Pontiac, Michigan chain history

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Moderator: Groceteria

Post Reply
Full Member
Posts: 34
Joined: 18 Jul 2019 16:18
Location: Wyandotte, MI

Pontiac, Michigan chain history

Post by mburb1981 »

Last night I decided to again load up Ancestry.com's directory archive and did the city of Pontiac and neighboring municipalities to help further expand Groceteria's coverage of Metro Detroit:

Pontiac, Auburn Heights/Hills, Keego Harbor, Sylvan Lake, Waterford, and Orchard Lake chain grocery/supermarket history, 1920-1960

Ancestry contains a large selection of Pontiac city directories, but the newest one that's available in 1960. Even still, the directories reveal how much more populated Pontiac was, when it was a mecca for General Motors, being home to the production of Pontiac cars (named after the city) and many a truck and bus that roamed American roads throughout the 20th century, and a few other interesting tidbits:
  • Pontiac was one of the few places that already was seeing A&P, C.F. Smith and Kroger compete with one another as early as 1920!
  • The locations of each of the aforementioned chains doubled between 1920 and 1930.
  • Auburn Heights is Auburn Hills, and Auburn Hills is Auburn Heights. Auburn Heights merged with the remaining land of Pontiac Charter Township to form the city of Auburn Hills in 1983.
  • Pontiac had its own local outfit, People's Food Market, which appears to have started out as simply People's Market before expanding into three locations in the city by 1960, by which it took on the People's Food Market moniker. Amazingly, People's Food Market is still in business today...but once again at a single store.
  • The Food Town Market listed at 1200 Baldwin Avenue in 1960 was most likely a location of a northern Oakland County chain under that name, founded in Clarkston in 1944 and unrelated to other Food Town chains that operated elsewhere in Michigan. That chain would later be sold to Farmer Jack in 2000.
  • Farmer Jack's predecessor, Food Fair; and Packers Outlet/Wrigley's also had Pontiac-area stores.
  • As expected, there are inconsistencies between C.F. Smith stores in 1955 and National stores in 1960.
  • A good chunk of downtown Pontiac is unrecognizable today compared to even 1960, thanks to the construction of the Phoenix Center wiping out multiple blocks, along with the construction of the Wide Track Drive loop, which was eventually merged with South Saginaw Street south of downtown to form present-day Woodward Avenue, complete with an address renumbering along that road (which was the only exception in a city that otherwise has had the same address system for over a century).
  • Surprisingly, despite the above as well as the aforementioned depopulation, there's still a few pre-1960 artifacts that can be found across Pontiac, most notably, a National on Baldwin Avenue that currently operates as Save-A-Lot.
Post Reply