FIRST NATIONAL SUPERMARKETS, INC. (FINAST) is a leading supermarket chain in the Cleveland area. Its origin can be traced to 1928, when Edward Silverberg opened a small dairy store in CLEVELAND HTS. In the 1930s, Silverberg expanded his company into a chain called Farmview Creamery Stores. He introduced the supermarket to Cleveland in 1938, when he opened a store on E. 185th St. called Pick-N-Pay, which carried dairy products as well as grocery items. Silverberg changed the corporate name of all his stores to Pick-N-Pay Supermarkets in 1940. Pick-N-Pay had grown to 10 supermarkets when it was acquired by the Cook Coffee Co. of Cleveland (later COOK UNITED, INC.) in 1951. Cook made a substantial addition to Pick-N-Pay by acquiring the 25-store Foodtown, Inc., supermarket chain from ACF-Wrigley Stores of Detroit, which had acquired Foodtown in 1956. Julius and Milton Kravitz of Cleveland guided the formation of a chain of independently owned Foodtown supermarkets in 1947. Foodtown strengthened its distribution network in 1952 when it acquired the pioneer manufacturer and wholesaler of food products in Cleveland, the Wm. Edwards Co., founded by Marcus A. Treat in 1853. With the Foodtown acquisition, Pick-N-Pay increased its stores to 38, acquired the right to distribute "Edwards Brand" products, and moved into Foodtown's headquarters across Rockside Rd. from its own warehouse in MAPLE HTS.
Although Pick-N-Pay continued to expand by building its own food-manufacturing plants, by the mid-1960s it began to experience financial and operating difficulties. Cook in 1972 sold Pick-N-Pay's 57 stores to a group of investors headed by Julius Kravitz. The new management upgraded its facilities and opened larger stores, which increased sales to $300 million and employment to 5,000 by 1975. Pick-N-Pay became the leading supermarket chain in Cleveland, but competition remained keen with the other major grocery chains, Fazios (see FISHER FOODS, INC.) and Stop-N-Shop. In 1978 Pick-N-Pay moved beyond northern Ohio by acquiring the First Natl. Stores of Boston to form First Natl. Supermarkets, Inc., with headquarters in Maple Hts. They began opening new stores and remodeling old ones under the name Finast. First Natl. was acquired in 1988 by the Netherlands company Ahold N.V. In 1994 Ahold separated the New England and New York stores from the Cleveland operations, thereby eliminating the name First National Supermarkets in northeastern Ohio for all practical purposes. The one remaining Pick-N-Pay was closed in 1994 as well. Locally, in 1995 the chain employed 7,500 employees in 41 stores, including 25 in Cuyahoga County and 7 in the city of Cleveland.