William Clement Scott, Sr. bought Scott's Grocery in 1874 from "Old Man Paddock" and went into business with his son, William Clement, Jr. The store stayed in the family until 1945 when it was sold by John Adams Scott.
Originally the store was located in Ashland's first business district, located on Salt Creek bottom at about 11 to 12th and Birch Streets. It was called the "Bottoms." After a flood or two, a new business district developed on higher ground and these merchants were nicknamed the Silver Street Gang. Silver Street became the center of the town's commercial activities.
In 1887, The Ashland Gazette gave the following description of Scott's Grocery in their annual review of local businesses:
This is probably the largest exclusive grocery house in Saunders county. The trade of this store extends over Saunders, Cass, Sarpy and Lancaster counties, at least by that portion of those counties which trade in Ashland. The proprietors are energetic, courteous gentlemen and have secured their large trade by hard work, coupled with the fact that they keep the best possible goods to be had in the market.
And the following in 1900:
The handling of groceries and provisions is one of the most important branches of trade carried on in any city, and one of the most reliable houses in Eastern Nebraska engaged in the business is that conducted by Messrs. W. C. Scott & Co. The stock is an immense and well selected one, embracing every thing in the way of fancy and staple groceries, canned goods, coffees, teas, spices, provisions, fruits and vegetables, queensware, glassware and tinware. Everything is up-to-date and the store is large and elegantly arranged, and is extraordinarily cleanly and orderly; even the small item of meat wrapping paper is an index to the enterprising management. As a matter of justice only, we are constrained to say that this is certainly an ideal and almost perfect store; in fact, we know of no better one anywhere. This may sound like fulsome praise, but it is not; it is simply a statement of plain facts. Mr. W. C. Scott established this business in 1874, beginning in a rather modest way, and has, through absolutely honorable dealings, persistent effort and enterpirse, and handling the best and purest goods at popular prices, succeeded in gaining a very large patronage and placing the store in the front rank of commercial industries. An idea may be gained of the large volume of business transacted, when the statement is made that four persons are employed in the store department and a wagon is kept constantly busy in the delivery of goods to customers. Mr. Scott is not only a progressive business man, but is a substantial and prominent citizen as well.
Scott Grocery ads ran every week in the Ashland Gazette. In the early ads, they sometimes wrote at length about their business practices. Some of the slogans used in the ads were "Good Things to Eat Since 1874", "If It Is Something Good to Eat, We Have It", and "The Best for Less Since 1874". In 1881, presumably to encourage business, they gave away $500 in prizes through a drawing. A customer received a ticket for the drawing for each $5 in cash or exchanged goods, however didn't have to buy the whole $5 at one time - "every 50 cent CASH DEAL counts". The "most valuable present" was a $100 gold coin.
John Adams Scott began working in the store with has father after the death of his grandfather, William Clement Scott, Sr. in 1895. He was 16 at the time, and as a result never finished high school. When his father, William Clement Scott, Jr., became ill in 1920, John Scott took over and ran the store until he retired in 1945 at the age of 66. Elizabeth Stanley Scott (John Scott's wife) began working in the store when she was in 9th grade. She worked there on Saturdays and holidays and during the summer to help out her family. In a letter she wrote that she "just loved our old store." She continued to work there after their marriage until they sold the store in 1945. The store continued as a grocery store run by H. W. Schuldt for several years, but is currently a small art gallery.
Pictures of Scott's Grocery in the early 1900's
The following two articles appeared in the Ashland Gazette in 1927 discussing improvements being made to the store. Amusingly, directly below the first one was an article that a rival businessman, Oscar Hoffman, was also painting and reorganizing his grocery department.
John Scott, of the Scott's Grocery is making some changes on the interior of his grocery store. New shelving is being put in and counters changed in location to some extent. The whole interior is being repainted with blue trimming and the store will present a very neat appearance when the work is all done.
John Scott began breaking ground this morning on his lot back of the H. H. Pitzer barber shop. The building will be 16x60 ft., one story high, and built of hollow tile. This will give added store room and opportunity to purchase goods in larger quantities.