Brighouse Grocery – The Red & White Store

In the days before the big grocery store and market chains completely took over the food sales business, Richmond was served by several family owned and operated stores. The stores were conveniently located in the areas in which most of their customers lived and usually offered phone orders and free delivery. Brighouse Grocery was located, as its name suggests, in Brighouse on the corner of No.3 Road and Granville Avenue.

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The original Brighouse Grocery store was built By Josiah Stirton in 1918 and was located at the intersection of No. 3 Road and General Currie Road. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1984 17 83)

The original Brighouse Grocery was built by Josiah Stirton around 1918 and was located at the corner of No.3 Road and General Currie Road. It operated there for several years, but moved to the Granville – No.3 Road building after it was built.

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The Brighouse Grocery Red & White Store, ca. 1955. The location was very convenient for customers arriving by tram, the tracks can be seen on the right.(City of Richmond Archives photograph 1993 29 2)

The new store, near the new Town Hall and the BC Electric Railway’s Brighouse Station was a far better location and the business thrived there for many years.

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Paul Meyer and children Michael and Heather in front of his store. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1993 29 1)

In 1949 the store was purchased and operated by the Meyer family, Paul and Bertha, who became part of the Red & White chain of independent grocery stores.

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As advertised in Life Magazine, the Red & White Grocery “Trainload Sale” offered great bargains on canned food. Bertha and Paul Meyer stand in their store, ca. 1955. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1993 29 3)

The Meyers owned the Brighouse Grocery Red & White Store from 1949 to 1963 offering telephone orders and free delivery.

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A smiling Bertha Meyer stocks the shelves at the Brighouse Grocery Store, ca. 1958. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1993 29 5)

The variety of items offered by the store made one-stop shopping a reality in what would be considered a tiny space by today’s standards.

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Bertha and Paul Meyer stand in the produce section of the Brighouse Grocery, ca. 1955. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1993 29 4)

Everything from cake mixes to produce and meat was available. If  riding the tram or driving to the store was not practical, your order could be phoned in and delivered for free, a service only now being offered by many of the big grocery chains of today.

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Brighouse Grocery in the sixties after the removal of the Interurban Tram tracks. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1984 17 82)

The Interurban Tram, which would rattle the stock on the shelves when it went by, was missed by the store when the tram service was discontinued in 1958. Brighouse Station was just around the corner from the store and the reduction in business hurt the store’s bottom line. The store operated until about 1974 as the Brighouse Market. Well known photographer P.C. Lee opened his business there after it closed down.

Today most grocery purchases are made at one of the big supermarket chains or at one of the markets that specialize in produce sales, but many people have fond memories of the small neighborhood grocery stores of yesterday, run by local people who knew their customers by name.

“Never on Sunday” – the Holiday Shopping Referendum

Never on Sunday front page

Election brochure. City of Richmond Archives, MR 35, File 4569 (1981)

Many people today are surprised to learn that prior to 1981, most stores in Richmond were prohibited from opening on Sundays and holidays.  Provincial legislation, namely the Holiday Shopping Regulation Act, was enacted in 1980, and provided a means by which an individual municipality could ask its citizens whether they wished to remove restrictions on Sunday and holiday shopping.

As a result, Richmond Municipal Council decided to add to the November 21, 1981 municipal election ballot the following referendum question:

“Are you in favour of Richmond By-law No. 4016 which in summary would permit all retail businesses to carry on business on a Sunday and any other holiday as defined by the ‘Holiday Shopping Regulations Act’?”

Two groups emerged in the community to promote each side of the referendum question, a question that was being asked on a number of municipal election ballots throughout the province.

Back page of election brochure. City of Richmond Archives, SE 35, File 4569 (1981)

Back page of brochure. City of Richmond Archives, MR 35, File 4569 (1981)

The “Committee Opposed to Sunday and Holiday Shopping” was formed as an unusual alliance of church groups, labour unions, major retail stores, and women’s groups.  Using the slogans “Never on Sunday” and the “Price of Convenience”, the committee urged that Sunday should be “a day of rest” for church goers and workers, the latter comprised of a large number of women who worked as retail store clerks.  The Committee warned that if shopping was allowed, “Sundays and holidays would soon become another rat race like any other day of the week, with traffic jams, noise, congestion and frustration for everyone.”

On the other side, some larger, newly-established stores along with a wide-range of citizens argued for the right to shop on Sunday, listing various benefits including convenience, emergency needs, rights of consumers, and promotion of local shopping rather than cross-border shopping or shopping in municipalities which had already adopted Sunday and holiday shopping bylaws.

Lumberland Brochure

Election advertising. City of Richmond Archives, MR 35, File 4569 (1981)

By a margin of 14,434 “Yes” votes to 8,265 “No” votes, Bylaw 4016 received the assent of electors and was adopted by Council on November 23, 1981.  Retail shopping on Sundays and holidays was here to stay.

Bylaw 4016 as adopted. City of Richmond Archives Bylaws

Bylaw 4016 as adopted. City of Richmond Archives Bylaws