Tom and Abraham (Al) Borman were brothers who emigrated from Russia in 1914, eventually settling in the Detroit area. Together, they opened their first store, Tom's Quality Market, in 1927. By 1935 they had ten markets, and by 1955 they had 26, which operated under the names of "Food Fair" and "Lucky." The Borman brothers soon decided to merge the stores and incorporate them under the name of "Food Fair" Markets. Between 1956 and 1964 they continued to open new stores as well as acquire smaller local chains, resulting in their doubling in size to 52 stores total.
Borman's Inc. quickly became well known in the supermarket business for its stores' low prices and quick growth, and on January 20, 1959, the company made its first public offering of stock, trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Besides Food Fair Markets, Borman's Inc. also opened a chain of 7 discount food stores under the name "Savon," and was the first company to enter into an agreement with K-mart to operate a supermarket within the discount chain. Borman's Inc. expanded and diversified further by buying up other companies such as Detroit Pure Milk Company (1962), the Wesley Quaker Maid Ice Cream Company (1963), and several department stores and drugstores.
Probably the best known of the Borman's Inc. endeavors was Farmer Jack, which the company opened in 1965. The strategy behind the supermarket was to offer a large variety of quality products at the lowest possible prices, and it proved so successful that all Food Fair, K-mart, and Savon stores were consolidated under the same name of "Farmer Jack."
Although Tom Borman retired from the company in 1967, Borman's Inc. remained a family-run business throuhout its existence. Abraham Borman continued to be involved with the company, and his son, Paul Borman, groomed for the family business for years, took over as president of Borman's Inc. in 1965. Paul would continue to head the company until it was ultimately merged with A & P in 1988.
Beyond creating and managing a successful supermarket business, the Bormans, especially Abraham and his son, Paul, were highly active in the Detroit area, attending events with such high profile politicians as Governors William Milliken and George Romney, and Detroit Mayor Coleman Young. Paul Borman served as the director of several boards including the United Foundation, the Detroit Symphony, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Michigan, and the University of Detroit. The Bormans were also very involved in the Jewish-American community, and received awards and accolades from the Israeli government as well as prominent Jewish-American societies.
From the guide to the Borman Family Papers, 1923-1991, 1960-1987, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)
- Charities--Michigan--Detroit Metropolitan Area
- Detroit (Mich.) (as recorded)