The Kroger Co. Store List Project

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BatteryMill
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The Kroger Co. Store List Project

Post by BatteryMill »

Over the past year me and some of my friends have been working on a store list for Kroger and its subsidiaries. This list dates from Kroger's inception in 1883 (and even earlier with JayC/Ralphs), and includes a number of surprises throughout Kroger's history, as well as several long-lost retail histories we have been working on that eventually led into the main chain. So far we have managed to find well over 10,000 sites!

We have drawn from numerous sources, such as official websites, Groceteria spreadsheets, Chain Store Age, city directories, newspapers, and other public items available on the Web/libraries.

Here is the link to the spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... p=sharing

For those who would like to join in on editing, feel free to private message me on here or Discord. If anyone has a question about any part of this list, whether it be of a source utilized, error made, or any aspect you are unfamiliar with, feel free to let me know. All constructive criticism and appreciation is welcomed!
rich
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Re: The Kroger Co. Store List Project

Post by rich »

BatteryMill wrote: 01 Sep 2022 16:22 Over the past year me and some of my friends have been working on a store list for Kroger and its subsidiaries. This list dates from Kroger's inception in 1883 (and even earlier with JayC/Ralphs), and includes a number of surprises throughout Kroger's history, as well as several long-lost retail histories we have been working on that eventually led into the main chain. So far we have managed to find well over 10,000 sites!

We have drawn from numerous sources, such as official websites, Groceteria spreadsheets, Chain Store Age, city directories, newspapers, and other public items available on the Web/libraries.

Here is the link to the spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... p=sharing

For those who would like to join in on editing, feel free to private message me on here or Discord. If anyone has a question about any part of this list, whether it be of a source utilized, error made, or any aspect you are unfamiliar with, feel free to let me know. All constructive criticism and appreciation is welcomed!
I’m traveling and have iffy WiFi thus far, but I’ll try to add some things later this month. Kroger had two adjacent buildings in Solon, Ohio dating from the 50s—a DC and a bakery, both still in use. They also had a building at E 59th and Tuscan Ave in Cleveland which may have been discussed here in the past. That was used for awhile after they moved to Solon. That building still stands and they may have had more than one building there. Kroger only ever had a couple or more stores in Erie PA abut they talked about a “Western” division in PA in their advertising before they left. They had greenhouse stores in the I-80 corridor and in other small markets in Western PA which didn’t do well—declining markets with little promise. The “Western” division have been the old Pittsburgh operation but under Cleveland management.
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Re: The Kroger Co. Store List Project

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rich wrote: 06 Sep 2022 21:15 I’m traveling and have iffy WiFi thus far, but I’ll try to add some things later this month. Kroger had two adjacent buildings in Solon, Ohio dating from the 50s—a DC and a bakery, both still in use. They also had a building at E 59th and Tuscan Ave in Cleveland which may have been discussed here in the past. That was used for awhile after they moved to Solon. That building still stands and they may have had more than one building there. Kroger only ever had a couple or more stores in Erie PA abut they talked about a “Western” division in PA in their advertising before they left. They had greenhouse stores in the I-80 corridor and in other small markets in Western PA which didn’t do well—declining markets with little promise. The “Western” division have been the old Pittsburgh operation but under Cleveland management.
Alright then, feel free to message me on here if you wish to join in. We have covered a quite a bit of those areas, but there are still holes in the chronology, especially leading up to the exits from these markets in the 1980s. There may be a few small towns we are missing on.

We found a good amount of store numbers dating back to the 1950s through the Ohio ABC site but it's been spotty on the PA side of things.

Also about the terminology... from what we know it was officially referred to as the "Erie KMA", formed when the Cleveland and Pittsburgh division merged. There is also an "Eastern Division" term being thrown around which might refer to Eastern Ohio?
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Re: The Kroger Co. Store List Project

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They used the Western division in advertising but not the Eastern. It looks like you found Barney’s and Bi-Lo outside the Cleveland area. Those banners were used after they left the immediate Cleveland area but still had the Division there. Barney’s were in former discount stores and were a warehouse concept—the one I remember was a former Spartan Atlantic and about 60k sf. It’s still there and used as backoffice space by Progressive Insurance. Bi-Los were former Kroger stores—I think there were 4 or 5 of them and mostly in the city of Cleveland in neighborhoods of varying affluence. The one I remember was at 152nd and St Clair and was a 1960s store. Last time I was around there it was run as an independent. Bi-Lo was a discount operation, too. I believe there was another at 89th and Buckeye Road in a one time ice house. That location is now a vacant lot in an area that seems poised for redevelopment.
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Re: The Kroger Co. Store List Project

