Kroger Family Centers

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wnetmacman
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Re: Kroger Family Centers

Postby wnetmacman » 10 Oct 2017 10:12

Ephrata1966 wrote:Hey... it just occurred to me that both Kroger and TG&Y experimented with stores called "family center" during the same period and in the same regions. Which chain did it first? I'm surprised the two companies didn't fight with one another over exclusive rights to this phrase.


Well, yes and no. The definition of Family Center for both companies was very different. For TG&Y, and most other dollar chains, it meant a larger store with more of the same stuff offered in the smaller locations. Essentially, a way to compete with Kmart. Even Walton's 5&10 had several Walton's Family Centers that eventually converted to Walmart stores (including one on the Bentonville square just down from the original). For Kroger, it meant adding a full GM line in addition to the grocery selection they already had.

Ephrata1966 wrote:There used to be a Kroger in Spring, Texas that opened in 1974 and closed in 2013 that presents me with a mystery. An Academy Sports & Outdoors store is now at this spot, but Bing Maps view still shows the Kroger as being open. There was a Burke's Outlet next to the Kroger that I think is still open, but I could be wrong. The Kroger had a greenhouse facade when it closed, but I would have to assume that it was added in a remodel sometime in the 80's because the Kroger superstore design was being used in 1974. I think it was 1977 when the first greenhouse made its debut. It seems so strange to me that Kroger replaced lots of the earlier, smaller greenhouse stores with larger greenhouse stores in the 80's.


The Spring Kroger was just an expanded Superstore. Bing Maps were once good, but notoriously out of date now. The greenhouse updates were because Kroger was trying to expand selection; the initial greenhouse stores were simply known as Superstore II in company nomenclature, and weren't much different inside.

Ephrata1966 wrote:On a similar note, it's strange that Kmart started using the "Big K" name in the 90's right after Walmart had seemingly reached its peak and had thoroughly invaded Kmart territory, but yet the first big milestone in the history of Walmart (then known as Wal-Mart) was its acquisition of a chain called Kuhn's Big K in the early 80's. The Kuhn's acquisition marks the point when Walmart decided to get serious about competing with Kmart and other once-mighty chains (including TG&Y, which having started in Oklahoma, was a chain that Walmart definitely started to overtake during the 80's).


Kuhn's Big K was very similar to the idea of the 5&10 Family Center name. It represented an expansion of their original dime store mentality. For them, it was initially successful, but as they ran up against Walmart, they started to stumble.

With Kmart, the actual name wasn't Big K, but Big Kmart. They never marketed it as Big K, as that could have caused problems. There were three names at the time that appeared on stores: Kmart, Big Kmart and Super Kmart (originally Super Kmart Center). Each represented a differently marketed store (or was supposed to). Big Kmart stores had the Pantry area, with a more expanded area for food and household offerings, while Super Kmart had a full grocery store inside.
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Re: Kroger Family Centers

Postby Super S » 11 Oct 2017 15:56

wnetmacman wrote:With Kmart, the actual name wasn't Big K, but Big Kmart. They never marketed it as Big K, as that could have caused problems. There were three names at the time that appeared on stores: Kmart, Big Kmart and Super Kmart (originally Super Kmart Center). Each represented a differently marketed store (or was supposed to). Big Kmart stores had the Pantry area, with a more expanded area for food and household offerings, while Super Kmart had a full grocery store inside.


Kmart actually did simply call it "Big K" toward the end in at least one commercial:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0VcXcaP65s

I have to wonder if they were planning to eventually drop the word "mart" as part of the Big K conversions....that commercial hinted at the possibility.

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Re: Kroger Family Centers

Postby Ephrata1966 » 14 Oct 2017 21:26

Question for wnetmacman: are you sure the former Kroger in Spring would have been expanded at some point? Looking in Bing Maps, the store doesn't look bigger than a normal Kroger superstore. And would it make sense to you if the Burke's Outlet would have been a TG&Y? I find it a bit odd that the Kroger and Burke's Outlet seemed to share one big facade with one another.

Also, do you know when most of the TG&Y stores in Greater Houston would have closed? I'm assuming at least a few closed around 1986 when McCrory's bought TG&Y and scrapped a lot of the stores right away, but the store at Northline Mall in North Houston survived until TG&Y and McCrory's came to their final end in the early 2000s. I recently found out that the Big Lots at North Oaks Mall (which never really has been a "mall" but was one of the semi-enclosed strip centers that were popular in the 70's) in Northwest Houston was originally a TG&Y. This space was a MacFrugal's (closeout chain very similar to Big Lots) until Big Lots retired the MacFrugal's name in 2002, but I'm not sure when MacFrugal's opened here. The only other MacFrugal's in Houston that I knew of was a few miles west of North Oaks Mall and was in a former Kroger greenhouse building (this was one of the smaller 70's greenhouse stores that was replaced by a bigger greenhouse in the 80's) that had become a Pic N Save in the late 80's but was converted to MacFrugal's in the early 90's.

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Re: Kroger Family Centers

Postby wnetmacman » 15 Oct 2017 22:36

Ephrata1966 wrote:Question for wnetmacman: are you sure the former Kroger in Spring would have been expanded at some point? Looking in Bing Maps, the store doesn't look bigger than a normal Kroger superstore. And would it make sense to you if the Burke's Outlet would have been a TG&Y? I find it a bit odd that the Kroger and Burke's Outlet seemed to share one big facade with one another.


Looking at the aerial view, you can see the line down the roof where the Superstore was expanded. The compressor room vent/exhaust and receiving door section are the dead giveaway for me. They wouldn't have shared the facade; that appeared to be a later addition.

