WINDSOR, Ont. — One of the creators of southwestern Ontario’s version of legendary grocery store stamps – and a major contributor to Windsor’s Jewish community – has died.
Doreen Bricker, 87, died Jan. 2 of cardiac arrest.
“She’d just been recently diagnosed with cancer,” daughter Sandi Malowitz said. “She was being treated, and we were very hopeful, as was she, that she would have a lot more time to be together.”
Doreen and first husband William Silver founded the S & M Premium Company in the mid-1950s, a loyalty program that quickly became a hit with Windsor-area shoppers at one of the city’s formerly largest grocery chains, N & D Supermarkets.
“It was being done in the United States,” son Ron Silver said. “S & H Green Stamps were very popular there.”
Doreen and William started the company and contracted with N & D as well as several other retailers, including an independent grocery store and various gas stations.
“They would buy the stamps from S & M and then they would distribute them to their customers,” Silver said. “When they bought $30 worth of groceries, they would get X amount of stamps, and then they would put them in their little book, and then they would come to the S & M store and redeem them.”
Originally the supermarkets themselves had showrooms containing a variety of S & M redeemable products, from blenders to cookware, luggage to patio furniture.
“You could get your Timex watch and alarm clocks and all kinds of things,” Malowitz said.
The couple then set up an independent store in an adjoining shopping plaza.
N & D was a legendary chain for which some Windsorites still wax nostalgic. S & M stamps’ success was directly attributable to the chain’s popularity.
“Those grocery stores had the big percentage of the Windsor market for many, many years,” Silver said.
The couple loved retail. Doreen handled the books and served customers up front, but eventually started buying at trade shows.
S & M also published a catalogue containing pictures of the myriad consumer items that could be obtained using the stamps.
Doreen was born in Windsor and the family attended Congregation Beth El.
Malowitz said both her parents were founding members of the Reform temple and volunteered widely both there and at the Windsor Jewish Community Centre. Malowitz herself just retired after working 33 years at the centre.
“Both of them had a big influence on us,” Malowitz said.
This included “the importance of family and celebrating holidays,” she said. “Both my brother’s family and I were always together. My parents really instilled that in a very wonderful and loving way.”