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rich wrote: 07 Sep 2022 10:53 They used the Western division in advertising but not the Eastern. It looks like you found Barney’s and Bi-Lo outside the Cleveland area. Those banners were used after they left the immediate Cleveland area but still had the Division there. Barney’s were in former discount stores and were a warehouse concept—the one I remember was a former Spartan Atlantic and about 60k sf. It’s still there and used as backoffice space by Progressive Insurance. Bi-Los were former Kroger stores—I think there were 4 or 5 of them and mostly in the city of Cleveland in neighborhoods of varying affluence. The one I remember was at 152nd and St Clair and was a 1960s store. Last time I was around there it was run as an independent. Bi-Lo was a discount operation, too. I believe there was another at 89th and Buckeye Road in a one time ice house. That location is now a vacant lot in an area that seems poised for redevelopment.
Okay, I see. I had heard "Eastern Division" from around the 1940s or so. I guess that was a short sliver of time for the discount formats as Kroger was gone by 1986 - though apparently I saw a store in Brunswick that was still open as of 1991?
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Re: The Kroger Co. Store List Project

Post by pseudo3d »

Didn't see the Baker, Louisiana Kroger on there. Of course, the Baton Rouge stores were on the "Numberless Stores" (I believe there was a total of six in the region before they pulled out). This particular store would be at or around 14500 Plank Rd, Baker, LA 70714 and was later Rainbow Shops. This excellent Loopnet photo shows the store in the background; in the foreground is something also very unusual--a Kmart that has been converted into an Albertsons, keeping most of the ridged concrete exterior.
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Re: The Kroger Co. Store List Project

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Kroger had a store in Brunswick that probably dated to the 1950s. The plaza looked like a twin to Willo Plaza in Willoughby, where they also had a store.

They currently have no stores N of Mansfield and the retailing center for the area around Brunswick has been the nearby county seat town of Medina which has been growing as a hub for decades---that's where I would have expected them to have put a new build that would have replaced a store in Brunswick. Perhaps they retained the lease in Brunswick--I don't know when they closed in Brunswick but would guess the late 70s. I've seen old stores (not just Krogers), appear long after they closed in various listings. In Kroger's case, an inner city store in Cleveland that they closed in the 60s had listings in the 80s. I'm actually surprised Kroger doesn't have stores closer to Cleveland (or Akron) than Mansfield. It would be easy for them to supply Ashland, Wooster and some other sizable towns not far from Mansfield. Those towns have Buehler's, a local chain that, interestingly, avoids Mansfield but has locations on the fringe of Canton (where the local Fishers chain is dying) and in Medina.

Kroger is reportedly interested in re-entering Cleveland with a fulfillment center in Oakwood. they applied for a tax break in March and acquired land in April in Oakwood, in the I-271 corridor.

I stumbled onto something interesting about Foodtown in DC. It had many more stores in the days before Kroger bought them: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn ... -1/seq-21/. I didn't look up all the locations, but the ones I was able to find were small (e.g., one is a mattress store in Bethesda, another is a beverage store in Kensington), so I assume they were converting to supermarkets in the 50s and sold to Kroger because their resulting number of supers wasn't viable without outside capital. Interestingly, they were the only chain with trading stamps at that time (1955), but they went with their own program rather than picking up an established plan like S&H (later Food Fair--the one Grand Union bought) or Top Value (Giant). Top Value began as a Kroger-led co-op in 1955, with an ownership stake from Gold Bond, so maybe they were just too early for them. S&H may have wanted a bigger fish.
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Re: The Kroger Co. Store List Project

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Food Fair's stamps were called "Merchant's Green Stamps".
The Food Fair Empire
BatteryMill
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Re: The Kroger Co. Store List Project

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pseudo3d wrote: 24 Nov 2022 02:40 Didn't see the Baker, Louisiana Kroger on there. Of course, the Baton Rouge stores were on the "Numberless Stores" (I believe there was a total of six in the region before they pulled out). This particular store would be at or around 14500 Plank Rd, Baker, LA 70714 and was later Rainbow Shops. This excellent Loopnet photo shows the store in the background; in the foreground is something also very unusual--a Kmart that has been converted into an Albertsons, keeping most of the ridged concrete exterior.
Good observation. That store is listed under the Houston division as store #279. Kroger's history in Louisiana is one of the more interesting states, that's for sure.
rich wrote: 24 Nov 2022 12:18 Kroger had a store in Brunswick that probably dated to the 1950s. The plaza looked like a twin to Willo Plaza in Willoughby, where they also had a store.

They currently have no stores N of Mansfield and the retailing center for the area around Brunswick has been the nearby county seat town of Medina which has been growing as a hub for decades---that's where I would have expected them to have put a new build that would have replaced a store in Brunswick. Perhaps they retained the lease in Brunswick--I don't know when they closed in Brunswick but would guess the late 70s. I've seen old stores (not just Krogers), appear long after they closed in various listings. In Kroger's case, an inner city store in Cleveland that they closed in the 60s had listings in the 80s. I'm actually surprised Kroger doesn't have stores closer to Cleveland (or Akron) than Mansfield. It would be easy for them to supply Ashland, Wooster and some other sizable towns not far from Mansfield. Those towns have Buehler's, a local chain that, interestingly, avoids Mansfield but has locations on the fringe of Canton (where the local Fishers chain is dying) and in Medina.

