One of the more prominent stores in town was a mercantile grocery store owned and operated by Mr. Ira Earl Conner, a pioneer merchant in Cardiff. Mr. Conner’s grocery store had a long counter with all sorts of groceries. Nie Mettan, the butcher, had his section at the far end with sawdust on the floor and a big iced display case where one could point to a cut of beef and ask the butcher to cut some chops, steaks or grind some into hamburger. There was a dry goods section with jeans, work shirts and work shoes.
(Photo courtesy of the San Diego Historical Society)
A view looking north on 101. In the foreground is Witmer’s Sandwiches, Fountain and Sundries. Next door is I. E. Conner’s store.
Conner’s even had one gas pump – you pumped the gas by hand because there was no electric motor. Mr. Conner also allowed space for the first Library, which remained in his store until he sold the store in January, 1946.
Customers came from as far away as Olivenhain. Practically everyone in the area had an account at Conner’s. After ordering your goods, one of the nine or ten clerks would get out a pad, write down your order, fill the order, carry it to your car and you would pay Mr. Conner at the beginning of the following month. During the Great Depression, some people unfortunately couldn’t make their payments. Mr. Conner was very gracious and had the wherewithal to “carry’ these people for quite a while. This generous man’s faith in humanity was eventually rewarded when nearly all of these people made good on their debts.
(Photo from the San Dieguito Citizen, March 20, 1952 in the Solana Beach Heritage Museum Collection)
Conner’s Grocery Store, built in 1925. Photo is from approximately 1930.
During his business career, Ira Conner owned and operated several markets in Solana Beach and Del Mar. Ira was elected to the Santa Fe Irrigation District board in 1925 and served until 1941. He retired from business in 1945.
[sources: Early Solana Beach, Recollections by George C. Wilkens & Robert “Chuckles” Hernandez as told to Jim Nelson, 2002 and Solana Beach, Forty Years of Progress, 1922-1962, April, 1962]