By Lisa Sanders
Save your Snider’s receipts! Find out why below.
Dave Snider has been in the grocery business for three-quarters of a century. The son of Lillian and Louis Snider, founders of the eponymously named grocery store located at Seminary Road and Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, Dave and his brother Jerry began helping with the family business while in elementary school, after school and weekends. His dad ran the meat department and his mother worked cashier, says Dave, who turns 83 this year, while he and his brother “…did anything, everything. We unpacked boxes, bagged groceries, stocked items. When we got older, we drove trucks and delivered groceries – the sort of thing that Peapod does today. There was no set job; we just worked.”
After school-and-weekend work morphed into their lifetime vocations. “Our family is not immune to work,” says Dave, noting that Jerry, who passed away four years ago at 80 years of age, went to the store his very last day. Because Snider’s Super Foods is independently owned, located in the heart of Silver Spring, it has been very closely connected to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Save Your Snider’s Receipts
Jerry created the Snider’s Receipt Donation Program as a way to generate business and to give back to the community, explains Dave. His three children attended Montgomery County Schools, including the former Montgomery Hills Junior High (now the Greater Washington Area Torah School), just up the street from Snider’s. The program has grown by word of mouth over the years to include 25 schools. But our neighborhood school, Woodlin Elementary, is the largest participant. This year Woodlin received $2,804 from Snider’s – a significant donation that will help pay for such PTA-sponsored efforts as buses for after-school clubs. “It was a way to say thank you to our customers, to give back to our community,” says Dave, a longtime North Woodside resident until a few years ago.
More Men Shopping
Chatting with Dave offers a peek into our community’s changing tastes and cultural habits. “We never saw men shopping, back then,” he says of his early days as a grocer. “Now men and women both are in the store. We’ve always been known for the quality of our meat; we buy nothing but USDA choice [a cut that’s like prime, but with less fat]. Still, in our store, as in most, the meat counter is about half the size of what it once was. Back then, people built their meals around meat. In contrast, the dairy department is larger today.” That’s because the variety of milk, yogurt, and cheese has exploded. Other favorites? “You can’t keep things on the shelf in pasta and beans,” says Dave. Snider’s carries around 20 different brands of sauces today. Wine, similarly, occupies much more shelf space – in 1946, when Snider’s got its beer and wine license, the store carried only six different types, and pints were big sellers. Beer choices were either locally made brands (Senate, from D.C., and National Bohemian, from Baltimore) or nationals like Pabst, Schlitz, and Budweiser.
“Still changing,” says Dave, of customers’ tastes and the products appearing on store shelves. While Snider’s can be more flexible than many big companies in sourcing specific items if enough people request them, he notes, “even for us, there are some we can’t afford to carry.” And some costs, he says, cannot be passed on to consumers. Consider a jar of Hellman’s Mayonnaise. “People have an aversion to paying more than $5.00 for it, even if because of inflation it costs us more than that.” Snider’s sells it for $4.95.
Good Business for Benefits Woodlin
“It’s a good business,” says Dave, “but it’s a hard one. It’s been good to me and to my family.” It’s also been good to Woodlin Elementary.
Next time you are shopping, please say thank you to Dave and many Snider’s employees (including his longtime bookkeeper, Liz) who help to keep the receipt program going.
Donate your Snider’s receipts! List of neighbors collecting them