Grethe Pole, whose family has operated the market since 1975, says she and her sister want to sell to another family who will continue to run it as a neighborhood store.
By Matt Skoufalos | July 27, 2023
For nearly 50 years, the residents of Haddon Heights have relied upon John’s Friendly Market, the neighborhood grocery at the corner of Station and Seventh Avenues.
From coffee and a morning paper to a hoagie at lunch, or last-minute dinner ingredients, the shop has offered a walkable alternative to chain supermarkets.
Now, after a half-century of operating, its present owners are looking to pass it along to the next generation of operators.
“It’s been a landmark since a lot of us can remember,” said realtor Dan White, whose firm is handling the sale as a turnkey business.
“We’re looking forward to hopefully seeing another family take it on and continue.”
Haddon Heights resident and preservation consultant Margaret Westfield described John’s Friendly Market as “a town institution.
“You think of businesses in Haddon Heights, and the first one you think of was John’s Market,” Westfield said.
In its various forms, the corner shop at 622 Station Avenue has provided groceries to borough residents for a century or more.
Constructed as two storefronts around 1920 and 1925, respectively, and unified around 1930, it is included within the National Register of Historic Places among the 30 major buildings that comprise the historic Haddon Heights business district.
“It’s been a corner store since practically the beginning of Haddon Heights,” Westfield said. “It’s very significant of our collective history, and the importance of retaining it for future generations is beyond compare.”
As a longtime Haddon Heights resident, Westfield said neighbors have many fond memories of the market “because they’re open all the time, and always there for you.
“When John was there, he was the spirit of Haddon Heights,” she said. “He was the one who would let people buy things on credit; he trusted his customers, and his customers depended on him.
“It’s a lost art that you don’t see anymore.”
The longevity of the business correlates directly with the decision to sell it.
Grethe Pole, whose father John Johnson bought the market from its prior owner, Richard Lindsey, said she and her sister Josie Doto, are “both well into retirement age, and our husbands moreso.
“It’s time to pass on the baton,” Pole said.
“Our dad [operated the shop] into his 90s, and he had the staff to back him up.
“These people are retirement age now,” she said.
Johnson began working for Lindsey in the 1950s before purchasing the store from him in 1975, Pole said. Her father ran the store into his 90s, a familiar presence in the aisles in his red blazer; always offering a kind word to customers.
His daughters worked there too, and their children after them; with Pole preparing to welcome her first grandchild, the family priorities have shifted with time. They still would like to sell to an owner who will continue operating John’s as a neighborhood grocery.
“We would love to see it stay more or less the same,” Pole said. “Thus far, any inquiries we’ve had have been family situations.
“We’re just looking for someone who will love it the way we have, and our dad did.”
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