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100 years of Peck’s Market in Pine Plains

PINE PLAINS — In the century since brothers Liam and Robert Peck opened Peck’s Food Market in Pine Plains, the third-generation grocery store located at 2991 East Church St. (Route 199) has grown as a landmark business in the community as well as a household name among town residents.

Bill Peck, grandson of Peck’s Co-Founder Liam Peck, shared the story surrounding his family’s namesake store and celebrated its 100th year in business with a look back at its origin. Bill has been reviewing stories from the past written about Peck’s Market, Liam Peck and his wife Mabel. The pair lived in Wappingers Falls when Liam’s brother Robert fell ill.

Liam and Mabel moved to Pine Plains to be closer to Robert and his wife Esther; the Peck brothers later started the store together.

Peck’s Food Market officially opened on April 1, 1922, with the two Peck brothers and their wives living above the store.

Bill said the original store was located on South Main Street just south of the town’s stoplight at the intersection of routes 199 and 83. It was located to the left of the current restaurant El Guacamole at 7795-7797 South Main St.. Upon close examination of a map, it was where the law firm Hollis Gonerka Bart LLP at 7791 South Main St. is now.

Following Robert’s passing in 1926, Liam, Mabel and Esther ran the store together. By the time Liam’s son Dick (Bill’s father) bought it from his dad in 1952, Bill said the store had outlived a lot of others in town.

Bill observed Peck’s outlived The Great Depression, an achievement his grandfather attributed to hard work, opening the store at 6 a.m. and closing at 6 p.m.

Reflecting on Peck’s early days, when food came in bulk, Bill said his grandfather delivered groceries in a Model T truck.

There were no snowplows or paved roads at that time. All of the milk had to be delivered to the former Borden Milk Factory in nearby Wassaic to be put on the train, he said, and people would trade agricultural products like eggs for food. Bananas would come to the store in huge bunches and be hung in the rear. Bill said employees had to be careful handling the bananas in case there was a tarantula in there.

Bill’s grandfather was active in the community, serving as a town supervisor, fire commissioner, director of the Pine Plains Water Company and a member of the Stissing Masonic Lodge.

Yet through all the changes happening in both the world at large and in the local  community, the store always remained within the Peck family. Bill himself worked there all the way through college as well as during the summers when home from college.

He said he took pride in closing and opening the store while his parents were away.

Reminiscing about how much he enjoyed working at for the family business, Bill said he liked the people who shopped there and felt it was a good way to socialize — an opportunity that came in handy when he became a teacher.

Bill’s younger brother Don, who lives in Pine Plains today, eventually bought the store from their father. By the early 1980s, Peck’s Food Market moved to its current location at 2991 East Church St. Don continues to run it to this day.

“It’s persevered through a lot of major problems in the country,” Bill said, “and Pine Plains has changed quite a bit in that time. It was a thriving community back in the 20s, and of course it’s not what it used to be at all… I’m really proud of the family and how well they adapted to the community, and the store, as far as I know, does a great job and Don does a great job running it.”

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