"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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
Gilbert Lake a jewel among N.Y. parks
New York does quite a few things right, and misses the mark on things almost as many times. But nobody does a state park quite like New York does.Continued ...
- Baseball cards: Different spokes for different folks
- It's just a short drive down my memory lane
- Sept. 11 Museum is sobering, inspiring
- Remembering the singing cowboy
- Gilbert Lake a jewel among N.Y. parks
- Cary Brunswick
'Insurgent' or 'patriot' can be hard to define
A common perception may have been that writing human history is a mere description and explanation of events. We know better now, however, that even the driest facts are colored by the language and ideology of those doing the writing.Continued ...
- Gaskin and The Farm filled a void
- We shouldn't be surprised by Iraq's turmoil
- Brunswick column on hiatus
- Two-tiered Internet is a bad idea
- 'Insurgent' or 'patriot' can be hard to define
- Chuck Pinkey
- Guest Column
Baseball Hall of Fame evolves, but remains as relevant as ever
I am often asked how the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum continues to be successful, year-in and year-out. The answer is simple: relevance. Our methodology to remain relevant is straightforward: preserve history, honor excellence and connect generations.Continued ...
- Guns only dangerous in wrong hands
- Like it or not, the curriculum needed reform
- Police must crack down on motorcycle noise
- SAFE Act won't help get the lead out
- Baseball Hall of Fame evolves, but remains as relevant as ever
- 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
Lure of local off-track betting gained little foothold
From now until Labor Day, many from across our region will take a trip to Saratoga Casino and Raceway. Some will go to take in the sights and sounds, others for the "swag" that's given away, and of course some will place their bets on a favorite racehorse.Continued ...
- Future Hall of Famer Mack visited Oneonta in 1924
- Successes, train derailment were newsmakers in July 1984
- Oneonta street boomed to prosperity in 1893
- Local landmarks, new conveniences made news in summer 1954
- Lure of local off-track betting gained little foothold
- Rick Brockway
Young birds' motto: If at first you don't succeed, fly, fly again
We have been blessed this summer as we camp on our hill. We have watched six mallard ducklings grow from little fuzzy chicks to young adult birds.
- Good old days revolved around a good old swimming hole
- Sometimes hungry animals just come with the territory
- There's plenty to do at the Ellenville Fault Ice Caves
- Fireflies never cease to amaze as nature's night-lights
- Young birds' motto: If at first you don't succeed, fly, fly again
- Sam Pollak
Garagiola shows that nice guys can finish first
Through the long decades, I have managed to retain the ability to really, really annoy people, especially, it seems, nice people.Continued ...
- Macho, crazy America sticks to its guns
- My father is in my mirror, my dreams
- Being president doesn't look like much fun
- Some changes are just style over substance
- Garagiola shows that nice guys can finish first
- 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