Does anyone remember Market Basket Stores in Southern Calif?

Uh...California.

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wayne winterland jr.
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Does anyone remember Market Basket Stores in Southern Calif?

Post by wayne winterland jr. » 22 Nov 2005 16:01

I was wondering if anyone remembered the Merket Basket Grocery Store Chain in Southern Calif. (owned by the Kroger Company).
I worked for this company until I moved to Oklahomo. They only had about 62 or 64 stores but the new stores that they had built were nice and the atmosphere friendly. The store ads were decent and sometimes better than some of the other grocery store chains and they were a good company to work for and for the most part treated their employees decently which you can't always say about a lot of other companies.
When I was working for them they told us that their warehouse needed to service at least 100 stores to be probifable and I heard they tried to buy out Hughe's Markets but Hughe's Markets didn't want to sell and they tried to buy some other small chains but no deals came about so eventually it was a very slick way that the Kroger Company sold their Market Basket Stores. From what I remember about the deal. 4 calif. grocery store chains went together as a group and purchased a large block of Kroger stock from a large financial institution and then these 4 grocery store chains exchanged the large block of stock for ownership of the Market Basket Stores. This has to be one of the slickest deals in the grocery business because by swapping the Kroger Stock for the Market Basket Stores for income tax purposes it was a tax free exchange of assets whereby the 4 grocery chains exchanged the big block of Kroger stock for the Market Basket Stores.
That deal worked out better than the one where Vons Grocery Company bought the southern calif. Safeway Stores and gave up some stock in the Vons Company but by doing so Safeway eventually ended up taking over the Vons Grocery Company. Sometimes trying to become bigger ends up by having the original company being taken over itself. Another example of a Grocery Store Company trying to become bigger was in Arizona. When Alpha Beta Markets put their Arizona Division up for sale the District Manager and some other investors bought the stores from Alpha Beta Markets and then renamed them ABCO Markets. Awhile later Lucky Stores wanted to sell their stores in Arizona and yes you guess it ABCO jumped at the chance to buy their 30 plus Lucky Stores. The one thing a lot of people forget is that bigger is not always better and by now doubling the size of the ABCO Stores with the Lucky Stores acquisition a lot of debt probalby came along with the deal. Now remember with this purchase as with the Alpha Beta Arizona Stores the purchase was for the stores and inventory and any debts that may have come with the deal. So both deals were virtaully cash deals one way or another and unless the stores start making enough profit to pay off the purchasing price or the debt incurred in the buyout then the inevitable occurs which meant in this case the ABCO Supermarkets basically went under and if I remember correctly the Fleming Wholesale Company took over the operation of the stores until they were sold or in some cases closed and in a way as I said earlier bigger isn't always better and in face the Fleming Company went bankrupct.

Thanke, Wayne Winterland Jr.

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Post by jamcool » 22 Nov 2005 17:20

On Market Basket - they were basically Kroger of California - they sold Kroger private label goods and Tenderay brand beef. And I think the Market Basket spinoff was what started Yucaipa (an investment co. that has varying levels of ownership in a number of grocers) in the supermaket combining business.

As to Alpha Beta of Arizona/ABCO/Lucky...

Alpha Beta came into AZ around 1974, with the same-style stores they had in CA. They had some success here, and by the mid 80s had stores in Phoenix and Tucson, along with a store in Yuma. This was the time of the 80s mergermania, and American Stores merged with Jewel Cos. The ABs in Arizona were sold to the Arizona management and became ABCO markets "A new way to say Alpha Beta". ABCO apparently had a non-competition clause with American that kept American from reentering the AZ grocery market.

In the late 80s Lucky Stores merged with American and was forced to sell their AZ stores. ABCO picked them up, and for a while they advertised under the ABCO/Lucky banner until the Lucky were rebranded to ABCO. ABCO became bigger, but changing from Lucky's low-price strategy to ABCO's "high-low" pricing hurt their sales, and they ran into financial problems during the 90s. Then Fleming - ABCO's main supplier - took control of their largest AZ customer. Some of the stores were closed, while the rest were remodeled with Southwest-style interiors, and the chain was rebranded "Desert Markets". Then Fleming went bankrupt, partly due to an ill-fated deal with K-Mart. Fleming shut down most of the chains they owned, including Furr's in NM/TX and ABCO/Desert. The AZ stores were pieced off to various independent operators - some of which soon after shut down, along with Bashas and Safeway

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Post by krogerclerk » 26 Nov 2005 23:55

