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The Original Boys Started Small

October 05, 1987|MARTHA GROVES

The Goldstein brothers--Joseph, Max and Edward--who founded Boys Markets would scarcely know their business today.

They started it in the 1920s, soon after moving to California from Illinois. To support the family after their father's death, Joe and his younger brothers trundled produce and groceries door-to-door in a pushcart and sold from a produce stand on Telegraph Road in East Los Angeles.

Around 1924, the brothers opened a grocery store at that location. Another brother, Bernard, quit school at age 16 to work full time and other brothers pitched in before and after school. A second store was built in 1931.

By that time, the brothers had come to be known as the Boys, and the name stuck.

During the Depression, the brothers worked 16 to 20 hours a day to make ends meet. As the story goes, Bernard often was too tired to walk home and slept on sugar sacks in the back room.

The business was incorporated about 1936 and was privately held by the Goldstein family until the April, 1986, leveraged buyout by management and the investment firm of Riordan Freeman & Spogli. The remaining Goldstein family members departed after a squabble with new owners.

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