1970s superstore-era Kroger store interiors?

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Andrew T.
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1970s superstore-era Kroger store interiors?

Post by Andrew T. »

Kroger is by far the most dominant supermarket chain in my neck of the woods, so naturally I've become well-acquainted with their store styles over the years.

I've long been curious what the Kroger's interior wall graphics prior to the "greenhouse" era were like, however. All still-extant superstores I've seen have been updated at least into the 1980s greenhouse style (with bright colors and Bauhaus fonts) or the grid style of the early '90s, if not renovated beyond recognition, so I've had few clues to draw by. Here's what I do know:

* Rows of brown and green brick-like inlays were included in the floor tile.

* Orange, I figure, was probably the dominant color of interior decoration. When I visited the Hinton, WV superstore in the mid '90s, parts of the checkout conveyors and the walls between the interior and exterior entrance doors were still painted orange; although the store itself had (at the time) been remodeled into the then-current pink-and-dark red grid style.

* In Princeton, WV, there is a Big Lots store that was a Kroger superstore prior to the mid 1980s. Inside, there are some very interesting and elaborate architectural-style decorations on the wall over what was once the deli, with wooden siding and orange-tinted windows.

Any other thoughts?
dooneyt63
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1970s Kroger Superstore Interior Decor

Post by dooneyt63 »

The aforementioned brown and green floor tiles delineated specific areas of the store. The packaged bread section had the brownish brick insets as did much of the deli area. In the packaged bread section the overall tile was usually white. The deli area often had some harvest gold colored overall tile in addition to the insets. The green was in the produce area, teamed with white and/or green overall tile. The lighting in the produce area featured a sort of avocado-green enameled dome lighting fixtures with single round globe frosted bulbs. They were attached to sort of lattice-y pergola structures over the freestanding produce coolers. The superstores had avocado-enameled refrigeration cases in the produce area. The freestanding refrigerated counters were very innovative at the time. Most stores still had only the wall units. A brick-reddish theme prevailed in the meat department. The harvest gold color with some brass lanterns demarcated the Country Oven area where the packaged bread and rolls were displayed.

The deli area did have the shake siding panels and stylized French doors high up on the overhang with gold glass windows. These were by far the most advanced delis Kroger had ever had. Across from the deli on some harvest gold or orangish tile was a square cooler arrangement for the specialty cheese shop. It featured take home and bake pizzas even back in the 1970's. These have lately been touted as "totally new". The dome lights were repeated near the checkouts, in the deli area and in the cheese shop. The brick (reddish-brown) tile insets were also featured in the entry walk at the foot of the checkouts.

The overall effect was very pleasant, and it did not date as badly as some less elaborately executed interiors have. Once in awhile, one spots some largely intact examples still in use today. I don't think Kroger has any with the total package left, but some smaller stores still feature a number of elements from that first package. The Pearl, MS store comes to mind.
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Post by Andrew T. »

Wow, thanks! That's a lot of detail. Would you happen to know what the wall signs looked like?

A very interesting-sounding store interior package, in any case. I wish I could see a picture of it!

The "pergola structures" sound relatively similar to what was hung over the flower section in the Kroger greenhouse that replaced the Princeton superstore in the 1980s, although that had inset lighting.
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Post by Andrew T. »

Well, in a way I answered my own question. In a bit of random searching, I came across a treasure trove of Kroger store images on a Portage, Michigan library website; some dating back to 1960.

Lo and behold, there were some interior shots of a Kroger superstore as it appeared upon opening in 1973; specifically here, here, and here!

The brick tile inlays are there, along with the pergola structures and the shake siding panels and stylized French doors over the "Village Market." You get a glimpse of the aisle signs as well...which look like nothing I've seen before in real life. The temporary signs hanging from the ceiling certainly have a "vintage" look to them with the squared lettering!

Judging by this, it would seem that they didn't use much in the way of wall signs at all. I'm still not sure what color the walls were painted, though.

