The History of 802 West John

photo: justine fein-bursoni

photo: justine fein-bursoni

Our building is situated right in the heart of old town Champaign. Kitty-corner from Southside Elementary School and to the east of that is the Mellon Building. South of these buildings there are baseball fields, where nearly everyone we know played farm league as a kid. 

802 West John Street has been a corner market sine 1937, with the first being Gallions; a grocery store that had produce, meats and most importantly, candy.  The old timers tell us that after school they would walk over to the store to pick up penny candy and ice cream (yo-yo demonstrations too).  After Gallions, in 1964, came Kelsey’s who carried on with the tradition of grocery delivery and corner market. Rumor has it Mr. Kelsey was known for giving candy away. 

From 1970 to 2015 the location had been Ms. Winnifred Sanders' dietary shop. In the early '70s and '80s she provided dietary needs for an underserved community. She has kept the store up and running until 2015, when she decided to retire. To read more about the dietary store, click here.  The building went up for sale and Jeff Wampler purchased it, being from the neighborhood, hoping to keep the corner store tradition alive. 

In honor of the stores before us, we have repurposed the vintage ice cream cooler - you will find it when you walk in, usually stocked with Old Town Flower’s flowers and other locally made items. We still have the candy case, it is hidden and protected safely in our office.

We knew when we choose this building that the pressure was on to continue with the legacy of the stores before us, and we hopefully have served our community well. We are the fourth business that has set up shop there and most likely not the last. The building is strong and full of love and we know it is not coming down anytime soon.