Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.

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Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.

Post by Andrew T. » 04 Aug 2018 23:18

Fort Wayne is the second-largest city in Indiana. Back in the long-ago summer of 2016, I spent a week there for a convention. I managed to do some supermarket sightings in my spare time, though it wasn't the primary focus of the visit. I also visited the public library (which is very nice, by the way) and perused a few directories to get a feel for the city's past commercial development. Then, I got sidetracked by crises...and my experiences in Fort Wayne pretty much slipped from memory.
DiGbQZRXUAAhs6o.jpg
Until this summer, that is, when I sifted through my files and rediscovered my directory research. Using this and the Ancestry database, I was able to piece together the city's grocery history from 1925 all the way to 1987...which is just as good as our range of coverage for Madison, Wisconsin!

Enjoy (and yes as always David, you can put this on the site):

Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.
"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: Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.

Post by Andrew T. » 05 Aug 2018 00:09

What interesting things are there about Fort Wayne. Well, for starters...
  • The city is huge, and it utterly dominates the map of the county. There are two small contiguous cities (Huntertown and New Haven), but no ring of suburbs in the usual sense. For the most part Fort Wayne consists of Fort Wayne itself, and this reflects in the spreadsheet.
  • In 1957 the city annexed Waynedale. This affected the addresses of two stores.
  • Fort Wayne has a few interesting street names: Gay Street and Spy Run Avenue, for example. (And yes, there were once chain stores on each!)
Also...
  • The directories were sometimes lax about including geographical street prefixes or distinguishing avenues and boulevards, so that warranted checking. The 1925 directory is particularly prone to this, but it lacks a reverse-lookup section.
As for the stores?
  • The usual midwestern chains (A&P, Kroger, and Del Farm) operated in Fort Wayne...but so did a roster of strong local chains that emerged from the thicket of independents in the 1950s and 1960s: Scott's, Maloley Bros., and Rogers. All three were apparently absorbed into Super Valu during the 1980s and 1990s. Scott's was the last survivor, and the name actually survived three rounds of owners (the Scott family, Super Valu, and Kroger) before finally fading away a couple of years ago. There's an interesting article about that here.
  • Kroger appears to have entered Fort Wayne in the late 1920s by purchasing a chain called Hoosier. Piggly Wiggly disappeared from the city at the same time as Hoosier (and one PW also became a Kroger), so perhaps Hoosier was running those stores as well.
  • As usual, Kroger inherited some of A&P's pre-supermarket locations. I've seen this happen enough times in enough cities in my research that it's ceased to surprise me.
  • The "Colonial" store that operated in a former A&P at 4238 S. Calhoun St. from the 1940s to the 1960s is an enigma. I doubt it was ever affiliated with Colonial Stores.
  • I stumbled across this page from the local historical society with a detailed chronology of 1935 E. State Blvd., a Hoosier/Kroger location that operated from 1926 to 1943. What confuses me is that the page gives reference to Kroger "returning" to Fort Wayne in the 1980s, which implies that they pulled out of the market at some point. Can anyone substantiate this? One Kroger store at 705 E. Coliseum Blvd. operated continually from 1960 to 1987, which flies in the face of that theory.
"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: Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.

Post by Andrew T. » 05 Aug 2018 00:38

1936-1940 S. Calhoun Street is very interesting. Here's the Street View image:
ftwaynecalhoun.jpg
As you can see, this is a nicely-detailed 1920s-era commercial complex with three "bays" from left to right: 1940, 1938, and 1936. I wouldn't be surprised if it faced streetcar tracks at one time.

A&P operated in the rightmost bay in 1925. By 1930 A&P had moved out, but Kroger promptly moved into the leftmost bay and stayed there for the next 20 years. By 1951 Kroger was out, but a local grocer by the name of Carlyle W. Pio had moved in, likely consolidating the left and middle bays in the process. Pio was still operating there in 1987. Eventually, they moved out...but Hoa Hung Oriental Grocery moved in, and groceries are still being sold out of this building after more than 90 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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Re: Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.

Post by rich » 06 Aug 2018 21:32

Odd that Marsh didn't have stores here. The one Del farm was an oddity; probably built shortly before National Tea's finances imploded in the early 70s and even then they were not geographic expansion mode having closed their Detroit, Memphis & Grand Rapids operations. Scott's and Rogers shared the S&H Green Stamp franchise which was unusual.

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Re: Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.

Post by Groceteria » 08 Aug 2018 22:30

Andrew T. wrote:
05 Aug 2018 00:09
The "Colonial" store that operated in a former A&P at 4238 S. Calhoun St. from the 1940s to the 1960s is an enigma. I doubt it was ever affiliated with Colonial Stores.
Most likely not. As you may know, Colonial did do business in Indiana (and Ohio) by purchasing the Albers chain, which was the first ever to register the term "super market" as part of its trademark. IIRC, this happened in the mid-1950s.

Nice list. I have a strange fondness for Fort Wayne, maybe from listening to WOWO late at night when I was a 12-year-old radio freak in NC (back when it still played music).

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Re: Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.

Post by rich » 09 Aug 2018 12:13

Colonial had their short-lived acquisition of Stop & Shop stores in Indianapolis in the 50s, but I've never seen evidence that they bought any other chains in Indiana. The furthest North they got in western Ohio that I can determine was Lima in the mid-50s and that may have been under Albers' original management--still kind of far from Fort Wayne. The furthest North overall was Fremont in North Central Ohio and that was under Colonial management.

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Re: Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.

Post by Andrew T. » 09 Aug 2018 17:57

Thanks, Rich and David! A couple more notes...

* Marsh did operate in Fort Wayne, but it may have been only a brief and token presence à la Del Farm. They had a single store at 1840 Bluffton Road in 1972.
* I assume that Ma-Jik, Handy-Dandy, and Village Market were convenience store chains. All the 1987 Handy-Dandy locations seem to correspond to present-day gas stations.
"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."
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Re: Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.

Post by Groceteria » 09 Aug 2018 21:23

I believe Ma-Jik was the same convenience store chain that had location in NC in the 1970s. Locally, they were all in new buildings alongside a Wishbone Chicken takeout. The stores lasted considerably longer than the chicken stands.

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Re: Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.

Post by Groceteria » 09 Aug 2018 21:51

I have added this list to Groceteria with the obligatory map. Thanks!

http://www.groceteria.com/place/indiana/fort-wayne/

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Re: Fort Wayne, IN chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1925-87.

Post by Andrew T. » 09 Aug 2018 22:44

Wow, that was fast!
"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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