Remembering Queen Anne’s Neighborhood Grocery Stores:
Mulholland’s Cash Grocery

Owner Esther Mulholland and daughter Shirley in front of the Mulholland Cash Grocery, courtesy of Leslie Pannell Stockdale

Mulholland’s Cash Grocery was in the Uptown area of lower Queen Anne Hill, between Harrison and Thomas Streets, near the old Aasten Grocery, and a block from the Key Arena.

The store was purchased in 1939 from local grocer Rae Nakamura for $1,000 when Esther Mulholland’s husband John was dying of cancer, leaving her to raise three children. Oldest son Bob was 14, and her daughter Shirley and youngest son Jack were still in elementary school. They worked together as a family at the store, with each having a job to do.

It was located at 335 Queen Anne Avenue N. and had been operated as a grocery store since 1910 according to Polk’s city directories. When she bought it, Esther Mulholland paid $15.00 a month for rent. The first year she replaced the linoleum, and purchased a cash register for $51.00, a Burroughs adding machine for $35.70, and vegetable and fruit stands for $3.20 according to her carefully kept store ledger.

How hard was it to run a business in 1940? Given that the rent was $15.00, and total salaries were $4.00 a month the “bad” customer accounts that were long overdue were $12.78. By the end of the year the unpaid customer accounts had grown to $23.12. That is nearly six times the amount spent on monthly salaries.

The store sold fresh produce from the Pike Place Market, and bread and baked goods from Hanson Sunbeam Bakery. Beer came from Olympia, Rainer, and Lucky Lager because it was cheaper than the big Eastern brands. They also carried all the basic canned staples for customers’ convenience.

Page from Mulholland Cash Grocery journal courtesy of Leslie Pannell Stockdale

Oldest son Bob was allowed to miss a lot of class in high school so he could run the register for his mom. Eventually he was drafted into World War II and fought in the Pacific for two years. At that point Shirley was in high school and picked up the slack while Bob went to war.

The youngest son Jack went to Queen Anne High School and the store became a hangout “for young well-behaved boys,” according to the family. Soda pop and candy was very popular. Jack’s job was to sweep out the store inside and out each day.

The Mulholland family lived in a duplex home at 532 – 1st Ave West and because Esther didn’t drive, each night after closing they would all walk home.

According to granddaughter Leslie Pannell Stockdale, “the grocery store enabled the Mulholland family to survive at a very tough time losing their husband, father, and breadwinner to cancer in 1940. It was their livelihood and glued them together as a family. It was a lot of hard work but was always seen as a fun and social center for the family.”

The Mulholland family ran the store until the early 50’s when it was sold. Leslie Stockdale finds a pleasant coincidence that at the same time they started welcoming grandchildren to the family.

Remembering Queen Anne’s Neighborhood Grocery Stores:
Augustine & Kyer

1507 Queen Anne Avenue: 1908 – 1938, 30 years at Queen Anne location

Augustine & Kyer was a grand, upscale grocery store with origins in Seattle’s early years.  It was Seattle’s “Pure Food Purveyor”, selling food and merchandise of the highest quality.  It also provided superior order and delivery service to its customers.  Its stores flourished from 1907 until the 1930’s when, unfortunately, it succumbed to the Great Depression.

The history of Augustine & Kyer begins with an English grocer named Charles Louch.  In 1885, Louch opened a wood frame grocery store on Front Street (later renamed First Avenue) in what was eventually to become downtown Seattle.  The sign above the entry read, “Cigars Tobacco Groceries & Provisions”[i].  The 1885-86 Polk’s City Directory listed Louch as one of only 22 Seattle grocers.

M.B. Augustine circa 1888. Photo courtesy of MOHAI.
M.B. Augustine circa 1888. Photo courtesy of MOHAI.

In 1892, Louch formed a partnership with Manual Brock Augustine.  Before settling in Seattle, M. B. Augustine lived in Silver City, Nevada, where he owned a general merchandise and mining supply store, and in Oakland, California, where he was a salesman for J.A. Folger, the coffee company.

In 1893, Louch, Augustine & Company moved its store to the new Colman Building at the corner of First Avenue and Marion Street.  The store prospered in the late 1890’s during the Klondike gold rush, aided by Augustine’s experience as a mining supplier.  The years 1907 – 1908 brought major changes. Louch and M.B. Augustine sold the company to Henry Kyer, Augustine’s son Julius was promoted to Vice President, and Kyer changed the company’s name to Augustine & Kyer.  Kyer had been married to Alice Augustine, M.B. Augustine’s daughter, but they divorced in 1908, two days before Kyer purchased the company.[ii] …Continue reading “Remembering Queen Anne’s Neighborhood Grocery Stores:
Augustine & Kyer”

Remembering Queen Anne’s Neighborhood Grocery Stores:
Aasten’s Grocery

Aasten’s Grocery
302 Queen Anne Avenue

Photo courtesy of Molly Aasten
Photo courtesy of Molly Aasten

Aasten’s Grocery, which opened in 1925, stood at the corner of Queen Anne Avenue and Thomas Street for twenty-seven years.  Like many other small neighborhood grocery stores of that era, it was a family business owned and operated by immigrants to the United States.

John Gunnufsen Aasten was hardworking and ambitious. He was born in Hovind, Norway on March 8, 1887.  Aasten and his wife Karen came to the United States from Norway in 1906.  He was nineteen.  On his arrival, he listed his occupation as laborer.  In 1917, on his Draft Registration card, he declared himself a miner employed by the Seattle Engineering Department.  By 1924, however, he had found his calling.  On the Declaration of Intention he filed that year to become a United States citizen, he registered his occupation as grocer. …Continue reading “Remembering Queen Anne’s Neighborhood Grocery Stores:
Aasten’s Grocery”