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End of an era at SPD

After 40 years, Dave Painter decides to retire


Stacy Drake Robinson

Nevada City Advocate

The public face and personality of SPD Market in Nevada City has retired. 

Dave Painter threw in his apron on June 20 after 40 years of managing the general merchandise and customer service departments of the grocery store and acting as the company’s vice president. 

Dave’s father, Lawrence Painter, started the store along with Bert See and Joe Dilly – hence SPD – in 1959. Dave’s first job when he was 12 or 13 years old was sorting soda bottles behind the store and he went on to do many other duties at SPD. 

“As I entered high school, I was given more general duties, which I kept through my college years,” he recalled.

After college, he taught overseas for a while.

“I graduated from college and moved to Australia in 1972 where I taught Earth Sciences at the Australian equivalent of high school level at the time, Forms 1 – 6. In 1979 after some encouragement from my dad to move back and take a role in the store, the time was right. So, I came home to Nevada City and started working in the produce department,” Dave said with a laugh. 

Much as changed, he said, in the past four decades. 

“I remember when everything was manual, cash registers were mechanical, not computers so if the power went out, we could still operate and ring up groceries,” he said. 

The industry also has changed due to the regulatory actions of the federal, state and local governments. 

“You have to be on top of all the documentation needed to show that you are complying by all the regulations in every area of the business. It’s no longer a matter of putting a can of soup on the shelf and opening your door,” Painter said. 

Shoppers are more knowledgeable, too, he said.

“Also, customers are more clued into what they introduce into their lives, what they’re eating. Most people pay attention and ask questions and you need to be able to answer their questions about the food and where it’s coming from. If you don’t know the answer, you have to find out and let them know. We respond to the consumer demands. I mean we’re here. We don’t have to kick something up to corporate, this is corporate. Someone can just come right in our office and request an item and we get on the computer and if it’s available to us we can have it in two days more times than not.” 

Community involvement has always been a focus for Dave during his time at SPD. “Our biggest fundraiser for the community is our E-Script program that returns 3% of customer purchases to the nonprofit of their choice. Since the program started, we have raised close to $1.25 million for the local community nonprofits.” 

Now that he is retired, Dave plans to take it easy and weigh his options for volunteering, traveling and in general “puttering around the house.”

He can also walk away from his job knowing that Nevada City’s hometown grocery store continues to thrive. 

For more information about SPD, visit the store at 735 Zion Street in Nevada city and 129 West McKnight in Grass Valley or visit spdmarket.com.

A familiar scene: Dave Painter behind the customer desk at SPD where we all got to know him. June 20 was his last day before retiring to new adventures. 

Photo by Stacy Drake-Robinson 

About the photo

A familiar scene: Dave Painter behind the customer desk at SPD where we all got to know him. June 20 was his last day before retiring to new adventures. 

Photo by Stacy Drake-Robinson