Bowers Fancy Dairy Products has served the community in the Historic Eastern Market's South Hall since 1964. Eastern Market is one of the few remaining historic public market buildings left in Washington, DC and the only one which has retained its original public market charter, of bringing fresh foods and produce to the community. The Eastern Market building is designated as a National Historic Landmark and has been in continuous operation since 1873.
In 1964, much like today, Washington DC was in a state of change, and many of DC’s public markets were facing destruction due to development. What saved the Eastern Market was its architectural and cultural significance as city officials sought to maintain its use as an authentic community focused, fresh food and farmer’s market.
In 1964 Harris Rockford Bowers, (Grandad), purchased Stand 400 from the estate of William Sweeney at its present location in the Historic Eastern Market’s South Hall. Mr. Sweeney had served the DC market system for 40 years at the time of his passing and originally began his career in another market. Grandad was no stranger to the DC food scene having owned small grocery stores in Virginia and at one time worked as a supplier of margarine in DC. During his time in the DC food industry, he became friends with Henry who owned Streamline Delicatessen which is now Canales Delicatessen.
Harris Bowers, brought a uniqueness to the market, sporting a straw "Boater" hat, a twinkle in this eye and adorning his shop in the great South Hall with vaudevillian signage. Grandad’s first employee at the Bowers Fancy Dairy Product’s was Lorraine, a verbose French Canadian gal who brought an international flare to the market with her accent and attire. Working at the cheese shop back then was a family affair, with Grandad, my father Ray Bowers(Dad), family friends and me assisting Customers and cleaning cases.
In 1976 Grandad passed away, and Dad assumed the day-to-day management of the shop while maintaining his career with the US Secret Service where he was a training officer. He worked dillengently to make Eastern Market a better place, working to maintain its historic characteristics. I proudly follow in his footsteps.
Now in our 6th decade of operations, I now own Bowers Fancy Dairy Products after first donning a shop apron in 1969. My son Ryan, now in his 7th year of cheese mongering at Historic Eastern Market represents the future… and he looks to preserve its great past.