Heh...I'm almost starting to feel sorry I grew up in the "greenhouse" era!
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Post by krogerclerk »

I seem to recall avocado as the dominant color on freezer, produce cases, and the check stands, I don't recall if the meat cases were avocado or harvest gold, there may have been variation from store to store and year to year in this detail. The pergola structures were over the checkouts, produce and wine department. The wall papering was primarily avocado, though I recall harvest gold being in the deli and Country Oven bakery(commercial breads) sections and maybe burnt orange for the wall papering above the meat. It's too bad no intact superstores exist close by, all have been remodled several times over, some beyond recognition. Most have the mauve/grid decor, either replacing the original superstore decor or the greenhouse decor since covered by the grid decor. Big Lots was a popular tenant for ex-superstores, and their interiors have been changed. Too bad no independent went into these stores, which would have likely have been left unaltered.

The greenhouse was basically an evolution of the superstore, but the Bauhaus decor lent them an art deo air. Orange became the primary color scheme for checkstands, coolers and freezers throughout the store with some harvest gold cases in some locations. Some greenhouse stores were superstore sized, and many superstores were expanded and given both greenhouse interiors and exteriors. The overall earthtone colors are common to both store formats. Either way, Kroger had the most distinctive store design of the Big Three(Safeway, A&P, Kroger) in the 1970's and 80's. Kroger superstores and greenhouse stores are as recognizable as the Safeway marina/gable stores and the A&P centennial/colonial stores from the late-50's to the early-70's. Safeway, A&P, and most of the remaining chains built generic stores in the 70's and 80's with a few notable exceptions.
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Kroger superstores

Post by dooneyt63 »

Those aisle signs visible in the photos were used in the first superstores. They actually date from the smaller Kroger stores of the mid-to-late 1960's. These were in the smaller store Kroger operated in Northeast Jackson, MS before opening the I-55 North superstore. They predate the superstore opening by around 10 years. They were the only real element carried from the older store to the new. Otherwise the interior concepts were all very new and different for the time. Seems like the aisle numbers were sort of an aqua color on white or vice versa. The six side spokes noting items on the aisle were black printing on white field. These remained in the superstores for some time before being updated. The first updates, IIRC, contained little advertisements. The first aisle signs were much more interesting than today's rather generic, bland ones.
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Post by Super S »

For what it's worth, I lived in ohio in the early 1980s, and remember the Port Clinton Kroger had shake roofing panels right above the deli, and I believe, an office of some sort with windows in the shake area. I remember very little else about this store, which closed a few years ago and moved to a new location.
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Post by Groceteria »

This thread is making my week and once again has me singing the superstore radio jingle:

"Tomorrow's store today. Kroger's got it."

Ah, but for a sound file and a color photo or two...
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Re: 1970s superstore-era Kroger store interiors?

Post by Andrew T. »

Earlier this month I paid a visit to the Big Lots store in Princeton, and managed to sneak in a couple photos of the still-intact '70s Kroger interior decor without anyone noticing: Not a small feat indeed, when your camera happens to be a manually-adjusted SLR!

To quote from that article again: "Special service departments will be emphasized in both the new and the remodeled superstores...Delicatessens, for example, will be topped with a wood-shingle roof accented with gold and bittersweet-colored lighted panels."

Image

Here's another view from slightly further back in the store. The black wood framing is also contained in the upper wall over where the meat department once was. It's kind of appropriate that these details overlook the one part of the store that still sells food!

Super S, your early '80s memories were right. Four of the sixteen panes on the French doors are transparent and are functional windows into the management office.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: 1970s superstore-era Kroger store interiors?

Post by h8wlmt »

I hate to post a reply that doesn't add anything meaningful to the thread but I wanted to say thanks. Are these the only decor elements that survived? Please get more pictures if you can. I haven't heard of this decor existing anywhere else. While I'm at it, great pics in the other thread too.
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Re: 1970s superstore-era Kroger store interiors?

Post by Andrew T. »

h8wlmt wrote:I hate to post a reply that doesn't add anything meaningful to the thread but I wanted to say thanks. Are these the only decor elements that survived? Please get more pictures if you can. I haven't heard of this decor existing anywhere else. While I'm at it, great pics in the other thread too.
For the most part, yes (and thank you!): The floor tiles are also original, but that's not saying much. The walls have been whitewashed, and any other obvious interior artifacts of a superstore past (such as pergolas) were removed when Kroger moved out 24 years ago...

