Loblaws' bewildering branding history

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Andrew T.
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Loblaws' bewildering branding history

Post by Andrew T. » 16 May 2018 19:11

Loblaws may be the quintessential Canadian grocer today, but they formerly operated in the US as well...and there are elements of their past branding that I find bewildering.

First off, a question that I thought would be simple but isn't: What logo or wordmark did Loblaws use before the introduction of the red/orange "L" in 1973? The signage used on their stores during this period was simply the word "LOBLAWS" written out in a slightly stylized font, which isn't much to look at. I searched online newspaper archives for Loblaws ads, and promptly discovered that an incredible variety of different marks and symbols were used in their copy during the 1960s and early 1970s...some of which were in use simultaneously:
loblaws1.png
Loblaws (or "Loblaw," as the case may be) even used an version of the National diamond logo, which is probably my favourite one of the bunch. Several of the other logos also appeared in National form in the late '60s/'70s timeframe.

But wait, take a closer look at that copy: "Loblaw, division of National Food Stores?" I thought National was a division of Loblaw. Again, I'm getting confused...
loblaws3.jpg
The second question: When did a "Loblaws" store brand last exist? I know a "Loblaws" store brand once existed (if this ginger ale can, presently on eBay, is any indication), but their store brands today are caught in a No Name/President's Choice dichotomy with nothing left in the middle.

The third question: How many names has Loblaws operated or franchised stores under? I can count at least fourteen, though I'm probably missing a few: Loblaws, Loblaw (some stores omit the "S" and apparently have operational differences), Atlantic Superstore, Dominion (in Newfoundland & Labrador only), Freshmart, Maxi, No Frills, Provigo, Real Canadian Superstore, Super Centre, Valu-Mart, Your Independent Grocer, Zehrs...and of course, National down in the States.
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Re: Loblaws' bewildering branding history

Post by TW-Upstate NY » 16 May 2018 20:05

As far as a store brand, (at least in the US), I seem to remember Orchard Park which I believe was named for a suburb of Buffalo, NY where they were headquartered in the US. That brand would date from at least the 60's but can't recall if it was still in use when they left in the mid 70's because the Loblaws brand was in use here as well. Can't recall if it was in use simultaneously.

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Re: Loblaws' bewildering branding history

Post by Groceteria » 17 May 2018 08:36

Andrew T. wrote:The third question: How many names has Loblaws operated or franchised stores under?
Super Valu, Lucky Dollar, Power Super Markets, more to follow when I have more time (maybe).

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Re: Loblaws' bewildering branding history

Post by Groceteria » 17 May 2018 20:37

A few more I've run across (mostly from Manitoba west): L-Mart, Loblaws Warehouse Store, Extra Foods, Econo-Mart.

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Re: Loblaws' bewildering branding history

Post by Groceteria » 17 May 2018 20:44

Loblaw (or Weston) at some point also apparently operated Star Discount and Bells stores in Western New York alongside their Loblaw-branded stores, per Michael F. Rizzo in The Glory Days of Buffalo Shopping.

I'll stop for now...

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Re: Loblaws' bewildering branding history

Post by Andrew T. » 19 May 2018 09:56

TW-Upstate NY wrote:As far as a store brand, (at least in the US), I seem to remember Orchard Park which I believe was named for a suburb of Buffalo, NY where they were headquartered in the US. That brand would date from at least the 60's but can't recall if it was still in use when they left in the mid 70's because the Loblaws brand was in use here as well. Can't recall if it was in use simultaneously.
I scouted out pictures of a few Orchard Park products, and interestingly the labels were addressed to "Orchard Park Foods, Inc." in Buffalo with no mention of Loblaws at all. Could it be that Loblaws used "Orchard Park" as a corporate pseudonym to open up the possibility of their store brands being sold at non-Loblaws branded stores, similar to how Kroger did business under "Inter-American Foods" or Safeway created "Better Living Brands?" But it seems that even before the 1973 reimaging, products were sold under the Loblaws name as well.
Groceteria wrote:I'll stop for now...
Well, you racked the tally up to 23. Congratulations!
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Re: Loblaws' bewildering branding history

Post by TW-Upstate NY » 19 May 2018 11:25

Perhaps at another Loblaw banner they may have been available but never saw them in another chain and/or independent market. And when they left here in the mid-70's, so did the brand. Also checked out some old ads and the Loblaws brand was indeed available along with Orchard Park.

