Longtime readers may recall that Groceteria.com was born in San Francisco, where I lived from 1992 to 2005. In fact, the San Francisco location list was the first one on the site, followed by Sacramento and Stockton, so I guess Northern California will always seem like a homebase for the site. San Jose, Santa Rosa, and parts of San Mateo, Alameda, and Solano Counties are more recent additions.
One part of the Bay Area has always been conspicuously absent is Oakland and Berkeley. It’s not for lack of effort or interest on my part. In fact, I started an East Bay list more than twenty years ago. But there was a problem. As you know if you’ve read my methodology, my primary source is city directories — not the telephone directories but the Polk (and affiliates) directories. In Oakland, however, there were no city directories published between 1943 and 1967 nor after 1969. This seemed an almost insurmountable problem. I consulted telephone directories, but they tend to be incomplete and almost useless in large urban areas. For example. Safeway did not list any of its store locations in the telephone book; they simply listed one central phone number. I was able to get some names and locations from the phone books, but my estimate was that this would produce a list that was maybe 30-40% complete.
A while back, I finally sprung for the “top level” subscription to Newspapers.com (cheaper than Netflix and far more entertaining) and that’s how I was actually able to finish Oakland after twenty years. It was incredibly labor-intensive and I probably would not be as successful using this approach for an area where I’m not as familiar with the chains and the cities. I scoured ads for the chains, articles about openings and shopping centers, and other sources, and I have finally come up with what I think is a pretty good list of locations in Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, and Piedmont. Is it perfect? Probably not. Are there omissions? Probably so. Is it the absolute best I think I can do right now? Absolutely. I’m hoping it’s about 90-95% accurate according to my standards. I’m quite proud of it. And it was fun doing Bay Area research again.
I also used this as an excuse to update some of the other Bay Area lists as well.