St. Thomas, ON chain grocery/supermarket history, 1925-2019

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Andrew T.
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St. Thomas, ON chain grocery/supermarket history, 1925-2019

Post by Andrew T. » 07 Jul 2019 10:42

Another day, another list:

St. Thomas, ON chain grocery/supermarket history, 1925-2019

St. Thomas is a bit bigger than Woodstock and Stratford, and it completes the ring of smaller cities around London (since I doubt that directories for Strathroy or Ingersoll ever existed).

St. Thomas' downtown is clustered around the historic streetcar strip of Talbot Street, and Talbot Street makes up two-thirds of the addresses on the list! Even today, all of the city's supermarkets are within a block or so of Talbot, although they've migrated eastward to the outskirts of the city.

Some other interesting finds, notes, and take-aways:

* Chain development in St. Thomas predictably followed the progression in other nearby cities: Dominion entered by 1925, A&P and Loblaws followed by 1930, and all of them consolidated multiple neighbourhood stores into a single city supermarket by 1945.
* Strangely, A&P was listed in the 1930 directory, but no locations were given. The line printed in the book says only this: "A & P Stores Ltd, gros"
* Loblaws played the name game it's so prone to do by rebranding a recently-opened Loblaws Superstore as Zehrs around 1990.
* A new Food Basics store opened this year on the same site as an older A&P, and the exterior of the store is decorated with historical images. (None of which are of supermarkets, unfortunately.)
* The newer the St. Thomas directory, the less accurate its listings are. The 2012 book gave "Sobeys" and "Price Chopper" parallel listings at the same address...an address that was doing business as Fresh Co. by August of the same year. The 2012 book also listed an older Zehrs location as still being open, even though Google Maps imagery proves that the store in question had closed and been replaced by a Real Canadian Superstore several blocks away by 2009!
"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."
Andrew Turnbull

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Re: St. Thomas, ON chain grocery/supermarket history, 1925-2019

Post by Andrew T. » 07 Jul 2019 10:47

Like a store in London that dated to the same era, the 1980s Loblaws Superstore at 295 Wellington Street had a slanted front. The building has been reoccupied by Home Hardware/Home Furniture, but the unusual facade is still intact:
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"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."
Andrew Turnbull

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Re: St. Thomas, ON chain grocery/supermarket history, 1925-2019

Post by BillyGr » 08 Jul 2019 16:04

Andrew T. wrote:
07 Jul 2019 10:47
Like a store in London that dated to the same era, the 1980s Loblaws Superstore at 295 Wellington Street had a slanted front. The building has been reoccupied by Home Hardware/Home Furniture, but the unusual facade is still intact:
Looks similar to A&P's Futurestore design.

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Re: St. Thomas, ON chain grocery/supermarket history, 1925-2019

Post by Groceteria » 08 Jul 2019 16:51

BillyGr wrote:
08 Jul 2019 16:04
Looks similar to A&P's Futurestore design.
The Loblaws prototype has less glass and a much bigger footprint, but yeah, there are some similarities.

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Re: St. Thomas, ON chain grocery/supermarket history, 1925-2019

Post by BillyGr » 08 Jul 2019 19:08

Groceteria wrote:
08 Jul 2019 16:51
BillyGr wrote:
08 Jul 2019 16:04
Looks similar to A&P's Futurestore design.
The Loblaws prototype has less glass and a much bigger footprint, but yeah, there are some similarities.
I did notice that it didn't have the glass in the front (but wasn't certain if that was original or had been removed at some point). Didn't notice the size, but that also makes sense if they considered this a superstore (and, of course, A&P seemed to be smaller with their new stores than many chains were building at any given time).

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Re: St. Thomas, ON chain grocery/supermarket history, 1925-2019

Post by Andrew T. » 01 Aug 2019 19:29

Here's a great shot of St. Thomas' Loblaws store at 41 Mondamin Street in 1961. This was actually the direct predecessor of the slanted store pictured upthread, opening by 1959 and remaining open until after 1981.

The building survives, but unfortunately it's been subdivided and shorn of its original facade. At least the back of the store is still intact.
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Image
"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."
Andrew Turnbull

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