JACKSON – Nestled just south off Exit 21 of Interstate 195, Glory’s Discount Market in Jackson is as much of a landmark to locals as Great Adventure is to out-of-towners.
After half a century as a grocery and liquor store, the business at “Glory’s Corner” is evolving for the fourth time in its history. Unlike past changes, this one will see major redevelopment and at least one corporate chain open next to the family business.
“In today’s day and age, it’s not easy (to run a small business),” said Clara Glory, 66, the store’s accountant and wife of Glory’s co-owner George, 71. “We decided a couple years ago that, with all of the offers, it was time to semi-retire.”
Plans to overhaul the current site into a Wawa gas station, a new liquor store operated by George and a pharmacy were announced last month, but this is far from the first iteration of the family enterprise.
For almost a century, the Glorys have been in business at, as Clara Glory put it, “the gateway to Jackson.”
The family first arrived in the United States when Ivan Mislavsky, the paternal grandfather of George and his brother and fellow co-owner Walter, immigrated to New York from Serbia in 1924, according to immigration documents from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Six years later, he became an American citizen and changed his name to “John Glory” – the latter a reference to the lyrics of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Over the next seven years, he worked his way up from being a mechanic to owning a taxi fleet and helped his son, Boris, and his second wife, Bosijlka, move to the United States.
After becoming a citizen as well and marrying Katherine in Brooklyn, Boris went in search of farmland to realize his dream of becoming a chicken farmer, and he found the perfect spot in the Jackson Mills area.
Once they moved to town, they opened a farm on the same 16-acres Glory’s Discount Market sits on today.
During the next two decades, Boris became one of New Jersey’s most successful chicken farmers. Following the post-war boom, the family expanded into a store offering a wide variety of “Glory’s Best” chicken products.
“They would kill the chickens, cook the chickens, and sell the chickens all right there,” said Borden Applegate, 80, who went to the store as a kid and is now a local historian.
Before the Garden State Parkway made travel to the beaches of Ocean County easier, vacationers would use Cedar Swamp Road to get to the shore, said Wayne Olejarz, 80, Clara Glory’s brother-in-law, who moved to Jackson in the early 60s and is .
On their way, they would pick up one of the rotisserie chickens that spun in the shop’s windows for dinner. Professionals heading to Lakewood and fellow Jackson farmers would stop in for the poultry they produced, too.
Despite the population explosion in Jackson from about 6,000 in 1960 to nearly 20,000 in 1970, the Glorys fell on hard times. New supermarkets were built throughout the decade to cater to the growing community, and the small stores in town just couldn’t compete, Applegate said.
At the same time, cheaper labor and easier access to grain allowed mid-western and southern chicken farmers to substantially lower their prices – yet another change the Glorys couldn’t keep up with.
Then, in April 1963, tragedy struck.
The worst forest fire in New Jersey history tore through the state, with the Pine Barrens a tinderbox at the center of it. Smoke blackened the skies from Lebanon Township to Egg Harbor as a series of 127 fires burnt 183,000 acres of the state in just one weekend.
The blaze didn’t spare Jackson as about 55% of the town sits in the Pinelands, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“For three or four days, everything just burned and burned,” Applegate said.
Most of the town was levelled, leaving many families without a home – including the Glorys, said Applegate. With their house and farm gone but their store still standing, Boris, Katherine and their sons moved into the back of the shop.
With nothing left save the clothes on their backs, the Glorys set out to rebuild. They converted their business into a salvage grocery which sold the damaged cans, stale bread and near-spoiled fruit other stores wouldn’t, Clara Glory said.
Boris passed away in 1968 while George and Walter were in college. After finishing their degrees, they took over the family business and, in 1973, opened Glory’s Discount Market, which sold fresh produce and featured a butcher shop.
Eleven years later, they divided the market and started Glory’s Liquors in the same building.
Before she died in 2005, Katherine oversaw the store with meticulous care. Every day she would inspect each carton of eggs to ensure none had broken. Accounting, though, she wanted no part of, which is where Clara Glory entered the picture.
She married George in 1977 and soon became the store’s bookkeeper, the same position she holds now.
For the next several decades, Glory’s Discount Market stood firm as the other general stores in town closed, said Applegate, whose family owned one such store near Jackson Mills Lake.
But in November 2018, the story of Glory’s took another tragic turn. Around noon on Nov. 1, a tractor-trailer carrying powdered cement plowed through the front of the market after being hit by a car. The truck obliterated about a fifth of the store and injured four people, including George.
Four months later, Glory’s reopened in March 2019. The liquor store stood intact and stayed open during repairs.
Two years on from the accident, the next chapter of the Glorys’ story has begun.
Last month, the Jackson Township Planning Board approved a proposal from Dreamview LLC, the Glorys’ property management company, to redevelop the site. Of the 16-acres owned by Dreamview, six will be turned into three lots with room for two more.
Nearest the intersection will be a 4,700-square-foot Wawa gas station. Heading south on Cedar Swamp Road, the next lot will feature a new 5,244-square-foot Glory’s Liquor Mart, which will be operated by George.
An 8,500-square-foot as-yet-undetermined retail store or pharmacy will be built on the third lot.
Developers will break ground on the site in “one to two years,” Clara Glory said.
One of the Glorys’ biggest concerns was making sure their workers have a job after the market closes, said Clara Glory. She also said she would recommend Wawa hire current Glory’s employees.
“Our family appreciates Jackson, our customers,” she said. “We’ll be there for them until we close our doors.”
Special to the Asbury Park Press.
Source: Asbury Park