Did any Market Basket use Kroger decor or architecture? Namely, the 70's superstore or 80's greenhouse formats used by Kroger in its namesake stores in the Midwest and South. I would be neat to find a superstore or greenhouse in Southern California. My guess is superstores would be more likely than any greenhouse design as the chain was sold off in the very early 80's and very few if any greenhouse style stores would have been built. I understand Ralphs' absorbed a large number of Market Basket locations and the the Ralphs' logo was altered to incorporate the oval from Market Basket. In a sense the chain has reverted to Kroger ownership through Ralphs' eventually becoming part f Kroger. Also, when did Federated Department Stores purchase Ralphs'?
I know Ralphs' was spun off to Yucaipa around 88 or 89 during the junk bond financed LBO headed by Campeau, which also resulted in Richway/Gold Circle becoming part of Target(then Dayton-Hudson.
Thorugh Ralphs', Southern California Alpha Beta, Boys, Viva, Hughe's and Market Basket have been consolidated into Ralphs' and Food 4 Less.

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Post by Groceteria » 27 Nov 2005 00:40

krogerclerk wrote:Also, when did Federated Department Stores purchase Ralphs'?
1968: Federated
1988: Campeau
1992: DeBartolo
1995: Yucaipa
1997-1998: Fred Meyer >> Kroger

There's a really comprehensive history of Ralphs on my site that I snagged from a pre-Kroger version of the Ralphs website several years back:

http://www.groceteria.com/stores/ralphs.html

wayne winterland jr.
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Market Basket Stores in the 1970's

Post by wayne winterland jr. » 27 Nov 2005 13:31

I'm not really familiar with the Kroger greenhouse type stores but I will tell you what I remember from having worked at Market Basket.
I worked and opened 2 new Market Basket Stores in Calif. in the late 1970's and those new stores were probably about 35,000 to 38,000 sq.ft. , the outside decor was more of a southern calif. design with arches and looked a little like a mission type exteriorl. Once when I was visiting family in central Illinois I went into a relatively new Kroger Store and when I got inside I was shocked to see that many of the interior decorations, signage, and other amenities were as if they had taken them right out of the new Market Basket Stores where I had worked. I had been in the same store a year earlier and they had the regular type of Kroger interior decorations, signage, and other things but this time it was like walking into a new Market Basket. I think that at that particular time period that California was ahead of it's time in interior decorations and the interior lood of the Market Basket Stores showed me that because Kroger had in fact taken and used the same interior design for one of their stores and probably others as well. Yes it does seem that Market Basket came full circle by having the Ralphs Grocery Chain bought out by Kroger but one point in particular is that Market Basket was bought by 4 different grocery store chains when Kroger sold them and Ralphs didn't buy all of them and that is true as well of the Alpha Beta Markets, Kroger didn't buy all of them as they were sold off to Yucaipa, or converted to Lucky Supermarkets, or Albertsons and some were to sold to other as well.
I used to work at Ralphs Grocery Stores when they were a part of the Federated Dept. Store Chain in 1971 but I don't know when Federated purchased them. I have worked for Alpha Beta Mtts., Safeway, Ralphs, and Market Basket and Ralphs treated their management members very well but Market Basket treated me better than any of the other chains.

thanks, Wayne

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Alpha Beta/Ralphs

Post by storewanderer » 28 Nov 2005 16:28

Alpha Beta in CA went down like this:

1987ish: exited Stockton and Sacramento, selling stores to independents or regionals (Nugget, Save Mart, and independents).
1989: remaining NorCal Stores and San Diego Stores are converted to Lucky, as American Stores has just purchased Lucky and had to convert the Alpha Beta Stores they kept in the merger. Alpha Beta is basically gone from all parts of CA except metro Los Angeles and a few holdouts in places like Bakersfield.
1990's: metro Los Angeles Alpha Beta Stores are divested (condition of Lucky-ASC merger) to Yucapica Companies, then owner of Food 4 Less in SoCal, Boys, Cala/Bell/QFI in NorCal, and Falley's KS.

In the mid 1990's when Yucapica purchased Ralphs, they made the decision to brand all of the SoCal/San Diego conventional format stores to Ralphs. This eliminated Alpha Beta for good.

American Stores did continue to use the Skaggs-Alpha Beta banner in Utah on a half dozen or so stores into the 1990's, and it is possible these were the last stores to operate under the Alpha Beta name. I think ASC put Alpha Beta in UT to rest around the same time that Yucapica put Alpha Beta to rest in SoCal.

At least the old "Butcher's Pride" meat label has come back to life at Food4Less/FoodsCo that are owned by Kroger. And we shouldn't forget the "Forget me not" floral also used by Ralphs/F4L/FCO. Some remnants of Alpha Beta have stuck around.

