Grocery spottings in and on the way to Michigan

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Andrew T.
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Grocery spottings in and on the way to Michigan

Post by Andrew T. » 03 Sep 2016 18:48

I spent a week's vacation in Michigan last month, and tried my best to take pictures of the more-interesting supermarket relics I saw along the way.
img_6435_S_1st_st_west_dundee_IL.jpg
S 1st St., West Dundee, IL. This was an early 1950s-era construct with a corner entrance, but I have no idea what it was originally. There was labelscar for three large square panels visible on the left side of the facade, but I don't know what it would have spelled unless it was I-G-A.
img_6550_2299_w_grand_river_ave_okemos_mi.jpg
img_6551_2299_w_grand_river_ave_okemos_mi.jpg
2299 W. Grand River Ave., Okemos, MI.. I spotted this great arch-roofed store from the Kohl's/Penn Fruit school of design on my way out of East Lansing, and it was easily the most dramatic of any I photographed that week. The roadway sign was also worth photographing, and it still had a picture of a shopping cart at the top.

According to the current tenant's website: "In 2002, Playmakers moved down the street to our present location at 2299 W. Grand River Ave., the site of the former Schmidt’s grocery store. The sign with the shopping cart lady on it is left over from the days when Schmidt’s was located here." So, there you go. I don't know much about Schmidt's, though. When did the chain go out of business, where else did it operate, and did the arch-roofed motif appear on other Schmidt's locations as well?
"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: Grocery spottings in and on the way to Michigan

Post by Andrew T. » 03 Sep 2016 19:04

img_6617_1410_e_michigan_ave_ypsilanti_mi.jpg
1410 E. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti, MI. This one has a street-flush alignment and corner entrance, like the supermarket in West Dundee (and many others). It also has a much larger footprint, a canopy, and a massive sign. Late 1950s? Kroger, maybe? Nothing more than a stab in the dark, though.
img_6622_36111_e_michigan_ave_wayne_mi.jpg
36111 E. Michigan Ave., Wayne, MI.. And speaking of Kroger, here's a superstore that appeared as though it had only recently closed: The Kroger logo was still visible on the vestibule wall, and I can find references to this location being open as late as 2015. What a shame.

It seems kind of weird that they would cover over the arches with siding, while leaving the "Delicatessen-Bakery" sign intact. It's even weirder that the "Delicatessen-Bakery" sign is still up now that the store is closed, half of the parking lot is covered by concrete obstructions, and a garage door has been carved into the front facade for use by an adjacent industrial tenant.
img_6670_54_w_michigan_ave_galesburg_mi.jpg
64 W. Michigan Ave., Galesburg, MI. This quaint shingled store is in southwest Michigan, and is a survivor. Harding's is a small chain of 27 stores, and they may be the original tenant as far as I know.
"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: Grocery spottings in and on the way to Michigan

Post by Andrew T. » 03 Sep 2016 19:25

img_6673_326_e_main_st_benton_harbor_mi_natl.jpg
326 E. Main St., Benton Harbor, MI. Massive pylon on this one. Searching online for the address brought up references from mid-1950s newspapers to a National at this address, so I guess that's one mystery solved. How long and how far into Michigan National operated, however, is still a question mark to me.
img_6646_3021_e_jackson_ave_jackson_mi.jpg
img_6652_3021_e_jackson_ave_jackson_mi.jpg
3021 E. Jackson Ave., Jackson, MI. Finally I was both surprised and relieved to see that my personal favorite Kroger store, the superstore in Jackson, was still open! I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this was the only operational superstore with a perfectly-original exterior left in existence...so it was cause for a celebration, or at least a selfie.

The store is flanked by an operational Kmart and an intact neon Arby's "big hat" sign, making the retail corridor itself feel like a trip back in time.

I also encountered a number of centennial-style A&P stores on the trip, but there were so many of them that they deserve a thread of their own.
"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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Re: Grocery spottings in and on the way to Michigan

Post by rich » 03 Sep 2016 21:55

Benton Harbor definitely would have been a National--those stores were incorporated into the Chicago division, along with Kalamazoo and Niles when the Kalamazoo distribution center was closed and continued into the 1970s.

