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.
It’s a good article (and not just because it cites me, thank you) about the history and future of Canadian supermarkets by food writer Corey Mintz. I’ll inclue the part that feeds my ego, but you should read all of it.
In the early twentieth century, there was no such thing as a one-stop shop for food. “You’d go out in the morning to the grocery store, for canned goods and bulk stuff,” explains David Gwynn, a librarian at the University of North Carolina and a supermarket historian. While there, you would speak with a shopkeeper to obtain your items; they filled your order behind the counter, weighing out dried goods from barrels. Customers would know the shopkeepers by name—and, often, vice versa. Other kinds of foodstuffs required trips to separate shops as part of this daily ritual: butchers and fishmongers, greengrocers and bakeries. These stores were much smaller than the ones we’re used to—maybe 1,000 square feet or less, says Gwynn—and were everywhere in our cities.
Transformed by a childhood visit to an old A&P, Gwynn is a grocery obsessive who maintains groceteria.com, a database of US and Canadian supermarkets past and present. Want to know the years that the Piggly Wiggly at 384 Academy Road in Winnipeg became a Shop-Easy (1950) and then a Tom Boy (1961)? Gwynn has answers. His vacations always include visits to older stores, ancient outlets like Pay’n Takit treated like houses of worship.
I think the map has filled in quite nicely since I recommitted to the site about four years ago.
The most recent additions (that you can get as they happen via Twitter):
- Detroit Area
- Toronto Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1915-1980 (UPDATED)
- St Petersburg and Southern Pinellas County Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1925-2015
- Tampa Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1925-2015
- Bradenton Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1927-1999
- Minneapolis Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1920-2020
- Savannah Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1925-2015
More to come!
Guardedly, I have restored the Message Board. It’s at a slightly new URL, though the old URL will redirect. It’s been up 24 hours without major incidents. I’ll keep an eye on it.
The full collection of blog entries and site updates.