H.R. Browns Grocery was one of the last neighborhood grocery stores in Pittsburg, Kansas. By 1912, there were seventy-nine retail grocery stores in Pittsburg. Their strength was in their relative convenience for their customers. Regular customers were sometimes allowed to buy on credit and pay Mr. Brown after payday. This was especially helpful to the coal miners, who worked less during the winter months.
Mr. and Mrs. Brown moved to Pittsburg in 1904 and opened a grocery store three years later at 424 South Broadway. They moved the store up the street to 412 South Broadway in 1910, where it operated until 1968. The store had a small storeroom attached to the back of the building. There was also a barn behind the store that housed the delivery wagons and horses, which were used to deliver groceries to homes. Unfortunately, the barn burned down in 1966 and was never replaced.
The store featured fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, dairy products and a large variety of dry goods. Fresh bread from Kent's Bakery and P & G Bakery were delivered to the store each morning. Wholesale meat purchased from Beck & Hill, at 305 North Broadway, was carried by the store after 1920. Kerosene was sold from a large can for use in household lamps.
Brown's grocery store flourished for almost six decades, operating from 1910 until 1968. Kentucky Fried Chicken offered Mr. Brown a very good price for his lot, so they could build a new franchise store on it.
This grocery store serves to remind us of Pittsburg's important past and the people that lived and worked in the city. It is an important addition to the Crawford County Historical Museum and is enjoyed by numerous visitors, who are given a unique glimpse into Pittsburg's past.