MS 61 Heller’s Grocery Stores Records

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
Heller’s Grocery Stores.
Heller’s Grocery Stores Records
MS 61
Date [inclusive]
0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
This collection contains business records of the Heller family grocery business, operated by Mathias F. Heller in San Diego, CA from 1892 to 1929.

Preferred Citation

Heller’s Grocery Stores Records, MS 61, San Diego History Center Document Archives, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

Mathias (Mat) F. Heller was born in Fulton, Missouri in 1859. He and his wife, Lulu, relocated to San Diego in January of 1889. He worked as a clerk in his father-in-law’s small grocery business, and in January of 1892, he bought out his father-in-law and became the sole owner of the store on 10th and F streets. He soon moved the store up one block to 11th and F, where the rent was less expensive. He played a vital role in San Diego business, expanding Heller’s “cash-and-carry” grocery stores (an innovative idea for the time) to 42 locations. He sold his stores in June 1929 to the MacMarr chain, which was absorbed two years later by the mega-chain Safeway. Mat Heller, along with his sons Milton and Elwyn, founded Heller Investment Company, where Mat was acting president until his death in 1942. He was 83 years old; survived by wife, Lulu, four children, six grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

Aside from being very active in San Diego’s business arena, Mathias Heller was very involved in the civic life of the community, as well as a generous philanthropist. He served on the board of directors for the Red Cross, YMCA, Boy Scouts, San Diego Trust & Savings Bank, Merchants Association, Chamber of Commerce, and the Union Title Insurance & Trust Company. Along with these duties, Mat Heller helped establish a “City Park,” which is now known as Balboa Park. He also contributed a great deal of time and money to Wildwood Ranch. He was particularly active in Golden Hill and Point Loma, which is where he and his family resided for the majority of their lives. He was a dedicated family man, going as far as to purchase a large plot of land in Point Loma which he parceled out to his sons, daughters, and grandchildren. He died at his home on Zola Avenue.

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Scope and Content

This collection contains business records of the Heller family grocery business, operated by Mathias F. Heller in San Diego, CA from 1892 to 1929. Business records include advertising and price lists, business registers, leases and sub-leases, legal agreements, financial records, correspondence, tax statements, minutes, newspaper clippings, and photographs. The majority of this collection is strictly business agreements and legal documents from 1929. There is considerable documentation regarding the acquisition of Heller’s by MacMarr Ltd.

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This collection is arranged by material type.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection April 6, 2017

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession # 810319B, 990306.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lindsay Banuelos in December 2007 and Samantha Mills in April 2017.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Diamond H Club.
  • Heller Investment Company.
  • Heller’s Grocery Stores.
  • MacMarr Ltd..
  • Safeway Stores, Inc..

Geographic Name(s)

  • San Diego (Calif.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Heller, Elwyn M.
  • Heller, Mathias F (Mathias Fred), 1859-1942
  • Heller, Milton


  • Grocers
  • Grocery stores — California — San Diego
  • Grocery trade

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Collection Inventory

Advertising and Price Lists, 1899-1923 and undated 1:1
Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, 1916 1:2
Business Register, 1892-1896 1:3
Business Register, 1907-1911 1:4
Business Agreements and Legal Documents, 1916, 1929


Bill of sale and agreement between Heller family members; leases and sub-leases; agreements and documentation of acquisition by MacMarr Ltd.

Correspondence, 1929-1931 1:6
Financial Records, 1926-1932


Checkbook; audit report; balance sheet; account statements; Merrill, Lynch, and Co. statement on MacMarr purchase; tax papers; interest and receipts; financial statements; and comparative sales data.

Meeting Minutes: Diamond H Club, 1909 1:8
Photographs and Newspaper Articles (copies), 1892-1931 1:9

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