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

April 27, 2017 45 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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.

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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