'Rounded' Store Design

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h8wlmt
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'Rounded' Store Design

Post by h8wlmt » 03 Sep 2008 01:34

Lately in my travels I've seen a common store design, but I can't figure out who originally developed it. My guess would be Kroger, except I can't discern where it falls on their architectural time line. Kroger exited the St. Louis market in 1986, and Kroger was still building Greenhouses during this time, so it would have to be before then. It can't be Schnucks, Shop N' Save, or National because they didn't/don't reach Terre Haute, IN or Lancaster, OH. This website shows a Kroger with this design much more clearly. Any ideas?
kro3.JPG
Not an over head view, but you can clearly see the same entrance as the other two and the round corners.
schnucks.JPG
Hard to tell from the pic that it's a Schnucks, but it is. All four corners are rounded here.
schnucks.JPG (21.82 KiB) Viewed 6666 times
shopnsave.JPG
A St. Louis Area Shop N' Save with this design. Some type of foyer has been added to the front. Notice the square corners in the back.

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Andrew T.
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Re: 'Rounded' Store Design

Post by Andrew T. » 03 Sep 2008 02:57

Hi h8wlmt,

I think it's probably safe to say that this rounded-off design was Kroger's original prototype for Kroger Sav-On food/drug combinations; chronologically straddling the late Superstore and early Greenhouse eras. There's at least one of these stores in Charlotte (per the feature on this site) that was announced in June 1977; although the actual contruction probably occurred a little while after that.

I believe these stores may have functioned in part as a prototypical "test bed" for new features; much like Kroger's Family Centers, and a few late '60s/early '70s "proto-superstores" (such as Bluefield, WV) that combined a '60s plain exterior with a superstore-like interior size and layout. Obviously, many features of the early Sav-On stores (integrated pharmacy departments; white block exteriors; the whole rounded-off motif, albeit limited to the interior) were later rolled out on a larger scale in the Greenhouse era.

I kind of wonder what the original interior decor was like on these stores: Did they introduce the Greenhouse Bauhaus-font signs and trim before the Greenhouses did? The more rustic superstore interiors wouldn't have matched the design at all...
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Re: 'Rounded' Store Design

Post by wnetmacman » 03 Sep 2008 07:50

I saw a store similar to this in St. Louis in 1989 or so that had been purchased by National. If my memory serves me correctly, it had the greenhouse/bauhaus interior, with National signage. At the time, I had no idea who National was or what their significance was in the area. I just remembered seeing what seemed to be a Kroger with someone else's name on it.
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Re: 'Rounded' Store Design

Post by Groceteria » 03 Sep 2008 08:32

The first Kroger Sav-on stores in Charlotte (1979-1980) also had this design, and I'm pretty sure they too had the greenhouse interior with Bauhaus font for the wall signage.

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Re: 'Rounded' Store Design

Post by rich » 03 Sep 2008 11:31

National bought some Kroger's in St. Louis, so the St. Louis store origianlly may have been a Kroger.

BTW, National did have stores in Terre Haute until the 1980s under its Standard banner.

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Re: 'Rounded' Store Design

Post by jimbobga » 07 Sep 2008 21:01

This store definitely was a Kroger Sav-On. There were two of these stores built in Savannah. One, on Mall Boulevard across from Oglethorpe Mall, was exactly of this style. I remember when it opened in 1980, as I lived only two blocks from this store. The front of the store just seemed uncomfortable. There was no protection from the elements...you just walked up to the doors and went inside. About a year later, another store with the same rounded corners opened in McAlpin Square near Victory Drive and Skidaway Road on the east side of town. This store had a brick exterior, however, to fit in with the rest of the shopping center, and it did include a covered walkway along the front of the store.

Kroger had never been in the Savannah area prior to 1980, and the closest Kroger presence was Macon [or perhaps Augusta?]. The first store was built kind of mysteriously because up until the signs went up on the building, nobody had a clue what the building was going to be. For the most part, Savannahians weren't overly familiar with Kroger, and pretty much no one had heard of Sav-On Drugs, so everyone assumed that the place was just a discount grocery store due to the hyphenated name.

Both of these stores are still in operation, although I am not sure what the original store looks like now. On my next trip down, I'll give it a look.

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Re: 'Rounded' Store Design

Post by krogerclerk » 24 Jul 2011 12:49

The Mall Boulevard Kroger Sav-on in Savannah has proven to be a very successful and long-lived store. I have seen the store with the greenhouse bauhaus interior graphics, the mauve grid graphics and the millenium decor. I haven't been down to Savannah in a few years, but I believe it has received yet another remodel.

The entire Carlinas KMA store line up was designated Kroger Sav-on, with the exception of the Piedmont Triad and Triangle Krogers which were originally part of the Mid-Atlantic(Roanoke) division and reverted to Mid-Atlantic with the divesture of the Carolinas division. Virtually all the Carolinas KMA stores were either this style or greenhouse style with the exception of the Triad and Triangle where superstore and older prototypes could be found. For the rest of Kroger, the Sav-on designation was scattered to the Toledo, OH, Fort Wayne, IN , and Illinois side of St. Louis metro. The use of Kroger Sav-on in Illinois may have been a response to the Schnucks Walgreens combos built during the 1970's.

The expansion to Savannah probably represents the last truly successful expansion of Kroger via new entry, but it too was augmented by the M&M supermarket acquisition. Otherwise Columbia, SC and Myrtle Beach, SC represent the last vestiges of the Carolinas expansion. Only 2 original Kroger Sav-ons operate in each of the later, as the remaining stores were later builds, and designated only as Kroger. None of Columbia's 2 original Sav-on locations are still open with Bush River Mall long closed and since razed and the former Decker Mall not being far from repurposed as government offices.

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Re: 'Rounded' Store Design

Post by rich » 24 Aug 2011 10:35

They only had one Kroger-SavOn in Toledo that I recall and it was a 1st or 2nd generation greenhouse--now substantially altered. It replaced a former Big Bear in the Colony area and a 1950s store at Westgate. I don't recall Kroger having any SuperX stores in Toledo---they built few new super markets stores there during the SuperX heyday and developers would have wanted a Lane or possibly a Revco. Lane Drug all but monopolized the market, with a small number of Revco and Gray Drugs rounding out the field. It would have been a good place for Kroger to try out a combo store with a new banner. At the same time, Kroger was opening stores (sometimes w/o pharmacies), co-located with Lane's.

In St Louis, Kroger owned the local Gasen chain, so the switch to Sav-On would have been an odder step, but perhaps they felt the need to have a separate drug store brand for combo stores much like National and Kare Drug.

I've seen the rounded stores w/o the Sav-On designation. The design (with no canopies and concrete modules) and the greenhouse interior were probably cost savings steps in an era of very high inflation. The original superstores had fairly elegant interiors.

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