Fairway Market founder announces retirement

Howard Glickberg, who took his grandfather’s fruit and vegetable stand on 74th and Broadway in New York City and built it into the iconic Fairway Market, with 15 locations across the tri-state New York/New Jersey/Connecticut region, will retire from the company effective immediately.

The announcement was made by Jack Murphy, Fairway Market’s chief executive officer, who added that Glickberg would remain on the company’s board.

“Howie has been indefatigable and indispensable to Fairway’s growth over the past four decades,” Murphy said in press release. “It was his vision to bring together the corner butcher, bakery, cheese monger, fish market and farmer’s market all under one roof, and add in an unparalleled selection of traditional, specialty and organic groceries at the best prices. All this has brought Fairway iconic status and enabled the company to truly earn the moniker ‘Like No Other Market.’”

Glickberg, who began unofficially working at Fairway as a child when he would accompany his father to the original 74th St. and Broadway location, and then officially while a college student, said it was simply time to step down.

“I’ve dedicated the past 40 years of my life to building the world’s greatest food store,” Glickberg, 67, said in the press release. “It’s been my life’s work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the past when I would take a little vacation, I would somehow wind up visiting a supermarket. And if I saw an apple out of place I would fix it. So I’ve never traveled anywhere without Fairway on my mind.”

Glickberg noted that his grandfather, Nathan, would be “amazed” and “proud” that the “small fruit and vegetable stand he opened more than 80 years ago has evolved into a company that is beloved by so many people across the tri-state region.”

Glickberg said he shares Fairway’s success with the “tens of thousands of dedicated employees and the millions of dedicated customers” with whom he has had the pleasure of working and serving the past four decades, and stressed that “without all of them, Fairway would not have become the icon that it has.”

Glickberg began his full-time involvement with Fairway Market in 1974 — six years after he graduated from C.W. Post College and after a stint as a stockbroker and a part-time staff member at a fish market. In 1975, to build the company, he partnered with David Sneddon and Harold Seybert. They began adding specialty items, expanding the space and emphasizing fresh fruit and vegetables that is at the core of all Fairway Markets.

For the next three decades, he and his dedicated team helped to make Fairway Market an icon in New York City and the food store with the highest volume per square foot of any in the country. When he decided to open a store in Harlem, he “ignored anyone who said he was crazy,” believing that high quality merchandise at the best prices is what every consumer wants. Fairway was welcomed into its neighborhood in 1995, where it continues to thrive.

Locations in Plainview, Long Island and Red Hook, Brooklyn, followed over the next several years, before Sterling Investment Partners acquired a controlling interest in the company and infused it with capital in order to facilitate greater expansion. There are now 15 Fairway Markets and three Fairway Wine & Spirits locations.

Glickberg said he is “especially proud that we’ve always been more than just a grocery retailer. We’ve always been — and I know we will always continue to be — a friend, a neighbor, a family.”

He pointed to Fairway’s commitment to supporting charitable organizations in the neighborhoods in which the stores are located, as well as its ongoing programs benefiting police, fire and military personnel.

Glickberg said his proudest moments came in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, when Fairway provided food and meals to first responders for at least a month, and following Hurricane Sandy when, despite its own Red Hook store being destroyed, Fairway donated truckloads of food and prepared thousands of free Thanksgiving and holiday meals for displaced families, and kept all 300 Red Hook Fairway employees on staff by providing free transportation to other Fairway stores.

Glickberg and Fairway Market have earned accolades and awards along the way including Entrepreneur of the Year from Deloitte & Touche, Business of the Year by the Westside Chamber of Commerce, Top 50 Influential Businessman in NYC by Crain’s, Top 50 Retailer by The Gourmet Retailer, Outstanding Specialty Food Retailers from Specialty Food, and Consumer Deal of the Year by M&A Magazine. Fairway was also listed on Inc.’s top 5000 fastest growing private companies for 2008, 2009, and 2010.

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