The first store that got me interested in old supermarkets

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The first store that got me interested in old supermarkets

Post by Groceteria »

On the front page of the site today is a salute to my "first" store, the one that ignited my obsession with old supermarkets when I was a child. You can read it here:

Did any of the rest of you have a specific "first" store that set you off on this path? Were you a child, or an adult, or somewhere in between? Do you have pictures of that store or specific memories or information about it? If you do, this thread is for you.

By this, I specifically DON'T mean the first store you remember shopping in (although that could be interesting as a separate topic if someone wanted to start it up) but the first one that got you interested in OLD stores.
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Post by NewsLynne »

The former Marina Safeway in Orange, Va kickstarted my interest. My memories of shopping there are very vague - I remember the mayflies buzzing around the grapes and the round grocery belts.

When I lived with my grandmother, she rarely shopped there, opting instead for the newer A&P on the outskirts of town.

The more I learned about this particular Safeway, the more I began to think about how strange it must have looked in this brick and mortar town. I thought about my mother shopping there in the 60's. How cool is it that something most people take for granted plays such a large part in our lives? For small towns, it is a gathering spot, the place to go after church and somewhere to see old friends.

The shopping center covered the arch with an ugly green overhang but the early 60's light fixtures and aquamarine brick still exist. The Safeway's a Schewels now, still with the wooden beams in place.
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Post by TheStranger »

I'd love to see a photo of that Orange, VA marina someday...

I think I've mentioned them before, but the two vintage buildings I went to as a kid were the marina former Safeway at St. Francis Square in Daly City, and the 1959-era QFI in South San Francisco. What got me BACK into storegeeking last year was the recently Lifestyle-remodeled marina at 3350 Mission Street in San Francisco, which I happened to catch sight of from San Jose Avenue...which led to me checking it out and taking a couple of photos...the start of something, eh?
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Post by runchadrun »

My first store would probably be the Crawford's Corner Market Basket/Vons at the corner of Valley and New in Alhambra, which has been talked about extensively at . As I mentioned in that thread, the locksmith in the shopping center told me that the store at one time was a Crawford's combination grocery and department store and that got me thinking about what I now know is called commercial archaeology. I was probably 12 or 13 at the time and I don't think I had ever considered that a certain kind of store could have ever been anything else in the past. A grocery store could change names, but turning a department store into a grocery store? The fact that the shopping center still looks the same 43 years after opening also makes it special in my book.

My recent interest has been because of two stores in Northridge which I have since learned are both former Dale's Markets (see ). They are the Lucky/Albertsons at Devonshire and Reseda and the Office Depot on Parthenia and Corbin. Their architectures were so unique that I wanted to find out what their history was. Researching that led me to discover the existence of Dale's, which also led me into looking into the history of other chains that I had never heard of. I took some pictures of the Devonshire store in 2002, long before I became real active here, even on the old message board.
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Post by justin karimzad »

The San Mateo 1959 Marina Safeway was my first, and for the longest time I had wondered what it looked like inside, as by the time I saw it the store had long since been boarded up. But my first was really its identical twin, the 7th ave. San Francisco Marina that I discovered in 1999, since I got to see that one in operation. The San Mateo one was the first to go, in 2000, of course followed by the San Francisco one this year.
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Post by wnetmacman »

I would have to say that mine is really a series of old Safeway stores, but it began with the Marina store in Henderson, TX. My mother used to shop there in the late 70's, where we always went after shopping at one of the earliest Wal-Mart stores in Texas. That store closed in 1980, being replaced by a newer, brown Safeway next to the Wal-Mart. This was, at the time, the most revolutionary store I had ever been in; it had a bakery, deli, and pharmacy. We used to go to the bakery for the cookie club. I even remember having the card. For a third grader, it was the best.

After those two stores, it was the old Safeway in downtown Longview, TX that had my interest. The Safeway closed in 1987 with all the other Dallas division, and was reopened a few months later as a County Market. I worked in the County Market from 1989-1990 when it closed. I remember this store well, because it was essentially a series of buildings that Safeway had banded together. The roof leaked, the coolers were all outdated (even in 1990), and half the lights didn't work, but it was still the top Safeway in Texas when it was open.

The last one was one of the last pre-Randalls era stores that Safeway built in Texas, in 1986. Carthage, TX had a really small store (no bakery, deli or pharmacy) that was reopened in 1989 as U-Save Foods. I worked at this store for a few months in 1990 when I was in college. It was neat because it still, even then, was a Safeway store with a new paint job.
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Post by Jeff »

There were a few.

The old Marina Safeway that I loved and frequented as a child that closed in 1986, before the Vons merger was my most favourite. I loved the signage, the paintings in the meat department, the wood beams of the marina. I missed that store when they closed it. For years, the old sign was still in the parking lot and you could still see "SAFEWAY" as a labelscar. Today you can see where the sign was, since they just cut the sign off at the concrete.

My next was Gemco. I loved the idea of the supermarket-department stoer. I loved visiting the Gemco's in Rowland Hts and San Gabriel. The Rowland Hts was ultra sleek and modern. Too bad it closed not long after it opened.

