and having a work permit to only work as minor one night a week till midnight. I worked 90 hours a week as a part time employee.

That sounds like the kind of work environment that several MJ posters still support.

urbanlibertarian

October 12, 2012, 11:07:26 AM
It's interesting to me how the different phases of the history of this town are defined by commerce.  From minor seaport and river crossing of the King's Road to bigger seaport, ship builder and naval stores exporter to bigger seaport and tourist destination to ocean liner destination and railroad hub to banking and insurance center.

Also the racism BikeJax wrote about is not surprising to anyone who grew up around here.

duvaldude08

October 12, 2012, 11:43:16 AM
Spent so much time in Pic N Save as a child. 48th and main. I can remember going with 5.00 to buy my MC Hammer tapes (dont judge me)

Don't tell me you have a long lost pair of Hammer pants in your closet?



No. Actually, I bought a pair of those work out pants that resemble MC hammer pants thank you very much! And my last day of school in the 4th grade we cleared the desk, put on my tape and the entire class the the type writer! My 4th grade teacher was the coolest man! LOL

duvaldude08

October 12, 2012, 12:25:12 PM
I worked for the Setzer's at the very Pic N' Save you have pictured above on Old Kings & Baymeadows in the late '70's. Despite being in high school and having a work permit to only work as minor one night a week till midnight. I worked 90 hours a week as a part time employee. I remember making jokes about when full time employees had time sleep. They where there when I got there and still there when I left. We referred to the place as Pic N' Slave.

Speaking of Slavery, I've never worked for a more openly racist company. It was openly known that black employees where only allowed to work in the cafeteria or as floor buffers. They where not ever allowed to be moved or promoted to stockers or check out. Even in the cafeteria, whites were the managers and ran the cash register.

Later after leaving Pic N' Save I took a summer job doing home construction. One of our projects that summer was to build and extension on a home at the beaches belonging to one of the Setzer's (I forget which one). One Friday as we were packing up for the weekend, one of the guys fell into the pool. He happened to be black. Hearing the noise and laughter from the crew Setzer came storming out and seeing what had happened and who had fallen into his pool, demanded that we stay, drain the pool and clean it. Seriously. I don't know the man who started business. But have I first hand knowledge that the later Setzer's were some most racist, bigoted people in this city. If we are going to remember history, lets remember it all, the good and the bad.

Very true statement about the rascism. I have a white friend who is quite older than me (lol) and she said she was a cashier at Pic N Save and said that she could not believe the rasicism that existed. Times have really changed.

Coolyfett

October 12, 2012, 01:16:46 PM
You know you're a Jacksonville native when you give directions that end in '... Down near where the Pic N Save used to be'.  I do that a lot. 


ha ha that classic I used to do that all the time!! Moms used to go to the one on Blanding & the one on McDuff Ave...does anyone remember Premier Foods??? Back in day right there.

thelakelander

October 12, 2012, 02:43:17 PM
A few old Setzer's and Pic N' Save buildings still around.

517 South McDuff Avenue


1950 San Marco Blvd


919 King Street


4128 Herschel Street


Mike D

October 12, 2012, 09:28:43 PM
The Setzers in San Marco Square later became a Pic N' Save.  Seems like it was there well into the '90's, or at least the 1980's.  I always kind of liked Pic N' Save...you never knew what you were going to find and, as I recall, the food in their cafeteria/snack bars was pretty good.  However, I did not know about the racist tendencies of the place.  If that's the case, it's just as well their time has gone.

Bativac

October 14, 2012, 12:42:34 AM
The Setzers in San Marco Square later became a Pic N' Save.  Seems like it was there well into the '90's, or at least the 1980's.  I always kind of liked Pic N' Save...you never knew what you were going to find and, as I recall, the food in their cafeteria/snack bars was pretty good.

My dad worked there in the mid to late 70s. In later years, before Pic 'N' Save went away, dad would tell me horror stories about the terrible, disgusting conditions the food was kept in, and health inspectors being literally physically thrown out by Setzer. A shame the chain failed, in some regards, based on the neighborhoods they served... But all things considered, maybe it was time for them to die.

Coolyfett

October 14, 2012, 10:27:49 AM
Seems they got what was coming to them...Time always tells the story.

ben says

October 14, 2012, 10:33:03 AM
Does anyone have a 1980's/1990's picture of San Marco's Pic N' Save?

BackinJax05

January 03, 2013, 01:14:49 AM
Whatever you want, Pic N Save has it! Pic N Save has it for less!

They've been gone for almost 20 years now, and I still cant get that damned jingle out of my head.

duvaldude08

January 03, 2013, 01:50:11 AM
Whatever you want, Pic N Save has it! Pic N Save has it for less!

