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Service with a smile for 100 years

Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 6:17 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 6:18 p.m. CDT

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Editor’s note: The BCR will occasionally be featuring Bureau County businesses who have been in business for 100 or more years. The following is the first in this ongoing series.

SPRING VALLEY — Cosgrove Candy & Foods is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

It was 1912 when Harry Cassiday moved with his brother from Streator to open the Cassiday Brothers Cigar Store.

Today the company, now called Cosgrove Candy & Foods and located at 120 S. Greenwood St. in Spring Valley is still serving its customers in the Illinois Valley and Central Illinois, now as a full-line food service distributor.

The business has changed several times during those 100 years.

In the 1920s, Cosgrove expanded his business to include a wholesale candy distributorship and the business came to be known simply as Cassiday Brothers.

Harry’s daughter, Mary Jane Cassiday Cosgrove, joined her father in the business in 1943 when her brothers were away during World War II, and she has remained a key part of her family business ever since.

Jack Cosgrove, the current chairman, joined Cassiday Brothers in 1950.

In the following years, Cassiday Brothers expanded its business through a solid reputation and through the acquisition of U&J Candy Co., a rival candy distributor; and Weiland, Inc., which distributed both tobacco and candy. Through the Weiland purchase, Cassiday Brothers was able to develop a general merchandise catalogue business.

More growth came in the 1960s. In 1961, the business was renamed Cassiday-Cosgrove and opened a catalogue showroom, which was linked with the warehouse at the corner of Greenwood and Devlin Street that today houses the business.

More change came in the 1970s. Cassiday-Cosgrove began to shift its emphasis from catalogue and retail sales to wholesale candy and tobacco distribution. In 1986, when Jack Cosgrove assumed leadership, the company became a full-line food service distributor, changing its name to Cosgrove Distributors and dropped its tobacco distributorship.

Cosgrove Distributors further expanded in the 1990s through the acquisition of Towne Egg Co. and of Janko Frozen Foods. In 2005, Cosgrove Distributor’s cash and carry business was transformed into Harry’s Cash and Carry through the complete renovation of the retail outlet and the addition of natural and gourmet product lines.

Today, Jack and Mary Jane’s daughters, Nora, Sarah and Maria, are all involved in the business. Nora Cosgrove has served as president and general manager, and Sarah Cosgrove-Gaumond serves as vice president. Maria Cosgrove focuses on sales and operations.

Mary Jane Cosgrove said her father would be a very happy man if he could see the business today.

“He knew we would carry on with the business because that’s the kind of family we are,” she said. “How happy he would be to have started something that we have continued.”

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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