4 brothers turned grocers honored as latest Legends

Admirers wander among the bronze statues of the four Prinster brothers after an unveiling Friday evening of “A Cut Above” at the corner of Spruce and West Main streets in Grand Junction. The brothers built the City Market grocery chain from a single store in the early 1900s and were honored as subjects of the latest Legends of the Grand Valley sculpture project.

Paul Prinster, trained by his father as a butcher, left La Junta in 1922, heading west with California dreams. He was young and on the move, but his path took him through Grand Junction.

“He liked the town and decided to say,” said Anthony Prinster on Friday night, a simple explanation for a legacy honored with the unveiling of the sculpture “A Cut Above.”

The bronze sculpture of Paul Prinster and his three brothers — Frank, Leo and Clarence — is the seventh in the Legends Sculpture Project.

The sculptures, honoring area legends such as Dalton Trumbo and John Otto, “showcase the stories of those historically significant men and women who shaped our community,” in keeping with the Legends mission statement.

Friday night’s sculpture unveiling honored the four Prinster brothers and the Prinster family, “who’ve had such a tremendous impact on our community,” said Tillie Bishop, chairman of the Legends of the Grand Valley Committee. “There is no way that we could measure in dollars or cents or in love what the Prinster family has contributed to this community. They’re such an inspiration to our community, and they’ve always been there when we needed them.”

After arriving in Grand Junction in 1922, Paul Prinster got a job at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store but two years later bought an interest in a grocery store at Fourth and Main streets called City Market.

His three brothers joined him in Grand Junction and bought the remaining shares in the store.

From that little market the brothers built a grocery empire, always mindful of the needs of the community of which they were a part, said Anne Wenzel, president and executive director of the Western Colorado Community Foundation.

“The Prinsters are so much more than successful businesspeople,” Wenzel said. “They give generously of their time, talent and treasure.”

The Prinsters’ Legends sculpture, installed on the southwest corner of South Spruce and West Main streets, overlooks the former City Market warehouses, now home to Mesa County Central Services.

It shows the brothers hard at work: Paul cutting meat, Frank accepting restaurant orders, Clarence unpacking cans and Leo confirming delivery schedules on the phone. It was created in bronze by Fort Collins sculptor James Haire.

The sculpture, said City Market district manager Rick Bamford, highlights the Prinster’s core values of “hard work, excellence, honesty and the customer is the most important person always.”

The Prinster family’s history in this area also is highlighted in the recently published “The History of City Market: The Brothers Four and the Colorado Back Slope Empire,” by Anthony Prinster and Kate Ruland-Thorne. A book-signing is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. today at Grand Valley Books, 350 Main St.


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