Photo courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Archives
Photo courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Archives

Charlie Brod was a well-known grocer on Queen Anne Hill. Starting in the grocery business in 1909, he finally retired 53 years later in 1962, when he was 84 years old.

He was an old-fashioned nice guy, and had a straightforward personality, according to Alden Graebner who worked as a delivery boy for him while at Queen Anne High School. Graebner still recalls the delivery truck — a black circa-1940 panel van. 

Charlie Brod was described by longtime local resident and Queen Anne Historical Society member Paul Mooney as the “father confessor for all the housewives” on Queen Anne Hill.

During the Great Depression he was respected in the neighborhood for selling groceries on credit to families who couldn’t afford to pay their bill. Mooney recalled, in the 1982 Queen Anne Historical Society Oral History Project, that Brod was “ … telling about the amounts that he was carrying,” on credit during the Depression. “Of course, the suppliers are carrying me. There was nothing else they could do. People got to eat (sic).”

Born Oct 12, 1878 in Kansas City, Kansas to German-Jewish immigrants, he came to Seattle to visit the Alaska-Yukon Expedition in 1909 and got a job at high-end grocer Augustine & Kyer on Capitol Hill two days later. He was the produce manager of the Queen Anne Augustine & Kyer store by 1911.

Polk City Directory lists a new grocery for him in 1918, as he went into business for himself around the corner at 15 W. Galer at the Little Queen Anne Grocery aka Brod & Baker.  The property is currently the Gale Anne Terrace apartments.

His business partner was a man named Shirley Bertrand Baker and their grocery boasted regular groceries, baked goods, delicatessen food, “lunch served” and cigars.

Brod lived in an apartment next door, at 23 W. Galer (currently Queen Anne Court, which is still the same building) for 50 years.

While in business on Galer St, he and his business partner also operated a grocery inside a house in 1914 at 1717 First Ave. N.

In 1925 he began operations at Standard Grocery with another longtime grocer, Barney Konick, at 2212 Queen Anne Ave. N. (currently Queen Anne Dispatch). It was a classic old-fashioned market until the day it closed. With its own house credit, Brod tracked the customer accounts with a vintage McCaskey File System. Business was conducted over the main counter, and according to the Seattle Times, the convivial store smelled of “bananas, spices and sweeping compound.” It served both the hard-pressed of Queen Anne and the well-off on the hill.

Brod ran that grocery until 1962, and his clientele included generations of regulars from all over the hill. Groceries ordered by phone were collected in numbered wooden boxes for delivery. When asked if he ever thought of modernizing, he told John J. Reddin of The Seattle Times that he had entertained the idea but his customers told him not to, because they didn’t come to Standard Grocery for “fancy service.”

In 1962 his store, whose space he rented for years, was bought by a plumbing and electrical company, and he decided to close the business.

He passed away in 1965, just three years after he retired.

ALICIA ARTER is a member of the Queen Anne Historical Society Board of Directors. For more information, to view source material for this article, or to read past articles in this series, go to qahistory.org.