Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

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Andrew T.
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Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

Post by Andrew T. » 19 Jun 2008 13:25

I've been planning on moving to Wisconsin later this summer. As such, it goes without question that I've been thinking a bit about the grocery history of the state.

I'm aware that Kroger once had operations in Wisconsin: There's a great 1930s picture of a prewar Madison storefront on this site. Some questions, however: In what parts of the state did they operate? When did they pull out? And, what is the newest store prototype I should be looking for while I'm there?
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Re: Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

Post by rich » 19 Jun 2008 16:30

Kroger's northernmost expansion was to the Twin Cities around 1960 and that was the end of their regional expansion until the merger with Dillion's in the 80s. They never had more than a few stores there and those closed in the early/mid-70s. My understanding is that they had stores in the smaller cities between the Illinois line and Minnesota--places like Lacrosse, Janesville, etc,. Some of those probably went when they exited Chicago in 1970, while others may have lasted as long as the Twin Cities stores. I don't think they had stores in Milwaukee. Kroger often bought out Piggkly-Wiggly licensees during the 30s and some of their early expansion reflected the territories of those chains.

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Re: Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

Post by Andrew T. » 04 Feb 2009 01:23

Replying to krogerclerk in the West Virginia thread...
krogerclerk wrote:Now that you're in Wisconsin, it's time to sleuth for old Kroger locations, not exactly sure of the date Kroger exited Wisconsin, but I would guess close to the 1971-72 time frame for Chicago's divesture, so no superstore or greenhouse prototypes would exist.
Kroger's earliest expansion was based out of Madison and in the late 1950's acquired Krambo, the family still operates a financial placement business for retail debt and equity, primarily food and general merchandise retailers. The Krambo purchase placed Kroger in Milwaukee, Appleton-Oshkosh, Green Bay and other areas of the densely populated Lake Michigan shore.
Kroger's presence in Wisconsin did indeed encroach beyond Madison and the southern part of the state; thanks in large part to the Krambo acqusition in 1955. Scouting out old Kroger locations is definitely a doable proposition; although thanks to the passage of time and the lack of any prototypes from the easily-recognizable superstore or greenhouse eras, it wouldn't be easy.

I'm gradually becoming acquainted with the grocery history of my new surroundings. Here in Manitowoc, there is a '60s supermarket building on South 30th street that I'm 90% sure was a Kroger at one point in time; replacing an older downtown store on North 8th street inherited from Krambo. (There was an interesting post on Pleasant Family Shopping a little while ago that went into depth on the specifics of that acquisition.) I don't yet have a photo on hand (and to be fair, it is a rather generic-looking store), but I will get around to it eventually.

In terms of imagery, there are a handful of historical Kroger store images (albeit mostly from around Madison) searchable on the Wisconsin Historical Society website. I also seem to remember stumbling across a picture of a Kroger in Green Bay somewhere in cyberspace once, but I can't seem to recall the link...

1971-72 does sound about right for a pull-out/divesture in Wisconsin: Judging from a cursory browse-through of city directories, the local Kroger became a Sentry around that time. Kroger's presence in Wisconsin is so far removed from the present day that I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people here have no association with or recollection of the chain at all: I know that even I got a jolt when looking through local newspaper microfilms from 1967 and coming across an advertisement with a big Kroger oval at the top!

It would be ironic if Kroger eventually re-entered the Wisconsin market through acquisition...evidently, there were some rumors circulating of them buying Roundy's of Milwaukee not so long ago...but I don't see that happening in the immediate future.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: Table of operational Kroger stores in West Virginia

Post by rich » 05 Feb 2009 15:02

Kroger lasted in the Twin Cities until well after they left Chicago--late 70s or early 80s, even though they had rather few stores. They were in places like Lacrosse, which would have been serviced from the Twin Cities well into the late 70s.

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Re: Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

Post by JJSPC » 25 Jan 2010 18:55

There were quite a few Kroger stores in the Milwaukee area before they pulled out of the market.

The locations I can remember are:

9000 W. Becher St.

76th and Oklahoma Av. in the River Bend shopping center.

