Kansas City is fascinating in that it was served for decades by all of the “big three” (A&P, Kroger, and Safeway) and in that all three chains pulled out in about a ten-year period starting in the late 1970s. After this, KC was left with one local chain on the way down (Milgram) and a collection of independents, franchises, and co-ops. Except for the presence of limited assortment chains like Aldi and the relatively recent arrival of Hy-Vee and Walmart Neighborhood Markets, it is still largely a city of independents and co-ops, particularly Price Chopper. Kansas City did experience population declines in the late twentieth century, but nothing like many Midwestern cities did, which makes its lack of national chains even more surprising.
Nolan GoldbergOctober 7, 2019 at 1:57pm
There was an A&P in what was then Meadowlake Shopping Center at 7620 State Line Road, Prairie Village, KS 66208. It was replaced by a new building and Schnuck’s Supermarket and is presently a Hy-Vee in what is now named State Line Shopping Center.
Pat SmithJuly 8, 2020 at 4:53pm
I enjoyed looking at this site. I have been fascinated by grocery stores since visiting the A&P on West 23rd Street in Independence, MO (almost at Sterling Rd.) as a child. Later a Safeway went in across 23rd Street and that was the end of that. I was extremely interested in the Safeway at 5629 and 5631 Truman Road in Kansas City, MO because I worked there through college–withdrawn member of Retail Clerks International Union #782. The store was at the 5629 location, adjoining the 5631 location, earlier than the 1975 date given. I went to work there in May, 1973, and the new and bigger store had been open 3-4 years by then. The store was known as Safeway #653–the “6” indicated that it (the newer store) had a dock, and was also known by “Truman and Topping” the intersection immediately east of the 5631 address. The older location store had a “2” in front meaning a manual unload from the truck. The 5631 address was a thrift store by then. The manager there at that time was Bob Nichols and the assistant manager was Bob Wilson. The third man was Stan Lybarger (maybe the name is right–who went on to manage Safeways in Warrensburg and Independence, MO) Greg Fugate succeeded him as third man. Bob Nichols later went to Overland Park, KS and managed the Safeway at Orchard Corners–95th & Quivira. (Mr. Terrell was the district manager–“Terrible Terrell” was the nickname–but I actually got along with him as I always agree to work on an as needed basis within the district.) You are right that KC was unique in that the big 3 competed there in the 1950s–to the 1970s. But Milgram’s had been extremely strong until the early 70s but they kind of peaked at slightly different times. A&P had not updated their stores since the 50s and pulled out in the late 60s. (Came back in the late 70s when Schnuck’s pulled out of the Venture store grocery portion.) Kroger had not built a new store since the late 1960s and Safeway continued to build right up until the KKR purchase of Safeway and the sale to management of the KC area stores in what became known as the Food Barn fiasco. If you are interested, the level of competition between the majors as well as the independents was brutal. The Safeway KC Division (on old Westport Road in KC, MO) contribution to overhead was one of the lowest in the nation. The Division went from the middle of KS (bumping into Wichita) to the middle of MO–I think Columbia, MO was as far east as it went. There were no Safeways east then until you got to the Baltimore-DC Division. They thought that they would increase the profits after A&P closed and then Kroger–but no–the AG and independent grocers kept coming–United Supers and Thriftways primarily. There were the Cosentinos and McKeevers (now Price Chopper)–had independent stores before 1979. There were a few Ball stores (including Ball’s Whitefront north of the Missouri River). I worked in an ice plant and delivered to a lot of the independents prior to working for Safeway. In the end, the union was able to gain wages for skilled employees that still exceed what they pay now. The last 7 mos and 28 days I worked for Safeway, I made a staggering sum–but there were usually 48 hours per week. The intense competition, management kept thinking they were close to eliminating the other competition (then Price Chopper appeared) and then the sale to KKR sort of ended the party. Competition and high wages ended what we knew then. Population loss and lower per capita income did hurt KC proper–but KC north of the river and out south were still doing well into the 80s. The population moved to Lee;s Summit, Blue Springs and north of the river on the MO side of the state line and to Overland Park, Leawood and Lenexa on the KS side. Even in the mid-70s, the big producing store on the MO side was 23rd & Noland in Independence (later moved to 23rd & Lee’s Summit Road) and several of the Overland Park stores generated crazy numbers. One of my co-workers had been an employee of Piggly Wiggly in KC when Safeway acquired it 30 some years prior. The stories she told. I regrettably resigned to go on to law school just after I had been scheduled to transfer as third man to the very first “scanner” store in all of the KC area–on North Oak in Gladstone, MO next to the now gone North Oak Mall. They thought I was crazy and refused to accept my resignation converting it to a leave of absence because the third man I had worked under first had gone to law school and returned before the 1st semester was over. He became a legendary manager. I did come back and pull a few shifts here and there for some time (mostly resetting stores in the district) and did work a bit for A&P during law school–but I saw few people over 45 successful in the grocery business without being broken down. If you are interested, I have a story about the day I decided to give notice.
Judy MyersOctober 12, 2020 at 6:49pm
looking for the name of a grocery store that was in Blue Springs, Mo. It was in the same building that Milgrams was in…this store ori
ginated out of Lees Summit Mo. Help ! I know I’m not losing my mind. Its not a commonly know store name., yet it was rather large.
TomApril 11, 2023 at 11:11pm
I am curious about the grocery stores that were in the Red Bridge shopping center, 11212 Holmes Road, in the 60’s…We grew up at 83rd and Campbell and our mom always shopped at Red Bridge. I remember they had a kind of play area we went to while she shopped that had an old fire truck, jeep, road grader and an asphalt stripper. My brother thinks it was a Milgram’s store and I thought it was a Safeway. Any help would be appreciated and Thanks.