In our July 2015 issue, I gathered readers around old Vance’s rocking chair, so to speak, and told them (and you) about a grocery man in Memphis who opened the stunning Bruno’s By-Ryt in the Park Plaza shopping center, on Park just east of Mt. Moriah. I’m sure you remember the story, and I bet you told all your friends about it. But in case you didn’t, you can read it again and again and again here.
The fellow’s name was George Bruno, and before he opened his “googie”-style store on Park, he owned and operated a WeOna food store at 934 East McLemore. Now, don’t ask me how I did this (I never give away my secret — well, not for free) but I managed to turn up an old photo from around 1950 showing the meat counter of that old store. And as you can also see, his store was Number 58 in the citywide chain. At one time, it seemed a WeOna could be found on almost every corner in Memphis.
I can’t read all the signs and labels very clearly, but several things caught my attention, so I’ll point them out to you. First of all, though it’s hard to tell, exactly, what kind of meat products were being displayed in the glass case, you can’t help but notice that they were sold at mighty good prices, no matter what it was.
The next thing you might notice are the neat stacks of hot dogs. In the early 1950s, it seems, you bought hot dogs individually. I wonder when meat-packers came up with the idea to sell them by the pack — and make sure that the number of hot dogs in a pack never matched the number of buns in a bag?
Finally, if you look very closely, you’ll see that WeOna, a locally owned grocery cooperative here, sold and marketed its own brand of butter, under the brand name of “WeOna Farms.” I never knew that before, and I wonder that other products they sold under their own name?