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Pieces of the Past — Kinander Coal

April 3, 2024

There is a used car lot on Penn Avenue East near Euclid. Merritt Motors and Penn-Mark towing have occupied the spot for decades. Going back to my youth, one of my favorite places on Earth was there.

Decades before me and before it became my favorite spot it was the home of Kinander Coal Company. As the turn of the century approached in the late 1800s, homes were stepping up from wood stoves to central heating systems. The popular thing to use for whole home heat was coal! Kinander Coal Company built a storage and retail facility in Warren on Pennsylvania Avenue East of the Penn-Franklin shopping area.

Kinander Coal Company serviced customers throughout Warren and the immediate area. It was in the ’30s that big business started claiming companies like Kinander. Natural gas distributors were also expanding. It was cheaper to convert the monstrous coal furnace to natural gas. I can still remember the huge coal truck with the shiny silver shovel mounted on the side sitting in our driveway ready to deliver a load of coal.

National Fuel and Columbia Gas Companies were bound and determined to expand. They were advertising cleaner heat than coal and appealed to housekeepers who were tired of coal dust. It spelled the end of Kinader Coal.

Joseph Guiffre liked the Kinander building and moved his fruit stand to the eastern side of the structure. He utilized the garage area to put in a meat counter and groceries. The coal company office was converted to shopping space the stairway was finished off and the Guiffre family moved in.

I loved going into Guifree’s for a candy bar and a cold bottle of pop. “Old” Joe and “young” Joe would often burst into song when things got slow. Joe Sr. retired and Bob Guiffre took over. He and Joe Jr. built a small building and opened the B and J Pizzeria. Bob and Joe went in different directions. Joe and his wife Vi took the pizza business and its recipes across Pennsylvania Avenue and established V and J’s. Today pizza and subs continue to please people all over Warren where Virginia and Joe fed thousands.

I’m too young to remember Kinander Coal but I sure remember the business and the people who moved in! Giuffre Market is another of my favorite Pieces of the Past

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