KMart grocery stores before SuperKMart

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rrr

KMart grocery stores before SuperKMart

Post by rrr » 08 Nov 2005 02:01

In my home town of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, when the KMart first opened (hey, it was a BIG event) sometime in the late 60's it had an attached grocery store. The grocery store happened to be a Copp's, an independent chain then which still exists as an IGA chain.

Anyway, the interesting part was that the 2 were effectively one store. The separating line between the grocery part and the KMart part was a bunk of frozen with a rack of comic books on the KMart side. You could see and walk between the 2 parts. I'm not sure whether you could take mixed merchandise to one register or not. This was long before scanning and I suspect before scales at the register.

As kids, we liked shopping there because we could look at fun stuff while Mom got the more mundane foods (altho I was nearly as happy to take part of the list and run round the aisles picking up items).

After several years they constructed a wall between the sections, possibly when it became popular for groceries to have longer open hours. Sometime in the 80's KMart took over the grocery space in an expansion.l

I don't recall going to any other KMarts during those first years so I have no idea if that was a unique plan or not. I would imagine there must have been other similar locations.

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Post by jamcool » 08 Nov 2005 13:20

I do remember many Kmarts had food departments..with separate "Kmart Food" signage...actually many of the discount chains had food departments until the 80s

rrr

Post by rrr » 08 Nov 2005 14:35

Jamcool, I think the LaCrosse one was called KMart Foods but it was run by Copps, altho possibly not when it first opened? Maybe my mom or one of her friends would remember.

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Post by Groceteria » 08 Nov 2005 15:37

jamcool wrote:I do remember many Kmarts had food departments..with separate "Kmart Food" signage...actually many of the discount chains had food departments until the 80s
Example from Lima, Ohio:

Image

Most of these departments were actually managed by other retailers or wholesalers...
Last edited by Groceteria on 02 Dec 2005 14:32, edited 1 time in total.

rrr

Post by rrr » 09 Nov 2005 13:10

What do you think was to the right of the foods under the blue K with the red line to its left?

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Post by jamcool » 09 Nov 2005 14:49

The blue K with-squiggles was the SS Kresge corporate logo..could there also have been a Kresges in the same plaza as the Kmart? There were several shopping centers out here (Phoenix) that had both a Woolco and a Woolworth!

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Post by terryinokc » 10 Nov 2005 12:27

When K-Mart first started, the earlier buildings, price tags, shopping bags, etc had the SS Kresge logo on them to let everyone know of the affiliation. Later, the Kresge logo was dropped off of everything. Later than that, the company name was changed to Kmart Corporation instead of SS Kresge Company.

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Post by wayne winterland jr. » 12 Nov 2005 16:34

When i grew up in the grocery business and when i was small i remember K-Mart having a grocery store within the same building and at that time if i remember correctly the largest number of grocery stores owned and operated inside K-Marts were those belonging to the now defunct grocery store chain called Allied Supermarkets (they were based in Detroit, Michigan). At some later point in time Allied Supermarkets was in financial difficulty and ended up selling their 200 or so grocery stores inside K-Marts to a company called Bazaar Foods and i think that they were headquarted either in Oregon or the surrounding area. From the time that Bazaar Foods took over the stores operations they kept going right on down hill until finally i think that they closed their stores that were inside the K-Marts. Neither Allied Supermarkets nor Bazaar Foods lasted very long at least where I was living in Orange, Calif. at the time. In those days of the 1950's and the 1960's the dominant local grocery store chain was the now demised Alpha Beta Markets with competition coming in from other areas by Lucky Stores, and Ralphs Supermarkets, and those 2 grocery store chains were the only ones that really posed any kind of threat to Alpha Beta Mkts., especially Lucky Stores. In a way it's kind of ironic that Alpha Beta Mkts. would be bought out originally by American Stores Inc. then have that company be bought out by Skaggs Company and finally to have the Skaggs Company which changed their name to American Stores buy Lucky Stores and finally to be acquired by Albertsons Stores which ended up disposing of the Alpha Beta Mkts and also the Lucky Stores which they didn't convert to their own Albertsons Chain in order to complete their merger without having any problem with anti-trust violations.
I hate to see any grocery stores or even chains of stores sold out this way because in this case caused the final demise of both Alpha Beta Mkts. and Lucky Stores and i thing that it's rather ironic now that after all of Albertsons acquisitions of former grocery and present grocery chains and being the number 2 or 3 in the grocery store industry that now they have chosen to put their company up for sale. It just goes to show that bigger isn't necessarily better and i thing in this case it was more the acquisition of American Stores that started Albertsons decline. I was always under the impression that you shouldn't let a companies ego get in the way of good business sense. The bottom line should almost always be whether each individual store is making a profit. you don't have to have all your stores always be a super-center type of store and although it may be nice for a lot of people to like a one stop shopping for their grocery stores i for one want to shop at just a well run traditional grocery store. I don't really care if they have an over the counter deli dpet, or a bakery, or pharmacy or any of those amenities. I think that if they concenterated on doing what they do best which is being a standard grocery store that maybe then companies like Albertsons wouldn't be trying to sell their company. In the end it's both the employees and also the customers who may lose. Don' t get me wrong about the super-center stores because in some cases they may be justified in certain areas but a stand along well run grocery store can also sometimes earn just as good or even better profit. sometimes it's more difficult trying to operate a super-center with all of it's individual sub depts. than a regular supermarket. In some cases sub depts. are all right . As an example: I once worked in management for Ralphs Grocery in Laguna Hills, Calif. and in those days the profit from the instore liquor dept. made more than enough to pay the salaries of the entire store. So in that case as maybe a few other instances a sub dept. can be a valuable asset to a grocery store. Even though Wal-Mart has made big inroads into the retail grocery business sooner or later what made them big will also be their demise. Some day they will become so big that they won't be able to completely control the retail operations of their stores. It reminds me of the old history lesson about when Napoleon was trying to conquer europe and invade Russia that his supply lines were extended to far and so long that he couldn't take care of supply his troops and thus his armies suffered defeats.
hope that the information about the instore grocery stores in K-Marts helped someone. there may have been other companies with stores inside K-Marts but I believe that Allied Supermarkets and then later Bazaar Foods were the largest with over 200 stores inside K-Marts.

