As those of you who follow me on Twitter are already well aware, I’m currently in Chicago. Since Canada was off the table this year, I reworked my October vacation in a very socially distant sort of way. As it happens, this is not really all that different from the way I usually travel. But some specifics, in case you were wondering:

  • Obviously I would never visit anyplace where travel is restricted for me. The city of Chicago has a current travel ban, requiring 14-day quarantines for visitors from 21 states. Mine is not among them. (Note: As of today that is changing on the day after I depart.)
  • On my regular trips, I minimize contact with other people. Now I do even more of that. I spend almost all my time either in my hotel or in my car exploring. I avoid crowds and I don’t go inside nearly as many stores as I normally might. I’m also skipping transit and not on foot as much as I would normally be.
  • I get rooms where I can make some of my own meals and do takeout or drive-thru for most of the rest, or eat outside where that’s an option. I think I have eaten inside at a restaurant all of six or seven times since March, and in almost all cases the place was nearly or completely empty at the time.
  • I am (of course) masked any time I’m around other people, as is any decent human being who cares about other human beings.
  • I’m opting out of daily room cleaning in any hotel that still has it as an option.

Again, I’m not a terribly social person when I travel in general, so most of this is not a stretch for me, aside from the obvious transit and restaurant issues. That said, this seems like a good time to talk about how I travel in general:

  • My primary activity when I travel is exploration. Cities fascinate me and I like to explore neighborhoods and streets. Supermarkets are a big part of it, and this site has definitely pushed me to explore in much more intensive ways than I used to, but finding supermarket sites is only art of the mix. As often as not, I don’t have a set agenda or list of stores I hope to see; that makes travel seem too much like work. Sometimes there are some specific stores I want to shoot. Usually I just shoot what I find in the areas I visit. The discovery is a big part of the fun.
  • I do usually hit the library when I visit a new city where I haven’t done research (assuming there’s no global pandmeic at the time).
  • I may stay in the city or the suburbs, depending on any number of factors. I usually do chain hotels because I don’t like surprises where I sleep.
  • I do like surprises where I eat and I tend to avoid chain restaurants, unless it’s a quirky regional chain or a largely defunct one (or something like the last remaining White Tower in Toledo).
  • I hate flying. I’m big, it’s uncomfortable, and I avoid it whenever possible.
  • I try to do backroads when it’s feasible and when there’s actually something to see on them other than trees.
  • I find the countryside to be a tremendous inconvenience that one is forced to cope with when traveling between two cities. Nature is not my thing.

(BTW, the photo above was taken in Macy’s Marshall Field. Crowd were most decidedly not an issue there, which says a lot.)


Ketner’s, Lexington NC

Recent additions:

There have been some major urban areas added over the past two months as well as some smaller cities and towns:

Recent updates:

Upcoming:

  • I’ll be doing a roadtrip to Detroit, Toledo, and Windsor later this week, which will result in research and pictures. Follow @GroceteriaWeb on Twitter to keep up (and to get site updates a LOT quicker).
  • I’m in the process of adding links and random materials all over the site. A major photo upgrade is still on the way as well.
  • The Queue: Upcoming additions.

 

Big road trip a-comin’

Since I’m doing a conference presentation in Cleveland the second week in April, I decided it would be a good jumping off point for a midwestern road trip where I’ll visit some old friends, do a big chunk of research, spend time in a city I’ve been wanting to explore more extensively for twenty years, and cover some new territory.

The intinerary:

  • Cleveland: Conference presentation and sadly not much else, but Cleveland is (relatively) close by and I get there somewhat regularly anyway.
  • Milwaukee: First visit since 1998. I’ve been threatening to spend some time there ever since and this is my chance. I’ll also be visiting a friend who recently relocated about forty miles away. I’ll also put in some time at the library, naturally.
  • Grand Rapids: I’ve never been there despite the fact that there was one point where we almost moved there when I was a youngster. I’ll be visiting an old friend from San Francisco I haven’t seen since 2006 or so.
  • Fort Wayne: This will be the hardcore research portion of the trip. There is a wonderful place there called the Genealogy Center. I don’t do genealogy, but I use many of the same tools for Groceteria. This place has a massive collection of print city directories (my primary tool) that fills in many of the (very numerous) holes in Ancestry’s collection. I’ve planned two days. I am a big geek. Plus I haven’t been there since 1997 either.

I’d also planned to spend a few days in Detroit/Windsor, but I’m backing off on that for now because I have too much going on here to be gone for that long and because I’d like to spend more time there. Thus I may merge this with the annual Thanksgiving road trip to Canada this year.

Anyhow follow Groceteria on Twitter for real-time updates. Recommendations on things to see welcome.

Just returned from a snowy weekend in New Jersey, with side trips to Philadelphia and (drum roll, please) Wilmington, Delaware? Why the drum roll? Because I now have the data in hand to complete Groceteria’s 50th state, which I promised to do by the site’s 20th anniversary this summer. That’s coming soon, but for now, here are some recent additions and updates:

The store above is a still-standing Food Fair on Brunswick Avenue in Trenton NJ. There’s another one that’s even better here.

Also, I’ll be visiting the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne next month and will be filling in a lot of holes using their massive collection of print city directories from around the country. That trip will also take me to Detroit, Toledo, and possibly Lansing and Milwaukee. More soon.

We interrupt the Canadian content for a whole lot of Rhode Island, since yer humble host will be visiting the area later this week. I will have very little (if any) time for sightseeing and photos but I should at least be able to spend some time in the library updating the location data.

Lots of fresh new Canadian content coming soon, including new and expanded location lists for various cities in Ontario; expansion of the ones for Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta; and new photos. Watch this space!

Until then, enjoy this photo of an A&P in Cambridge from 1996:

In case you don’t follow on Twitter (and you should), I thought I would backtrack and add archived posts from the road. I may change my mind and decide this is a stupid idea. Who knows?

Atlantic City

The updates continue, although it’s mostly smaller ones this time around. In the background, I’ve also been actively tagging photos to add in the coming months.

The latest:

Also, I’m about to embark on my annual autumn trip to Canada. I’ll be in Toronto and maybe either Ottawa or somewhere in Southern Ontario. Follow me on on Twitter for updates!

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This one was just an extra cool find. It was quite obviously built as an A&P, probably in the 1940s. You can even make out the labelscar on the parking lot signs if you’re there in person. It’s located on Taylor Boulevard in Louisville, right across from Churchill Downs. From the shape of the sign, I would guess it may have been an A&P at least until they switched to the pill-shaped logo in the 1970s. And what’s really cool is that it’s still a pretty popular spot and it’s still selling groceries with very few modifications in its more recent incarnation as the Pic Pac IGA.

I love finding stores like this.

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I spent the weekend in Baltimore. If you follow me on Twitter, you saw a pretty amazing collection of photos from around the city–not amazing because I’m such a great photographer but because there’s so much supermarket history still standing in Baltimore and so much of it is in such recognizable condition. Acme, Food Fair, A&P, Penn Fruit, and more. It’s all there. I did library research as well and there will be much more soon.

But do check out the past few days on Twitter…really.

(Photo above is from an item in the Maryland Department, Enoch Pratt Free Library.)