GIANT (by Ralphs) also were on my mind. The ugly interiors, Ziggy's Bakery and Deli, the warehouse feel, and the fact that most were former Zody's locations.

Finally, as Chad said, the Vons / Crawfords in Alhambra. This market was huge compared to most and had more space and room than any other market I ever visited. I didn't know about the department store portion before hearing about it here. Today markets are as big as this one, if not larger, but back in the 80's this was H U G E.
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Post by Daniel »

Mine was a Marina Safeway in Chickasha, OK. I remember the first time we went there, I must've been about 4. That store inspired my first supermarket drawing, unfortunately lost to time. When we relocated to California in 1985, the first Safeway store we visited was a disappointment, to put it mildly. The place was absolutely filthy and smelled like cat urine.

The next store that captured my attention was the Safeway in Clovis, Ca. It had the standard 80's interior, and my mom would graciously drive out of the way to take me there. It closed in 1988 or 1989 and is now a Marshall's clothing store.

It seems a lot of people's interest in grocery stores was sparked by Safeway, doesn't it?
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Post by shane »

The store that got me interested in supermarkets was an old Alpha Beta in Beaumont. I remember going to this store around 1994 when it became a
Ralphs. I even remember it still had a sixties style interior complete with old refrigeraters and gondola shelves. My number two store is the former marina Safeway here in Lancaster. I have always liked the unfinished wood beams and the curved roof. This store always brings back memories of childhood shopping trips.

Foodland of Clovis

Post by MarkWinston »

My mom used to take me by Foodland on the corner of Clovis and Shaw Aves in Clovis, CA every day after work. I remember back then there was a huge high-rise sign for the Bonanza Shopping Center, which was the (fairly large) commercial center in which the place was located. My earliest memories were that next to Foodland was a western wear store and on the other side of the center was a Hancock fabrics.

I assume that the Hancock and the western wear stores used to be either other groceries or larger drug stores. I'm sure our Host knows. Today Hancock is subdivided into a Goodwill and a fabric store of another variety, if memory serves me.

The things I remember most vividly about the store were:

My mom always bought one pack of Carlton 100s (soft pack) every day there until she quit smoking sometime 1990ish. She would wait in the register line where her lesbian friend Kris worked no matter how long that line was. The carts, the aisles, the store, the signage - everything was so TINY then compared to current supermarkets.

Every Christmas, my mom would buy a huge ham from the butcher/distributor downtown and take it to the deli counter at Foodland and they would slice it into bone-in hamsteaks for her for no charge.

When my mom got her paycheck, Foodland would cash it for no charge, even if she wasn't buying groceries. She cashed it in the checkout lane too, not some multi-purpose Customer Service counter like they have for such purposes in some markets today. I also don't remember seeing express lanes or anything similar in the grocery stores then. If you only had an item or two, you waited in line. If you didn't want to wait in line, you went to 7-Eleven. I also, however, don't remember people making such huge, SUV-filling trips. My mom went grocering at least 3 times each week.

Even though in the days when that was the major grocery in Clovis (along with Peacock Market on Tollhouse and Clovis Aves and the Safeway in the center across Shaw from Foodland) my parents were not that well off money-wise, I remember we used to eat a lot more beef and fresh berries and fruit than we did 10 years or 20 years on.

The fast-paced growth in central CA in the past couple decades has meant that migrant workers are finally moving into better jobs such as construction and services, although this means that fewer labor-intensive crops are planted and thus the price of strawberries and blackberries has priced most middle-class households out of these items. Add in the Ethanol-subsidy-induced corn shortages and Atkins-diet-obsessed culture of the past few years and beef isn't really an affordable middle-class commodity anymore either. But those were the days, when you could think of beef and blueberries as just another healthy staple rather than an expensive luxury...

...Or is it just the romance of nostalgia and possible historical amnesia which is the expensive luxury? Either way, I wish I still had my Foodland.
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Post by Daniel »

Not to steer this off-topic, but since PM's are disabled... The Foodland store you visited was a Safeway originally. It was replaced by the store across the street. (Even as Foodland, it had a Circle S mat on the automatic doors) The Goodwill/Hancock Fabrics was originally a W.T. Grant discount store, subdivided after Grant's closed.

Post by MarkWinston »

Daniel wrote:Not to steer this off-topic, but since PM's are disabled... The Foodland store you visited was a Safeway originally. It was replaced by the store across the street. (Even as Foodland, it had a Circle S mat on the automatic doors) The Goodwill/Hancock Fabrics was originally a W.T. Grant discount store, subdivided after Grant's closed.
Come to think of it, I think our Host actually noticed that this store was a Safeway when I took him to it last year (now a Grocery Outlet). My mom stopped shopping there when the new Save Mart opened on Armstrong and Shaw, which was probably before I was even in my teens, so memory gets hazy...
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Post by krogerclerk »

The first supermarket that caught my attention was the old Colonial store my grandmother shopped. Due to the logo I referred to it as the "rooster" store and was disappointed when it converted to a Big Star. It was really typical of an early-60's supermarket that shared the shopping center with Sears catalog, J.C. Penney, McCrory, Winn-Dixie, and Kuhn's Big K(actually outparcel). My parents split their shopping between a Big Apple and an independent which closed in the 90's, so the Colonial was a different store, something I think appeals to kids. The Big Star relocated next to Kmart around 1976 and closed in 1981.

