Springfield, MO chain supermarket history, 1925-59

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Andrew T.
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Springfield, MO chain supermarket history, 1925-59

Post by Andrew T. » 28 Jun 2018 18:34

Yet another location spreadsheet for David.

Why Springfield, Missouri? I never lived there, but I've visited the city enough times that it feels intuitively familiar. The Skepticon skeptics' conference was held in Springfield for many years (the conference is allegedly moving to St. Louis in 2018), and it was always a stopping point along the way to places further south and west. I'd been mystified by Springfield's chain history before, so I was eager to learn more and cast it into focus at last. Some interesting notes and take-aways:

* Springfield is one of the few places that A&P, Kroger, and Safeway all competed with each other...however briefly or halfheartedly they did!

* A&P had a downright TOKEN presence, with a single store that opened by 1940 and closed by 1946. They must have re-entered the market in the 1960s (if the slightly-disguised Centennial store at 1615 S. Glenstone Ave. is any indication), but that attempt didn't take well, either.

* Springfield's leading chain of the 1930s and 1940s was a local outfit called Model Market, which expanded from 1 store in 1925 to at least 33 stores by 1946 (some of which were outside the Springfield area). And then...read on.

* Kroger's operational history is striking...and not in a good way. The Cincinnati giant entered Springfield with six stores in 1931, but success eluded them and they were down to one store a decade later. So what did Kroger do? They bought Model Market! And as soon as that happened, they entered a death spiral yet again...going from 8 stores in 1950 to 2 stores in 1955 to no stores in 1959. How can you buy a market leader and put them out of business in a decade? Kroger's touch in the Springfield market must have been the touch of death!

* Of the "big three" inter-regional grocers in Springfield, Safeway was the most successful. The "modern" non-marina at 1773 S. Glenstone Ave appears in the 1959 directory, so it was built by then:
Image

* Consumers Warehouse Markets was founded in Springfield in 1948. They undoubtedly benefited from Model Market's Kroger-induced implosion, they overtook Safeway in store count by 1959, and they were destined to dominate the market for decades afterward. Unfortunately the chain was sold to Fleming in 1990, which probably sealed its demise. (Being linked to Fleming also doomed Sentry, another regional midwest chain.)

So there you go...
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Re: Springfield, MO chain supermarket history, 1925-59

Post by Andrew T. » 30 Jun 2018 12:52

The single biggest disappointment of Springfield is 707 S. Campbell Avenue. This store was a perfectly-preserved 1940s Safeway that was still selling groceries as an independent market until 2016!
springfielddisappointment.jpg
Unfortunately, I had no idea that this store existed during any of my 2010-16 Springfield trips, so I never visited or photographed it. And now, it's too late: The site is an empty field. :(
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Re: Springfield, MO chain supermarket history, 1925-59

Post by Groceteria » 04 Aug 2018 12:17

This llst has been added to the site with a map:

https://t.co/WQCm3xO0wI

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