Jake’s Super Market

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Clement John Davies aka ‘Jake’ came to Wilton in 1937 to work at the Economy Food Market owned by Beryl Roundy whose grocery business was based out of Columbus Junction. Jake worked for Roundy in Wilton for three years and was transferred to other locations in Fairfield, Washington and Columbus Junction all in a period of two years before moving back to Wilton in 1942. 

Jake was working for Roundy when Wilton Saving Bank President, Harry Nicolaus approached him with the idea of purchasing Mike Gradert’s meat market at 118 W. 4th Street in downtown Wilton. 

Jake was looking for an opportunity to own his own grocery and went ahead with the purchase of Gradert’s on June 4, 1943. By 1947 Jake was in need of a larger space and it was announced in the Wilton Advocate on September 11, 1947 that Jake had purchased a property on the north side of 4th Street to construct a new market. Bill Grunder and Sons started right away getting the site ready and the new store opened Friday, December 19, 1947. Jake operated out of this location for nineteen years.   

In 1960, Jake Davies hosted a Smorgasbord celebrating his 17th year in business. The free meal was served to the public in front of his store on 4th Street. Again, in 1961, he hosted the event but in 1962 the Wilton Chamber took over the organization of the Smorgasbord. The Chamber called it the Wilton Smorgasbord and eventually renamed it the Jake Davies Smorgasbord. A charge of 10 cents was made in those early years to defray expenses and remained the cost of the meal for 58 years. The last Chamber sponsored Smorgasbord was held in Wilton on May 15, 2018. 

In 1966 Jake’s needed more space so a bigger store was built on the NE corner of Maurer and 4th Streets. This was a perfect location but would mean the demolition of the Wacker Implement Building which stood on this corner for many years. Jake’s Super Market was well received in Wilton and was always a family operation. His son, Jerry served as the store’s assistant manager for many years; his youngest son, Dave, worked as the meat department manager and Jake’s wife, Louise was often on the scene helping out as were many of Jake’s grandchildren. Jake made the decision to retire in 1996 and sold out to Jeff Thoma who owned grocery stores in Blue Grass and Durant. 

Jake was passionate about making Wilton the best place to live. He was influential in establishing the Wilton Chamber of Commerce and was one of the founding members of the Wilton Industrial Development Corporation. 

In an article from the Muscatine Journal, dated December 14, 1996, this was said of Jake… “Davies took to Wilton like a fish to water. He saw things that he felt needed to be done to make the community a better place to live and he got other business owners and community leaders to go along. ‘I was probably a little too aggressive. We didn’t want to wait for things to happen,’ Jake said.”  Wilton Advocate owner, businessman and friend, Bill Rabedeaux summed Jake up this way, “there are three things Jake is proud of… his family, Jake’s Super Market and the town of Wilton!”

Jake was born October 14, 1913, in Cotter, Iowa to Walter and Elizabeth (Thomas) Davies. His marriage to Louise Redman took place July 27, 1936 in Rockford, Illinois and to this union three children were born, Jerry, Judy and Dave. Jake’s wife, Louise, died December 22, 1975 and Jake died April 6, 2000. At the time of his death his three children survived him and he had 9 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.