As we welcome in 2021, a year sure to be unlike any other, I am reminded of those immigrants who arrived a century or more ago. These men, women and children left their homelands looking for more opportunities and a better life. Tacoma was a boom town back then and welcomed immigrants. A century ago, they traveled from Scandinavia, Germany and Italy. Today they might be from Laos, Korea or Vietnam.
In 1890’s Tacoma, in the downtown core, there was a little grocery store that offered a warm welcome to newly arrived Italian immigrants. The Little Country Grocery Store was an old-fashioned mom-and-pop shop filled with fruits and vegetables, candy, cigars and tobacco. Its shelves were lined with canned goods and specialty items imported from Italy. There were bins of home-made pasta and containers of delicious meat sauce. Bottles of wine were available to customers even during Prohibition, or so the story goes.
The beautiful Beaux-Arts train station (above), now a court house, was close by and those who arrived by train often found their way to the Little Country Grocery Store. Locally owned businesses played a huge role in neighborhoods 100 years ago, just as they do today. Read more about the Little Country Grocery Store and learn about the history of Tacoma in my article for L’Italo-Americano.