Stores in London, Ontario

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Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 03 May 2018 15:48

London is the biggest city in southern Ontario outside the greater Toronto area...and quite possibly the only city in southern Ontario that David hasn't yet been able to cover in the midst of his travel and research. In light of this, I've started doing a bit of research myself to exhume the mysteries of grocery operations in the Forest City.

Here is a list of former A&P locations I've come across in 1970s and early 1980s city directories:

1030 Adelaide N - Apparently opened in the late 1970s; currently a Metro. The store itself looks more 1980s or early 1990s than 1970s to me, but who knows; it could have been renovated at some point.
metro.jpg
644 or 645 Cheapside - The directories are a bit inconsistent about this one. This address resolves to the same street corner as 1030 Adelaide N, so I assume that this was a case of A&P building a new store in the parking lot of the old one.

155 Clarke - Now Metro; Nelson Plaza.

831 Dundas - Evidently demolished.

125 King - Downtown storefront; now subdivided.

1050 Kipps La - An interesting one! First off, it has a centennial roof...one of the few A&P centennials that were built in Canada. Second off, it appears to have been a short-lived location: I could find it listed in a 1975 directory, but not 1970 or 1980. It's currently subdivided between two or more non-supermarket tenants.
ap2.jpg
1165 Oxford E - Lightning strikes twice! This is London's other centennial...although this one is evidently a retrofit with a lone gable and not the full roof. The canopy also has some odd solid bracing underneath. Currently a thrift store, still with some original floor tiles.
ap1.jpg
390 Springbank Dr - Now evidently Giant Tiger. The shopping centre is decorated with interesting metal lattices. (No photo yet, sorry.)

346 Wellington Rd - Evidently demolished.

1225 Hutton Rd. aka Wonderland Rd N - This one was a bit tricky to trace because the street was renamed in 1977. Now Food Basics, and located in the Sherwood Forest Mall.
"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: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 03 May 2018 16:21

Now, for Loblaws! None of their '70s locations still house Loblaws store per se...but quite a few are now No Frills or Valu-Mart stores, which are Loblaws franchises.

94-96 Dundas - A downtown location that's evidently been demolished; a modern high-rise now stands on the spot.

688 Dundas - Another downtown storefront; still selling groceries as T&C Mart. Here is a picture of it:
tcmart.jpg
1920 Dundas - An early shopping centre location, open in 1970 but gone by 1975. I'm unclear where in the centre the supermarket was.

1925 Dundas - This across-the-street location evidently replaced the one at 1920 Dundas. Now Adrian's No Frills, tucked in the middle of a relentlessly-added-onto shopping centre that now has a Walmart on the far end.

1141 Guildwood Blvd - Unclear about this address. Google places it in a residential neighbourhood.

407 Hamilton Rd - This is a great store! It's decked out in porcelain enamel tile, and you can still make out the marks where the LOBLAWS lettering was once attached. Also has an odd trapezoidal footprint, due to site constraints. Now houses the Gardner Galleries.
loblaws1.jpg
906 or 960 Hamilton Rd - Directories list the address both ways, and I'm guessing the 906 is a typo. 960 Hamilton Road is now Mark & Sarah's No Frills.

1275 Highbury Ave - Located at the south end of the Northland Mall, opposite from a Kmart-turned-Zellers-turned-Walmart. Now Darryll & Tracy's No Frills.
nofrills.jpg
"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: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 03 May 2018 16:35

More Loblaws...

150 King Edward Ave - Stands vacant.

234 Oxford E - Now houses a Valu-Mart store, with few alterations.
loblaws2.jpg
900 Oxford E - Location of the Bellwood Place shopping centre. It's possible that it now houses Kelseys Original Roadhouse now, though that may not be the original building.

1201 Oxford W - Evidently demolished and replaced by a Real Canadian Superstore at 1205 Oxford W.

1105 Wellington Rd - White Oaks Mall; exact location unclear. (There is no longer a supermarket operating within the mall.)

476 Wharncliffe Rd S - Probably houses Gary's No Frills today, but the address has shifted to 7 Base Line Rd E if that's true.

179 Wortley Rd - This is London's other Valu-Mart store. Although the building has been expanded and modernized, it dates back to at least the early 1950s (if not earlier) and features a barrel roof and a line of buttresses and windows on one side. The address is variously given as 177, 179, and 177-183.
loblaws3a.jpg
That's all I have for now. More research may eventually follow, though!
"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: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 09 May 2018 18:10

Western University has a fairly complete set of city directories back to 1961, so I'm piecing together a location spreadsheet.

