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Rabb Family and Stop & Shop Collection

 Collection
Identifier: P-679

Scope and Content Note

The Rabb Family and Stop & Shop Collection documents the Rabb family and its involvement in Stop & Shop from 1912 to 1989. The collection contains historical sketches, newspaper clippings, press releases, correspondence, memoranda, minutes, reports, advertisements, certificates, speeches, interviews, films, and photographs, and other miscellaneous materials. The materials in this collection focus partially on the family itself, including their lives, their careers, their participation in the Jewish community, and their philanthropic activities. The collection also contains a substantial amount of material relating to the history and business operations of Stop & Shop and its predecessor, the Economy Grocery Stores Company.

Dates

  • 1912-1989

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of this collection. For more information contact jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Historical Note

The Rabb family traces its roots back to Nachman Schleime and Yente Rabinovitz. The couple emigrated from Malestovka, Russia with their children in 1891 so their oldest son would not have to join the army. According to one story, the family changed their last name from Aaron to Rabinovitz as it would be easier to leave Russia. They chose the name “Rabinovitz” to denote descent from a Rabbi. After trying unsuccessfully to enter Palestine, the family travelled to the United States instead. The family arrived in New York, and soon after they were sent to Boston by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Yente quickly set up a small grocery store on Salem Street, while Nachman continued to pursue his dream of entering Palestine. He visited the country for the rest of his life, and eventually died there.

Nachman and Yente’s son Joseph Rabinovitz (JR, 1878-1967) was 13 when his family arrived in Boston. At age 15 JR set out into business for himself, purchasing small lots of dried fruit and selling them wholesale. By 1898 he had enough money to found the Standard Grocery Company with his brother Max and three other men. Several years later, around 1914, his brothers Jacob (1885-1967) and Julius Rabinovitz started the Economy Grocery Stores Company, also known as Ecco or “the Green Front Stores.” Other family members quickly became involved. JR sold his interest in the Standard Grocery Company and invested in Economy. His oldest son Sidney (SRR) joined the company in 1918, and in 1919, JR began actively working with SRR to turn around the now struggling business. JR, SRR, and Jacob were Economy’s sole owners by 1920, and the business became successful.

JR had married Charlotte (Lottie) Fox in 1900. They had four children: Sidney (SRR, 1900-1985), Norman (NSR, 1905-1997), Jeanette Solomon, and Irving (IWR, 1913-2011). The boys (who changed their last name to Rabb in 1946) went to the Boston Latin School and Harvard University. SRR married Esther Rabb (née Cohn), with whom he had two children, Helene and Carol. He joined Economy shortly after being discharged from the Marines, becoming General Manager in 1919, co-owner by 1920, and Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer by 1930. NSR and IRW joined the company in 1925 and 1935 respectively. NSR married Eleanor Rabb (née Epstein), with whom he had two children, Hope and Jane. Jane Rabb later went to Radcliffe College and Oxford University, and she became a literature teacher. IWR married Charlotte (Dolly) Frank and had two children, Betty and James. Like SRR, both NSR and IWR became prominent players in Stop & Shop over the next few decades.

In 1925, the Economy Grocery Stores incorporated and issued its first shares of stock. The company grew rapidly from the 1920s to the mid-1930s, opening new stores and acquiring existing stores and chains. The acquired stores included the Rose T. Company and the Creamery Stores (renamed Rabinovitz Creameries). Economy opened its first self-service supermarket in 1935 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, under the name R.H. White Food Mart. Noting the store's success, Economy began opening more supermarkets under the name Stop & Shop. The company gradually closed the Economy stores and in 1946 the company was renamed Stop & Shop, Inc.

In 1965, Stop & Shop became the first major grocery chain to discontinue trading stamps in all stores. Trading stamps had been awarded with each purchase and could be redeemed from the trading stamp company for merchandise. Stop & Shop made the decision on the assumption that customers would prefer the lower prices that would result from discontinuing the program. Although the company initially saw a loss, the next year their profits jumped, and other grocery stores followed suit. Over the years the company diversified by acquiring Bradlees Junior Department Stores, Medi Mart, and Charles B. Perkins Tobacco. Stop & Shop also expanded to include its own bakery, potato operation, dairy plant, quality control laboratory, perishable distribution center, and meat processing facility. In 1970 the corporate name changed to The Stop & Shop Companies, Inc., reflecting the company's diversified nature.

