Grocer Bill Martin Remembered
The nucleus of a neighborhood can be hard to quantify, but some places are so enduring that the locals are drawn to them. Such has been the case with Bill Martin’s Food. Sadly, the namesake of the store, located at 1105 Fatherland St., recently passed away, leaving behind a legacy that embodies East Nashville’s community spirit.
The corner store has provided East Nashvillians with more than just quality groceries at a reasonable price. It provided a neighborhood atmosphere, a meeting point for both likeminded friends and residents who might have nothing more in common than a need for snacks. In addition to his store on Fatherland, Martin operated at least one other store, owned several other pieces of property in the area, and lived in a local home.
”Mr. Martin has been a fixture in this neighborhood for decades,” says Patti Sanders, an East Nashville resident whose company, S&S Properties, owns property around the store. ”His grocery stores have supplied a reasonably priced and walkable solution for many people in the neighborhood that don’t have cars or a way to get to some of the other supermarkets in the area.”
Martin is remembered as humble and unselfish. He was known to stand in his own lines along with customers when he wanted to buy something from the store. ”He always had a kind word and a ready smile for everyone,” Sanders recalls. ”He was extremely loyal to his employees. Most of them have been with him for decades.”
Sanders has heard that Martin’s family hopes to keep running the store, at least for the near future. No matter what happens to the store, Martin will be remembered for the way that he fostered East Nashville’s unique sense of community.
”He was a special man and well-liked by many people, as was evident from the turnout at his service,” Sanders says.