These are the latest blog updates. Click on the title to read the full article.
As Groceteria.com moves into 2019, when the site celebrates its twentieth anniversary, I’m pondering (as always) the next steps toward what the site will be like in the future. Feedback is much appreciated.
So what is Groceteria.com?
As ever, this is a site about the history, geography, architecture, and business of American and Canadian chain grocers over the past one hundred years or so. The current focus is more on the geographic and “commercial archaeology” aspects of chain grocers, specifically unearthing historical location patterns and building histories. That is, of course, why the places section is the one that has really grown in the past few years; rooting out old locations (and sometimes photographing them) is the focus of my research and it’s the part I really enjoy the most. The site now covers every Canadian province and all but five American states, and I hope to complete all fifty states by my twentieth anniversary in July.
Presenting location histories is also the part that no one else is doing very intensively. Twenty years ago, there was not much on the web about chain grocery history. There’s a lot now, from photo sites to blogs to social media groups to very well-detailed (in most cases) Wikipedia entries. I like to think this site helped start that trend, and it’s not about competition. So I want to do the part I like and am doing best, which is locations and photos. I’ve been really neglectful of the photos in recent years and I’m working on rectifying that, getting my personal collection into shape so that it can be shared more easily and logically. Until then, I do post a lot of photos via the site’s Twitter feed (I hate Instagram) so if you don’t follow that, you’re missing stuff.
The fact that there is so much great material on chain histories, photos, etc. is why I also plan to get better about providing links to these resources in a more systematic way. Right now, it’s pretty informal; I add links to pages when I think to do it and I tweet interesting sites I’ve found. I want to be better about adding them in more permanent ways.
Finally, I plan to start adding more digitized versions of books and other archival material I have collected and to include links to other such material.
And what is it not?
Groceteria.com has never been (and most likely never will be) about independent and one-off grocers, rural stores, general stores, specialty stores, etc. It’s a site about urban chains. Period. I generally do not look at places with populations under about 10,000, and I primarily focus on cities or metros with more than 50,000 people.
I also do not attempt to be the definitive resource for chain company histories, particularly with respect to currently operating chains. Others are doing a better job of that than I ever could (particularly via crowd-sourced and wiki-based systems) and what I plan to do going forward is to create more pages, perhaps with some of my own information, and link to external resources rather than try to write these histories myself.
Again, as always, this is not, no will it ever be, a site about current supermarket operations. While I’m interested in this topic, this is not the forum; there are other places that are much better suited to that and I’ve always tried to be very careful (some might say “heavy handed”, particularly where the message board is concerned) about making sure that the site stays focused on history. This will continue.
So how can you play along?
The message board is not nearly as active as it once was, despite the fact that traffic is up everywhere else on the site. I take a lot of responsibility for that; there was a period of years when I was paying very little attention to it and to the rest of the site. I imagine I also alienated some users with an overactive moderation style in the past. I stand by the reasons for that, though I regret some of my tactics. For a time, I considered shutting it down and just making the archived content available; it was not being used and I was spending a lot of time deleting spam registrations. I’ve got a handle on that now, so I’m keeping it active, even though I think it’s maybe a little anachronistic at this point. So post away!
I’ve also expanded the ability to comment on site pages. There was a technological reason for why I didn’t do that earlier, but now you can comment on blog post and on static pages. Please do!
For now, I plan to continue using flickr to host and generate photo albums. I’ve never really been a big participant in the social media component of flickr, but feel free to dive in there as well, if you like.
If you’d like to contribute location lists, photos, or other content, I’m all ears. Other readers, notably Andrew Turnbull, Wayne Henderson, and Andy San Juan have contributed material for which I am most grateful. Here’s my methodology for location research, if you’re interested.
I’m not planning to do anything with things like Facebook groups, etc., mainly because I don’t want content to be locked into a closed “members-only” ecosystem. Plus I think Facebook is a dying platform, but that’s beside the point…
And you can add your thoughts below! That would be great…
Read it here: Krogering in Greensboro.
As a companion to my recent feature on the history of local A&P branches, I have just added a new photo essay detailing the story behind every Kroger location in my hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina, from the first in 1952 to the mass exodus in 1999.
