Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

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Sitcomkid

Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by Sitcomkid » 02 Apr 2008 19:03

I apologize for not knowing what the official term is to call them, but does anybody know what I’m talking about? I know they had them in a variety of chains, but I only saw them in the 1970s. They would bag your groceries in paper (as god and nature intended!) and then they would put the groceries in the plastic black box with no lid. The box was on a track that ran along the front window. Your groceries would then travel along a roller-coaster which headed along the front window, toward the door, around the bend heading outside of the store against the front window. There was some kind of numbering system (I was pretty little, we used to go with my mom) that would tell the employees out front which groceries went with which customer. You take a ticket or something. I’m not sure. All I know is that my sister and I would spend all the time at the grocery store standing there watching that roller-coaster thing. We were enthralled with it! I would love to see a picture of that, or if you tube has a video, even better, but I don’t know what it’s called so I don’t know how to search for it. Any help?

TW-Upstate NY
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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by TW-Upstate NY » 02 Apr 2008 20:05

I've only seen that in action in one store in my lifetime. It was at a Loblaws in Johnstown, NY which opened in 1972. Basically it was a pretty simple conveyor system located in back of the checkouts. They had hard plastic green bins which were numbered. Your order would be bagged as normal and the bags would be placed in one of those bins. The bin would go on the rollers and would make its way outside through a small opening in the store's front windows. The checker would give you a number tag with a corresponding number and as you said that's how you would match it up to get your groceries outside. The system didn't last that long because the store didn't last that long as Loblaws pulled out of the market I'm going to say around 1976? or so. The store became a Price Chopper (Golub Corp) very shortly afterwards and retained the original facade until a major remodel a year or two back. One of the windows was elongated which was where the conveyor went to the outside. It apparently was cheaper to put glass in than block it up. Today, that's completely gone and you wouldn't recognize the place.

wnetmacman
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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by wnetmacman » 02 Apr 2008 21:30

It was also not unusual to see those at the back of the store as well. When I worked for Winn-Dixie in 1990, the Texas division was not yet delivering palletized shipments to the stores, so we had to throw the boxes out of the truck onto a set of rollers. That was a lot of work.
Scott Greer

rich
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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by rich » 02 Apr 2008 22:07

I'm surprised Loblaw had the conveyor system in '72. Parcel pick-up was rapidly disappearing around then. The more common system was for you to get a number which corresponded to a number placed in a holder in the front of the cart. The carts either went into a holding area inside the store or along the front, where the bags would be loaded into your car. Probably a victim of 1970s inflation and related cost cutting. A few upscale chains kept up the practice beyond then. Publix will help you take your groceries to your car, but they don't seem to make mention of this being available in their newer markets.

TW-Upstate NY
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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by TW-Upstate NY » 03 Apr 2008 19:38

Yes, that was the only Loblaws and only store I ever saw this system at. And the more I think about it, they opened a new store in Amsterdam, NY (maybe 10+ miles or so from Johnstown) earlier in '72 and that one didn't have it and maybe around '74 or '75 they built a replacement store in Gloversville which also did not have the system which would make this store system rather unique.

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tesg
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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by tesg » 04 Apr 2008 07:40

The odd thing is I remember the conveyor roller system in several supermarkets, but I can't name a specific example to save my life.

Typically, they rolled on a downward slope the length of the check stand row. Clerks would put the tubs on the belt, give them a good shove, and let gravity do the rest. They would roll to the end, circle though a plastic "door" (clear vinyl strips, usually), and come out the other end...outside...at the courtesy pickup.

The metal rollers made a glorious noise that went on constantly in busier supermarkets.

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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by maynesG » 04 Apr 2008 09:37

hi, Parcel Pickup, Finast had one in their Ridgewood Nj unit ( now a Kings). People actualy didn!t like them and found it a pain, having to wait on a second line to retreve their groceries.
Some felt it an added expense to tip the ancient clerk to place the groceries in thier car
It did resemble a gas line on a busy Saturday afternoon with twenty or so cars in line.
Finast did not have nigth crews at this time and were not open on Sundays. Various kids,
thieves and others would peel the steel door that was used to close the oppening on the pickup and go in and help them selves.
Finaly the energy crisis and the fact that people just weren!t wild about the thing did it in.

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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by GothicPrincess » 05 Apr 2008 07:49

Ok, Greensburg, PA, I found out that Davis Center on E. Pittsburgh St. was at one time a Davis Foods grocery, owned by old Mr. Davis. (no clue) My best friend actually worked there in 1990, and Davis had the parcel pickup. My friend was a sacker there and his ex-wife was a checker. Unsure the rest, when it closed up and became everything it is now, DMV, dollar store run by an old chinese lady, Sea Base (Like Chuck E. Cheese), and other things. Finding out about all this stuff now that I lived here in PA for like 9 years lol Thanks!!!
Jaime...Bradlees Forever!!!

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Star Market - Porter Square

Post by OCRedCub » 06 Apr 2008 17:06

I remember seeing this system in the early 1990s at the Star Market in Porter Square on the Cambridge/Somerville line during my college days in MA.
I'm pretty sure the tubs were numbered and you went to your car with a large corresponding placard, then pulled into line to have your groceries loaded for you. Since I had no car and lived in a tiny dorm with a kitchenette, I only bought a bag or two at a time, so never availed myself of this service.
But there were occasional mixups. A neighbor once hosted a memorable dinner party after getting another customer's bags by mistake. Pot roast and a roasted chicken were a great change from our diet of ramen and pizza.
I *think* this location was totally remodeled when it became a Shaw's.