Kroger is reportedly interested in re-entering Cleveland with a fulfillment center in Oakwood. they applied for a tax break in March and acquired land in April in Oakwood, in the I-271 corridor.

I stumbled onto something interesting about Foodtown in DC. It had many more stores in the days before Kroger bought them: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn ... -1/seq-21/. I didn't look up all the locations, but the ones I was able to find were small (e.g., one is a mattress store in Bethesda, another is a beverage store in Kensington), so I assume they were converting to supermarkets in the 50s and sold to Kroger because their resulting number of supers wasn't viable without outside capital. Interestingly, they were the only chain with trading stamps at that time (1955), but they went with their own program rather than picking up an established plan like S&H (later Food Fair--the one Grand Union bought) or Top Value (Giant). Top Value began as a Kroger-led co-op in 1955, with an ownership stake from Gold Bond, so maybe they were just too early for them. S&H may have wanted a bigger fish.
Curiously I saw a Kroger listing from 1991 that still showed a store in Brunswick under operation (#306 in Columbus). I do wish they could return to that area, but they are occupied with those Ocado warehouses. Perhaps those cities were part of the Erie division and also struggling during the strike years.

Food Town is also an interesting artifact since it too was founded through a co-op merger in 1952.
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Did Kroger own Piggly Wiggly?

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Update: Kroger #309 refers to Brunswick, GA as mentioned by a Marion, OH newspaper, strangely.

That being said there are a few questions I have in mind about Kroger. The first is, many sources state Kroger's first store opened in 1883. Yet, there were numerous newspaper articles and publications in the past that gave Kroger's first year of operation at 1882. What gives about the latter date?

The second, and my title post, is whether Kroger owned Piggly Wiggly whole or not. It is known that Kroger bought out several Piggly Wiggly franchise operations in new and existing markets starting around 1928, simply making The Kroger Grocery & Baking Co. a franchisee. However, there have been some sources suggesting that Kroger owned the operation whole, and had several thousand Piggly Wigglys in their control. While Kroger has no stake in PW today, and has not operated such a concept in 70+ years, what is the record on this? This does not explain how Piggly Wiggly supposedly left Kroger's control.
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Re: The Kroger Co. Store List Project

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Well I have been able to piece together from various newspaper articles and from talking to my friend Lisa Tolbert, who is the author of the book “Beyond Piggly Wiggly,” groups of franchised stores were sold off to retailers such as Safeway, National Tea, and others, but Kroger obtained a controlling interest in the actual Piggly Wiggly corporation (as well as owning a large number of the franchised stores) in 1928. Kroger sold that controlling interest in 1941 to the owner of Winn and Lovett stores of Florida, who held onto it before selling out to Malone and Hyde in 1982. (The Winn and Lovett stores themselves were acquired by the Davis family in 1939 and were merged into what became Winn-Dixie.) Malone and Hyde was acquired by Fleming, which in turn was acquired by C&S.
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Re: The Kroger Co. Store List Project

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Groceteria wrote: 27 Nov 2023 09:24 Well I have been able to piece together from various newspaper articles and from talking to my friend Lisa Tolbert, who is the author of the book “Beyond Piggly Wiggly,” groups of franchised stores were sold off to retailers such as Safeway, National Tea, and others, but Kroger obtained a controlling interest in the actual Piggly Wiggly corporation (as well as owning a large number of the franchised stores) in 1928. Kroger sold that controlling interest in 1941 to the owner of Winn and Lovett stores of Florida, who held onto it before selling out to Malone and Hyde in 1982. (The Winn and Lovett stores themselves were acquired by the Davis family in 1939 and were merged into what became Winn-Dixie.) Malone and Hyde was acquired by Fleming, which in turn was acquired by C&S.
That does make sense, there are numerous publications, newspapers, magazines that state a variety of things about Kroger's relation to Piggly Wiggly. Interestingly Kroger still franchised PW to about 1948 when the Kroger brand was finally introduced to Atlanta.
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Re: The Kroger Co. Store List Project

Post by Groceteria »

BatteryMill wrote: 27 Nov 2023 14:17Interestingly Kroger still franchised PW to about 1948 when the Kroger brand was finally introduced to Atlanta.
In Evansville, Indiana, which I just finished, they apparently introduced the brand in the late 1920s but ultimately prioritized the Piggly Wiggly brand over Kroger until the mid-1940s when they started consolidating brands after acquiring Oakley Economy Stores of Terre Haute in 1939. Kroger left Evansville entirely in 1973. It's almost like their heart was never in that market.

But they did come back with Ruler Foods in the past twenty years or so.
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