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Re: Loblaws' bewildering branding history

Post by wnetmacman » 20 May 2018 22:39

Three names existed in Louisiana: Canal Villere, That Stanley, and The Real Superstore.
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Re: Loblaws' bewildering branding history

Post by Groceteria » 21 May 2018 10:02

I forgot to consider all the other US banners in addition to National/Loblaws:
  • Standard (Indianapolis)
    Del Farm (Multiple areas)
    Miller's (Denver)
    Probably others I'm forgetting.

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Re: Loblaws' bewildering branding history

Post by rich » 26 May 2018 15:38

Loblaw has had a different set set of brands in the US and Canada, where they've kept old brands and established new ones--I know a fair amount about Loblaw US but very little about Loblaw canda, except that , for decades, it's been part of a conglomerate controllled and run by the Weston family who also owns high end department stores in canda and the UK among other businesses.. Loblaw had two bases in the US--one in Chicago, which was sold to Jewel and formed the nucleus of their super markets (Jewel started out selling groceries and household items via delivery routes). The other was in Buffalo and spread out through Western & Central NY, Western Pennsylvania and NE Ohio. At one time, there were two Loblaw operations---the one that had been sold to National Tea (which was majority owned by Loblaw of Canda at that point) in 1962 and the established chain based in Buffalo, which also was sold to National, about a decade later.

The National Tea stores formed their Youngstown Division and included Akron, Canton, Warren, Youngstown, and a few stores around the periphery of Cleveland, along with some small towns like East Liverpool and Stuebenville. Some of these were built by Loblaw of Buffalo, but most were acquired through Lonlaw's purchase of Century Food Markets of Youngstown in the late 1950s. The PA part of the Division was centered on Pittsburgh and vicinity and included Loblaw builds and stores that were acquired when they bought the Star chain based in Pittsburgh a little earlier than the acquisition of Century.

The Buffalo operation continued to have stores in Ohio & PA after the sale of stores to National. These were in Ashtubula & Conneaut, Ohio, as well as the Erie PA area. These were a mix of stores that had been part of Century (Erie) or had been built as Loblaw. They had S&H green stamps which were a holdover from Century. Loblaw had had its own stamp plan which was dropped in the early 60s, although they also had S&H stamps in some of their NY markets.

Loblaw bought into National during the 40s or 50s in stages and had majority control by 1956. They probably bought most of this stake from John Cuneo who had a number of businesses in the Chicago area, including Hawthorn-Mellody dairy (which once covered much of the Midwest and supplied National Tea long after his interest was sold). Cuneo had bought stakes from the founding Rasmussen family around 1939 and basically revived the company during the early super market era.

National had a variety of trade names from their own acquisitions: Standard (Indiana), Miller's (Denver), Del Farm (Chicago and later used in many places) and banners they had developed for "Discount" operations like Big D, Save-Way and Canal Villere, that often reverted back to conventional super market operations. Even more confusing is that some of these banners (Big D, Del Farm and Save-Way) were used for former Loblaw stores in the Youngstown-Pittsburgh region. National initially propoesed investing in this region when the stores were bought in 1962, but opened or remodeleed relatively few stores and stumbled in the market place, as new chains entered their markets or aggresively built new stores.

An additional confusion is that Loblaw of Canada also owned Peter Schmitt, a wholesaler based in Buffalo that lasted long after the various Loblaw stores in the region were closed or sold. Schmitt owned Bell's supermarkets in Buffalo and later Star in Rochester as well as servicing wholesale accounts as far west as Cleveland. Loblaw sold the business in '88 to management, with the backing of Merill Lynch, but it didn't last long after that and declared bankruptcy.

As for logos--take a look at Google newspapers for the Youngstown Vindicator and you will see the evolution. The one missinge link is that the logo on the top, far right of your post was not used in the Youngstown market--that was used in the eraly 70s by the Buffalo-based Loblaw chain. The semaphore was National tea's logo and adopted when the Youngstown-Pittsburgh operation was sold to National Tea.

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