So far it's been an illuminating experience. London had four major players in 1961 (A&P, Dominion, Loblaw's, and Steinberg's), plus a large smattering of independents. Steinberg abruptly exited in the early '70s after their store base shrunk to a single location. Dominion of course was folded into A&P in the 1980s, with the London stores being consolidated under the A&P name (an inversion of the situation in Toronto) and leaving the local grocery market as a two-horse race until the arrival of Sobeys in the early 2000s.

It's also been a tad frustrating. Vernon directories from 1970 to 2000 don't contain a classified listing of retail grocers, so I have to look up chains in the alphabetical section and risk missing a few. It becomes even more annoying when franchises are alphabetized under the owner's name (e.g., "Mark's No Frills"), and the owners of the stores in question change every few years! Still, I've overcome the adversity of the situation. For now.
"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: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Groceteria » 09 May 2018 18:26

Andrew T. wrote:It's also been a tad frustrating. Vernon directories from 1970 to 2000 don't contain a classified listing of retail grocers, so I have to look up chains in the alphabetical section and risk missing a few. It becomes even more annoying when franchises are alphabetized under the owner's name (e.g., "Mark's No Frills"), and the owners of the stores in question change every few years!
Yup. It's like that for most cities in Ontario and also for Montréal, and it's quite infuriating.

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Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 09 May 2018 21:16

I've become intrigued by Steinberg's rise and fall in London. There's a lot of mystery here that I haven't yet penetrated.

Steinberg reportedly expanded into Ontario by buying Grand Union's Canadian division in 1959. Grand Union, in turn, expanded into Canada by buying a chain called Carroll’s in 1953. Were London's Steinberg stores originally Carroll's stores? I don't know. A pre-1960s directory would reveal the answer...but the local public and academic libraries only have pre-1960s directories on microfilm, not on paper, and I don't know when I'll have the time to dig into that.

Toronto's Steinberg stores were later rebranded as Miracle Food Mart. Did any of London's stores survive long enough to follow suit? Again, I don't know.

What I do know are three locations:

1080 Adelaide N: Address is currently a Fresh Co. store in the middle of a shopping centre...but since there's a 40-year lapse for this address in the chain grocery record, I'm unclear if it's actually the same store.

Either 215 or 269 Oxford W at Westown Shopping Plaza, aka Cherryhill Mall: Clearly, there's not a lot of directory-to-directory consistency here. The mall still exists, and features a Metro supermarket as the west anchor...but its address number is 301, and I don't know if it's in the same position as the Steinberg of yore.

457 Wharncliffe Rd S: The only location surviving to 1970. Evidently demolished.
"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."
Andrew Turnbull

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Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 15 May 2018 13:21

I've finished my spreadsheet of London chain grocery locations from 1955 to present! (Yes David, you can use this for your site.) I may extend this back further if I ever have enough free time and patience to deal with an avalanche of microfilm, but don't count on it.

I did actually delve into one microfilm reel to decipher the mysteries of Steinberg, and I found a few answers. It seems that they entered London in the 1959/60 timeframe with all new-build stores rather than acquisitions: Two were situated in new shopping centres and a third was situated where a residential address had been in 1955.

I also confirmed that Steinberg didn't actually withdraw from London: Their stores were rebranded as Miracle Food Mart around 1970, just like in Toronto. They expanded to a base of 4-5 stores and remained competitive in London up until their collapse at the dawn of the 1990s. A&P bought the London stores; three still operate as Food Basics and one as Metro. The 1080 Adelaide N store was sold in advance of the collapse of the chain, and operated as Price Chopper through most of the 1990s and 2000s.
"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: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Groceteria » 15 May 2018 16:55

Yay. Thanks! I will attribute.

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Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 18 May 2018 11:43

Here's a store-by-store rundown of the artifacts of Dominion...the fourth piece of London's grocery puzzle after A&P, Loblaws, and Steinberg/Miracle. First off, the store locations that Dominion operated in 1955...all of which, surprisingly, are still intact:

496 Dundas:

A well-preserved 1940s-era building, still with original windows. Now houses Marvel Beauty School.

577 Hamilton Rd:
dom1.jpg
dom2.jpg
An even better specimen, positioned on a near-triangular lot. Most recently housed a thrift store, but currently vacant. A small sign near the back still makes reference to Dominion, roughly 40 years after the store closed as such.

595 Richmond:

A smaller storefront location. Now a Mac's convenience store.