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K-Mart Foods

Post by rich » 15 Nov 2005 21:03

Discount store supermarkets were usually run by a chain, usually using the name of the discount stores, then "foods".

K-Mart Foods was, indeed, more largely an Allied Supermarkets operation. Colonial had some of these stores in the Southeast and during the early 70s, National Tea operated some. There may have been others. Colonial also operated Richway Foods (next to Richway stores, an arm of Rich's the upscale Atlanta store), Zayre Foods (I think these only existed in the SE) and Allied operated Arlan's Foods (next to Arlan's, a discounter with many stores near Detroit.

The early K-Marts almost always had a K-Mart Foods, but after about 1970, they became rarities and K-Mart began opening stores without supermarkets next door (they were always totally separate from the K-Mart dept store) or opened them with a chian supermarket next door that carried it's own name. In Ohio, A&P opened a fair number of stores next to K-Marts in the mid to late 70s. I think Allied got out of the bsuiness around 1980.

Some discounters had partnerships with chains for jointly developing locations, but never gave their name to these supers. Interstate Stores (Topps) had an agreement like this with National Tea. And some supermarkets owned discount chains: Stop & Shop had Bradlee's, Lucky had GEMCO & MEMCO, Jewel had Turn-Style.

Kresge largely stopped building SS Kresge variety stores after K-Mart was started, indeed, the opening of K-Mart was followed by a couple big waves of store closings. K-Mart usually had its own standalone plazaa, so it's unlikely that there were K-Marts near Kresge stores. Woolco favored being in or near established shopping complexes, esp. at the beginning, so they were more likely to have a Woolworth nearby.

rrr

Post by rrr » 16 Nov 2005 03:01

OK, so this is a bit off-topic, but: Rich's had RichWay? Sounds sort of like how Prange's had PrangeWay. I guess the only survivor left of this sort of deal is Target.

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Richway

Post by rich » 18 Nov 2005 23:55

LS Ayres in Indianapolis had "Ayr-way" (which, like Richway, was eventually bought by Target). Federated Dept. Stores (Lazarus et al.) had Gold Circle and Gold Triangle, while May had Venture (in St. Louis & Chicago, as well as places in between). Kroger operated a small number of Gold Circle Foods stores next to Gold Circle stores.

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Re: Richway

Post by Groceteria » 19 Nov 2005 09:31

rich wrote:LS Ayres in Indianapolis had "Ayr-way" (which, like Richway, was eventually bought by Target). Federated Dept. Stores (Lazarus et al.) had Gold Circle and Gold Triangle, while May had Venture (in St. Louis & Chicago, as well as places in between). Kroger operated a small number of Gold Circle Foods stores next to Gold Circle stores.
BTW, Gold Circle actually acquired Richway briefly before being acquired by Target. Or at least that's how it played out in Charlotte...

rrr

Post by rrr » 21 Nov 2005 13:48

Once again a bit off, but I recall seeing a photo of a pre-supermarket style LS Ayres grocery store in downtown Cincinnati, 1920's vintage, in a book about Cincy history.

Also read an article that suggested that had Federated kept Gold Circle, Richway, etc. they would be today's Walmart.

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Post by BooDog » 02 Dec 2005 07:29

Just to add a bit of info...

Similar gm/grocer pacts are still made to this day. When Target first started opening SuperTargets, they basicly "contracted" out the grocery section of the store to Affiliated, IGA, etc. I beleieve this is still done today, whenever SuperTarget enters a new market (i.e. not enough stores to make a nearby food distribution center worthwhile)

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Using other suppliers.....

Post by wnetmacman » 02 Dec 2005 22:37

As I have understood it, Target and Kmart both do this. Part of the undoing of Kmart prior to their Chapter 11 filing in 2002 was the contract they forged with Fleming, because before that point it was on a per store basis.

In addition, A&P recently farmed out their distribution to C&S, and Albertsons has done the same for some of the company, altough they had sold an Oklahoma warehouse to Fleming before Fleming itself filed Chapter 11, largely because of the failure of the Kmart contract.

To my knowledge, Wal-Mart is the only nationwide retailer that handles substantially all of its food distribution now. Maybe Kroger as well. I know of several regional companies that handle their own, but none on a nationwide scale. According to C&S's website, they are handling some of Safeway now too.

Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I could be.
Scott Greer

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