The march toward having all fifty states and ten provinces represented here is nearing its goal. In fact, all the Canadian provinces are already represented as of a few weeks ago. Thanks to Andrew Turnbull for many recent contributions, and also to reader BM10K.
Additions since the last update, more or less in chronological order:
- Clarksburg WV, 1925-2015
- Fairmont WV, 1927-2015
- Phoenix AZ, 1925-1960
- Lansing MI, 1925-1960
- St Johns, NL, 1970-2018
- Fargo ND, 1924-2015
- Moorhead MN, 1924-2015
- Bismarck/Mandan ND, 1925-1960
- Sioux Falls SD, 1925-1960
- Kingston ON, 1948-2018
- Manchester NH, 1925-1964
- Fayetteville AR, 1925-1959
- Spokane WA, 1925-1960
- Cheyenne WY, 1926-1960
Also, I’ve been plugging away at tagging my photo backlog, so look for a lot (like, hundreds) of new photos in a few week.
And now back to not watching the election returns so I’ll actually be able to sleep tonight…
The Kroger location at 700 Spinning Road near Dayton, Ohio, apparently opened in 1967 as part of a small shopping center. Sometime in the 1980s, it was remodeled into a smaller adaptation of the “Greenhouse” style stores Kroger was opening throughout the chain. This decor package featured curving walls and super-graphics using the Bauhaus font. In most stores. The signage colors varied by department, but this is not the case in the Dayton store,. Based on the colors currently used, I suspect the signs may have been repainted during the “Grid” decor years of the 1990s. Otherwise, it is a pretty faithful abbreviated version of the “Greenhouse” model, and it still seems to be doing a pretty brisk business.
Update (30 October 2018): This was delayed. I may work on it this weekend.
Just a quick alert that I will be upgrading the site and message board to SSL this weekend. In a perfect world, the only difference users will see is that addresses will now start with “https” rather than “http” and that you will no longer see the “not secure” warning that some browsers how display. Security is not really an issue here anyway, because users do not submit any sensitive information to the site, but this is something of a new web standard, so I will be implementing it on all my sites anyway.
There is always the chance that there may be glitches somewhere along the way, particularly if you access the site via “groceteria.net” or “groceteria,ca” rather that “groceteria.com.” Let me know if you run into any problems.
Latest additions (more or less chronologically):
- Montgomery AL, 1925-1959
- Bloomington-Normal IL, 1926-1959
- Waukegan IL, 1925-1960
- Miami FL, 1925-1969
- Miami Beach FL, 1925-1972
- Topeka KS, 1926-1963
- Grand Rapids MI, 1925-1959
- Sault Sainte Marie MI, 1924-1960
- Columbus OH, 1930-2015
- Vancouver BC, 1925-1940
- Victoria BC, 1925-1955
Lots of new additions, including the research I did during my recent trip to Atlantic Canada:
Look for photos and some additional info on these soon.
And back in the USA, a set of new additions, mostly thanks to Andrew Turnbull:
- Montgomery AL
- Bloomington-Normal IL
- Waukegan IL
- Ft Wayne IN
- Ann Arbor MI
- Dearborn MI
- Springfield MO
- Missoula MT
Update: All is well with the message board.
A PHP update at my web host is causing problems with the message board. You can still read posts; there will just be some annoying code at the top of some pages. I’m traveling and have neither the time nor the inclination to work on it till I get home this weekend. Sorry for any inconvenience.
The map is really filling in. Between online resources and a fair amount of travel, not to mention some generous assistance from a guest explorer, there are now thirty states and five provinces represented on the site. The most recent additions are as follows:
And there are a number of cities large and small, American and Canadian, in the queue, including expanded lists for Boston and Toronto, more Metro Cincinnati, Richmond and Petersburg, and more.
In fact, I have decided to set a goal of having at least one city in every state completed within the next year. That said, Alaska might be tricky as there are no real data sources online that I have found. But I’ll try! If anyone wants to help, have a look at my methodology page. It would be great to have locals (who would have access to full runs of city directories in their libraries) pitching in. And maybe I’ll waste time creating some kind of status graphic. Or not…
Over a period of 78 years, from 1909 to 1987, a total of 42 A&P-owned stores opened (and closed) in Greensboro, North Carolina. Of those, 24 are still standing as of 2018. This article series will trace the history of all 42 locations and include photos from the 24 remaining buildings.