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A descendant of McGinnis Sisters, a food historian talks about the game-changing market heritage | Food | Pittsburgh

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Image: Courtesy of Detre Library & Archives at Heinz History Center

Customers of McGinnis Sisters

Dr. Ashley Rose Young remembers working with his family at McGinnis Sisters and driving with his mother to farms in the Pittsburgh area such as Tracks and Triple B to get produce. ..

“They were always helping local farmers,” said Young, the daughter of the late Sharon McGinnis Young, one of three sisters who owned and operated various independent market stores for decades. Says. “They weren’t like these large chain grocery stores that were importing products from South America and other types of global markets.”

A food historian from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, now living in Washington, DC, will discuss the role of the McGuinnis Sisters in a virtual talk by the Heinz History Center. Held on Tuesday, December 14th In Memory of the McGinnis Sisters: Food & Family Story Directly from Young’s family, including McGinnis’ sisters Bonnie McGinnis Bello and Norleen McGinnis Campbell, and their cousin Jennifer Daurora, who also wants to help run the business, “rarely asked behind a beloved grocery store. I promise to reveal “no story”.

Young currently runs an American Culinary History project at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, through which he hosts a series of culinary demonstrations. Cook history.. She also co-curated the museum’s recently updated Food History Exhibition. FOOD: American table transformation, Currently working on two books. An academic manuscript on the culture of New Orleans stalls and a biography of Creole chef Rene Richard.

She acknowledges her mother’s and aunt’s achievements in inspiring her work in food history and culture. Many emphasize and provide a platform for “really diverse female entrepreneurs” to “share stories and talk about the importance of women, business owners and community activities.” Through food. “

Click to enlarge McGinnis Sisters Sharon Young, Bonnie Vello, Noreen Campbell-Image: Courtesy of the DETRE Library and Archives at the Heinz History Center

Image: Courtesy of Detre Library & Archives at Heinz History Center

McGinnis Sisters Sharon Young, Bonnie Vello, and Noreen Campbell

All McGinnis Sisters stores will be closed by 2019, ending the era Young sees as an innovative approach to meet the needs of shoppers in the Pittsburgh region. What started as a produce stand run by Young’s grandfather in the 1940s has grown over time to include stores in Brentwood, Monroeville, and Butler County. She explains that her mother and aunt took over the business in the 1980s and became early leaders in the local gourmet and specialty food business.

Young realized that her mother and aunt wanted more variety, such as the cheese and oil that people had while traveling to or living in another country. say. This was especially necessary when the options in large grocery chains were very limited.

“We need to remember, this was in the 80’s and early 90’s,” says Young. “Pittsburgh people ate American cheese or perhaps mozzarella cheese for the Italian population, but they didn’t know about Camembert cheese, Brie cheese and Asiango cheese.”

She says the sisters saw demand for organic and international dishes long before Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s moved into the city to make such products more widely available.

“They found out that there was a niche in that kind of market,” says Young. “They found mentors in the field of fine foods and gourmet foods nationwide, chatted with them and learned who the buyers were. They started going to New York’s Fun Seafood Shows, New York and Chicago. I started going to a restaurant show in New York, met with these fine chefs and learned about the types of cutting-edge food trends across the country, and they brought it back to Pittsburgh. ”

She added that large regional chains like the Giant Eagle soon realized the appeal of the McGinnis Sisters.

“Some of those competitors came to the family business to see what we were doing and how we helped local farmers,” says Young. “And they will take it back to their store and incorporate it into their model … and my aunt will say it’s the biggest form of flattery.”

McGinnis Sisters was also ahead of the curve in adopting online grocery orders in the late 1990s. This is becoming more common in services such as Instacart.

Young, who worked in the store with his family, believes the McGuinnis Sisters have been the victims of major changes in the grocery retail industry over the last 10 years. Advances such as the proliferation of Giant Eagle’s more specialized Market District Stores have made it more difficult for small family-owned businesses to catch up. She quotes that Uncommon Market, a specialty grocery store on Route 19 in Bethel Park, also closed at about the same time as the McGuinnis Sisters.

As a consumer, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to balance the support of local businesses in an environment where shoppers can easily order food from big companies like Amazon, which acquired Whole Foods in 2017. I admit that.

“I live in contradiction in the sense that I live in Washington, DC. I don’t have a car. I don’t live near a good grocery store,” says Young. “So my life is this hybrid of ordering from Amazon Fresh and going to the local farmers market …. I’m also working on the resilience and entrepreneurship of family-owned and women-owned businesses. Even patronizing competitors in these larger industries. ”

Young wants to respect Sister McGinnis’heritage by humanizing and demonstrating that she faces the same challenges as business owners while being a source of inspiration. Sometimes their pants seats. ”

“My mother and aunt were my feminist icons,” says Young. “I recognize that I’m a feminist. The kind of strength they’re showing and continuing to show is really exciting, even if they don’t necessarily use the term themselves. And that’s the daughter. I hope that not only will it inspire me as a niece and niece, but that the other people who participate in the program will recognize, respect and appreciate the kind of barriers they have broken as a woman in the industry. “


In Memory of the McGinnis Sisters: Food & Family Story.. Free from 7pm to 8:30 pm on Tuesday, December 14th. Registration is required. heinzhistorycenter.org/events



A descendant of McGinnis Sisters, a food historian talks about the game-changing market heritage | Food | Pittsburgh

Source link A descendant of McGinnis Sisters, a food historian talks about the game-changing market heritage | Food | Pittsburgh

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