Dundee could easily have been a National (the brick was one they favored) but could even have been a Jewel (they often used glazed tile; the tile could have been removed) or even an A&P. Kroger had stores in the Chicago area but not a big footprint--although they were in Carpentersville during the 50s. The labelscar you see might not be the original, esp if it was superseded by something that lasted longer. The footprint looks late 40s, early 50s and probably superceded by something larger as the area developed.

Ypsilanti is most likely a Kroger, but could have been a National. Kroger usually didn't have interior lit signs (neon letters on a backdrop was the norm), National occasionally did--they were in the Detroit area from '52-'66 after buying the CF Smith chain and some others, which gave them a large footprint across much of lower Michigan.

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Re: Grocery spottings in and on the way to Michigan

Post by Andrew T. » 04 Sep 2016 16:03

rich wrote:Ypsilanti is most likely a Kroger, but could have been a National. Kroger usually didn't have interior lit signs (neon letters on a backdrop was the norm), National occasionally did--they were in the Detroit area from '52-'66 after buying the CF Smith chain and some others, which gave them a large footprint across much of lower Michigan.
Yes to Ypsilanti being a Kroger! I did a little digging, and found that this address is one of a few dozen listed on this 1958 newspaper page. (I don't have a Newspapers.com account, but you can see the plain-text content in the page source.)

I've seen large, horizontal signs like these perched over the entrances of a number of Kroger stores from the late 1950s era; though they were hardly a universal feature. The light brick also gave me "1950s Kroger" vibes. It's a good thing the building has been so minimally modified; it seems that Value World and other post-grocery tenants didn't do much other than throw up some paint and change the signs.

This leaves the West Dundee, Illinois store in the first post as the only enigma of the bunch. Searching for information about the site would be tricky, since I don't know the exact address.
"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: Grocery spottings in and on the way to Michigan

Post by Groceteria » 06 Sep 2016 09:05

West Dundee was an A&P as of 1960.

Nice stuff BTW!

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Re: Grocery spottings in and on the way to Michigan

Post by Andrew T. » 06 Sep 2016 11:27

Groceteria wrote:West Dundee was an A&P as of 1960.

Nice stuff BTW!
Ooh, thanks! I'll have to dig through my road trip files to see what other stores I've photographed in the last few years.

As for West Dundee, I'm a little surprised it was an A&P. I usually associate A&P stores of the 1940s and 1950s with central entrances, not corner entrances; though this could have been an exception to the rule.

With a little sniffing, I found an assessment record for the site that confirmed the exact address (118 S. 1st St) and an identity for the three-panel labelscar (the building until recently housed an ACE hardware store). It didn't contain a build date, but it did list a sale date of 1973: Perhaps A&P closed up shop then?
"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: Grocery spottings in and on the way to Michigan

Post by Groceteria » 06 Sep 2016 12:38

Andrew T. wrote:With a little sniffing, I found an assessment record for the site that confirmed the exact address (118 S. 1st St) and an identity for the three-panel labelscar (the building until recently housed an ACE hardware store). It didn't contain a build date, but it did list a sale date of 1973: Perhaps A&P closed up shop then?
That would make sense as 1973 marked their first major round of store closings that took out a number of the older "downtown" stores. A bigger round in 1975 finished off most of the rest.

I can do more address checking than usual right now as I've sprung for a (very brief because I don't really like them as a company) Ancestry.com account so I can grab as much city directory info as possible. That's generated some of the new location lists I've been posting lately. But there's a LOT of random stuff missing from their database (like second reels of directories that were too big for one reel of microfilm, etc.).

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Re: Grocery spottings in and on the way to Michigan

Post by TenPoundHammer » 30 Aug 2017 17:21

Andrew T. wrote:According to the current tenant's website: "In 2002, Playmakers moved down the street to our present location at 2299 W. Grand River Ave., the site of the former Schmidt’s grocery store. The sign with the shopping cart lady on it is left over from the days when Schmidt’s was located here." So, there you go. I don't know much about Schmidt's, though. When did the chain go out of business, where else did it operate, and did the arch-roofed motif appear on other Schmidt's locations as well?
Schmidt's was a local store. I believe this was their only location for a long time, although they had a couple predecessor stores.

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