Vintage Supermarket Music

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Ephrata1966
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Vintage Supermarket Music

Post by Ephrata1966 » 31 Jan 2011 21:41

Why did supermarkets play so much music in store back in the day? I know you could say it was entertainment, to get people to spend more money perhaps, but was there something more to it? What kind of "mood" were they really trying to set?

maynesG
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Re: Vintage Supermarket Music

Post by maynesG » 01 Feb 2011 21:00

Musiak or the music that was piped into stores had two purposes 1. Two make the customer relax and thus spend more time in the store, thus buying more impulse items. 2. Store Cast, which was owned by Acme, was used to sell vendors in store Ad Time around a Music Program.
The Store Manager in the latter days was able to match up various music channels to his stores demographics. In the early days, it simply was a tape or casset that played over and over again. In the days where whoever closed worked from 8am to 9Pm you could loose your mind, heraring the same songs very half hour. At Christmas time you could learn to depise Christmas Carrols by Christmas Eve.
It has become some what a thing of the past. Customers have become intolerent of each others, Music choices and would often complain to who ever was in charge, sometimes not in the most politicaly correct way.

jamcool
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Re: Vintage Supermarket Music

Post by jamcool » 02 Feb 2011 15:42

Vintage music (Muzak?) is still alive and well at Walgreens...there is more 50s-60s music played over the intercoms there than on most oldies stations!

maynesG
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Re: Vintage Supermarket Music

Post by maynesG » 02 Feb 2011 20:00

Hi, Yes you spelled it correctly I didn!T ! That makes perfect sense who needs a pharmacy more then folks who remember when the oldies were new!
Ah, Food Chains need those folks, thier Kids and their Grand Kids . Kids to grow the busines and can!t rely on Father Time, to provide tomorows customers.

Super S
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Re: Vintage Supermarket Music

Post by Super S » 02 Feb 2011 23:52

Some stores these days have a very strict "NO MUSIC" policy. Target is a good example.

What bothers me though are the stores which play jingles for certain products over the P.A. and usually at a louder volume. Not long ago at my local Fred Meyer they were playing the "Pillow Pets" jingle every five minutes or so and that got annoying fast.

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Brian Lutz
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Re: Vintage Supermarket Music

Post by Brian Lutz » 04 Feb 2011 05:12

Here is a site with MP3s from an old record of background music specifically intended for use in S.S Kresge stores in the early 60s, and sure enough, the stuff hits every bouncy string cliche in the book.
The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 - Seattle Area Malls, Retail History, and other random things.

umtrr-author
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Re: Vintage Supermarket Music

Post by umtrr-author » 04 Feb 2011 11:30

During my short period of employment at a long-gone discount department store which shall remain nameless, the music rarely came into focus. I just kind of "tuned it out"-- although it was noticed when it was turned off after the store closed for the night.

But when it did come into focus... my head hurt. Imagine a schmaltzy version of "Nights in White Satin" with the lyrics replaced with "la la la la la la... la la la la..."

On a more positive note, Wegmans tends to play a range of music that skews more contemporary (though it's hard to imagine something less contemporary than the above). I don't know who programs it but I think it's well done, and once in a while I hear something I'd like to find for my own music library.

I'm also pleased when I hear a song in Wegmans that I think deserves more "airplay" like Natalie Imbruglia's "Wrong Impression" (she is best known for "Torn").

And being pleased with music being played makes for a "better" shopper, no?

kg4peq
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Re: Vintage Supermarket Music

Post by kg4peq » 04 Jan 2016 20:24

My first job was with Richmond-based Ukrop's Super Markets, in the late 1990's. Back then we were still using muzak which was piped in via FM radio. The technology was called Subsidiary Carrier Authorization, or SCA, and it's a process by which one or two AM signals can be sent as part of an FM broadcast signal. SCA is still in limited use for distribution of specialized programming like audiobook services run by public broadcasting stations, but it's fading away as digital technology takes its place.

Here in Richmond, the muzak feed came from one of the major local radio stations, WTVR 98.1 FM. In the "dungeon" -- a small, gloomy storage area a half-floor below the sales floor and under the store office -- each of our stores had a single-frequency FM tuner, an SCA decoder wired into the tuner's detector circuit, and an amplifier. The amplifier was wired into the store's telephone system for overhead paging, and in most stores someone had run a long cable and a switch back to the rear of the store. That switch was used by the night stock crew to toggle between the muzak and an audio hookup into a portable FM radio/cassette/CD player in the back office.

The audio quality of SCA broadcasts was adequate for its purpose. If you could get close enough to one of the ceiling speakers, though (which was possible upstairs in the break room at my first store, where the drop ceiling was only about 7 feet high) you could hear bleedover from the main FM broadcast in between songs, which is typical of SCA.

By the turn of the century, most of the stores had been converted over to Muzak's digital music services, distributed via Dish Network receivers. My original store, in Ashland, Virginia, likely remained on the SCA-based services right up until the day WTVR pulled the plug on SCA.

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