The Galt Supermarket, affectionately referred to as Galt Super, is definitely a family affair. It’s been owned and managed by the Lee and Hom family for 50 years now. Starting today, Dec. 11, the store is celebrating its long history in Galt, and they are inviting the community to celebrate with them. The store will be offering specials throughout the next few weeks in commemoration of this momentous milestone.
Frank and Cynthia Lee bought the store on Dec. 1, 1969, when most of its customers were farmers and ranchers. Galt was so small; there were no stoplights and only a few stop signs, and the Save Mart Shopping Center was the home of the Galt Elementary School. For a long time, Galt Super was the only place to buy groceries. When you went there, you knew almost everyone in the store.
The Lees purchased the store from Charles Liss, who owned the market for just over nine years.
“Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lee have purchased our market effective Dec. 1 and we hope the people of Galt will welcome them as they did Rita and myself,” Liss said in a press release 50 years ago. “Frank was the meat department marketing manager for Bel Air Markets for 12 years and brings to Galt 25 years of experience in the meat department and grocery business.”
At the time of purchase, the entire Lee family worked together at the story and now the Lee’s granddaughter, Catherine Hom, manages the store. Her uncles have since retired.
“I remember running around with my grandmother’s apron on,” Hom said. I started actually working at the store when I was 11. To have served the community in Galt for so long – it’s such a great accomplishment. There aren’t too many ‘mom and pop’ stores left.”
Three generations of Lee-Homs have run the store. The tradition continues. Hom manages the store. Her mother, Janet Lee-Hom, is the bookkeeper. Janet’s husband Jim and son Kevin are also managers. Kevin’s wife Carol recently joined in the family business. Hom says they all remember the words of her grandfather – keep the quality high and know your customers.
“Don’t compromise quality,” said Hom of her grandfather’s words. “We’re a small town and getting to know our customers by name was always important to him.”
Frank Lee expressed that sentiment at the time of purchase in 1969, telling The Galt Herald at that time that they would emphasize the fine values with fine quality foods at everyday low prices.
In May of this year, the family lost their matriarch, Cynthia Lee. After she passed away, her granddaughter Hom said the outpouring from their customers was very touching.
“I love the stories about my grandparents and uncles,” Hom said. “Shortly after my grandmother passed, customers came in and told me how much she meant to them. One customer said she sent his wife flowers when she was in the hospital.”
Lee-Hom remembers all of the history of the store.
“I started working here day one,” Lee-Hom said. “Back then, the back part of the store was actually The Galt Herald. Roy (Herburger) was a very noble and honest man. We would not be here without Roy keeping his promise. He always told my dad that, when he sold the Herald, he’d sell it to my dad. He had many other offers but told them all no. He sold it to my dad.”
After they bought the back portion of the building, they expanded – almost doubling their space.
Hom said her customer base has changed a bit. There aren’t as many ranchers these days, but town residents have become the store’s faithful customers. The Homs do their best to offer what they need.
When Save Mart, Raley’s and Walmart went in, doing business for the family run store became a little more complicated, but Hom said they’ve made adjustments and have had to change with the times.
“There are all kinds of new challenges,” Hom said. “Everything costs more. We had to adjust.”
The recent trash rates have really challenged them, according to Hom, but the publicity they got when the rate hike first went through gave her grandmother a thrill.
“Since we were the oldest store in town, the television stations came and interviewed me,” Hom said. “My grandmother got so excited to see me and the store on TV.”
Some of the best things about the store continue, despite the challenges. The Chinese food is still a staple in town, and where can you go where the owners know you by name? And quality is still a priority at the store. Hom said her grandfather was a butcher, so selling quality meats were a priority for him. Her family continues that priority by only selling Harris Ranch meats.
“With the meat department as my background, naturally we will take particular pride in this department in the Galt Super,” Frank said in 1969.
“I want to thank everyone that supports us,” Hom said.