Established in 1999, 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. This is not a site about current supermarket issues and operations, and it is not connected with nor owned by any supermarket chain. Here’s what you will find:
- About the site: Learn more about the history of supermarkets, your humble host, and my methodology, not to mention sources and links, and frequent questions.
- Places: Detailed histories of the geography and architecture of chain grocery retailers in the U.S. and Canada since the 1920s. This is the most intensively researched part of the site.
- 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.
There have been some major urban areas added over the past two months as well as some smaller cities and towns:
- Wichita KS Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1920-2015
- Kansas City MO Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1925-1992
- St Louis MO Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1933-1975
- St Thomas Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1925-2019 (via Andrew Turnbull)
- Brainerd MN Chain grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1927-1959 (via Andrew Turnbull)
- Woodstock ON Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1926-2019 (via Andrew Turnbull)
- Sault Sainte Marie ON Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1925-2019 (via Andrew Turnbull)
- Port Huron MI Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1925-1992 and 2019
- Muskegon MI Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1930-1997 and 2019
- Abilene TX Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1926-2015
- Dallas TX Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1928-1986
- Lincoln NE Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1925-2015
- Green Bay WI Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1925-2004 (via Andrew Turnbull)
- Ypsilanti MI Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1928-2019 (via Andrew Turnbull)
- Ann Arbor MI Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1925-2019 (via Andrew Turnbull)
- I’ll be doing a roadtrip to Detroit, Toledo, and Windsor later this week, which will result in research and pictures. Follow @GroceteriaWeb on Twitter to keep up (and to get site updates a LOT quicker).
- I’m in the process of adding links and random materials all over the site. A major photo upgrade is still on the way as well.
- The Queue: Upcoming additions.
On 5 July 1999, this store at 647 Irving Street, which I mistakenly believed might have been the first Safeway in San Francisco, became the first bit of chain grocery history I featured on the web (albeit at a different website) thereby launching what would become Groceteria.com a few months later — and indirectly launching my career as a librarian as well.
Here’s the specific quote:
Last, how many people know (or care) that the humble store on Irving Street pictured above was most likely the first Safeway store in San Francisco, way back in 1927? Even better, how many people will believe me (or care) when I say that there used to be Piggly Wiggly stores here in the 1930s?
I’d ventured to the San Francisco Public Library a few weeks earlier to look at city directories and satisfy my curiosity about the history of Safeway stores in the city where I lived at the time, and my surprising and fascinating discoveries led me to do research on the locations of all chain grocers in San Francisco. I then started taking pictures, eventually started doing this research in other cities, and an obsession was born. Now in its twentieth year, the website — which didn’t go live until 8 November 1999, so I guess I get to celebrate another twentieth anniversary in a few months — documents cities in all fifty U.S. states and all ten Canadian provinces.
Incidentally, I also found myself working in libraries so much and accessing digitized materials that I eventually decided I wanted to make providing access to historical materials my life’s work as well, so ten years later I found myself with a master’s degree and a new career. The latter put the site on the back burner for a few years, but once I got tenure, I returned with a vengeance.
Anyway, thanks for hanging around so long!
Updates coming fast and free (literally) and as always you can see them more quickly via Twitter:
- Anchorage AK
- Phoenix AZ
- Redding CA
- Honolulu/Oahu HI
- Grand Rapids MI (includes new archival material and location updates)
- Columbus OH (includes new archival material with more to come)
- Spokane WA
The full collection of blog entries and site updates.