Ephrata1966 wrote:Also, do you know when most of the TG&Y stores in Greater Houston would have closed? I'm assuming at least a few closed around 1986 when McCrory's bought TG&Y and scrapped a lot of the stores right away, but the store at Northline Mall in North Houston survived until TG&Y and McCrory's came to their final end in the early 2000s. I recently found out that the Big Lots at North Oaks Mall (which never really has been a "mall" but was one of the semi-enclosed strip centers that were popular in the 70's) in Northwest Houston was originally a TG&Y. This space was a MacFrugal's (closeout chain very similar to Big Lots) until Big Lots retired the MacFrugal's name in 2002, but I'm not sure when MacFrugal's opened here. The only other MacFrugal's in Houston that I knew of was a few miles west of North Oaks Mall and was in a former Kroger greenhouse building (this was one of the smaller 70's greenhouse stores that was replaced by a bigger greenhouse in the 80's) that had become a Pic N Save in the late 80's but was converted to MacFrugal's in the early 90's.


Most of the original TG&Y stores in Texas closed in 1986. A good number of the leases were bought out by Weiner's of Houston, and that stretched at least as far north as Longview and Marshall, as both stores there were converted to that nameplate.

MacFrugal's was the rebrand of Pic & Save after they started moving east into Big Lots territory. When the two merged, Big Lots was by far the larger company of the two, so they took that name. I always found that Pic & Save/MacFrugals were somewhat nicer than Big Lots, and that when Big Lots took over, they actually went down in quality somewhat. Big Lots has always been somewhat of a novelty to me, and they seem to be moving more toward private labels similar to Aldi, Save-A-Lot and Lidl, while P&S/MacF had name brands. Sometimes you catch the name brands at BL, but it's for a true closeout.
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Re: Kroger Family Centers

Postby wnetmacman » 07 Nov 2017 01:42

A few updates....

I had always wondered about a former Greenhouse Kroger in Opelousas, LA. I took out a temporary subscription to Newspapers.com, which has most of the older Opelousas papers prior to the Gannett buyout there.

Anyways, what I didn't know was that Kroger had actually 2 stints in Opelousas. One store was built adjacent to an old Howard's on the west side of town, but lost its lease in 1978. That's important for two reasons; one, I have never seen Kroger return under the old nameplate to a town they've left. Two, they returned in 1981.

The store they returned to was a larger greenhouse, but the greenhouse was smaller than the average, and smaller than the store in Lafayette that had already been built. Also, it was a Family Center!! This was very, very late for the Family Center format; probably the very last one.
kropel.jpg

The store opened in June 1981 to much fanfare, but by that point, Opelousas was split in two by the recently constructed I-49, and Winn Dixie, A&P, Delchamps and National were all on the closer side of town. Also, even though it was a Family Center, it was only 46,000 sq. ft. Smaller than most of the other FC stores. Kind of a miss for Kroger, who would close the store just 2 years later during labor issues in the Baton Rouge region. The store sat largely abandoned for almost 20 years before being bought up by the city to become a civic center. (Walmart is now across the street, and all 4 of the other stores on the list are gone, 3 permanently)

Also, I learned that the Family Center in Mattoon, IL opened to extremely large fanfare in 1970.
krmatt.jpg

A 90,000 sq. ft. store, it beat that town's very odd mall by less than a year. The mall, which would open with a JCPenney, Arlan's, Sears and other stores, would most likely be this store's undoing, as it was closed by 1972, and taken over by the Indiana-based Danners chain's 3D Discount Center (Danners Discount Department Store). In light of what I mentioned above, Kroger stated that they were winding down the Family Center concept in favor of the superstores, in stark contrast to the fact that Opelousas opened in 1981. 3D would operate in the building until 1983, when a then-unknown chain called Big Lots came to town. Big Lots split the store with Aldi; Big Lots still operates in the building today. Interestingly, 3D used a large part of the old Kroger sign, only changing the face on the Kroger logo, and changing the word Family to Discount.

Hopefully, I won't bore you guys with this, but I'm finding much more information than I'd ever hoped now on this little known maligned Kroger division.
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Re: Kroger Family Centers

Postby Groceteria » 07 Nov 2017 09:59

Hopefully, I won't bore you guys with this


This is far from boring. Thanks!

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Re: Kroger Family Centers

Postby Ephrata1966 » 10 Nov 2017 18:58

wnetmacman wrote:Most of the original TG&Y stores in Texas closed in 1986. A good number of the leases were bought out by Weiner's of Houston, and that stretched at least as far north as Longview and Marshall, as both stores there were converted to that nameplate.


What do you mean by "original" here? Also do you know what the criteria was that was used to decide which TG&Y stores were closed in 1986 and which ones were spared?

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Re: Kroger Family Centers

Postby wnetmacman » 10 Nov 2017 22:20

Ephrata1966 wrote:What do you mean by "original" here? Also do you know what the criteria was that was used to decide which TG&Y stores were closed in 1986 and which ones were spared?


Original, as in pre-1986, before McCrory truly assimilated the chain. Some TG&Y stores were open until McCrory folded in 2001, but they were not like the old stores we all remember.
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Re: Kroger Family Centers

Postby Ephrata1966 » 10 Nov 2017 22:39

wnetmacman wrote:
Ephrata1966 wrote:What do you mean by "original" here? Also do you know what the criteria was that was used to decide which TG&Y stores were closed in 1986 and which ones were spared?


Original, as in pre-1986, before McCrory truly assimilated the chain. Some TG&Y stores were open until McCrory folded in 2001, but they were not like the old stores we all remember.


Is there anywhere I might be able to find a complete list of all the former TG&Y stores in Greater Houston?


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