The neighborhoods now known as Sabin and King were once dotted with small grocery stores, many built by German-speaking immigrants from the Volga region of Russia. One of those businesses was Lehl and Popp Grocery, co-located with Schnell's Meat Market in a building at NE 10th and Failing, which burned down in the 1960s.
Conrad Brill was born in the Russian village of Norka in 1895 and relocated with his family to inner NE Portland in 1922. In his memoirs, he recalled: “There were several of our fellow Volga Germans in the grocery and/or meat business. Like most grocers of those days, they did most of their business on credit. When you paid your grocery bill, you usually got a cigar and a sack of penny candy to take home to the children. The grocer had wooden barrels of dill pickles, sauerkraut, pickled pigs feet, drums of kerosene,
100-pound bags of potatoes, sugar, flour, rice and beans. He bought from wholesalers, farmers and even neighbors who had good fruit, berries or vegetables. Farmers brought eggs and live chickens, usually on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. Potatoes were sold by the peck, or bushel, rather than the pound. Fruit was sold that way too. Any bulk items, which came in barrels, could be bought by any amount you wanted, scooped into a grocery bag. There were hundreds of Grade A raw milk dairies around and the price of milk was six cents a quart.”
Read more about Conrad's memories on volgagermans.net, created by local historian (and former Sabin resident) Steve Schreiber.