Groceteria.com is a site about the history of American and Canadian chain supermarkets, from the 1920s through the turn of the century and beyond.
- About the site: Learn more about the history of supermarkets, your humble host, and my methodology.
- Places: The geography and architecture of chain grocery retailers in the U.S. and Canada since the 1920s.
- Chains: Capsule histories of some North American supermarket chains, including photo galleries.
- The message board: A place to discuss the history of supermarkets and other retailers.
As those of you who follow me on Twitter are already well aware, I’m currently in Chicago. Since Canada was off the table this year, I reworked my October vacation in a very socially distant sort of way. As it happens, this is not really all that different from the way I usually travel. But some specifics, in case you were wondering:
- Obviously I would never visit anyplace where travel is restricted for me. The city of Chicago has a current travel ban, requiring 14-day quarantines for visitors from 21 states. Mine is not among them. (Note: As of today that is changing on the day after I depart.)
- On my regular trips, I minimize contact with other people. Now I do even more of that. I spend almost all my time either in my hotel or in my car exploring. I avoid crowds and I don’t go inside nearly as many stores as I normally might. I’m also skipping transit and not on foot as much as I would normally be.
- I get rooms where I can make some of my own meals and do takeout or drive-thru for most of the rest, or eat outside where that’s an option. I think I have eaten inside at a restaurant all of six or seven times since March, and in almost all cases the place was nearly or completely empty at the time.
- I am (of course) masked any time I’m around other people, as is any decent human being who cares about other human beings.
- I’m opting out of daily room cleaning in any hotel that still has it as an option.
Again, I’m not a terribly social person when I travel in general, so most of this is not a stretch for me, aside from the obvious transit and restaurant issues. That said, this seems like a good time to talk about how I travel in general:
- My primary activity when I travel is exploration. Cities fascinate me and I like to explore neighborhoods and streets. Supermarkets are a big part of it, and this site has definitely pushed me to explore in much more intensive ways than I used to, but finding supermarket sites is only art of the mix. As often as not, I don’t have a set agenda or list of stores I hope to see; that makes travel seem too much like work. Sometimes there are some specific stores I want to shoot. Usually I just shoot what I find in the areas I visit. The discovery is a big part of the fun.
- I do usually hit the library when I visit a new city where I haven’t done research (assuming there’s no global pandmeic at the time).
- I may stay in the city or the suburbs, depending on any number of factors. I usually do chain hotels because I don’t like surprises where I sleep.
- I do like surprises where I eat and I tend to avoid chain restaurants, unless it’s a quirky regional chain or a largely defunct one (or something like the last remaining White Tower in Toledo).
- I hate flying. I’m big, it’s uncomfortable, and I avoid it whenever possible.
- I try to do backroads when it’s feasible and when there’s actually something to see on them other than trees.
- I find the countryside to be a tremendous inconvenience that one is forced to cope with when traveling between two cities. Nature is not my thing.
(BTW, the photo above was taken in
Macy’s Marshall Field. Crowd were most decidedly not an issue there, which says a lot.)
Not to say I’m winding down the location lists (I’m definitely not) but after what I think is a pretty incredible run of those the past few years, I feel like working on something else for a while. And the new time-suck seems likely to be a digital library of my accumulated photos and documents (or at least the ones that copyright law will permit me to post). Keep in mind that this is actually what I do for a living as well, which may make the process go much faster…or much slower.
Library geek alert: For those of you who care about such things, I may build out the library using the Omeka platform, mainly because it would also help me to learn some of its quirks. At my day job, I am in the process of migrating our rather extensive digital collections from a commercial product called CONTENTdm to an open-source platform called Islandora. Both of those are more firepower than I really need here, so I’m going with Omeka, which will be considerably less labor-intensive. Unless I decide to get really creative at extending WordPress, like I did with this site.
Anyhow, watch this space…
Even though it has been a bit difficult to make myself sit at my computer all evening after sitting at it all day (work from home continues for me), I have made some additions. You’d know about these already if you followed the Message Board and/or Twitter:
- Tacoma chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1924-2020
- Jacksonville chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-2020
- Houston chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-1982
Stay safe. And wear your mask, dammit!
The full collection of blog entries and site updates.