Howard Glickberg retired on Tuesday from Fairway the store his grandfather founded in 1933 as a small fruit and vegetable stand. That small stand gave way to the iconic Fairway Market on 74th street and Broadway. Since then, the store has expanded to 15 locations, and is now a publicly traded company.
Howie was the brainchild behind Fairway’s rise, turning the store on 74th street into a one-of-a-kind market with hard-to-find items from all over the world. He started working at the company in 1974.
As the company says:
“Back in the 1970s, Fairway was an unassuming Upper West Side, one storefront shop that offered the best values on fruits and vegetables and penny candy out of self-service bins built into a wall. The neighborhood truly loved and embraced it, food lovers traveled across town to shop there, and soon the three partners started to realize their vision of expansion. They brought in traditional groceries and specialty items, and started hiring the crew of ambitious, hardworking foodies who would one day become Fairway’s experts, department heads, and vice presidents.
Fairway took over the space next door, and by the mid-1980s talk of Fairway Market was reaching a fever pitch all over town and beyond. Fairway was always first to offer unique, different, imported, things-you-didn’t-know-existed foodstuffs. The low prices captured lots of attention and the new-and-improved product offering earned a new-found respect. Newspapers, magazines, foodies and the like could not stop writing and raving about it.”
But the Glickbergs sold their majority stake in 2007 and the company is now forced to please shareholders along with its famously sharp-elbowed shoppers. And it’s been taking some flack from investors; the stock has fallen and the company hasn’t turned a profit since it went public last year, according to Institutional Investor. The publication also says Fairway has “an executive compensation issue,” paying directors $12.1 million in 2013.
We’ve heard grumbling from some shoppers that Fairway ain’t what it used to be, but this may just be traditional Upper West Side kvetching. Let us know your feelings (respectfully!) In the comments, and take our poll below.
Oh, and congratulations to Howie Glickberg — you’ve had a fruitful career! Here’s what Howie says in the farewell announcement (he’ll remain on the company’s board):
“I’ve dedicated the past 40 years of my life to building the world’s greatest food store,” said Mr. Glickberg, who is a “young 67” years old. “It’s been my life’s work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the past when I would take a little vacation, I would somehow wind up visiting a supermarket. And if I saw an apple out of place I would fix it. So I’ve never traveled anywhere without Fairway on my mind.”
Mr. Glickberg said that he plans on spending the next 40 years doing just that-traveling – as well as fishing, playing golf and “just relaxing. I’ve earned the right not to have to fix that out-of-place apple anymore.”