6015 W. Forest Home Av. in the Old Grove shopping center.

Broad St. in Greendale.

3333 S. 27th St. in the Southgate shopping center. (No longer standing)

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Re: Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

Post by krogerclerk » 25 Jan 2010 21:04

It was something of a jolt to see the Kroger font and oval adapted to Krambo, check out this scan of an old newspaper ad from Andrew's Flickr photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrew-tur ... otostream/

From former Wisconsinites that I have encountered the memories of Kroger are hazy given the chain pulled out almost 40 years ago, and many former residents seem to have blurred their memories of Krambo, Kroger and Kohl's over time.

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Re: Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

Post by Andrew T. » 26 Jan 2010 00:36

JJSPC wrote:There were quite a few Kroger stores in the Milwaukee area before they pulled out of the market.
Thanks JJSPC! Out of curiosity I scouted out some of the addresses with online imagery, and it looks like the Becher Street location is a great example of a late 1950s era store. The River Bend location still has remnants of its giant perpendicular Kroger sign, like the Manitowoc store. Now, if I could only find one of these...

There's an ex-Kroger in Neenah I've been meaning to photograph, as well as a fantastic Krambo in Green Bay (open by 1951, so it predates Kroger's acquisition) with a triangular art deco-styled pylon over the corner entry. It's a fun challenge exhuming the artifacts of Krambo, Kroger, Kohl's Food Stores, and A&P in Wisconsin.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

Post by JJSPC » 26 Jan 2010 19:48

I wish I had an old Milwaukee yellow pages so I could remember all of the store addresses. I want to say there were about ten or so Krogers in Milwaukee.
The Becher street location had a tall red tower above the entry way, which has now been shortened and had individual Kroger block lettering in white from top to bottom on it. I imagine the "red" came from the Krambo days, but I don't remember that era. Anyway, that was the only identification on the property, as there was not a road sign there. After Kroger left, an independent grocer who had been in a smaller buliding a few blocks down Becher street moved into the space, and later it was an independent Red Owl for a time in the mid 1980's.

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Re: Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

Post by Andrew T. » 12 Feb 2010 17:21

I was in Milwaukee yesterday, so I took the opportunity to get a few pictures in. Here's Becher Street:

Image

Image

This was an interesting store. The street face appeared to be finished off in porcelain enamel tile; a bit unusual for a Kroger, though by no means unheard of for the chain. The entrance canopy took on a bit of a futuristic motif, with forward-slanted poles holding it up from one side. It also has the smokestack in the rear that a lot of old Kroger stores seem to have.

I doubt it ever did time as a Krambo: As far as I know, that name was used in Fond du Lac and places further north only.

Aside from the missing tower and the garage door carved into the side, the exterior is well-preserved.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

Post by JJSPC » 13 Feb 2010 19:17

There actually were Krambo stores in Milwaukee. I know for sure the south 27th st. and the 76th and Oklahoma Av. locations were Krambo, because when the Kroger signage came down, you could see the outline of the where the Krambo lettering was underneath. Cool pictures of Becher St. by the way.

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Re: Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

Post by Andrew T. » 21 Feb 2010 14:59

JJSPC wrote:There actually were Krambo stores in Milwaukee. I know for sure the south 27th st. and the 76th and Oklahoma Av. locations were Krambo, because when the Kroger signage came down, you could see the outline of the where the Krambo lettering was underneath. Cool pictures of Becher St. by the way.
Thanks. It's a little confusing when precisely Krambo ended and Kroger began (geographically and chronologically) and I'm always learning new things, but you're right about Milwaukee. Here's an ad from 1951 touting the Krambo locations that were in the city at the time.

Here's a couple pictures of the old Krambo store in Green Bay, which has fantastic art deco fluorishes. (It predates Krambo's acqusition by Kroger; though it survived long enough to at least serve time as a Kroger-owned Krambo store.)

Image

Image
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: Kroger stores in Wisconsin?

Post by pseudo3d » 25 Sep 2012 08:42

I know that Mayfair Mall had a Krambo Foods...was it originally a Kroger?

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