They've been gone for almost 20 years now, and I still cant get that damned jingle out of my head.

Wasnt there another saying Pic N save, have it your way" Or something like that?

blfair

January 03, 2013, 01:20:17 PM
My dad worked there for over 20 years, all the way to the bitter end. He may have been one of the last employees actually, as he helped shut down the distribution center.

When I was a kid that was basically the only place we shopped other than the grocery store. We didn't even speak the name "Wal-Mart". I remember when they had Richard Petty in the stores for an autograph session and my brother and I had VIP access...  ;D

My favorite ex-Pic 'N Save location is the Sandalwood store. It's now Subaru of Jacksonville. If you look carefully in their parking lot you can see where they tore down part of the old store and just left the slab behind, and turned part of the structure into an overhang out front. There are spots in the parking lot where there used to be columns that they cut out.

Ocklawaha

January 03, 2013, 02:30:58 PM
I think there was a Setzers at Kingsley and Park in 'downtown' Orange Park back when that was the intersection of a 2 lane federal highway and a divided 2 lane Kingsley with a yellow flashing like over the center! Pic-N-Save also had stores over at 103Rd and Blanding. The Pic-N-Save flagship stores tended to be in newer locations such as the really large (about the average Wal-Mart size) stores on SR 434 in Longwood, FL. I bought a nice little microwave oven at that Longwood Store back in the 1980's and then, overnight it seemed, they were gone.

Jaxson

January 03, 2013, 08:05:58 PM
I remember going to Pic N' Save to buy notebook paper for a bargain and to buy other affordable school supplies.  I also remember going with my family to the Pic N' Save buffet on San Jose Boulevard back in the day.  I also remember my junior high school classmates teasing our peers about shopping at Pic N' Save even though we all knew that somebody was going there on a regular basis.  I think that the undoing of Pic N' Save was not just Wal-Mart, but the failure of the Setzer family to overcome their own internal challenges...

BackinJax05

January 04, 2013, 12:01:14 AM
Whatever you want, Pic N Save has it! Pic N Save has it for less!

They've been gone for almost 20 years now, and I still cant get that damned jingle out of my head.

Wasnt there another saying Pic N save, have it your way" Or something like that?

I dont think so. "Have it your way" was Burger King's tagline for many years.

Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce.
Special orders dont upset us.
All we ask is that you let us HAVE IT YOUR WAY. (or something like that)

Yeah, I watched alot of TV when I was a kid.

BackinJax05

January 04, 2013, 12:07:06 AM
I remember going to Pic N' Save to buy notebook paper for a bargain and to buy other affordable school supplies.  I also remember going with my family to the Pic N' Save buffet on San Jose Boulevard back in the day.  I also remember my junior high school classmates teasing our peers about shopping at Pic N' Save even though we all knew that somebody was going there on a regular basis.  I think that the undoing of Pic N' Save was not just Wal-Mart, but the failure of the Setzer family to overcome their own internal challenges...

Oh God! You brought back a terrible flashback: For several years, the evening of the 1st day of school meant a pilgimage to the Town N Country Pic N Save (both of them) for school supplies for the year. The 1st one was a small store. The 2nd one was HUGE, and had a restaurant. 

There was also a Pic N Save on Lone Star Road, about a block east of Townsend Blvd. It was a big store with a restaurant, too. As I recall, Pic N Save restaurants weren't bad - but hardly 5 star dining.

cindy394

February 27, 2013, 11:56:42 AM
It is ironic that the perception among immigrants to the black community is so racist- especially since many stores and businesses profited in those neighborhoods that blacks primarily lived and to which most immigrant families lived themselves until they could afford to leave. The jewish and the middle eastern communities were also (still?) excessively racist in my experience. The writer's story about a Setzer family member demanding a pool be drained and washed out ( if true) is an example of this extremist and appalling view. I have heard many members of Jacksonville's middle eastern family members use the word abd or abid to describe blacks, which actually means "slave". Perhaps they are trying to distance themselves from the perceived caste in our society of the poorer classes of which they themselves were not so long ago.

duvaldude08

February 27, 2013, 12:45:37 PM
I remember going to Pic N' Save to buy notebook paper for a bargain and to buy other affordable school supplies.  I also remember going with my family to the Pic N' Save buffet on San Jose Boulevard back in the day.  I also remember my junior high school classmates teasing our peers about shopping at Pic N' Save even though we all knew that somebody was going there on a regular basis.  I think that the undoing of Pic N' Save was not just Wal-Mart, but the failure of the Setzer family to overcome their own internal challenges...

You must never EVER buy clothes from pic n save or you are asking to get bullied  ;D
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