The loss of Harold Shorr in September, just before the High Holy Days, was extremely hard on his family, said son Glen, still mourning the death of his father, the owner of Harold’s Kosher Superette in Paramus.
It was also hard on his customers, many of whom still come in to reminisce about the neighborhood vendor who played so large a role in their lives.
“The holidays were pretty tough,” said Shorr. “Our customers were extremely upset. Some were just hysterical. Some knew, and some didn’t. We hung up the [notice] from The Jewish Standard. But some are still asking.”
Shorr, who has run the store with his brother Robert, a resident of Hillsdale, since his father retired some 15 years ago – although the 83-year-old storekeeper continued to help out during the busy holiday season – said it was hard to break the news about his father to longtime customers.
|Harold Shorr photos courtesy of the shorr family|
More than one customer called before the High Holy Days to place an order with Harold “and we had to tell them that he had died,” said Glen, still emotional at the memory.
Harold’s Kosher market, which opened in Fair Lawn in 1956 and moved to Paramus in 1977, is more than just a store, said Shorr. The interview, originally planned in the wake of Shorr’s death, was postponed until after the end of the very busy High Holy Days and Sukkot shopping seasons.
“It’s a family business,” Glen Shorr said, recalling days spent working in his grandfather Sol’s Paterson meat store decades before. His grandfather, who began his own butcher business in the 1920s, later went on to help out at his son’s store. “He worked in the Fair Lawn store until he passed in 1985,” said his grandson.
Glen Shorr lives in Woodcliff Lake. He has worked in the Paramus store since it opened and he worked with his father in Fair Lawn as a youngster, he said.
“I learned everything there is to know about kosher meat,” he said. “Quality is the most important thing. It’s what he harped on from day one.”
In addition, said Shorr, “I believe we were the first kosher butcher to put kosher deli, appetizing, meat, and catering under one roof in Paramus.”
|Harold, left, Glen, and Bobby (kneeling) Shorr in a 1978 photo.|
Still, he added, he learned about more than just business practices. He also learned how to treat customers.
“Listen to the customers, my father would say. Give them what they want. Everybody loved him,” recalled his son. “He was young at heart. There were an enormous number of customers at the funeral,” he said, “and all kinds of people he was in touch with, like handymen, and waitresses at restaurants.”
Just as the business has been family-owned for generations, “some customers go back three or four generations,” said Shorr. “We have customers in their 90s who remember my father as a kid, delivering orders for my grandfather.”
While all businesses have their ups and downs, “Harold’s was successful from the get-go,” said Shorr, noting that his father realized in 1956 that Jews were moving from Paterson to Fair Lawn, and that the butcher shop should follow them.
The Shorrs bought a home in Fair Lawn – where Harold’s wife, Sandra, still lives – and were members of the Fair Lawn Jewish Center for more than 50 years. In addition, they spent part of the year in Boca Raton.
“We spoke every day from Florida,” said Glen, noting that his father had served twice in the military – in the Navy during World War II and in the Army during the Korean conflict.
What made Harold special?
“It was his smile,” said his son, trying to pinpoint his father’s most salient feature. “Customer service and quality were everything to him.”