Benny Aiscowitz’s first Atlantic City grocery store was an old-fashioned kind of place, in more ways than one.
It was called Morris’ Market, for its founder, Morris Aiscowitz. When his health forced him out of the shop on New York Avenue, Morris’ older sons, Benny and Joe, took over in about 1950.
Joe, of Egg Harbor Township, said it was the old style of store in which most of the merchandise was in the back and customers ordered at the counter.
“And if a person came in and got eight or 10 items, we counted (the bill) on the paper bag,” he said. “We had no adding machines.”
Joe, now 87, ran back through memories of his old business Monday, a few weeks after his big brother died. Benny, also of Egg Harbor Township, had just turned 89.
Their store would deliver, but that was pretty old-school too.
“We had a real wagon” — the kind made for kids — “and we also had a bicycle,” Joe added. “But eventually, we did get a car.”
Linda Greenspun, of Margate, is the daughter of Benny and Marcia Aiscowitz. Greenspun said the family store was old-fashioned in at least one more key way.
“Nobody had credit cards then. Nobody had food stamps,” she said. “If you had money, you paid for the food. If not, you took it home and paid when you could.”
But after years at Morris,’ the brothers moved to a bigger store. Ben’s Market was on Pacific Avenue, and it used a more modern model.
“It had a large meat counter,” recalled Ken Aiscowitz, 60, Benny’s son. “It had fruit and vegetables out front, and a few rows of canned goods. ... It was the only semisupermarket in Atlantic City at that point.”
The meat was a real draw, especially pork.
“Ben’s Market had a motto, ‘We sell everything but the oink,’” added Ken, who worked there for years.
The brothers closed their store in about 1990, but by then, Benny’s two kids had learned their business lessons. They still use them today in their own shops — Linda sells women’s clothes and Ken is in antiques.
“He had a work ethic, and he expected everyone else to have one, too,” his son said. “You were there to work, not to fool around.”
When he wasn’t working, Benny was active at Beth El Synagogue in Margate, where Rabbi Aaron Krauss knew him for more than 40 years. The synagogue opens its own store before every Passover, selling things families need for the holiday that may otherwise be hard to find locally. The Passover store is both a fundraiser for Beth El and a way for the synagogue to help some needy members, Krauss said.
Benny was a constant volunteer at the store, and “in later years, he ran it pretty much on his own,” the rabbi said. “Even at a relatively advanced age, he did a lot of the hard work on his own.”
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