Elmer Kaner Grocery Store - Duluth

Elmer Kaner's Grocery Store was located on the northeast corner of 18th Avenue East and 5th Street (1731 East 5th Street) in the Duluth east end. The store was owned and operated by Elmer Kaner (1892-1987) and his wife Elsie (1898-1988). The Kaners lived at 1819 East Superior Street, so Elmer could walk there by going to 18th Avenue and straight up the hill to 5th Street. Along that walk, he would pass another corner grocery store, Rocklin's Grocery, at 318 North 18th Avenue East, owned by Bill Rocklin.

Elmer was shown in front of his corner grocery store

Elmer was shown behind the counter in his corner grocery store

Elmer Kaner previously owned a butcher shop at 638 Garfield Avenue, according to the article below. According to Elmer's grandson Steve Goldfarb, "Elmer had another store before my time. The first picture above is the store I knew. The second picture above is not a store I ever remember being in, so I assume it is his previous store."

Elmer Kaner's Butcher Shop - June 16, 1915

Recollections - - March 2022

According to grandson Craig Kaner:
"I used to go to the store with my sister, Karen [Kaner Nissim], when we visited Duluth as kids. I remember Elsie used to add up purchases with a paper and pencil or in her head, faster than a calculator. I remember candy by the check out area (a real treat to little kids). My dad [Melvin Mickey Kaner] worked as the butcher in the shop after high school and before entering the army. After the army Melvin settled in Los Angeles and never lived again in Minnesota."

According to grandson Steve Goldfarb:
"A few thoughts about Elmer Kaner's grocery store.

"While my parents were both born and grew up in Duluth, they spent their whole married life in St. Paul. When we would visit my grandparents in Duluth, we usually stayed with my mother's parents on Superior Street, and during each visit, we would always go to their grocery store on 18th Avenue East and 5th Street.

"I don’t remember the hours, but I would guess the store opened either at 8:00 or 8:30 and closed at 5:00 or 5:30. While Elmer was the primary store keeper, Elsie also worked in the store, probably part time as she also took care of the house. I remember that whenever I was with Elmer at closing time, as soon as we arrived home, Elsie had a hot meal waiting for him. The Kaners had one car which Elmer drove to work. Elsie could walk to and from the store, but it was a bit of a challenge as it was five blocks uphill from Superior Street. At the age of 60 Elsie decided it was time to learn how to drive.

"When I was younger, the store was always busy. There was a bench to the right of the door as you entered where we could sit and watch customers and delivery men come and go. There was a radiator under the bench, and that was a good place to sit on a cold winter day.

"I remember the old time cash register and a big mechanical adding machine with paper tape on the check out counter. Behind the counter were three shelves where Elmer kept candy. Little kids who had some coins would come in to buy a treat. If they were too young to understand the value of money, Elmer would have them put their coins on the counter. Then if they had a penny or two, he directed them to take from the bottom shelf. If they had a nickel, Elmer directed them to the middle shelf, and if they had a dime or a quarter, they could select an item from the top shelf.

"It was before credit cards, so customers paid by cash or check, but some customers bought on credit. Elmer had an account book, and he would note what they owed. Then when they had the money, they would square up with him.

"At times Elmer would let me open boxes and stock the shelves. I had to make sure the name of the product on the label was facing the customer. There was a refrigerated meat counter in the back of the store and a walk in refrigerator. Back in those days, dogs roamed the streets as they pleased, and once in a while a lucky dog had a bone thrown to him as a treat.

"In the back of the store up several steps was an office of sorts that was long and narrow and cluttered. There was a small window about a foot long and six inches high near the desk where one could see the cash register and the front door.

"Upstairs of the store was an apartment that the Kaners rented out. Several cars could park on the east side of the store. Once in a while we would go to the basement, which was a dark and scary place for a little kid.

"In later years, as bigger stores became popular, the corner grocery stores had fewer and fewer customers, and most of them eventually went out of business."


According to granddaughter Karen Kaner Nissim:
"Grandpa bought grandma a color TV so she would stay home and watch her soap operas. I have the same memories of the store."

According to great neice Arlis Garon Grossman:

"Steve - Reading your description of your grandfather's store brought back wonderful memories. Your grandparents were wonderful to me growing up and when I came into the store, they gave me the candy. Your Grandmother, Elsie, was a wonderful cook and I remember many holiday dinners at their home on Superior Street.

"I had confused the store and their home on Superior Street. Elsie not only walked up 18th Ave. E five block, but climbed lots of stairs to their home on Superior Street. No wonder she stayed so trim.

"I also kind of remember another store on about 9th Avenue East and 5th street. I think my Aunt Harriet Garon [Rubin] used to walk me up there from where they lived on 3rd Ave E and 3rd Street. I could also go to that store from Jefferson Elementary School and from where I lived at 1210 East 5th Street.


Again, according to Steve:
"If I recall correctly, the Kaners retired and moved to LA around 1977." [Elmer died in 1987 and Elsie in 1988.]

Family tree data for Elsie and Elmer and their two children are shown below.

source: Jack's Family Tree Database
Elmer and Elsie also had four grandchildren, Steve Goldfarb, Ken Goldfarb, Craig Kaner and Karen Kaner Nissim.
And five great grandchildren and four great great grandchildren.

The 2011 photo below shows the building where the store was located, courtesy of GoogleMaps.

Location of the former grocery store - northeast corner of 18th Avenue East and 5th Street - Aug 2011 - - hi res

Location of the former grocery store - with grandson Ken Goldfarb - - hi res

  Top of Page     Jewish Organizatons & Businesses     Jews of Duluth     News Articles Index     Table of Contents     Home  

Created by:   Allan@Garon.us

Feedback always welcome!

Page created Oct 2016; rev Mar 2022