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Post by jamcool » 28 Nov 2005 18:45

Skaggs Alpha Beta also operated in New Mexico (they were the old Skaggs-Albertsons joint venture operation stores. When American merged with Jewel, they became Jewel/Osco - the same time that the Skaggs drugstores became Osco. Finally when ABS bought American, the NM Jewel/Oscos became (again!) Albertsons (with Sav-on pharmacies)

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Post by krogerclerk » 29 Nov 2005 01:03

Mission architecture would be more appropriate for Southern California.
Kroger superstores and greenhouse stores use roughly the same layout-
entrance foyer, front end,perishible in the perimeter-- produce then floral and bread down the side, with seafood and meat accross the back and dairy in the rear corner and up to del-baker(and cheese and Barney's Cafe in greenhouse stores) with the dry grocery and general merchandise in traditional grid aisle with frozen in the center aisles. Some variations existed, due to remodels of older formats, and later changes-some had frozen food at the end,etc and pharmacy and OTC/HBC between the Deli-Bakery and front end checkouts, and a cosmetics/fragrance counter in the general merchandise area near pharmacy.

Interior decor was the primary difference. The superstore decor was very 1970's rustic- earth tones, wood trim, different brick patterns in the tile in each department, green in produce, red in meat, yellow in deli for example. The greenhouse prototype was rolled out in 1979 and was very gaudy 1970's-earthtones with curved corners and oversized department lettering. The superstore prototype dates to 1972 and most early ones were 25000-27000 square feet and 30-35000 be the end of the decade.
Most greenhouse stores were 35000 s.f. without pharmacies and 45000 s.f with pharmacies, though some in the 50-60000 sf range were built.

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Post by Groceteria » 29 Nov 2005 02:11

krogerclerk wrote:The superstore decor was very 1970's rustic- earth tones, wood trim, different brick patterns in the tile in each department, green in produce, red in meat, yellow in deli for example.
"Tomorrow's store today: Kroger's got it!"

Sorry. Just had to sing the superstore jingle, which is still etched in my mind after more than 30 years.

BTW, krogerclerk, do you know of any superstores that are still relatively intact inside? One in my hometown lasted until about 1997...
krogerclerk wrote:The greenhouse prototype was rolled out in 1979 and was very gaudy 1970's-earthtones with curved corners and oversized department lettering.
For the really geeky among us: the font was Bauhaus...

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Jewel New Mexico

Post by storewanderer » 29 Nov 2005 04:13

For about 15 months or so, those Jewel New Mexico Stores were branded Lucky/Sav-On... then rebranded to Albertsons. Also at that time, the few remaining freestanding Osco Stores in NM were branded Sav-On.

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Skaggs Alpha Beta in Texas

Post by wnetmacman » 29 Nov 2005 04:27

From the mid 70's to the early 90's Skaggs Alpha Beta was alive and well in Texas and Arkansas as well, with stores stretching from West Texas to Little Rock. The Little Rock stores were let go before 1990. The Texas stores were briefly rebranded to Jewel in 1991 before being sold to Albertsons in 1992 or 1993. They only lasted long enough to be remodeled to the military type decor package, then they were sold. Interestingly enough, some older stores that had been built as Skaggs-Albertsons and Skaggs Superstores became Albertsons again. Most of these stores only needed a name change on the front door. IMHO, it was sad to see that Jewel couldn't survive outside of Chicago.
Scott Greer