Here's a third picture taken in the far back corner of the store, showing how the meat department has been converted to general merchandise shelves.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: 1970s superstore-era Kroger store interiors?

Post by rich »

A real memory jolt. I remembered the avacodo and gold from the superstore era, but not the shake "roofs" in the deli and other sections. It may be that these were used regionally. The chunky brutalism of the early superstores has not worn well, but it was distinctive in an era where virtually everyone else built new stores with some variation on a mansard roof. The combination of dark brick and the castle-like entrances seems heavy & dated now. The greenhouse design holds up better and seems adaptable to differebnt store sizes and subsequent remodeling with the more newer "colonial house" fronts that are similar to what a lot of other chains use right now. I always thought that one problem with the early greenhouses was the busy wallpaper, whereas the superstores had clean, simpler wall coverings. The colors and accents would have reflected the times--avocado and gold were still in style in the early 70s, and heavy dark wood trim was the up and coming accent.

tangent--I'm surprised that a store would have 70s refrigeration equipment now. there would be more cost/energy efficient products that have come out in the interim.
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Re: 1970s superstore-era Kroger store interiors?

Post by krogerclerk »

Big Lots seems to gravitate to ex-Kroger superstores-Newnan, LaGrange and Carrollton, GA have fairly intact exteriors, but I've never gone in those locations to see the interior. I always assumed the interior would have been redone as had been the case here in Dalton, GA. The Big Lots in Dalton has very few vestiges of its superstore decor with the exception of the dark brown brick as the shopping has been remodeled twice and is in the process of another remodel as the current Kroger,originally Grant City, then Sky City, expands into and area that contains remaining elements of the superstore theme. The Dalton location was a 1960's construct that was expanded and remodeled into the superstore design, and lacked an upstair manager mezzanine overlooking the sales floor. Most superstores in this area had the mezzanine over the courtesy counter next to the registers and between the checkouts and deli, so I had never seen a superstore with 4 functional window panes over the deli.
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Re: 1970s superstore-era Kroger store interiors?

Post by wnetmacman »

I would agree with the Big Lots/Superstore correlation. I went to a Big Lots store in Hot Springs, AR in a former superstore. This particular store had a separate pharmacy, and there was a door between both. The drug store area was the furniture part. I believe that most of the decor accents were gone, however. With Big Lots, it depended on the age of the store. In earlier Big Lots stores, the company didn't spend a lot of money redecorating. The stores shown were examples, as was a former centennial A&P in Shreveport, LA. Essentially, they painted over the decor accents. In their newer stores, Big Lots guts the building and starts over.

On a thread-related note:
In Longview,TX, there was a smaller Kroger on the south side of town that was reimaged into a superstore, complete with the castle-like entrance. The store was closed in 1982 or 1983, and sat completely empty for about 10 years. It was reopened as a flea market in 1991 or 1992, and almost all of the decor was still up, including the produce department's pergolas. Some of it had been painted over, but it greatly resembled what is shown above.
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Re: 1970s superstore-era Kroger store interiors?

Post by Groceteria »

My hometown of Greensboro NC had three superstores, one on Market Street, one on Yanceyville Street, and one one on High Point Road.

Market Street was the first to open and the first to close (around 1983, I think) and became an Aaron furniture rental store.

High Point Road relocated down the street (into a former Family Mart) and the old store became a Food World (within a few months absorbed into Harris Teeter) in about 1984 and retained its decor for a few years afterward before closing around 1995. Interestingly, this center also sprouted a Big Lots, not in the former Kroger, but in a former Best Products next door. The old Kroger is now some kind of doll market, but it may have closed too.

Yanceyville Street kept its original decor until the early 1990s, as I recall. I remember visiting on a trip home from California and kicking myself for not having a a camera with me. It was remodeled around 1995 in the "grid" style, and then relocated to a huge new store half a mile away about two years later. Then Kroger pulled out of Greensboro entirely in 1999, leaving the big new store to Harris Teeter, who opted to close it. The old superstore on Yanceyville Street now houses part of a Dollar General and a Save-a-Lot, while the 1997 store is still vacant.

None of these stores have any visible superstore interior elements left.
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