New location lists: Eau Claire and La Crosse WI

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Andrew T.
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Re: New location lists: Eau Claire and La Crosse WI

Post by Andrew T. » 28 May 2018 16:20

And the map continues to fill in! Wisconsin (and other upper midwest states) were historically strong hotbeds of independent grocers, so the chain lists for La Crosse and Eau Claire are probably shorter than average for cities of their size.

In La Crosse, the 1950s Kroger at 2600 Slate Road survives in spite of some gingerbreading on the facade. It stands next door to a modern Festival Foods store, and the size differential between the two structures really drives home how supermarkets have exploded over the last six decades:
lacrosse.jpg
A 1950s Piggly Wiggly at 66 Copeland Avenue survives in completely original condition.

124 6th St N (a National in the 1940s) is very eye-catching, although it doesn't look much like a supermarket. On Street View, the facade bears faint labelscar from a different (presumably non-grocery) tenant.

Eau Claire sports a decently-intact 1950s Red Owl at 1417 South Hastings Way, though the original protruding sign and canopy appear to have recently been removed from the structure. Many Red Owls were independent franchises, however, so they didn't have chainwide-consistent designs.

Oh, and another thing: I'm interested to see that National persisted in the Eau Claire listings through 1960 and beyond. National disappeared from the Manitowoc directories by 1950, so this indicates they spent mid-century paring back their presence in northern markets without withdrawing from them completely.
"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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Andrew T.
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Re: New location lists: Eau Claire and La Crosse WI

Post by Andrew T. » 30 Apr 2019 20:26

Ooh, some new data to sift through! Wisconsin's reputation as a hotbed of independent grocers continues to hold true here, since La Crosse's nigh entire history from the 1960s to the 1990s amounts to IGAs, IGAs, and more IGAs. In fact, the only "real" chain stores that popped up in La Crosse between 1959 and 1996 were a solitary A&P (now evidently demolished), a solitary Kmart Foods (now standing abandoned), and a solitary Cub Foods store (now standing repurposed).

Looks like I was mistaken about the 1950s Kroger upthread: The actual address was 2500, not 2600, and the Festival was built on the same spot. Oh well...

Eau Claire's post-1950s history is a little less IGA-heavy, but still largely devoid of big chains. The Red & White/Foodland at 1807 Brackett Ave in Eau Claire has some eye-appeal, with a structural pylon over the entrance. Eau Claire also has a remuddled A&P Centennial on 10 W Madison St., now housing a Family Video store. This is actually the first A&P Centennial I've confirmed in Wisconsin north of Milwaukee: All the cities in the northeast portion of the state (Green Bay, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, etc.) seem bizarrely devoid of the buildings.
"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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