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skaggs alpha beta

Post by wayne winterland jr. » 01 Dec 2005 12:32

I agree with you that it's sad that Jewel supermarkets couldn't make it in other areas out of their basic Chicago market area but some chains and it really doesn't doesn't matter what their names are just weren't meant to succeed because of several factors involved. For example in Oklahome first there was the combination grocery stores named Skaggs ALpha Beta and then when Skaggs and Albertsons split up their joint venture in these stores the stores were changed to different names and formats such as the Jewel - Osco and other names. They were also once or twice changed to a warehouse format with warehouse rack shelving. Then when the warehouse format was a flop they changed it back to a conventional superstore format with the usual standard amenities and departments. One of the problems that i think they had was not being able to stick with one recogonizeable name for their stores and changing the name to anything connected with the Alpha Beta name meant nothing to people here because they would what the heck is an Alpha Beta and what do those words mean or stand for. Nobody really cared that the name Alpha Beta was from Calif. where they originated and started stocking their groceries alphabetically. Then by using the Alpha Beta name with another name it became even more confusing for customers to then ask what is a Skagge Alpha Beta and then when they changed to Jewel Osco people who weren't familiar with that chain didn't have any idea what the heck a Jewel Osco is. Then by them continuously trying to find the right kind of store format to operate the store under by changing from a conventional type grocery superstore to a warehouse supermarket and then back and forth people didn't know what kind of grocery supermarket this company really was. it appeared for quite some time that there seemed to be some kind of identity crisit for Albertsons until they finally settled for being s superstore format supermarket. I think that bringing totally diffeerent supermarekt names into an area where they are not known and by not properly explaining who the companies are or where or from or properly explaining what type of stores they are or are tying to be didn't help these companies any. Sometimes here in Oklahoma if it's confusing going to shop at a supermarket chain because you really aren't sure what or who they are people in general just go to a supermarket they know. Here in Oklahoma if you read a newspaper poll on who has the biggest share of the grocery business it's always going to be Wal-Mart beccause they have the biggest stores and also most stores in terms of how many stores they have in the state and then the second largest share of the supermarket business is Albertsons but in reality that is because they have the second largest number of stores in the state and it has nothing to do at all with competition. For all intents and purposes in this state there really isn't much if anything in the way of competition in the grocery business. Oh there may be one company here in Oklahoma City that claims that they are competative with everyone but come on when you have just 4 or 5 stores that isn't much in the way of being competative with other grocery stores. Here in Oklahoma they may say that there is competition between the grocery stores but in reality there really isn't much competition at all. The 3 largest chains here in Oklahoma are of course Wal-Mart, then Albertsons, and lastly Homeland Stores (which are the remants of the old Safeway Stores that Safeway sold when they exited the state of Oklahoma. In General and for the most part I think that except for some of the leader items that Albertsons has on their front endcap displays in their stores and which are in their ad their other store prices are high and Homeland Store prices are high too and if any of Homeland Stores are in towns that don't have any other grocery store in town my personal opinion is that they tend to take advantage of the situation with their pricing being somewhat higher than when they had a competing grocery store in town. I know this is the way it seems to be in the town where my mother lives and where Homeland Stores is the only grocery store in town. Oklahoma has basically only 2 large cities which are of course Oklahoma City and Tulsa and their surrounding suburbs. I grew up and lived in Southern California and in the town of Torrance, Callif. where I worked at a Market Basket Store (Kroger's former Southern Calif. Division), within less than a 3 mile
circle area there were 11 major chain grocery stores and the grocery store competition was constantly fierce and intense and here in Oklahoma the companies run their ads but except for special Ads and special promotions Albertsons and Homeland Stores don't really compete with their instore regular pricing. Wal-Mart is for the most part cheaper than the other two chains but competition isn' t nearly as fierce and competitive as in other market areas across the United States. IT's kind of a funny scenario and seems like the movie "Field of Dreams" and the headline should read "Build a Grocery Store and they will come" (ha,ha). To me it seems that in the major superstores they already have all the extra amenities and things like the delis, bakery, pharmacy, floral dept., and video rental depts, and where allowed by state law liquor depts. I guess that I'm just old fashioned or maybe a little jaded about having grown up in the grocery business most of my life and it's nice for the grocery stores to have all of these sub depts. but i as a shopper don't need or particularily want all of these sub depts. I simply would like to go into a conventional grocery store and buy my groceries so that i can take them home and fix a real dinner not just buy some food at a deli and get dessert at the bakery or rent a movie to take home to watch or wait in line to get my prescriptions filled. I wish that people would stand back and take a real look at these money making sub depts for the grocery store and see that they are paying much too much compared to what it would cost to buy and prepare maybe a roast and other dinner items for the family. Costs are high enough without paying high prices at a grocery stores deli instead of going to the Meat dept. and buying some products in their peg hook pre package depts.(of course these depts. may not have the speciality items but they do have some meats that cost less than getting them sliced in the deli).
As for Albertsone they were an accident waiting to happen after they couldn't absorb their American Stores acquisition and that point in time seemed to signal the beginning of the downward fall or eventual demise of Albertsons. I'm hoping that a true grocery store chain will buy them out.

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Post by greebs » 25 Mar 2006 00:51

Market Basket and Blue Chip stamps. I remember the one in El Sereno, now a Food 4 Less and Burbank a Toys R Us. The El Sereno store is in bad shape but if your ever up in the attic, you can still see the Market Basket logo.

Hughes56781

Post by Hughes56781 » 17 May 2006 04:21

I remember the Market Basket in La Habra, which would eventually become Hughes (where, in fact, I worked for just over 8 years, getting out just before the Hughes family sold the company), then Ralphs, and is becoming a Hispanic market.

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Post by Groceteria » 13 Jan 2007 22:12

I've spilt the specific locations discussions into a new thread in the proper forum:

http://www.groceteria.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=1004

Please use that one for discussion of specific locations and this one for general history of the chain.

Thanks,
David

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