"We're sitting on pins and needles."
It was late June 1992, and Chenango County economic developer Robert Hammons was referring to the deal involving the sale of the Norwich-based Victory Markets to a Long Island investment group. The concern was about the status of hundreds of local jobs at the company's headquarters and warehouses.
It had only been about six years since Victory had been bought in a leveraged deal by LNC Industries of Australia. In 1992, Victory markets was running 77 Great American Food Stores in New York state.
On Friday, June 19, Victory announced that it entered a "definite agreement" to sell all of its equity to Long Island-based Center Capital Investors, a private investment firm involving Aaron Malinsky, former executive vice president of A&P Supermarkets and president of Waldbaum's Inc.
Norwich and Chenango County officials had heard nothing from Victory or Centre Capital Investors about the deal, other than it was in the works.
That was until Tuesday morning, Aug. 18, when Malinsky made the announcement at a news conference in Utica that Victory Markets would be moving its operations to that city in the next few months.
Norwich stood to lose 580 jobs. There would be about 100 jobs available in Utica if employees wished to remain with the company.
No sooner than the ink was dry on the deal, security guards were brought in to Norwich offices and some workers were almost immediately escorted to the door with their personal belongings.
"The bottom has been pulled out from us and there was nothing we could have done," Mayor Marjorie Chomyszak said.
Not long before she became mayor, the city of Norwich had lent Victory Markets millions of dollars in federal money during the 1980s to help the company build a state-of-the-art facility.
A plan was pitched in early October of that year for more than 300 unionized workers affected by the move to Utica, to purchase several of the Victory facilities in Norwich and convert them into an employee-operated grocery distribution business.
Centre Capital Investors turned down the offer to buy Victory property under an employee stock option purchase plan.
"We were surprised because this was feasible and financeable," Hammons said. "It did not appear they gave it a lot of consideration because they did not ask us one single question from the time it was submitted until they rejected it," on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
The jobs departed and the former Victory properties were vacant, but for only a short time. The Daily Star reported that a majority of the space had been leased, but that the majority of the jobs lost in the move to Utica had not been replaced.
The Centre Capital Investors move to Utica enjoyed little success, as the company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1995. Great American Stores in Oneonta, New Berlin and the Binghamton area had closed during 1995-96, according to a Star article from May 1996.
A loan was also granted in federal bankruptcy court to Victory Markets in May 1996. That was the last gasp, as the chain soon went bankrupt. Many of the stores were sold and are still run under the Great American name. You won't find one in Norwich, as the last store closed in the city in February 1998.
The former Victory Markets' headquarters at 54 E. Main St. is now the site of a shopping plaza, anchored by Tops Friendly Markets.
This weekend: an 1862 Fourth of July in Oneonta.
City Historian Mark Simonson's column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or e-mail him at email@example.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.
"We're sitting on pins and needles."
- Big Chuck D'Imperio
There's no tough sledding when you're a youngster|
Winter weather is here. And so are outdoor winter activities.Continued ...
- Vroman's Nose hike is no walk in the park
- Being a grandpa will be better than just OK
- Some hits from the soundtrack of my life
- Some book picks from an avid reader
- There's no tough sledding when you're a youngster|
- Cary Brunswick
Instead of boycotting, buy locally
Buy Nothing Day, that international day of protest against rampant consumerism, is traditionally reserved for Black Friday in the United States and for the next day, Saturday, in other countries.Continued ...
- Don't expect high scores from hungry students
- Obama's stuck between a rock and a hard place
- Common Core had little input from educators
- This shutdown stuff is making me nauseated
- Instead of boycotting, buy locally
- Chuck Pinkey
- Guest Column
Attitudes are changing on gas drilling
With elections over, the candidate lawn signs are gone. Otsego's permanent signage has once again returned. "For Sale" signs have reclaimed the lawns -- people attempting to sell and leave.Continued ...
- Balancing the city budget on kids' backs
- Dude, where's my socioeconomic class?
- Congress playing hunger games
- Election choices: what are they, really?
- Attitudes are changing on gas drilling
- Lisa Miller
A view from above
Fire towers in the Catskill Mountains have always been destination points, built to capture some of the region’s best views. These sentinel stations served an important role for the earliest possible sightings of forest fires in the remote mountain ranges. But the fire towers and those who manned them fulfilled a multitude of other roles as well.Continued ...
- Being a parent is a constant learning process
- Healthy doesn't have to mean expensive
- A family era ends with close of Potter series
- Independent stores make up for loss of Borders
- A view from above
- Mark Simonson
Oneonta's Foreign Exchange Student Program got green light 55 years ago
"A foreign exchange student, attending classes at Oneonta High School, looms somewhere near in the future."Continued ...
- It could be difficult to get around Oneonta in late 1888
- Professional basketball exhibitions played at armory
- Railroad, related developments expanded Oneonta in 1863
- Famous hobo discouraged youths from becoming wanderers
- Oneonta's Foreign Exchange Student Program got green light 55 years ago
- Rick Brockway
Winter is great, but always be prepared for the worst
Winter is one of my favorite times of the year. It's not just that I love to ski, but it's a great time to be out in the woods. There's very little snow on the ground right now, so hiking can be a lot of fun.
- Gray squirrels bring back some fond memories
- Whitetail bucks are as smart as they come
- DEC makes deer season even better
- If you happen to come across a lynx, the DEC wants to know
- Winter is great, but always be prepared for the worst
- Sam Pollak
The feds still aren't coming for your guns
"Tuck this column you wrote away in your scrapbook ... it will one day prove to be a source of great embarrassment for you."Continued ...
- 50 years can't fade a day to remember
- Getting robbed of my untapped potential
- Here's what I've learned about the next generation
- I blame the liberals for America's mess
- The feds still aren't coming for your guns
- William Masters
Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues
As the time to vote draws near, we need to remember how money can run politics more than we can. Raising funds is a prominent (if not the dominant) task of getting elected. Raising issues is also crucial, but those efforts are subject to distortion and fear-mongering.
Republicans feelentitled to allthey can garner
An entitlement is a legal benefit available from the government to individuals who are within a defined category of recipients, such as needing insurance for unemployment or health services.
Romney focuses on self; Obama emphasizes unity
Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama for saying a person's success is rooted in his community, and is not all his alone. Romney belittles this with his belief in individual initiative. He is better at the put-down than the push-up.
Romney shows little regard for common man
The Republicans in Congress have voted over and over, 33 times, redundantly and uselessly, to rescind what they call Obamacare.
Scouts' gay ban creates problem where none exists
The Boy Scouts of America's "emphatic reaffirmation" of its vow to exclude any and all homosexuals from its hallowed ranks is ill-considered and pathetic, especially in view of its having reviewed the matter for two years.
- Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues