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19 March 2019

Zippy Marts

Walking around Auburn these days it's easy to fall into reminiscence about how things were during my childhood. One such example: Zippy Mart convenience stores (this blog isn't called "offbeat" for nothing). Zippy Marts are a chain of convenience stores with an interesting history (their founder passed away back in 2012 and some of the chain's history can be gleaned from this article). Back in the 70s and 80s there were four such convenience stores scattered about town, and all were easily recognized by their colorful chevron signs similiar to this one (as taken from a Zippy Mart Facebook page):

Where were these stores at the time? They were located at the following places:

  1. Near the Glendean shopping center where Lakeview Drive meets Dean Road (this was the one closest to my house growing up),
  2. on Thach Avenue where Armstrong Street intersects,
  3. on South Gay Street next to Trinity Lutheran Church (this was my family's church during my childhood, so I saw this Zippy Mart pretty much every Sunday),
  4. and on North College Street.

Here is a map summarizing their positions:

A friend of mine recently sent me this old photo of the Zippy Mart listed fourth above (thanks, Steve):

Of all the Zippy Marts in Auburn, that last one is the only one that remains a convenience store. It is no longer a "Zippy Mart", but is now known as "Mr. P's". What of the others? Well, the one on Thach was a convenience store known as "Movies and Munchies" through the 90s (back when video rental stores were a thing, it was a great place to rent obscure VHS tapes). Later the whole building was remodeled. It is now an apartment/condo building with a Momma Goldberg's sandwich shop on the first floor (an Offbeat Auburn blog entry about Momma G's locations is probably warranted as well...).

The Zippy Mart building on Dean Road still stands but is currently vacant. Most recently it held a formal wear shop (renting out tuxedos and such). It did, for a time in the 2000s, house a re-incarnation of "The Sani-Flush" ice cream shop. The last store (the one on Gay Street) had a far less interesting fate: after closing, it remained vacant for a few years and the Lutheran church bought the land. The property was used for a while as a "student center/activity building" for the church, but eventually it was demolished to make more room for parking.

Zippy Marts are still around, having been sold to a large gas station company, I believe. The logo is updated.

By the way, if there were in fact more Zippy Marts in Auburn back in the day, please let me know. I personally knew of only two growing up (the Dean Road and Gay Street ones), but friends informed me about the other two described above. Maybe there were others?


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