Kroger-era Krambo stores and subsequent Kroger stores
After the 1955 sale of the chain, Krambo stores began to carry Kroger products and reflect Kroger chainwide building designs. Kroger phased out the Krambo name altogether in 1963, after a brief period of co-branded advertising.
The following store locations all opened in the Kroger era:
* 7552 W Oklahoma Ave, West Allis
. Later a Shop-Rite. I photographed this store in 2010, when it housed a Blockbuster Video and still substantially reflected its original appearance...including the integrated Kroger megasign and traces of where the "magic carpet" doormats used to be! Unfortunately...the building was later gutted to the bones and converted into a nondescript CVS (with a drive-thru lane where an adjacent part of the shopping centre used to be!)
* 3333 S 27th St
. Later a National, then a Shop-Rite...which means this location had the misfortune of housing two
doomed chains in close succession! This was part of a building that has evidently been added onto, remodeled, and subdivided into Planet Fitness and several other tenants...but original exposed brickwork is visible 'round back.
* 729 S Layton Blvd
. As with 5020 W North Ave, this tore had the longest afterlife of any ex-Kroger location, converting to Jewel and later Shop-Rite and lasting through at least the late 1990s. The façade of the shopping centre has been remodeled. Now houses a Value Village.
* 1201 N 35th St
. This store stood in the shadow of what is now Harley-Davidson headquarters. Later a Jewel. A small shopping centre stands on the site today, but I'm doubtful that it's the same building.
* 5706 N Port Washington Rd, Glendale
. Later a Jewel; apparently demolished.
* 5500 W Capitol Dr.
* 7601 W Fond du Lac Ave.
* Mayfair Shopping Center, Wauwatosa
. The Mayfair Mall opened in 1958; the Kroger in the mall closed before 1970. I'm unclear *where* in the shopping centre this store was...and since Mayfair has been reconfigured drastically over the last five decades, it's doubtful that any trace of this store remains.
* 1300 E Locust St
. A Dollar General store now stands on the site, but I'm doubtful that it's the same building.
* 6101 N Teutonia Ave
. Part of a long shopping centre that has, alas, been facelifted since the 1970s.
* 4121 N 76th St
. This appears to have been a very short-lived location, opening by 1965 and closing by 1970. Apparently demolished.
* 6015 W Forest Home Ave
(Street view defaults to the wrong part of the property). Anchored a shopping centre. This is actually the second best-preserved Kroger relic in all of Milwaukee, still standing reasonably intact as a trucking company office. This is also another "there by '65, gone by '70" store, which is a sure sign that Kroger wasn't doing too well in the Milwaukee market 50 years ago...
What happened to Kroger's second go in Milwaukee?
Krambo in the 1950s was a plucky upstart grocer, challenging the hegemony of A&P and National side-by-side with Sentry and Kohl's. This momentum continued for the first few years after the sale to Kroger: Indeed, Krambo's new store construction was more rapid in the late 1950s than it had ever been before, and the chain's Milwaukee market share peaked in 1963 (per MPL
). Yet it seems that as soon as the Krambo name was taken off the stores, the chain was transformed into a complacent, mediocre hulk overnight! Kroger entered a moratorium of Milwaukee store construction in the mid-1960s, just as Sentry in particular went into expansion overdrive. (I doubt Kroger's period penchant for prewrapped produce helped their competitive standing, either.) By 1971 their Milwaukee market share was in free fall, declining from 10% to 6% in one year
. Their competitive standing in other Wisconsin cities (save for Madison) seems to have scarcely been any better...and Kroger corporate reacted by withdrawing from the state altogether that summer.
What happened to the individual stores? Three of them went to Jewel, which must have sensed that Kroger's departure was a good opportunity to sweep into the Milwaukee market...but whether due to operational problems or anti-Illinois chauvinism, none of Jewel's stores lasted beyond the early 1980s. (Jewel would make a second, equally-unsuccessful stab at the Milwaukee market in the late 1990s.) Five Krogers either immediately or eventually became rebranded as Shop-Rite markets, which appears to be a franchise or buyer's cooperative system that I know little about. Two of these Shop-Rites lasted into the late 1990s, but none of them are housing food stores now.