The other store that piqued my interest was the centennial design A&P's in western North Carolina that we would stop while taking a vacation to the Smokies and Cherokee with a side trip across the mountain to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and Cades Cove. Murphy, Andrew, Franklin, and Bryson City all had centennial stores, which were devoid from Northwest Georgia and Chattanooga. Andrew was the first to close, probably about 1975 and Bryson City remained open until the Carolina division was closed in 1998.

Kroger didn't catch my attention until they built their first superstore prototype in my area in the Chattanooga suburb of Red Bank in 1975. The Dalton Kroger was expanded and remodeled to the superstore model to correspond to the Red Bank grand opening. My neighbor, at the time, was a Kroger butcher until his retirement a few years back, so I got an inside track on the new Kroger superstores. It was the first store I had gone in that had a deli and bakery and was larger than any of the competition. It was also the first store I recall having an express lane and longer operating hours.

A visit to relatives in Greenville, SC on a vacation to Myrtle Beach was the first time I saw the BiLo stores with the plastic cows, they were everywhere in Greenville and Winn-Dixie seemed to be the only other game in town. This was probably the first time I realized that different cities had different supermarkets, and putting together the trips to Florida with Food Fair/Pantry Pride and Publix, Food World in Alabama, Red Food in Chattanooga and A&P in the North Carolina mountains, by which time Ingles' was opening and putting the A&P's out of business.
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Post by Swifty »

A&P was my first too. I have many memories of my mother taking me to a '60s or '70s-era A&P down the street from my house in Georgia. It wasn't a centennial, but rather part of a larger shopping center. The early early memories I have are of dark wood paneling. I remember some excitement when they updated the store in the early '80s - 'The Buthcer Shop' was in red across the back wall. 'The Produce Patch' was in green along the right wall. And Dairy was in yellowish/beige on the left - Maybe 'Dairy Land.' I remember the giant red Eight-O-Clock coffeee grinders at the end of the (three) checkout aisles.

I also remember being fascinated by A&Ps in other cities. Most were larger with the same interior decor. There was just more of it. I remember seeing 'Paper Products' and 'Fresh Seafood' in blue at a store in Jacksonville, Florida. That fascinated me. I had no idea there were 'big' A&Ps.

I even recall asking my mother in the early '90s why the A&P near us didn't expand and feature a deli and bakery. That was when I realized my mother's hatred for large, über grocery stores. She always loved the small neighborhood type stores. And still does. She knew the cashiers and the manager at that store. She knew that one cashier was in med school (and she still runs into her from time to time). For the longest time, I thought that was completely normal.

The 2 stories my mother tells are about how strangers would stop her in the aisle and tell her what an adorable grandchild she had. This did very good things to my ego, but not so much for my mother.

The other story is when she was pushing me around in a cart and I mentioned something about needing to use the bathroom. Naturally, Mom was shopping, so she told me to hold it. Apparently, about the same time I said, "I can't hold it, Mommy,' the flood gates opened up. And there was a cleanup on aisle 6.

Anyway, since then, every grocery store I go to now (I'm a bit of a Publix snob these days) - I always compare it in the back of my mind to the old A&P. And even though it will probably never ever happen, I long for the day when A&P

(Anyone have any '80s era interior shots of an A&P? I've been searching for those for *years*).
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Post by Dave »

I've always liked old stuff. I don't really have a "first" store, because, really, there weren't that many "old" supermarkets when I was growing up, when compared with the other "old stuff" around town. Supermarkets were only 20-30 years old at most, and other things in Richmond are plenty older than that. My best friend and I used to spend all day in downtown Richmond when we were 13 or 14, taking pictures of various stuff and exploring things like the fire stairs at Miller & Rhoads (the fifth floor door opened directly into the middle of the Tea Room, by the way - very embarassing).

I have a fondness for Colonial Stores, especially those with the rooster on a pylon. Colonial and Food Fair were the closest stores to our house. I distinctly remember going on my elementary school field trip to Williamsburg and cutting up with my buddies on the bus - "Look, there's a Colonial gas station! There's a Colonial House of Pancakes! There's a Colonial Colonial Store!" (that store had a pylon, and was in the Williamsburg Shopping Center).

I discovered this site when I was searching for the latest list of Winn-Dixie closings for work a couple opf years ago. When I was reminded about the Colonials and Food Fairs of my youth, I realized that few people seemed to remember what was where and when, and those that did were getting the facts wrong, so I started to research my hometown. It's interesting to see what was going on 30 to 40 years ago or more compared with today.

But, the one thing I remember is those A&P coffee grinders. It is to my eternal disappointment that my mother always bought Eight O'Clock and never Bokar.
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