During this time, a new generation was becoming prominent in Stop & Shop. SRR’s daughter Carol (CRG, 1931- ) had begun working at Stop & Shop in 1958. She went to Tufts University and Harvard Business School, and before starting at Stop & Shop had worked as a model and fashion coordinator. Her husband Avram Goldberg (AVG, 1930- ) had worked at Stop & Shop since age 18, while attending Harvard. The couple rose through the ranks, AVG eventually becoming President of Stop & Shop in 1971. When SRR died in 1985, AVG became Chairman of the Board and CRG took his place as President. Then in 1988, Stop & Shop underwent a leveraged buyout from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR). AVG and CRG resigned in March 1989.

In addition to their work with Stop & Shop, the family also has a long history of involvement in numerous civic and religious activities. Well-known for their philanthropy, the family's contributions have assisted many organizations including Beth Israel Hospital, which dedicated a building in their honor, and Brandeis University, where they were the chief contributors to the Rabb Graduate Center. Various family members have also been active in associations and organizations ranging from the Boston Public Library to the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.

References

  1. Material in the collection.

Chronology

1891
The Rabinovitz family immigrates to the United States from Russia.
1898
Joseph Rabinovitz (JR) establishes the Standard Grocery Company with four others.
circa 1914
Jacob and Julius Rabinovitz start the Economy Grocery Stores Company.
JR sells his share of Standard Grocery Company and begins investing in Economy.
1918
Sidney Rabinovitz (SRR) joins the company.
1919
SRR becomes Economy’s General Manager.
JR begins working for Economy.
1920
The other investors sell their shares and Jacob, JR, and SRR become the sole owners of Economy.
1925
The company is renamed to Economy Grocery Stores Corporation and issues its first shares of general stock.
Norman S. Rabinovitz (NSR) joins the company.
1930
SRR becomes Economy’s Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.
1935
Economy opens its first self-service supermarket store, R.H. White, in Cambridge, MA.
Irving W. Rabinovitz (IWR) joins the company.
1937
The first Stop & Shop supermarkets are opened.
1946
The name of the company is changed to Stop & Shop, Inc.
SRR, NSR, and IWR change their last name to Rabb.
1948
Avram J. Goldberg (AVG) joins the company.
1958
Carol R. Goldberg (CRG) joins the company.
1959
The Readville distribution center is opened, a half a million square foot warehouse built to supply canned and dry goods to all Stop & Shop stores.
1961
Stop & Shop acquires its first Bradlees stores.
1964
IWR becomes President of the company.
1965
Donald A. Gannon becomes President of the company.
Stop & Shop institutes minipricing, discontinuing trading stamps in all stores.
1967
Stop & Shop announces plans to open Medi Mart drug stores.
1969
Construction of the Marlborough Meat Processing Facility begins.
Stop & Shop acquires Charles B. Perkins Tobacco.
The Readville facility burns down.
1970
The company changes its name to The Stop & Shop Companies, Inc.
1971
AVG becomes President of Stop & Shop.
1985
SRR dies at 85.
CRG becomes President of Stop & Shop and AVG becomes Chairman of the Board.
1988
Stop & Shop is bought out by KKR.
1989
AVG and CRG resign.

Extent

15.5 linear feet (14 manuscript boxes, 1 document box, and 5 OS boxes)

Abstract

The Rabinovitz/Rabb family arrived in Boston from Russia in the 1890s. Around 1914 they founded Economy Grocery Stores, which became Stop & Shop in 1946. In addition to building their grocery company into a successful business, the family is known for its philanthropy and active involvement in the Jewish community. The collection contains materials relating to the Rabb family and to the business operations of Stop & Shop until 1989. The materials in this collection include historical sketches, newspaper clippings, press releases, correspondence, memoranda, minutes, reports, advertisements, certificates, speeches, interviews, films, and photographs.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Avram J. Goldberg in 1990, 1993, 1994, and 1995, and by Stop & Shop in 1993. The Rabb family interviews and Rabb family films were donated by Jane M. Rabb in 2012.

Processing Information

Processed by Katrin D. Hardikar. Reprocessed by Sara Hawran, 2014

Creator

Title
Guide to the Rabb Family and Stop & Shop Companies Collection, P-679
Author
Processed by Katrin D. Hardikar and reprocessed by Sara Hawran
Date
2014

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society Repository

Contact:
99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States
617-226-1245