FIRST KARSCH GROCERY STORE OPENED IN LEADWOOD IN 1910
The first Karsch Store opened in Leadwood in 1910. At that time it was a General Store and located on the corner of Church and Division Street, now known as Walnut Street. This structure burned in the 1930's and a new Karsch opened across the Street.
FIRE DESTROYS LEADWOOD STORE
Heavy Loss Suffered by Karsch Food Market; Open for Business
[St. Francois County Journal, January 30, 1936]
The most disastrous fire in Leadwood for many years occurred Monday evening when the Karsch Food Market was destroyed.
The store was closed about fifteen minutes before six o'clock by the help, while E. F. Karsch was in Flat River. Mr. Karsch returned to Leadwood about fifteen minutes after six and stopped at the store before going home. As he entered the store, he smelled smoke and discovered the smoke in the attic near the chimney.
The fire was reported at once and an effort to save the building was made by those who could hastily be summoned. The hose company from the St. Joseph Lead company responded and the fire department at Flat River was called, but the fire could not be brought under control.
When it was evident that the fire could not be put out, as much merchandise as possible was carried out of the burning store. While several hundred dollars worth of groceries and a quantity of fixtures were carried out of the building, the expensive electrically cooled meat counter, the large ice box, and several thousand dollars worth of groceries and fixtures were destroyed as well as the building.
Good work was done by the Flat River company and the Leadwood hose crew in pouring water on the fire and keeping the fire from spreading to the adjoining buildings. Roofs of other buildings did ignite on several occasions. People stationed on the roofs of buildings kept them under control.
While some insurance was carried on both the stock and the building, it was inadequate to cover the loss as the Karsch Food Market carried a very heavy stock of merchandise.
The stock and fixtures from the burning store were removed to the Karsch building formerly occupied by their store years ago. After the fire had subsided, the store was opened for business on Tuesday morning, although their quarters were somewhat crowded and the stock reduced.
Definite plants for the future have not been announced, but it is probably that the store will be rebuilt.
In 1903, a shoe cobbler and his family immigrated from Germany to the Farmington area. Three years later, the shoe cobbler's son, Edward Franklin Karsch, opened a grocery story in Leadwood, Missouri.
Edward F. Karsch Sr.'s son, Edward F. Karsch Jr. (the first Karsch child to be born in the United States), joined the family business in the late 1920s, and opened a Karsch's Food Market on North Missouri Street in Potosi in 1933. (The original Karsch's is now the location of the Potosi branch of Ozarks Federal Savings and Loan).
Twenty years later, Mr. Karsch built a larger building next door and relocated the store to that space, which is currently occupied by Unlimited Auto Body/Scorpion Boats. Karsch' Food Market relocated yet again, in the 1970's, to the Parkway Plaza Shopping Center at the junction of highways 8 & 21.
Current owner John Karsch was raised in the family business and joined full-time in 1974. During his tenure, the Karsch name was found on stores in seven towns -- Potosi, Bismarck, Desloge, Rolla, Bonne Terre, Cuba and Ava, Missouri. In subsequent years, five of these stores were sold or closed, leaving only two Karsch's Supermarkets -- one in Potosi and one in Desloge.
The Potosi Karsch's Supermarket was purchased by the 39-store-chain Town and Country Supermarkets of Fredericktown, and has been operating as Country Mart since January 6, 2003. For the past ten years, Town and Country of Fredericktown has owned the Potosi Town and Country at Frizzell and Purcell Drive. This store will remain open
John Karsch, great-grandson of the immigrant shoe cobbler who left Germany in 1903 made his decision, in part, due to the spring opening of the new Potosi Supercenter Wal-Mart under construction south of the Washington County Memorial Hospital on highway 21. The Desloge Karsch's is the last store still owned and operated by the Karsch family. [Note: There are now no Karsch stores remaining as, subsequent to the publication of this article, the Desloge store also was closed as a new Wal-Mart Supercenter opened up in Desloge as well - right across the street from the Desloge Karsch Store.]
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