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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by dominion301 » 08 Apr 2008 11:47

The parcel pickup (also known as car order or in Quebec 'Commande à l'auto'), only began to disappear in Ontario & Quebec en-masse in the mid-1990s. There are still a few old stores that have them. 1 Loblaws here in Ottawa still has parcel pickup and 1 other ex-Loblaws, shown in this pic: http://www.flickr.com/photos/78111739@N00/2324853349/ (it was just converted & renovated to Loblaw's sister banner Your Independent Grocer a few weeks ago) are the 2 remaining stores in Ottawa with parcel pickup - thankfully the store renovation means parcel pickup will still be around in at least 1 Ottawa location for years to come.

Here's a couple of photos of a Dominion in Mississauga, ON with parcel pickup where I managed to show the rollers/bins in great detail: http://www.flickr.com/photos/78111739@N ... 404409234/
and bins at the cash registers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/78111739@N ... 404409234/

I too as a kid was mesmerized at the parcel pickup conveyor system (actually, it's still fascinating to see, but so rare in our 'modern' self-serve do it for the lowest cost with no customer service world) and would love pushing the bins along the rollers a young boy.

My flickr pages also have photos of 2 A&P's still with parcel pickup and an IGA. Quebec is the probably the region where the most conveyor and/or roller parcel pickup systems still exist in North America. Quite a few stores around Montreal still have them. The bins are made by IPL Plastics. I managed to snag four 'souvenir' bins from the A&P I worked at when it closed down...they make great storage containers, lol.

Around Minneapolis, every store in the Byerly's chain has parcel pickup. In fact there's a photo on their website: http://www.lundsandbyerlys.com/sitecore ... 20jpg.ashx - Their bins looks more like produce crates, lol.

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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by tesg » 08 Apr 2008 20:13

Nice photos.

There were also versions with wheels similar (identical) to metal roller skates. There would be several in each row.

Those things made a ringing noise like a choir of bells. A train wreck of a choir, but...

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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by dominion301 » 06 Jun 2008 12:07

tesg wrote:Nice photos.

There were also versions with wheels similar (identical) to metal roller skates. There would be several in each row.

Those things made a ringing noise like a choir of bells. A train wreck of a choir, but...
Do you mean rollers like these: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrismrich ... 3/sizes/l/ ? These are a common sight at beer stores in Ontario. I love the sound they make when you order a heavy two-four case with the bottles clanging inside the box zooming along the rollers when they pop out the window from the back room.

I was in Montreal a month ago and saw 2 stores with parcel pickup. A Metro and an IGA. I went in the IGA. Given that it was late on a Sunday night, the parcel pickup wasn't in use. This store was also obvisouly an ex-Steinberg's store. I saw several buggies in the store that still had a 'Steinberg' licence plate on them. Just goes to show how long a buggy will last when it doesn't go beyond the store's entrance.

I've noticed most grocery stores in Australia offer a parcel pickup service, but I have no idea when system they use. Anyone know? I'll be visiting Australia in about 6 weeks time and will hopefully be able to find out.

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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by tesg » 07 Jun 2008 19:12

dominion301 wrote:Do you mean rollers like these: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrismrich ... 3/sizes/l/ ? These are a common sight at beer stores in Ontario. I love the sound they make when you order a heavy two-four case with the bottles clanging inside the box zooming along the rollers when they pop out the window from the back room.
EXACTLY!

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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by dominion301 » 29 Apr 2009 11:06

There's a small grocery chain in Ohio called Buehler's with about a dozen stores that offers 'Load and Go' parcel pickup service at every single one of its stores.

http://buehlers.com/ - In the internet age, parcel pickup allows this company to create a simple system for online shopping (they have it at 1 of their 13 stores so far). Order your groceries over the internet, pull up to the parcel pickup lane, the clerk loads your groceries, uses a wireliness debit/credit card machine to pay and you're on your way without ever entering the store.

This photo here clearly show that Buehler's uses the numbered bin/conveyor system: http://wp2.medina-gazette.com/2008/11/1 ... the-store/ . I wonder who makes these bins? They appear to be the same bins as at Jerry's Supermarket on Sanibel Island in Florida...I've been to that store. Bins made by Quebec-based IPL Plastics are the norm for parcel pickup in Canada.

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Re: Those little roller-coaster things groceries traveled on

Post by MassMan » 02 May 2009 11:07

Someone mentioned the Star Market at Porter Square in Cambridge, MA. That store WAS remodeled a couple of years ago but I don't know if they have a conveyor system.

One store that may still have one is the Shaw's (now Star Market) on Commonwealth Ave in Allston, MA (Boston). Let me first say that this store remodeled last year and I haven't been in there since then so I don't know if they still have the conveyor system. But they did have one that ran along the front of the registers, down underneath and through the building, and out to a pickup area. There is a U-shaped 'driveway' underneath the building into which you drive your vehicle to pick up your groceries. The back end of the store is one level above the street although the front end of the store is at the same level as Commonwealth Ave. This store is located in the same neighborhood as Boston University and they get a huge number of students all year long, even in summer.

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