215 Wharncliffe Rd:

Yet another decently-intact 1940s or early 1950s building. Now B/Back Jewellery & Loan. Appears to be set back from the road the same distance as 496 Dundas.

Now, the later stores:

1500 Dundas:

Built in a late '50s shopping centre. Appears to have closed during the 1980s consolidation with A&P; now a used car dealer!

1154 Hamilton Rd:

A rather small, standalone store from the late 1950s; now evidently vacant.

267 York:

Opened 1960 in the Wellington Square downtown mall. The mall was gutted and rebuilt in the 1980s, and there's no trace of this store left now.

1345 Huron:

A 1960s shopping centre location that's changed little from its original appearance, with lots of glass and a large rectangular framework for the sign. Survived long enough to be converted to A&P, but not Metro. Now a Talize thrift store.

785 Wonderland Rd S:

Located at the Westmount Centre mall. Built in the 1970s and lasted long enough to endure the transition to A&P and even Metro, but the store was recently reoccupied by Superking Asian supermarket.

1200 Commissioner's Rd E:

Quite possibly the last new Dominion store in the area, opening in the early 1980s at the Pond Mills Centre. Now a Food Basics store, with the entrance situated in an interesting cylindrical tower with glass block.

Phew! That's enough research. Now I have to get off my duff and photograph these.
"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."
Andrew Turnbull

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Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Groceteria » 24 May 2018 20:04

Thanks to Andrew T., London has now been added as a page on Groceteria.com:

http://www.groceteria.com/place/ontario/london/

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Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 24 May 2018 22:48

Yay! Ontario is filling in nicely on the map.
"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: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 14 Sep 2018 17:31

I paid a repeat visit to the Western University Archives today so that I could sort through London's pre-1955 grocery history on microfilm. Here's a table with the three decades of additional information I found (along with a few present-day stores I had previously overlooked):

London, ON chain grocery/supermarket history, 1925-2018.

Some findings:

* Dominion was the first chain to become well-established in London, with 8 stores by 1925. Loblaws entered London by 1930, and A&P entered by 1935. One of the first Dominion stores was still operating as an IGA in the 1970s.
* One of London's bygone local grocers was W. A. Bailey & Son, which peaked in 1935 and was gone by 1950. Strangely, 1014 Dundas St. was listed in the 1935 directory both as Dominion and as a W. A. Bailey & Son store: Perhaps Bailey acquired the lease partway through the year. Also oddly, almost all of Bailey's stores had parallel listings both under their own name and under "Warehouse Food Shops" in 1935.
Image
* 260 Dundas St. (shown above) was Loblaws' third store in London, and it operated from the early 1930s through the early 1960s. Another downtown store at 125 King St. also had a prolonged chain history, operating as A&P from 1945 (or earlier) to 1980 (or beyond).

David gave me write access to his copy of the spreadsheet; however, mass editing on Google Spreadsheets is an absolute pain, so I'll park this here for now.
"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: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Groceteria » 14 Sep 2018 17:45

Andrew T. wrote:
14 Sep 2018 17:31
David gave me write access to his copy of the spreadsheet; however, mass editing on Google Spreadsheets is an absolute pain, so I'll park this here for now.
I'll drop it in. Thanks!

BTW (maybe better asked offline) do you have write permissions on your other ones? I can't remember how granular I went.

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Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Groceteria » 14 Sep 2018 18:00

Updated. I don't think I originally realized what a big expansion that was. Nice!

It's interesting to see that the Carroll's stores in London (they were based in Hamilton IIRC) didn't survive long enough to be bought out by Grand Union.

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Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 14 Sep 2018 18:29

Great! The updated map is a treat: There were many, many store locations on Dundas Street and Hamilton Road that closed before 1955, and it's fun to see just how dense those commercial strips once were.

Google (or possibly Apple) changed all the "½" fractions in the Notes column to Greek omegas. Don't worry; I already changed them back.
Groceteria wrote:
14 Sep 2018 18:00
It's interesting to see that the Carroll's stores in London (they were based in Hamilton IIRC) didn't survive long enough to be bought out by Grand Union.
It's a shame that there couldn't have been a Carroll's-to-Grand Union-to-Steinberg's-to-Miracle Food Mart-to-A&P-to-Metro conversion in London. But who knows; maybe there's one somewhere else in southern Ontario.
Groceteria wrote:
14 Sep 2018 17:45
BTW (maybe better asked offline) do you have write permissions on your other ones? I can't remember how granular I went.
Aside from this one and Manitowoc (which I'm long through editing), I do not.
"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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