Iconic Major Market has gone to the Stumps

Major Market, Escondido

Escondido’s iconic upscale supermarket, Major Market, has gone to the Stumps. That’s Stump’s Family Marketplace with an upscale market at Ocean Beach Stump’s wasted no time taking over the Major Market brand either, quickly rebranding the store’s Facebook sites.

Actually, it was a week of coming and going for Stump’s, which had its 10,000-square-foot Rancho Santa Fe outlet closed after landlord Susan Wooley raised the rent precipitously.

Major Market has been more than merely a place to shop for many Escondido-area residents. It’s been a part of the community DNA from its 1990 inception. The store sponsored numerous community events and groups and provided what many considered the finest, upscale full-service shopping experiences in Southern California.

“This store has the greatest selection of any store in the San Diego area,” one Yelp reviewer for San Diego said, just prior to the sale. “For anyone in North County, it is THE go-to place for holiday meals and dinner parties.”

Major Market deli.

Major Market deli.

Another reviewer from Oceanside added, “Major Market is majorly good. The prices are a little more major than other grocery stores, but Major Market is cool inside to walk around. Majorly nice people at Major Market.”

Purchase price wasn’t disclosed for the 40,000-square-foot store, but former Major Market owner Sam London said Stumps had pursued the market for five years and he was ready to retire at age 74. All current staff kept their jobs following the sale, he said.

Tragedy provided an impetus for the grocery world-shaking transfer.

Patsy London, store co-owner and Pauma Valley  resident, died  when her car crossed over a center median at Valley Center Road near Miller Road and collided with two oncoming vehicles around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 1.

Patsy and husband Dick London co-owned Major Market with another couple, Sam and Ann Logan. “We’ve always worked together,” Ann Logan said in 2002.

The Logan/London group started Major Market in 1988, filling a need in Fallbrook. Management of their Fallbrook store basically was Sam’s job; Dick London, president of their company, took charge of the Escondido market when that store opened in 1990.

“I think it was timing. Sometimes things happen,” Logan said. “Other than price, the No. 1 thing for us selling to someone was keeping all the employees, and they did.”

View from the meat/seafood case

View from the meat/seafood case

Major Market has five professional chefs on staff at Escondido. Among the store’s signature items was the burgundy Pepper Marinated Tri-Tip, according to former store manager Toby Truitt — he retired in July — along with weekend barbecues.

“It started out as a treat for our customers on Labor Day several years ago,” Truitt said. “Now it’s something that we can’t do without.” –

Lobster Maine-ia, a 3-day event held twice a year served under festival tent, served around 4,000 over the Dec. 4-6 weekend. The event dates back to 1992.

One of the market’s trademarks was its personalized service. If you walked into the market and couldn’t set your groceries down on a check-stand, another one would be opened until they’re all opened on any day of the week, according to Truitt.

“Our customer service is old-fashioned,” Truitt said. “We run this like a family business. I’m treating people more as guests in my home than as customers in my store.”