Gary, Indiana chain grocery/supermarket locations

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Andrew T.
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Gary, Indiana chain grocery/supermarket locations

Post by Andrew T. » 18 Aug 2018 23:39

Thought I was done with Indiana? Not quite.

Gary, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-1960

This city was interesting to research...as well as depressing. I took the liberty of adding a "disposition" column, and the statistics are staggering: 71% of the locations listed in this table have been demolished, and still more have been abandoned or left to ruin. Of course, none of that shows in the rest of the table itself: The population of Gary peaked in 1960, and the last column is a snapshot of the city as it existed before decades of economic free-fall and white flight.

It'd be fascinating to extend the chronology further, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to: The main branch of the Gary Public Library was closed for six of the last seven years.
"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: Gary, Indiana chain grocery/supermarket locations

Post by Andrew T. » 19 Aug 2018 00:05

Notes and highlights:

* As with Chicago and Waukeagn, Kroger expanded to Gary through the purchase of the Chicagoland Consumers chain. Confusingly however, there were actually two "Consumers" chains operating in the early 1930s: Consumers Sanitary Coffee & Butter (the one bought by Kroger, and the one listed as "Consumers" in the table), and an unrelated Consumers Packing chain that disappeared almost as soon as it appeared.

* Kroger evidently took its time with naming transitions! The 1935 directory listed concurrent "Consumers" and "Kroger-Consumers" stores, and the 1941 and 1945 directories had listings under both "Kroger-Consumers" and "Kroger."

* Oddly, National stores are completely absent from the 1935 directory even though the chain had a Gary presence in both 1930 and 1941. National lasted a while after that, though the last column may have captured the chain in a state of local implosion (their store count decreased from 5 in 1955 to 1 in 1960).

* I'd be curious when A&P and Kroger last operated in Gary, and whether their departures came in advance of exits from other nearby markets.

* The Lake Street addresses in the Miller Beach neighbourhood are the only ones in the entire city with a decent survival and occupation rate today.

* My 1960 directory material was incomplete, so 1958 Kroger and 1959 Tittle listings were used in that column instead.
"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: Gary, Indiana chain grocery/supermarket locations

Post by rich » 19 Aug 2018 20:08

Miller Beach was the most affluent part of Gary and remains much more prosperous than the rest of the city. Glen Park was the part of the city that resembled a mid-century suburb and had a concentration of chain supers into the 70s.

I have some familiarity with this area beyond your timeline--independents came to dominate it for a long time. Jewel had a scattering of stores and probably entered the area in the 50s--they had a long running ceramic tile front orange and white storefront from the 50s in Hobart Indiana for many years. National continued to have stores in Gary until their end in Greater Chicago, with a store in Tri-City Plaza on the W end of Gary and another just beyond the city limits. They also had stores in Hammond, like the one at Woodmar that dated from the mid-50s. National also maintained small, but durable presence in South Bend and Mishawaka, as well as Michigan City. More notable were independents like Thriftimart.

Indiana is an odd state--you always know when you've left it in any direction and you rarely see Indiana tags in places closeby like the Chicago suburbs (let alone Chicago which even academic types in Bloomington viewed as a little sinister), Dayton, Cincinnati or Louisville. Other than Carson, Pirie Scott, which had stores in Hammond & Michigan City, Chicago chains either stayed out or did poorly. Goldblatt's the blue collar, low end discount chain also had some staying power. Wieboldt's a slightly more upscale chain never bothered, neither did Marshall Field's, although Indy's LS Ayres did have a store in in NW Indiana. National kept the Standard name in most of Indiana. Jewel used the Eisner name when they tried unsuccessfully to enter Indianapolis. Basically, Indiana is notable for its Hoosier-ness.

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