By LANCE ARMSTRONG, Valley Community Newspapers writer
Land Park’s cherished specialty grocery store, Taylor’s Market, is celebrating a very special anniversary.
It was 50 years ago this August that the business opened at 2900 Freeport Blvd.
Land Park roots
The roots of the store predate its Land Park location, as original owner Roy Taylor had previously operated Roy Taylor’s Market at 3101 33rd St. at 6th Avenue in Oak Park.
At that address, the Lynn & O’Neil grocery store began operating at the site in 1911 and was replaced at the same location by Roy Taylor’s Market in the late 1940s.
Taylor, who resided with his wife Bernice at 893 Perkins Way in Land Park, relocated his Oak Park business to Land Park in 1962, and shortened the store’s name to Taylor’s Market.
The store’s present Freeport Boulevard building had become available following the closure of a Safeway grocery store that had opened at the site in 1940.
In establishing this now-classic Land Park business, Roy Taylor leased part of the building to Ed Schell for the operation of his market, Bird & Schell Meats.
This lease was arranged upon a simple handshake.
The grand opening of Taylor’s Market in Land Park was held on Aug. 11, 1962.
With the opening of the Freeport Boulevard market, some of Taylor’s former Oak Park customers traveled to shop at his Land Park store.
Since its inception, the popularity of this neighborhood store has continued to increase.
And in a world where a person often passes through a business as just another face in the crowd, Taylor’s Market remains as a sort of time capsule where people are continuously referred to by name by Taylor’s ownership and staff.
In 1987, Taylor decided to retire and he negotiated a sale price for the business with Schell.
Soon afterward, Taylor sold his market to Ed Schell, Ed’s son, Kevin Schell, and Dan Johnson, who had worked at the store since 1983.
Following this transfer of ownership, the market was remodeled and upgrades were made to its grocery offerings.
A new store
Initially, Kevin operated the grocery side of the store and Dan ran the meat department.
Ed Schell, 87, has continued to work in his trade as a meat cutter, despite attempting to retire from the meat department at Taylor’s in 1996. He can still be seen working at the market for about five hours every Saturday, beginning around 6 a.m.
“As long as I feel good and they want me, and I can do some good, I’ll be here,” Ed Schnell said.
Ed’s wife, Colleen, who worked at the Land Park store as a bookkeeper, was able to make a full departure with her retirement from the market in 1996.
Altogether, Ed, who resides with Colleen in the Pocket area, has been working in the grocery and meat business for more than six decades.
And most importantly, this work is a labor of love for Ed. He can often be seen with a smile on his face as he socializes with customers and works with some butchers who are less than half his age.
Transfer of ownership
In 2007, Ed and Kevin Schnell sold their interests in Taylor’s Market to Dan and his wife, Kathleen.
One of the most recent major additions at Taylor’s Market is its on-site Taylor’s Kitchen, which is a restaurant featuring a seasonal menu, wines and desserts.
Certainly, it is not difficult to locate people to speak endearingly about Taylor’s Market, whether they are connected with the store as employees or as customers.
Ed, for instance, is quick to acknowledge Taylor’s current anniversary in Land Park and the presence of many loyal customers at the store.
“I think it’s a big achievement to be in business for that long and every year seems to get better,” he said. “And it’s nice to see the people year after year after year who have been loyal customers and to watch their families grow up.”
Pocket area resident Jessica Reed, a cashier at Taylor’s for the past three years, describes the store as a “home away from home where everybody knows your name.”
And when it comes to Taylor’s offerings, Reed is quite knowledgeable.
“We are a specialty market and we have an amazing selection of wines and beer, and we do carry the infamous Pliny the Elder, which is a very supple, cult-following beer,” Reed said. “We have great, fresh local produce. We have a big emphasis on local, sustainable products. We have (some) nice organic things and the best meat in Sacramento that you can buy, hands down. The best meat, the best seafood. We’re proud of what we sell here and we stand behind what we sell.”
Sacramento resident Manny Mulé said he likes shopping at Taylor’s Market.
“It’s very simple,” Mulé said. “I do weight training, so I usual cook my meals on Saturdays for the week and it’s probably the only place where I can find produce that will last that long. (The produce) is very fresh. Everything is all local. The butcher shop is really good at taking care of you. (Taylor’s is) really good at (selecting) local produce, local, grass-fed, healthy cows. That’s why I come here. And the price is right.”
Autumn Lumibao, who recently moved to Sacramento from San Antonio, Tex. to attend the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, said that the existence of Taylor’s Market in Land Park was influential in her decision to become a resident of the area.
“(Taylor’s Market) is a big draw for me,” Lumibao said. “Between the two – this little shopping area and the light rail – it’s the perfect location. I like (Taylor’s). It seems like they have taken the time to pick their items carefully. There’s a wine selection with (wines) that I have never even seen, so that’s pretty cool. I noticed that (with) their meat selection, they are trying really hard to be more conscious of how their meat is produced. That’s admirable to me.”
Alice Schnaidt, a 36-year resident of the Land Park area, was also quick to compliment Taylor’s Market.
“Growing up in New York and having Zabar’s, this is almost like having Zabar’s (in Land Park), as far as the customer service, the gourmet food options and the specialty food items,” Schnaidt said. “The customer service is superb, and you go in there and you know that you are going to get quality (food). If you want quality, that’s where you go here. And if you want something special, they’re willing to work with you to see if they can get it for you.”
Schnaidt, who shops at Taylor’s at least once a week, added that she believes that Taylor’s longtime operation in Land Park is “a testament to their business model.”
“They knew what they had to do to stay open and solvent and they do that,” Schnaidt said. “Happy birthday, Taylor’s, and here’s to 50 more years.”