More than a Market

Epstein Block 3

The Epstein brothers co-owned a successful business, but their personalities were very different. Where John was gregarious with a flamboyant sense of humor, Sam was quiet with a dry wit.

John performed in countless variety shows and plays to raise money for local organizations—singing, dancing, and serving as “end man.” His creative ads in the Burlington Daily News attracted attention from Food Topics, a national newspaper for retail grocers. John attributed the market’s robust sales to his “personal touch” advertising combined with the emphasis on special savings. The ads typically began with a personal note to customers or a whimsical anecdote, sometimes mentioning customers or family by name. John spent three or four hours each week at the newspaper advertising office designing his ad. He also used the ads to promote local causes like voting or the PTA.

Burlington Daily News, June 1, 1950


Burlington Daily News, October 17, 1941


Sam was just as likely to spend an evening composing a Letter to the Editor in the evening, sharing his knowledge of history and culture or commenting on a news article or opinion. He took delight in puzzles of all kinds – acrostics, palindromes, and other brainteasers. His son, Merrill, recalls that for every president elected, he would do an acrostic with the name of the president in it and send it to the White House. He usually received a response.


Sam always had a pencil resting on his ear and he wore the same little Irish hat every day. If your bill came to 4.44, he’d say it’s the same amount backwards. —Jeff Rawding, Winooski customer