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While doing research for some long-promised updates on the site, I ran across this ad from 1941 that lists six new “deluxe drive-in” Safeway stores in Spokane, Washington, along with a list of all then-extant stores in the city. It gives a great picture of Safeway’s presence in one city at the time, as well as providing a glimpse into the state of the chain in general.

By 1940, Safeway had moved decisively into the “supermarket” era after a somewhat conservative start. New stores at the time averaged 6000-6500 square feet and boasted tiled meat and produce departments and employee showers. These stores were also among the first to feature parking lots as a standard amenity, usually to the side of the store and approximately the same square footage as well. Safeway had been building some stores with parking lots as early as the late 1920s, but they were far from universal. In fact, in 1940, Safeway was operating hundreds of older units in taxpayer strips or on the first floors of apartment or commercial buildings, most of which were a fraction of the size of the new supermarkets and some of which dated from the 1920s and had originally operated under any number of other brands. The Spokane stores, for example, had largely started under the Piggly Wiggly, MacMarr, or Pay’n Takit names, all of which had different points of entry into the Safeway corporate structure.

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A surprising number of Safeway’s class of 1941 are still standing in Spokane, including a very ornate former Pay”n Takit store like the one shown above. Here’s the list:

New “Deluxe Drive-in” stores:

Existing stores:

  • 514 S. Washington St.
  • 727 W. Garland Av.
  • 814 W. Riverside Av.
  • 1704 N. Monroe St.
  • 5005 N. Market St.
  • 3002 Grand Av.
  • 2022 E. Sprague Av. (this is a very ornate former Pay’n Takit)
  • 3315 Northwest Blvd.
  • Division at Sinto
  • Hamilton and Mission (interestingly enough, there’s still a Safeway at this intersection, albeit not a 70-plus year old one)

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I made a road trip up to Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro on Sunday. These foothill towns have always been a little over-retailed relative to their size, because they serve a rather large, rural hinterland. The Wilkesboro area is also the birthplace both of Lowes Foods, the regional grocery retailer, and of the nationally-known Lowes Home Improvement.

I’m guessing the store in the photo above, just east of downtown North Wilkesboro, is a former A&P, but I could be wrong. The store below, located east of downtown, definitely was, though:

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This one may have done some time as an A&P as well, even though it was obviously built as a Kroger. Note the revamped pole sign sporting A&P’s Sav-a-Center logo , probably from the late 1980s:

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The Sav-a-Center inset photo is by Groceteria reader Thom Wright, by the way.

The following, from downtown Wilkesboro, strikes me as a likely Piggly Wiggly location, but I have no evidence to back that up:

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Last on the tour is a remodeled, but seemingly rather old (and definitely very small) Lowes Foods on old US 421:

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Evidently, the owners of this recently-converted Piggly Wiggly in Sanford NC are banking on the idea that, within a few years, no one will remember that Winn-Dixie were “The Beef People”, not Piggly Wiggly.

2 August 2005 | Link this

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In case there was any doubt, I am most definitely living in the south again.

There are no more Safeways in my world, and nothing resembling an Albertsons or a Ralphs. I’m finding groceries to be considerably cheaper and the whole experience of shopping to be much more pleasant than in California. Stores are big, and properly stocked and staffed. You can actually find bread even on Sunday nights.

The downside is that there are very few older stores still open and available for me to check out. There are plenty of abandoned A&P and Kroger and Colonial stores around if you know where to look and what to look for, but almost none of them are still selling groceries. It’s too bad, really…

But I promise to find any interesting ones and let you know where they are soon.