Mount Clemens (and other Macomb County burbs) chain grocery/supermarket history

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Mount Clemens (and other Macomb County burbs) chain grocery/supermarket history

Post by Andrew T. » 07 Jul 2019 12:32

A few days ago I crossed the border into Michigan for the Fourth of July holiday, and I decided to do some research in the city of Mount Clemens while I was there...partially to solve the mystery of this building, and partially to help expand Groceteria's coverage in the Detroit Metro:

Mount Clemens chain grocery/supermarket history, 1919-66

Although the Mount Clemens Public Library has a large selection of city directories in its local history collection, the newest volume available was from 1966...so I wasn't able to continue the chronology as late as I would have liked. Even so, the books revealed an interesting picture of the past...

* A&P was the first chain in Mount Clemens...and they were operating in the city at least as early as 1919!
* Confusingly, there were two Smith chains: C.F. Smith (later absorbed by National), and H.A. Smith. In 1944 and 1951, H.A. Smith was listed with a warehouse but no stores.
* Two of Detroit's other homegrown chains, Packers Outlet (absorbed into Wrigley in the 1950s) and Food Fair (the future Farmer Jack) had heady presences here. Wrigley was rather unpredictable in the way it handled its litany of names: One store converted from Packers to Wrigley to Big Valu before closing in the 1960s, while another store was converted in the 1960s from Wrigley to Packers.

Piecing the table together was frustrating, though. As I touched upon in the mystery store thread, Gratiot Avenue has undergone realignments that have thrown the entire Mount Clemens street grid into disarray! The local library's street name changes list was a big help, but I had to curl up with an old map and a new map and work through the two one block at a time before I felt on top of things:

* From Remick Drive through Kibbee Street, "old" Gratiot is now southbound Gratiot and "old" Broadway (and even older Front Street) are now northbound Gratiot.

* From Kibbee Street through Terry Street, "old" Walnut is now southbound Gratiot, "old" Gratiot is now Main Street, and "old" Broadway is now northbound Gratiot.

* From Terry Street through Macomb Place, "old" North Avenue is now southbound Gratiot, "old" Gratiot is now Main Street, and "old" Broadway is now northbound Gratiot.

* From River Road to Welts Street, "old" Welts Street is now northbound Gratiot.

* From Macomb Place and Welts Street through Patterson Street, southbound Gratiot is on a brand-new alignment, while "old" Gratiot is now northbound Gratiot.

Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn't seem capable of correctly placing the realigned street addresses on blocks where northbound and southbound Gratiot are a block apart.

Image

Also unfortunately, Mount Clemens has been carefree with demolition over the years. The only good pre-1966 artifacts I was able to find were the 1950s pylon National seen above, and a fantastic 1940s mid-block Packers Outlet/Wrigley that now houses a sports bar.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: Mount Clemens (and other Macomb County burbs) chain grocery/supermarket history

Post by Andrew T. » 07 Jul 2019 12:48

The Mount Clemens library also had a handful of East Detroit directories on the wall, all from the 1940s and 1950s. These covered the portion of Macomb County south of Mount Clemens itself, and I made a table out of that: East Detroit (Eastpointe), Roseville, Fraser, and St. Clair Shores chain grocery/supermarket history, 1942-57.

East Detroit is Eastpointe, and Eastpointe is East Detroit. East Detroit changed its name to "Eastpointe" (complete with pretentious "E" at the end) in a 1992 referendum because its predominantly-white population was desperate to avoid any association with Detroit. *sigh*
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: Mount Clemens (and other Macomb County burbs) chain grocery/supermarket history

Post by Groceteria » 16 Jul 2019 21:25

Added to the site. I have not mapped this one because I plan to do a big Detroit update after my visit next month and will be doing one area-wide map.

Thanks!

https://www.groceteria.com/place/us-michigan/detroit/

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