NEW: Des Moines, 1925-2020 (sort of)

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Groceteria
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NEW: Des Moines, 1925-2020 (sort of)

Post by Groceteria » 27 Feb 2020 22:06

There's a big gap (that will be filled soon) between 2000 and 2020:

https://www.groceteria.com/place/us-iowa/des-moines/

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Re: NEW: Des Moines, 1925-2020 (sort of)

Post by Andrew T. » 28 Feb 2020 10:31

Thank you, thank you! For years, Des Moines has been on the short list of places I was itching to learn more about. Now I feel as if a veil has been lifted from the city's history.

Back in the summer of 2012, I spent a week in Des Moines and tried to do some rudimentary directory research while I was there. I found very little in the way of Safeway artifacts, and what I did find raised more questions than answers:

ImageFormer Safeway supermarket (Des Moines, IA) by Andrew T's Archives, on Flickr

3018 SW 9th Street was listed by the city assessor as being built in 1946, and was doing business as Safeway by the end of the 1950s. The building seemed "off" to my eyes; but since the front facade had been stripped and whitewashed, it was difficult to tell for sure how it looked in its operational prime.

ImageFormer Safeway supermarket? by Andrew T's Archives, on Flickr

Then there was 5707 Hickman Avenue...the most perplexing store I had ever come across. The roof was reminiscent of a Marina, and it looked the part inside...but it was narrower than any newly-built Marina had any right to be, and the curvature was not continuous to the rear of the building. The Polk/DM assessor claimed that the building had been built in 1952, given an adjacent shopping centre in 1955, and renovated in 1965. Was a new roof added as part of the 1965 renovation? Could be, but that would have required an insane amount of disruption and expense without much benefit to gain.

Now I know the secret that explains both stores: They weren't originally Safeways at all. They were Thriftways! Safeway bought Thriftway as its entrance into Des Moines in 1958. (I'm not sure whether this was also their entry into Iowa, or if they had a scattering of stores in the periphery of the state before then.)
"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: NEW: Des Moines, 1925-2020 (sort of)

Post by Andrew T. » 28 Feb 2020 11:49

Safeway had a relatively short existence in Iowa. They were gone by 1985, with most of their stores dispersed to local owners and taking on Super Valu branding. But did they leave any artifacts behind? I'm happy to say they did!

4100 University Ave was a quintessential Marina store, opening in the latter half of the 1960s. It now houses a curious thing: A Hy-Vee "Drugstore," which just happens to have a food and liquor selection. I guess Hy-Vee pursued this angle for branding the location because it didn't meet the contemporary footprint threshold for being a "real" Hy-Vee supermarket. It's been false-fronted (blech!), but at least it still exists. I despise Pinterest, but there's a vintage period shot of the store there!

3200 SW 9th St is a 1970s post-Marina that until recently was still selling groceries as a Save-a-Lot store. The facade and windows are still original, and the mounting points for the "Safeway" lettering are still visible! And that's not all: An identical second store stood at 6300 Hickman until being demolished circa 2010.

1245 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway corresponds to a scene very much like 5707 Hickman: A narrow, off-model store inherited from Thiftway that nevertheless bears a clear and intact interpretation of the Safeway Marina roofline. The building now houses Polk County Human Services offices, and the address has shifted to 1900 Carpenter.

313 Grand Avenue doesn't fit into the Pylon or Marina orders, and it also looks improbably big by 1950s Safeway standards...so was it rebuilt? The site is currently home to a Fareway supermarket, which is a name that sounds as if it were tailor-made for Safeway conversions.

Des Moines' Merle Hay Mall was originally the Merle Hay Plaza, an open-air shopping centre...and as this 1959 map proves, it originally featured Safeway as an anchor. Unfortunately, it's been reconfigured severely over the years: Ross seems to stand on the Safeway site, but I doubt that any part of it is actually the same structure.
"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: NEW: Des Moines, 1925-2020 (sort of)

Post by Groceteria » 28 Feb 2020 23:12

Andrew T. wrote:
28 Feb 2020 11:49
313 Grand Avenue doesn't fit into the Pylon or Marina orders, and it also looks improbably big by 1950s Safeway standards...so was it rebuilt? The site is currently home to a Fareway supermarket, which is a name that sounds as if it were tailor-made for Safeway conversions.

Des Moines' Merle Hay Mall was originally the Merle Hay Plaza, an open-air shopping centre...and as this 1959 map proves, it originally featured Safeway as an anchor. Unfortunately, it's been reconfigured severely over the years: Ross seems to stand on the Safeway site, but I doubt that any part of it is actually the same structure.
The Merle Hay Mall store was (edit: supposedly) incorporated into the Sears space (that's mentioned in the notes, though it's easy to miss) so it may still be there, sort of. The Grand Avenue store was indeed rebuilt in the past couple of years.

Thanks for great photos and info!

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Re: NEW: Des Moines, 1925-2020 (sort of)

Post by pseudo3d » 01 Mar 2020 21:46

This Newspapers.com newspage mentions how the Food Saver stores were bought and remodeled by Super One (Miner Inc.) in 1995, and indicates that the stores were closed during the remodeling process.

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Re: NEW: Des Moines, 1925-2020 (sort of)

Post by Groceteria » 02 Mar 2020 22:51

pseudo3d wrote:
01 Mar 2020 21:46
This Newspapers.com newspage mentions how the Food Saver stores were bought and remodeled by Super One (Miner Inc.) in 1995, and indicates that the stores were closed during the remodeling process.
Interesting chain and an interesting acquisition for Albertsons.

Linking back to your earlier thread on Super One for context.

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Re: NEW: Des Moines, 1925-2020 (sort of)

Post by pseudo3d » 03 Mar 2020 12:19

Groceteria wrote:
02 Mar 2020 22:51
pseudo3d wrote:
01 Mar 2020 21:46
This Newspapers.com newspage mentions how the Food Saver stores were bought and remodeled by Super One (Miner Inc.) in 1995, and indicates that the stores were closed during the remodeling process.
Interesting chain and an interesting acquisition for Albertsons.

Linking back to your earlier thread on Super One for context.
Definitely one of the odder Albertsons choices, for sure...

Also, where did the idea of the Sears absorbing the Merle Hay Mall Safeway come from? The earliest reference I can find is the Labelscar article, with the enclosed "portal" the enclosure added to connect to the Sears (it was originally an open-air courtyard between the main mall corridor and Sears) looking a bit like a Marina Safeway facade. An old postcard instead shows the glassed-in Sears staircases (which were kept after enclosure) and a Safeway to the right of the corridor, without a distinctive facade.

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Re: NEW: Des Moines, 1925-2020 (sort of)

Post by 47of74 » 18 Mar 2020 18:01

Andrew T. wrote:
28 Feb 2020 11:49
4100 University Ave was a quintessential Marina store, opening in the latter half of the 1960s. It now houses a curious thing: A Hy-Vee "Drugstore," which just happens to have a food and liquor selection. I guess Hy-Vee pursued this angle for branding the location because it didn't meet the contemporary footprint threshold for being a "real" Hy-Vee supermarket. It's been false-fronted (blech!), but at least it still exists. I despise Pinterest, but there's a vintage period shot of the store there!
Kind of Reminds me of the old Wilson Ave Hy-Vee in Cedar Rapids before it was replaced with a new building. Before they had the main grocery store and off in its own building about a block away was a separate drug store. It was mainly used to house the pharmacy but I think had some items (soda/snacks/etc) that you would find in a typical drug store. Of course it's been about 20 years since I shopped at that store on a regular basis.

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