Lest anyone worry, my favorite Cala Foods location in San Francisco (previously featured here and here) is apparently still a Cala Foods location, per this recent photo snapped by the photographer I love. This store was one of the only ones not sold by Kroger a few months back. Therefore it has not been converted into a Delano’s IGA. And I’m very glad, although I’m not exactly certain what the future holds for 1095 Hyde Street.
Today’s feature: two amazing former Kroger stores in central North Carolina, the former here in Winston-Salem, and the latter in nearby Burlington. Both are extremely well-preserved examples of this particular prototype from the early 1950s. This is becoming one of my favorite old store designs, and may be one of my most sought-after over the next few years, now that I’m no longer living in the land of the Marina Safeway.
As an interesting side note, I’m told the Burlington store below is the one where black widow murderer Blanche Taylor Moore (portrayed by Elizabeth Montgomery in a 1993 TV movie) was employed along with one of her victims.
The A&P pictured above is probably more important to me than any other supermarket in the world.
Why? Because it was my “first”. By that, I don’t mean that it was the first supermarket I ever visited, but that it was the first old supermarket that I became obsessed with as a child. As such, this website was born at that old A&P in downtown Greensboro.
The location at 221 Commerce Place was the site of Greensboro’s first A&P self-service supermarket. The company had operated traditional stores in the city since 1910, but on 10 March 1938, the supermarket opened in a former tobacco warehouse next door to the city’s farmers’ market. The store burned down in 1946, and was replaced with a new store which opened on 16 June 1947.
The 13,500 square foot store featured such “modern features” as a candy department, refrigerated produce section, a self-service delicatessen, and eight checkout stands. A 2500-item selection was available to the discerning housewife of 1947.
Commerce Place was A&P’s top sales unit in the Carolinas for many years, and its manager said in an interview that it wasn’t losing money even at the end. It survived as one of two downtown A&P stores in Greensboro until its closing on 17 February 1973. The other downtown location closed two years later as part of A&P’s major meltdown of 1975.
This store fascinated me as a small child. I remember it as being old and dark, with ancient refrigerator cases with rounded glass, and old fixtures and counters, many of which might well have been original. It was particularly interesting for me because my mother had, as a child, lived for several years in a long-since demolished house a few doors down with her grandmother.
My childhood love for this store (and my disappointment when it closed) led me to be interested in other old supermarkets in Greensboro and elsewhere. I started eyeing old Colonial stores and the midblock Bi-Rite in a streetcar strip near UNCG. I noticed ancient A&P survivors on trips to Atlanta and other cities. During my years in California, my obsession grew to include the Marina- and pylon-style Safeway stores, among others. The fact that so many had been demolished or (like Commerce Place, above) remodeled into such bland and uninspiring structures also made me want to preserve what images I could, because I was interested and didn’t really think anyone else was.
Thus, Groceteria.com was born as a result of an old A&P in Greensboro NC that closed when I was eight years old. And just this weekend, I finally found the vintage photos above and several newspaper articles about “my first store” and wanted to share them here.
Apologies for the long absence. I’ve had a lot going on the past few weeks.
Submitted for your Monday morning approval: Mick-o-Mack, 1312 Winborne Street, Roanoke VA. This is about as sexy as it gets. I’ve heard a bit about this particular chain, and I’ll try to to learn more soon. I’ve decided that Roanoke will be my next featured city after I complete my new Winston-Salem section with its accompanying update and expansion of the Greensboro section.
Thanks to Carlton Swift for this shot of a former Kwik-Chek/Winn-Dixie (and before that, King’s Market, with which I’m not familiar) in Columbus GA. It’s of perhaps my favorite vintage, the early 1950s, and it looks like it retained its original round pole sign dating back to the Kwik-Chek days.
This building was scheduled for demolition on Friday of this past week. Too bad. I’d like to have seen it in happier times.
Spencer’s in Morro Bay, California, snapped by Mark while he was visiting his parents this weekend. I can’t help thinking this used to be something else. Whatever it was, it looks pretty cool.
One of my favorite Safeway locations in San Francisco apparently closed last night. The small-scale Marina-type store on Seventh Avenue is to be torn down and replaced with a new “lifestyle” format store with rooftop parking.
This location opened in 1959, and was probably less than 12,000 square feet. The prototype was designed for smaller lots in residential areas and smaller towns that couldn’t support a full-sized store. It always amazed me how much stuff they managed to pack into the place, and how many customers it managed to accommodate.
It’s been rumored to be closing for several years, and the time has apparently come just shy of its fiftieth birthday. I’ll miss this one.
This is a video capture from a 1974 episode of “The Streets of San Francisco” featuring the location with its signs camouflaged:
A 1999 night shot of the exterior:
Interior photos, circa 2004:
One of Safeway’s planned 1958 store prototypes, from “The New Way at Safeway”, a Progressive Grocer study of the chain. I’d love to have seen one of these if any were actually built.
Sorry for the delay. The last few weeks became a bit hectic, with lots of freelance work, a death in the family, and my Thanksgiving trek to the west coast to visit the in-laws.
I’m ready to continue on with those road trip photos now:
Let’s start with Indianapolis:
This Preston Safeway store at 5040 East 16th was most likely a former Standard Store. Preston Safeway is an odd little chain in Indianapolis that has successfully managed to use the Safeway name without trademark issues for quite some time. There is no connection to the more well-known chain other than the fact that Preston Safeway seems to be using the “Ingredients for Life” typeface on some of its banners.
On to Chicago:
Despite its somewhat modernized appearance, the Jewel-Osco above, located at 3531 Broadway, is in an ancient building which I suspect may have been something else to begin with — perhaps a garage, a car dealership, or even a garden variety warehouse. The store is at ground level and the second level is enclosed parking.
I suspect this was originally a Kroger. It’s at 7620 North Western.
This gorgeous former Jewel store is at 4335 West Oakton in Skokie.
And now, the Detroit suburbs:
I found this 1950s-era Kroger interesting because it had obviously been remodeled and expanded into an early 1970s superstore. There’s a 1990s version still open in the same center.
And finally, Toronto:
It’s interesting that the grocery industry is so completely consolidated in the hands of three companies (Loblaw, A&P/Metro, and Sobey’s) but still operates under so many different banners. Loblaw owns Zehr’s and No Frills, while A&P owns Dominion and Food Basics. Sobey’s also operates as Price Chopper, IGA, and more.
I was unable to find the one documented former Safeway location I’d been given in Toronto, but I found other good stuff:
A Loblaws from the 1950s at 301 Moore is still open and in relatively good repair. It seems larger than average for its era.
Probably a former Loblaws at 2187 West Bloor.
Also a probable former Loblaws, this one at 1450 East Lawrence.
The Dominion store above, at 425 West Bloor may or may now have been an A&P. It probably dates from the early 1950s. The late 1940s/early 1950s model below, at 3142 Yonge, was definitely an A&P in a previous life, if its parking signs are to be trusted.
I may try to post one or two more at some point.