Greg Saubel, President of Saubel’s Markets never had the opportunity to know his grandfather Claude Saubel, but he has many recollections of stories about his grandpa.
The story that is most prevalent to Greg about Grandpa Saubel is the one of how he became involved in a small family owned country general store in the village of Hametown, PA. The story goes like this:
Claude Saubel was a tool and dye maker, working at the naval yard in Washington, D.C., when he took a leave of absence to help his father-in-law who was experiencing some health issues. Upon his father-in-laws death, Claude quit his job at the naval yard to remain in Hametown and help run the store. In 1926, Claude’s mother-in-law passed away, and he and his wife took over operations of the family business. The store operated as a Community Pure Foods store, which was supplied by P.A. & S. Small Company of York, PA. Many unusual but necessary items were sold from this location, including dynamite, wire fencing, plow shares, hardware, clothing, shoes, and more. Groceries were sold here as well, and home delivery was a big part of the operation.
In 1931, just five short years after acquiring the store, Claude and his second wife, Henrietta Saubel had a son. Their son, Leon grew up within the business and helped with the daily operations. Leon married his wife, Doris, in December of 1949, and she became involved in the business as well.
NEW STORE IN SHREWSBURY
As times changed and the area grew somewhat, Leon and Doris decided it was inevitable that a larger store should be built. They purchased land at 65 East Forrest Avenue in Shrewsbury, PA and began the building process. In March of 1966, the store opened as Saubel’s Super Thrift with a 5,200 sq. foot building and seven new employees.
As Leon saw appropriate, the new store housed a fresh meat department, produce, a regular grocery line (cereal, pastas, drinks, canned goods, etc.), and a complete selection of hardware. Window blinds and glass were available, and cut to specifications, and paint was mixed to order. Eventually, Leon and Doris decided to do away with the hardware and concentrate on selling groceries. They then incorporated an in- store bakery, a full service deli, and eventually a full service seafood department.
Prior to the new store being built, Leon and Doris had two sons, Steve and Greg. Both of the sons grew up in the business and also played a great role in forming the store in Shrewsbury into what it is today. They experienced five expansions (1971, 1976, 1980, 1986 and 1990), bringing the total store footage to 45,000 square feet. In the year 2000, the supermarket also went through a major remodel and changed suppliers. The store began trading as Saubel’s Shurfine Market and products were purchased from Associated Wholesalers in Robesonia and York, PA. In 2006, a full line of natural and organic products was added to meet the growing population and desires of the customers giving them more choices than ever before.
In the late 70’s, Saubel’s began introducing their own soups and salads and continued to expand on the number of items being made fresh, daily in the bakery. Saubel’s doughnuts continue to be mixed, proofed, fried and topped on premises daily for freshness that cannot be beat. A smokehouse was added so meats could be smoked, which led to the making of smoked sausage, beef jerky, homemade bologna, smoked turkey legs, salmon and more. Later, a second smokehouse was added to keep up with the demand.
In 1991, Leon and Doris both experienced some health issues and decided it was time to retire. They passed the business on to Steve and Greg, which was a smooth transition since both sons had been involved for so many years prior. They felt comfortable in knowing that the third generation of Saubel’s was ready to operate the family business.
The southern end of York County continued to grow at an incredible speed and in 2001 the opportunity arose for the acquisition of Graceton Markets, another long time family owned supermarket operation with two stores located in Stewartstown, PA and Whiteford, MD. Greg and Steve Saubel decided this was a wonderful business opportunity and decided to purchase the properties. The Graceton stores were remodeled and began operating under the Saubel’s name. The transition was a smooth one as the Saubels began operating the 28,300 square foot store in Stewartstown and the 20,000 square foot Whiteford location.
The Saubels decided they wanted to continue with their homemade flair, so soups and salads were made daily at the Shrewsbury location and transported as needed in our own refrigerated truck. Smoked meats, bolognas and jerky are also sent to the other locations on a regular basis.
In July of 2006, Steve and his wife, Marie, retired from the business and sold their part of the entity to Greg and his wife, Betti. Greg and Betti have three children, with two of them actively involved in the business. The oldest son, Bobby has graduated from Elizabethtown College and has been helping to manage the stores and learning many aspects of the business. Their daughter, Kelsi, works at the Shrewsbury location and is also helping to manage at that location. She graduated from The University of Pittsburgh in December 2011 and also acquired her Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy, graduating from Philadelphia University in May 2015. The youngest son, Adam, graduated from Elizabethtown College with a degree in Finance. Adam has chosen a career with Northwestern Mutual where he is a Financial Planner and lends a hand at the business when in need, such as with the rush of COVID 19 in 2020. Greg and Betti are most proud of all three of the children and look forward to working with Bobby and Kelsi daily, as they prepare to be the fourth generation in operations of Saubel’s Markets.
Exciting times happened as Greg and Betti opened a new facility in February 2009 to replace the old structure in Whiteford. The building is more than double the size of the old store. This part of Harford County is growing as well, much like the influx that Shrewsbury had experienced several years prior. The 43,500 foot store now houses a bakery which mirrors the same great taste and quality as the other two Saubel’s stores, as well as a fresh salad bar, hot foods bar, complete floral department, seafood department, and a pharmacy. The Saubel’s have a full line of beer, wine and liquor available in the new “Saubel’s Spirits” shop.
In September 2016, Greg and Betti opened a fourth store which they purchased from Food Lion. This store is located at 3611 E. Market Street, York. The Saubel’s made sure to keep the same homemade and local flair by preparing fresh items at the store, having meat cutters on hand to cut meat and grind the burger, plus many items are prepared at the Shrewsbury location and sent to the York store. Donuts are made fresh, daily, at Shrewsbury and sent to the York location via our delivery truck along with salads, soups and other items that are prepared at Shrewsbury.
As the stores have grown, so did the number of dedicated, hard working employees. Saubel’s currently employs over 350 people…a long way from the original seven in 1966. Without the hard work of so many devoted employees over the years, Saubel’s would not be the friendly store that it is today.
From a small general store in Hametown, to four stores sprawled out in York and Northern Harford Counties, the Saubel’s are proud of their success and we’re sure that Doris and Leon Saubel would be proud to see the accomplishments of Saubel’s Markets. Sadly enough, Doris passed away in March 2000, shortly after the remodel of the Shrewsbury location and before the other two stores were purchased. Leon saw the purchase of the Graceton stores and continued to show his support of the planning process of the new facility, but unfortunately passed away in September 2007 and was not with us to see the new store built. They are sadly missed, but not forgotten.
When asked what brings about his successes, Greg Saubel states, “Our quality, freshness, homemade items and customer service are second to none! We are a modern supermarket doing things the old fashioned way.”
We’re sure that Claude Saubel never envisioned his little country store in Hametown becoming Saubel’s Markets as you know it today! The Saubel’s are proud of being three generations and going on four.