We are proud of our heritage and we take every opportunity to honor it. But celebrating a centennial twice?
Actually, Piper Brothers Grocery opened in Chariton in 1903, just to the northwest of the town square. Only two years later, in 1905, Joe L. Piper bought the Stanley building on the northeast corner of the square where Piper's has been ever since. Joe L. and his family expanded the business to include a bakery and slaughterhouse, and from all accounts it was considered the premiere grocery store in town. The store's early years paint a bustling picture - farmers traded their wares for groceries, bread was shipped by train to the surrounding smaller towns, goods were hauled out to the then-thriving mining towns, groceries were delivered several times a day to area homes - Piper's was a vital part of the life of this southern Iowa county seat town.
Time marches on, of course, and eventually one of Joe L.'s sons, Bob, took over the store. He continued to offer the top quality products and excellent customer service that we continue to be known for to this day. In 1947 he and his wife Ruth added one more thing: top quality homemade candy. As it turns out, this was Piper's special destiny - to make unforgettably delicious homemade candy! Bob and Ruth developed top-notch candy making skills and we still use the same recipes and techniques they used all those years ago. Why mess with perfection?
The slaughterhouse and bakery went by the wayside long ago; Ruth Piper passed away in 1978 and her husband Bob in 1987. We are now the second family to carry on the Piper tradition. My parents, Jim and Anne Kerns, took over the store after Bob's death,
and in an era of ever bigger and impersonal superstores, they chose to maintain the atmosphere and personal attention of the small town corner grocery store. In 1999, my parents retired (sort of) and I became the keeper of the Piper's legacy. The volume of candy has increased over the years and it has now made its way to every continent on Earth. But we still make the candy in small batches, work the chocolates by hand, and take care and pride in every piece made. We are sure you will taste the difference.
Jill Kerns, Owner