Krambo/Kroger, 1100 S 30th St, Manitowoc, WI

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Andrew T.
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Krambo/Kroger, 1100 S 30th St, Manitowoc, WI

Post by Andrew T. » 07 Sep 2009 01:45

I'm a bit late sharing this here (these pictures are over three months ago by this point), but better late than never. Given that Kroger hasn't operated in Wisconsin for the better part of forty years, I was a bit skeptical that I'd find any good artifacts of the chain's operations here. I needn't have worried, since a late 1950s Kroger store was right under my nose:

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This shopping center store actually opened around 1958 as a Krambo supermarket. At risk of reiterating prior threads, Krambo was a regional Wisconsin grocery chain of 25 stores that had been purchased by Kroger in 1955. By the point when this store opened, the Krambo supermarkets were essentially Krogers in all but name.

Kroger eventually rebranded this store (and all the Krambo stores) under their own name in the mid 1960s. Kroger remained in Manitowoc until 1971, when they withdrew from the area to concentrate their resources on other markets (and the impending superstore rollout) instead.

The remaining history is rather complicated, and it took a comb-through of every city directory I could find until I felt I had the facts straight. When Kroger closed, it seems that the space was actually reoccupied by A&P, who moved to this slightly newer shopping center location from their ancient prewar storefront downtown (and here's a historical photo of that!). A&P stayed in place until around 1979, when the fast-collapsing chain followed Kroger in pulling out of the area.

The store's third lease on life (or fourth, going by banners) was as a Sentry supermarket; another regional chain. Sentry moved to a larger store located in an outlot of the center in about 1992; now a Hobby Lobby store.

The space was soon occupied by yet another tenant; this time Big Lots, which lasted from the early 1990s until just a few years ago. The store is currently vacant, awaiting yet another inevitable purpose to go down in its history.

Although late 1950s Kroger stores weren't exactly distinctive in the Superstore or Greenhouse sense (in which you can identify them with your eyes closed), there are a few notable features on this one. The first is the gigantic, rectangular sign protruding from the store roof and canopy: I can easily imagine "KRAMBO" or "KROGER" written out in large letters on each side.

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Another feature is this stonework facing by the entrance; similar to the treatment on the Kroger store in Clarksburg, WV (which probably dates to the same era) that our host featured on the front page a little while ago.

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Here's a through-the-glass interior shot. Interestingly, the ceiling is finished off in stick-on acoustic tile; punctuated by giant ventilators. I have no idea if the floor tile is original to Krambo/Kroger or was added by one of the many later occupants, but it looks old enough to me!

Just to round off the set, here's another picture of the doors; and a scan of an Kroger ad in the local paper from 1971. Enjoy!
"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."
Andrew Turnbull

rich
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Re: Krambo/Kroger, 1100 S 30th St, Manitowoc, WI

Post by rich » 07 Sep 2009 19:54

The sign would be a give away, although Kroger used this only infrequently. A bigger tipoff is the rusticated brick (faux stone). This material commonly was used around entrances to apartments and stores from the mid-50s into the early 60s, to dress-up bland modern brick fronts. Kroger, in particular, used this often, though not consistently. Sometimes it was used at an entrance. Sometimes it covered a space between the picture windows and the end of the store space.

People sometimes used this material on homes, as well. You can still find frame or brick 1950s bungalows in the Midwest that have this as an accent on their fronts.

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Re: Krambo/Kroger, 1100 S 30th St, Manitowoc, WI

Post by Andrew T. » 12 Nov 2009 22:41

Thanks once again to the magic of microfilm, I found some pictures and information from when the store opened on February 5, 1959 (not 1958); as part of an early ten-store shopping center also anchored by Woolworth and W.T. Grant. Lest there was any doubt this was a Kroger in all but name, some descriptions refer to it as a "Krambo-Kroger," and the location was selling Kroger brand items from day one:

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"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."
Andrew Turnbull

rich
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Re: Krambo/Kroger, 1100 S 30th St, Manitowoc, WI

Post by rich » 12 Nov 2009 23:54

I have a few of those glasses featured in the ad. they were a legacy of my parents' house.

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Re: Krambo/Kroger, 1100 S 30th St, Manitowoc, WI

Post by Andrew T. » 13 Nov 2009 00:35

Heh; I suppose they get around!
"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."
Andrew Turnbull

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