"We're sitting on pins and needles."
It was late June 1992, and Chenango County economic developer Robert Hammons was referring to the deal involving the sale of the Norwich-based Victory Markets to a Long Island investment group. The concern was about the status of hundreds of local jobs at the company's headquarters and warehouses.
It had only been about six years since Victory had been bought in a leveraged deal by LNC Industries of Australia. In 1992, Victory markets was running 77 Great American Food Stores in New York state.
On Friday, June 19, Victory announced that it entered a "definite agreement" to sell all of its equity to Long Island-based Center Capital Investors, a private investment firm involving Aaron Malinsky, former executive vice president of A&P Supermarkets and president of Waldbaum's Inc.
Norwich and Chenango County officials had heard nothing from Victory or Centre Capital Investors about the deal, other than it was in the works.
That was until Tuesday morning, Aug. 18, when Malinsky made the announcement at a news conference in Utica that Victory Markets would be moving its operations to that city in the next few months.
Norwich stood to lose 580 jobs. There would be about 100 jobs available in Utica if employees wished to remain with the company.
No sooner than the ink was dry on the deal, security guards were brought in to Norwich offices and some workers were almost immediately escorted to the door with their personal belongings.
"The bottom has been pulled out from us and there was nothing we could have done," Mayor Marjorie Chomyszak said.
Not long before she became mayor, the city of Norwich had lent Victory Markets millions of dollars in federal money during the 1980s to help the company build a state-of-the-art facility.
A plan was pitched in early October of that year for more than 300 unionized workers affected by the move to Utica, to purchase several of the Victory facilities in Norwich and convert them into an employee-operated grocery distribution business.
Centre Capital Investors turned down the offer to buy Victory property under an employee stock option purchase plan.
"We were surprised because this was feasible and financeable," Hammons said. "It did not appear they gave it a lot of consideration because they did not ask us one single question from the time it was submitted until they rejected it," on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
The jobs departed and the former Victory properties were vacant, but for only a short time. The Daily Star reported that a majority of the space had been leased, but that the majority of the jobs lost in the move to Utica had not been replaced.
The Centre Capital Investors move to Utica enjoyed little success, as the company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1995. Great American Stores in Oneonta, New Berlin and the Binghamton area had closed during 1995-96, according to a Star article from May 1996.
A loan was also granted in federal bankruptcy court to Victory Markets in May 1996. That was the last gasp, as the chain soon went bankrupt. Many of the stores were sold and are still run under the Great American name. You won't find one in Norwich, as the last store closed in the city in February 1998.
The former Victory Markets' headquarters at 54 E. Main St. is now the site of a shopping plaza, anchored by Tops Friendly Markets.
This weekend: an 1862 Fourth of July in Oneonta.
City Historian Mark Simonson's column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or e-mail him at email@example.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.
"We're sitting on pins and needles."
- Big Chuck D'Imperio
Safety Patrol D.C. visits never get old
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- Catching a whiff of 'Vermont Vapor'
- Selections from the virtual mailbag
- Recalling days of 'Doughnut King'
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- Cary Brunswick
We've become our own worst enemies
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- Chuck Pinkey
- Guest Column
A closer look at the Oneonta town survey
The Town of Oneonta conducted a survey of town residents during February and March of this year. The survey indicated that generally town residents are satisfied with the quality of services provided and they are happy to live here. They want to balance the quiet, rural way of life we have with additional commercial development and environmentally sound practices.Continued ...
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- Lisa Miller
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Fire towers in the Catskill Mountains have always been destination points, built to capture some of the region’s best views. These sentinel stations served an important role for the earliest possible sightings of forest fires in the remote mountain ranges. But the fire towers and those who manned them fulfilled a multitude of other roles as well.Continued ...
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- Mark Simonson
Blackmail scheme failed to hurt Richfield Springs resort season in 1888
The timing simply couldn't have been worse. Thousands of visitors were making plans for their summer vacations to Richfield Springs in 1888 when a bombshell of a newspaper article hit the newsstands of New York City. The article appeared in The New York Sun that stated typhoid fever and diphtheria had a "heavy presence" in the resort village, known and respected worldwide for its cleanliness and good health.Continued ...
- General Clinton Canoe Regatta got a new home in 1972
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- Local people sought income in many ways in 1933
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- Rick Brockway
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Millions of people flock to see the great waterfalls of the world. They watch the millions of gallons of water wash over Niagara Falls or see the water come out of spectacular mountains to fall hundreds of feet into the valleys below. Waterfalls are truly some of nature's most beautiful sights.
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- Sam Pollak
- William Masters
Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues
As the time to vote draws near, we need to remember how money can run politics more than we can. Raising funds is a prominent (if not the dominant) task of getting elected. Raising issues is also crucial, but those efforts are subject to distortion and fear-mongering.
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Romney focuses on self; Obama emphasizes unity
Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama for saying a person's success is rooted in his community, and is not all his alone. Romney belittles this with his belief in individual initiative. He is better at the put-down than the push-up.
Romney shows little regard for common man
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- Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues