Researched & Submitted by Mary Rhodes
The following article was taken from the Wellsville Daily Reporter of April 10, 1888. Scoville, Brown & Company remained in business until 1970, and while the business and its buildings may have changed over the years, this article gives us a little insight into the scope of the operation in its early days.
Wellsville Daily Reporter April 10, 1888
Some Interesting Facts and Figures for the Public
“The Reporter” Man Interviews the Big Wholesale House of Scoville, Brown & Company - The Astonishing Amount of Business Transacted by the Firm.
But few of our citizens probably realize that this city contains one of the most prosperous business houses in the county and one having an extraordinarily large trade. We refer to the wholesale grocery house of Scoville, Brown & Co., which occupies the large double store in the block adjoining the Howell House, with extensive store houses and a large shipping yard, and sheds in the rear. People passing along Main street in front of their establishment get but a faint idea of the amount of business carried on by this enterprising firm. A glance through the big double stores and yards however, reveals the fact without question, that it is the liveliest and most prosperous establishment in the county, having few if any, equal in the Southern Tier. The curiosity of THE REPORTER having been aroused as to the extent of the business done, it determined to pay a visit to the firm and see if something interesting for our many readers could not be elicited. The present firm consists of L. H. Scoville, J. H. Brown and George C. Rosa, all well known enterprising and go ahead citizens. On entering the store we found Messrs. Brown and Rosa, who have the main oversight and charge of the business, hustling out a large shipment of groceries consigned to Addison and Corning, east, and Olean, west.
THE REPORTER’S man, after making known his desire, was not only “turned loose” in the establishment to see and inspect for himself, but was generously conducted around and about by one of the proprietors in person. The salesrooms – there are two – are in size 20 x 80 feet. Here is carried a full line of teas, spices, tobaccos, baking powders, extracts, canned goods, etc, piled in tiers and reaching from the floor to the ceiling. There seemed to be a place for everything and, what is equally important, everything was in its place. After having “sized up” this department a visit was made to the storehouses and shipping yard which are directly in the rear of the salesrooms. On the way to the same, occasion was taken to run down stairs and just glance at what was kept in the basement. This space was found to be devoted to the storing of soaps, dried fruits, oranges, lemons and etc.
The first storehouse visited was one of those built by the firm last fall. It is in size 30 x 38, two stories high and literally fire proof. The outside being of corrugated iron with sheet iron roof. The inside is packed with goods, including starch, nuts, light drugs, grass and clover seed. In the centre of this building is a large refrigerator, which comes handy in hot weather for keeping in proper condition butter, cheese, fruits and the like. At the east end of the building is located one of Parson Bro’s. Peerless Roasters for roasting coffee and peanuts. It is heated by natural gas an operated by a water motor, and the way it can turn out fresh roasted peanuts would make the average boy smile as loud as did the ladies of the W. C. T. U. when a no license excise commissioner was elected in Wellsville last month. Its capacity is 125 pounds of coffee at one roasting, and it can easily be made to turn out a ton of this breakfast luxury a day.
STOREHOUSE NO. 2 was also built last fall, is 20 x 56, two stories high, and its structure is materially the same as the first mentioned. Here is stored heavy goods, such as salt, lime, cement, land plaster, stone and wooden ware. This building is located close to the tracks of the Erie RR, the firm having a private switch that enables them to run their goods, which they buy in car load lots, right to their very doors. Adjoining, with only an ordinary walk intervening, is..
STOREHOUSE NO 3 – this is another large building, with two stories and a basement. It has an opening on the Erie track sectioned off in bins capable of holding car load lots of grain and feed in bulk.
The fact of such a large and important business having been built up in our midst by the push and energy of the proprietors, is, and should be a source of pride to every citizen of Wellsville. This establishment is a great benefit and help to our little city. For the merchants in the inland towns of this county and from over the line in Potter county, all of whom buy their supplies of Scoville, Brown & Co., send teams to this city after their invoices of goods and thus bring trade in other lines, thereby benefiting every other dealer in this place. It should also be noted that this firm adds largely to the “surplus” cash in circulation as their pay roll amounts to the neat little sum of $600 each month, and the fifteen employees, receive their salaries in hard cash. All of these gentlemen, with one or two exceptions, being heads of families much of their income necessarily goes to swell the coffers of the other business men of Wellsville.
An idea of the magnitude of this firm’s transactions can be better understood from a few figures which our reporter was allowed to take direct from their books.
Their sales for the month of March, 1888 were $29,550.
The amount, in weight, of goods unloaded at their switch for last month was 556,000 pounds. In addition to this, 84,000 pounds were received at the Erie station, making a grand total of 640,000 pounds. The output by team and rail was at least equally large.
Their sales in flour average 800 barrels per month, and it is estimated by the firm that they will handle a plump $80,000 worth of grass and clover seed this spring.
Their freight bills amount to over twenty times those of any other dealer in the place, often reaching over $1,000 per month.
They sell goods in every town and village between Hornellsville and Olean, and all through Tioga, McKean and Potter counties, Pa. and Allegany, Steuben and Cattaraugus counties, N.Y.
The foregoing figures and facts are reliable and can be substantiated. Buying in the quantities they do, and with the facilities which few firms enjoy, Scoville, Brown & Co., are enabled to offer to retail dealers better inducements than can be held out by larger houses in the metropolis. The matter of freight alone which they can save all their customers, makes a handsome margin in its self.
It is with pleasure that THE REPORTER thus refers to a firm who by square dealing, and an enterprise well worthy of them, have given to Wellsville one of the most substantial establishments in the state. It is a plant that any large city might well envy, and although now doing a business 50 percent larger than in 1886, when the present firm was organized, their aims and ambitions have by no means yet reach their fulfillment, and their motto is “Onward and Upward. THE REPORTER predicts still greater strides in business enterprise for the successful firm of Scoville, Brown Co.