UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A local merchant is celebrating 100 years in business - a century of living and working in the Mohawk Valley.
Family, friends, and local dignitaries were all on hand at Chanatry's Market in Utica on Wednesday morning, where the store celebrated its centennial.
Starting out as a small store on Bleecker Street, the family-run market, now on French Road, has withstood the test of time and competition from larger, chain grocery stores.
The Chanatry family says they attribute their success to the many people in the community they serve every day.
"Today is a good day for not only us, but the vendors we do business with, the customers we do business with," said Mark Chanatry, President of Chanatry's Market. "We're all tied in together and our success is what they contribute and we're very fortunate to have this very proud day for all of us."
Proclamations were made by Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente and Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, as well as the offices of Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, Senator Joe Griffo and Congressman Richard Hanna.
Chanatry is not just the name of a Utica family, it's a tradition and a memory for most families in the Mohawk Valley.
"Shopping in our store has to be easy, it has to be a pleasure, it has to be abundantly filled.," said Bill Chanatry.
In 1912, his father and two uncles arrived in Utica from Syria and even from the start, "quality" made Chanatry's a household name.
"In the roaring 20's they were thriving and planning for an expansion, but 1929 came and the depression hit," Bill Chantry said. "That was a tragedy to everyone in Utica, all over the country. They were giving groceries off the cuff and making jobs for as many people as they could."
The Chanatry Brothers took a risk and opened one of the first supermarkets in the United States.
"Shortly after they opened that store in 1938, World War II started," Bill Chanatry said. "It changed all the rules. Young people had to go to war. Chanatry's lost, for a small store, we lost many of our young employees. They went to war, never to come back here."
Chanatry's fought back and it was one of only two stores in the state to be recognized for selling war bonds.
"They gave us a big award, a treasury flag. It sends goose pimples…it still does," Bill Chanatry said.
Fifty years into the store's history, it was the City of Utica that said it was time to relocate.
"The powers that be decided they were going to have urban renewal. They came up and down the streets, knocking buildings down," Bill Chanatry said. "Decisions were made to move to south Utica and deep into east Utica. Two Chanatry's stores were opened, one run by my cousins, the other run by my family. We landed up on French Road."
Most Uticans would agree there is one department that makes the Chanatry name shine.
"We have a huge meat department. It's our gemstone," Bill Chanatry said. "The service meat department is the biggest between Albany and Buffalo and no one else does that because it's labor intensive. That meat is cut fresh throughout the day and you can see it. We buy as much as we can locally. Everything we can buy locally with quality. We'll buy locally. We're locked into the community. Our name is on that building and we're not going to let it get tarnished."