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Our History

The Santa Family’s ancestors arrived in San Francisco from Italy around the turn of the century, and by 1910 they had started a grocery store called the Hyde Street Market which continued to serve the Nob Hill neighborhood for 63 years.

However, during the 1960s, large grocery store chains swept the country and independent, neighborhood grocers began to disappear. Larry Santa (Woodlands Market’s Founder, Don Santa’s father) and his brother moved across the Golden Gate to Marin County, opening an automotive repair business instead of continuing the family grocery business. They ran a successful business for 25 years until they retired in 1983.

After college, Don Santa spent three years working as a stock broker but was discontented. He wanted to run his own business. It was then that Don found what was to become Woodlands Market. Don borrowed money to start a new business. Eventually, he convinced his father to join him. Larry expressed doubts about the wisdom of owning a highly competitive business like a grocery store in this era of national chains; they knew they had to work twice as hard to succeed. Larry and Don spend the first two years without a day off—working the store by day and remodeling by night.

They soon recruited the rest of the family to work at the store. Over the years, Woodlands Market employees have also included Don’s mother and three sisters. In 1990, Don’s father died unexpectedly, but he spent the last three years of his life working in a family grocery store just like his ancestors.

Since 1986, Woodlands Market has operated successfully and continuously as a local, family-owned, independent grocery store. Managing its operation with a sense of innovation and creativity has been a key to it’s longevity. Run by a leadership team that truly cares, Woodlands has a history of making business decisions that bring out the best in the company for the sake of it’s customers, it’s employees, and it’s community.