Old photo

Uh...California.

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enginecapt
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Old photo

Post by enginecapt » 01 Jun 2008 03:44

I found this when I was 1,220 photos into a 9,746 image collection from the Online Archive of California. The caption is what piqued my interest:

"If my memory is OK, Sontag and Sam Selig Grocers on North Broadway, Los Angeles, then Downey Ave., consolidated and was [sic] the beginning of the Safewy chain. Better check for sure with Safeway." Barry 1963

(Quoted verbatim)
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romleys
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Re: Old photo

Post by romleys » 01 Jun 2008 14:31

Sadly Safeway really doesn't seem to give a rats ass about their history. There office has a CircleS from "The Market Street Safeway built in 1965". This is not even close to when it was built in 1954 or remodeled in 1969.
Charles H:)

scanman2
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Re: Old photo

Post by scanman2 » 09 Jun 2008 01:18

Funny you mention that Safeway don't give a "Rats Ass" about their history. I notice when I visit other chains web sites that have been taken over by other companies, there is usually no mention about the company history that can be found on the web site. Another example would be to go to the web site of Smith's Food and Drug.

TheQuestioner
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Re: Old photo

Post by TheQuestioner » 12 Jun 2008 04:46

The statement in the caption could be at least partially true. The Groceteria history profile for Safeway lists a "Sam Seelig" company as the initial chain that became Safeway after merging with the Norther CA and Pac. NW Skaggs Cash Stores chain. Safeway's true origins are kind of murky because the nationwide chain seems to have been the result of several chains coalescing back in the 1920's. In the DC area, people interested in such things will claim that Safeway was originally the "Sanitary Grocery Company" based in DC. Sanitary was the origin of the Mid-Atlantic wing of Safeway, but other parts of the Safeway hydra predate it by several years. I think that in each metro area that had Safeway early on, whatever the local chain was that became Safeway is viewed as having been the "original" Safeway. No mention of "Sontag and Co." in any of the Safeway histories I have read. I wonder if they were merged with Seelig, or if they changed their name to Seelig after a buyout. 90 year old corporate history can be hard to come by if the companies in question aren't proud of their age (I.E. GE, AT&T, Ford etc...)

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Groceteria
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Re: Old photo

Post by Groceteria » 12 Jun 2008 09:08

TheQuestioner wrote:The Groceteria history profile for Safeway lists a "Sam Seelig" company as the initial chain that became Safeway after merging with the Norther CA and Pac. NW Skaggs Cash Stores chain. Safeway's true origins are kind of murky because the nationwide chain seems to have been the result of several chains coalescing back in the 1920's.
Actually, the 1926 origin is fairly cut and dried; Skaggs United merged with Sam Seelig (by then operating as "Safeway Stores") to form the modern corporation. This was orchestrated by Charles Merrill of Merrill Lynch, and most sources agree that this was the genesis of the company that exists today. Afterward, many other mergers and acquisitions followed within the space of a few years. Among the bigger ones were the western Piggly Wiggly stores and the DC-based Sanitary chain, both in 1928, two years after the original 1926 union.

That said, Sontag may very well have been a predecessor to the "Safeway Stores" chain that was merged into the modern company. I'm working ona much-expanded version of the Safeway history right now, and I'll find out what I can. If anyone has access to older LA city directories, it might be interesting to look for this chain and see if any of its locations turn up later as Sam Seelig or Safeway stores. There might be info in the Proquest historical LA Times archives as well, if anyone has access (I can only access the NY Times and Washingon Post archives).

BTW, there was apparently a large Sontag drugstore chain in Southern California by the 1930s and 1940s according to City Center to Regional Mall by Richard Longstreth.

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runchadrun
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Re: Old photo

Post by runchadrun » 18 Jun 2008 11:02

Groceteria wrote:That said, Sontag may very well have been a predecessor to the "Safeway Stores" chain that was merged into the modern company. I'm working ona much-expanded version of the Safeway history right now, and I'll find out what I can. If anyone has access to older LA city directories, it might be interesting to look for this chain and see if any of its locations turn up later as Sam Seelig or Safeway stores. There might be info in the Proquest historical LA Times archives as well, if anyone has access (I can only access the NY Times and Washingon Post archives).
I could only find reference to the Sontag drugstore chain in Socal in the LA Times database. (At the Major Metropolitan University where I work they keep the city directories in special collections so I can't easily get to them.)
BTW, there was apparently a large Sontag drugstore chain in Southern California by the 1930s and 1940s according to City Center to Regional Mall by Richard Longstreth.
This chain was sold to United Drug Co and incorporated into the Owl-Rexall chain in 1944.

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