News & Updates

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About the South

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.

Charlotte and Stuff

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I’ve been trying to shoot lots of Winn-Dixie stores before there aren’t any in the area anymore. The one pictured above is in King’s Mountain.

I’ve also done the first bit of my Charlotte research and have compiled the list of addresses. If you’re really interested, I’ve put up a quickie HTML version of the spreadsheet here. It’s going to be interesting to see what is and isn’t still here in Charlotte, a city notorious for destroying almost everything old.

I’ll keep you posted…

Safely in Charlotte

I’ve arrived in Charlotte and I’m looking forward to documenting my new hometown. Saw a few interesting stores along the way, including the oldest continuously-operating A&P in New Orleans. Pictures and more news soon…

Interesting, though, that I seem to have driven out at least one supermarket chain after only a week in town…

Big Move Ahead

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Sorry, I just thought this was a really cool picture when I saw it hanging in my favorite diner this morning…

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. It will probably continue over the next month or so, as I’m well into my cross-country move. We’re leaving San Francisco for good on Friday and will arrive in Charlotte NC about two weeks later, stopping along the way in Fresno, LA, Phoenix, Austin, and New Orleans, among other places…

Hope to have some nice pictures when we land…

Alma Plaza Lucky

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It’s officially all over for the Alma Plaza Lucky now, I suppose. It was scheduled to close on Thursday, and I made it by for a few final photos last Sunday. I’m definitely sorry to see this one go.

I’ve been busily organizing all my assorted newspaper and magazine articles into a Filemaker database lately, which means I haven’t really been working on the site very much. But it should make later updates (and the long-pondered book) much easier.

In addition, I’ve been trying to get all the Northern California photos I can before leaving the Golden State forever at the beginning of June. Suggestions are welcome, as are pointers to things I should see on the road back east. Our stops are tentatively planned for Palm Springs, Phoenix, Austin, Houston, and New Orleans. We may also take breaks in El Paso, Atlanta, and/or Jacksonville before arriving in Groceteria’s new home of Charlotte NC.

Indentity, Please?

I’m happy to say that a reader has confirmed that this Pavilions was originally a Safeway-Super S combo, as I’d guessed. He also adds that his “childhood recollection, however, was that they didn’t use the Super-S name in Southern California but called them ‘Safeway Variety Centers’ instead.” Anyone care to confirm?

This reader also noted that the building is in danger of being demolished when the store is replaced with a new building at the other end of the current parking lot…

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With that mystery solved, does anyone have a clue what the heck this thing might have been? It looks like maybe some chain discount store prototype, but it could have been a supermarket as well, I guess. This particular example stands on Mooney Boulevard in Visalia CA.

Bakersfield

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It doesn’t get much better than this one, does it? It’s from my just completed whirlwind weekend supermarket tour of Bakersfield, finally shooting some of the stores I’d added to my database several months ago. I’ll post the photos later in a ne section which will compete the Central Valley Trilogy, but I figured I’d better hit the town this weekend, since I’ll be leaving the west coast for good in a few months.

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As luck would have it, I was also in town for the last weekend of Ralphs in Bakersfield. Save-Mart is taking over two of the three stores, adding yet another chain to the collection of prototypes it has in its collection of stores.

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Like I said, there will be more pictures later, but I had to include this ghost of Alpha Beta I spotted on Brundage Lane. Actually, the Rite-Aid is a ghost now too…

My Old Hometown

Even my old hometown is courting supermarkets in the central city now:

Jones said they have had some interest from a few grocers, but he declined to say who they were. In general, he said, chains like The Fresh Market, Whole Foods Market and Harris Teeter are interested in spaces for smaller stores.

In August 2003, Harris Teeter opened a 17,000-square-foot store in uptown Charlotte. The store is part of a condominium complex.

It will be interesting to see what happens here. Downtown Greensboro is, in a sense, where this website was born. It was there, at age nine or so, that I became obsessed with the ancient A&P store which sat near what used to be my great grandmother’s house. It was in Greensboro that my mom showed me the few entrance tiles which were all that remained from the Big Star store which had been Greensboro’s first real supermarket back when she was a little girl.

It’s where the obsession began, after all, so it would be nice to see some supermarket chain return to the area after thirty years or so, even if it’s in some trendy, new wave building that looks more like an Urban Outfitters than a grocery store…

Random Stuff

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Anyone want to hazard a guess as to whether or not this Pavilions unit in Seal Beach might have originally been a Safeway-Super S combo? It has a matching Sav-on drug store next door and the whole thing really looks like it was originally meant as one integrated building. Either way, I’m pretty sure the Pavilions was originally a Safeway store.

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Via a link in the message board, I found yet another useful searchable image archive, this one from Seattle. The cool Albertsons photo above came from it.

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Also found a set of really nice images from a 1952 Grand Union in Patterson NJ at some Library of Congress site for which I’ve misplaced the URL.

For those of you who are address and date nuts, you may be excited to see that I added this list of all 1973 locations to the Alpha Beta section today. It’s interesting stuff and I did a little limited cross-checking o see how many stores in Southern California were still operating as Ralphs locations, and how many in Northern California had lasted long enough to become Albertsons branches.

The Journal

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So I’m experimenting with adding a web journal to the site. I don’t use the term “blog” because it sounds like something you might hack up on a very hungover Sunday morning.

In theory, I’ll use this space for links to interesting sites and news articles I’ve found, pictures of stores I need help identifying, pointers to new stuff on the site, and general notes, comments, and thoughts.

More to come…

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