Each time I drive by the house at 28 Copper Hill Road, I think of George Guay. Guay lived in that house while running his grocery store for nearly half a century. I had the good fortune to work for Guay in the 1970s as a teenager, one of hundreds of teenagers from Granby and East Granby.
In 1935, George moved from Willimantic to Granby and opened a small grocery store specializing in meats with his partner, Ray Hannah, located where Beman’s hardware store is today. As the business grew, they needed more space and they rented the old Loomis store at the corner of Hartford Ave. and Rt. 202/10 in 1940. In 1944, they remodeled the store. Hannah and Guay continued to sell special cuts of meat, produce and other groceries and made deliveries as well. In 1945, Hannah and Guay officially purchased the property from James Lee Loomis. Two years later, Ray Hannah retired and George Guay found a new partner, Willard Kellogg.
After the Second World War, Granby’s population was rapidly growing. In 1940, the population was 1,540; by 1950, it had increased to nearly 2,700 and in 1960, Granby’s population was close to 5,000 people. As the town grew, Guay and Kellogg again needed more space, so they built a new store three times as big as the Old Loomis Store on Bank Street. Construction started in 1961 and the grand opening was on April 12, 1962. At the new store, Guay and Kellogg’s house brand was Sweet Life Products from Springfield, Mass. With the purchase of groceries, you would receive S & H Green Stamps and on Wednesdays, customers got double stamps. After collecting books of stamps, a trip to a S & H redemption center to exchange the books rewarded you with household goods or small appliances.
I always believed that George Guay’s success as a grocer was because of service. I remember him teaching us about bagging groceries, saying the bag is square and should always remain that way. He stressed that meats and produce should always go in plastic bags and to always offer to help customers with their groceries by taking them to their car. Willard Kellogg died in 1969 at the age of 61 and George Guay continued to work well into his 70s. His son, Ted, and son-in-law, Bill Narkon, helped run the store after Willard Kellogg died. George Guay died in 1984 at the age of 79. The next year, Geissler’s bought Guay and Kellogg and is still serving the town.
Want to learn more about George Guay, Willard Kellogg or the many businesses Granby is home to? Join the Salmon Brook Historical Society by calling 860-653-9713 or visiting salmonbrookhistoricalsociety.com