Oakland Tribune, 1 November 1938

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.

So please dive in and enjoy!

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SeveralĀ new location lists since the last update:

I’m going to take a little break from the location lists now and try to work on photos for a bit, but there’s more coming. Location lists for San Diego and Denver are next on the list!

(I don’t have a credit on the photo above. Let me know if you do!)

 

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Just a check-in to remind you that yer humble host is still alive and well, and will be graduating with his shiny new master’s degree in just a couple of weeks. I’ve also taken a full-time job as a digital project manager at a large state university library. The combined forces of a new job and my last semester in school have taken their toll on the site, I know, but I’m hoping to get the momentum back soon. Currently in progress: my revised history of Safeway (still), new photo galleries for most of the site, and my history of chain supermarkets in Pittsburgh. I also have articles on the way from other contributors (more soon).

In the meantime, enjoy the magazine photo above, of the Millbrae CA Safeway in 1963. It has nothing to do with this post, but it sure is pretty…

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From Heather David at SV Modern comes this sketch by architect John Bolles for a proposed Safeway at the Cupertino Crossroads Shopping Center northwest of San Jose. The store was mentioned in the June 1960 issue of Chain Store Age. The photo below is of the store as built, from a shopping center guide published by the San Jose Mercury News. I’d love to have seen this one.

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Dominick’s, 3333 Central Street, Evanston IL. From Progressive Grocer’s Outstanding New Super Markets, 1969.

This groovy Dominick’s (just look at that streetlight) was featured as one of Progressive Grocer’s best new supermarkets of 1969 in a great book I found at the UNC library last week. I’ll be adding lots more stuff from this book (as well as interior photos from this store) soon. For those who care about such things, this location is now a CVS Pharmacy, and Google’s Street View gives a pretty good current photo from almost the same angle, with a little manipulation:

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The book also features interiors and exteriors from the Century City Mayfair Market in Los Angeles, the Glendale CA Crawford’s Market, a Loray store in San Leandro CA, a Fazio’s in Ohio, a Straub’s in St. Louis, and a Lund’s in Minnesota, among others. More to come.

I also came across Shopping at Giant Foods: Chinese American Supermarkets in Northern California, which gives a great history of chains in the Sacramento and Stockton areas, including Farmers, Centromart, Jumbo, and more. I’ll be adding some of that information to the appropriate sections soon as well.

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It’s officially all over for the Alma Plaza Lucky now, I suppose. It was scheduled to close on Thursday, and I made it by for a few final photos last Sunday. I’m definitely sorry to see this one go.

I’ve been busily organizing all my assorted newspaper and magazine articles into a Filemaker database lately, which means I haven’t really been working on the site very much. But it should make later updates (and the long-pondered book) much easier.

In addition, I’ve been trying to get all the Northern California photos I can before leaving the Golden State forever at the beginning of June. Suggestions are welcome, as are pointers to things I should see on the road back east. Our stops are tentatively planned for Palm Springs, Phoenix, Austin, Houston, and New Orleans. We may also take breaks in El Paso, Atlanta, and/or Jacksonville before arriving in Groceteria’s new home of Charlotte NC.