Bismarck and Fargo, ND chain grocery/supermarket history

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Andrew T.
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Bismarck and Fargo, ND chain grocery/supermarket history

Post by Andrew T. » 10 Oct 2018 19:22

A fresh new city to enjoy:

Bismarck and Mandan, ND chain grocery/supermarket history table, 1928-1960.

And, just for good measure:

Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN chain grocery/supermarket history table, 1924-1945.

Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota (as well as a city both Jerry Lundegaard and I have personally visited), but the lack of access to post-1945 directories severely curtailed what I was able to do to cover it. Bismarck was on the slight side, but more rewarding to research.

A few notes and highlights:
  • Bismarck is a considerably bigger city than Mandan (which faces it on the Missouri river), yet the two cities closely matched each other in chain store count. In some years, there were actually more stores in Mandan than in Bismarck.
  • Mandan, North Dakota was treated very unpredictably by the directory publishers. It was tacked on as an appendix to the Bismarck directory in 1928 through 1932, elevated to its own dedicated volume from 1938 to 1948, reverted to the status of a Bismarck appendix from 1951 to 1955, then had its addresses interfiled in the Bismarck directory in 1960. (Making matters worse, the 1932 Fargo directory microfilm cuts off at the start of the Mandan section.)
  • The chain representation in Fargo and Bismarck was broadly similar to that in other upper-midwest locales. Red Owl, Piggly Wiggly, and (surprisingly) National all had major presences over relatively long periods. National expanded into both cities in the 1930s, and still had a presence (at least in Bismarck) more than 20 years later. Neither Safeway nor A&P ever operated there.
  • In the 1950s, the Piggly Wiggly stores in Bismarck/Mandan were converted to Super Valu franchises.
  • Remember the Lansing, Michigan thread, where I expressed surprise at seeing a Grand Union tea store in that city? Well, lo and behold, there was a Grand Union in Fargo too. This store had directory listings in 1940 and 1945 too, so it was probably more than just a quaint tea dispensary.
  • Address foibles: Front Street in Fargo became Main Avenue in 1957, and North Broadway addresses were usually listed as just "Broadway" in directories. Fargo also has numbered streets and numbered avenues that aren't always given adequate differentiation in directories; I did a lot of double-checking on those just to be sure.
  • What was the single best artifact I discovered? 208 4th Ave. NW in Mandan, ND. This was a 1950s Red Owl opening by 1960 with a bizarre, trapezoidal pylon jutting out and over the sidewalk. Enjoy:
    redowl.jpg
"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: Bismarck and Fargo, ND chain grocery/supermarket history

Post by bm10k » 27 Oct 2018 08:21

I live in Fargo and I can add on to the Fargo section.
But the public library only have city directories as far back as 1958 so there will be a little bit of a lapse

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Re: Bismarck and Fargo, ND chain grocery/supermarket history

Post by Andrew T. » 27 Oct 2018 12:24

Oh, that would be wonderful! David posted his methodology notes here.
"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: Bismarck and Fargo, ND chain grocery/supermarket history

Post by bm10k » 27 Oct 2018 23:21

here is the updated list
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... p=drivesdk

and yes David, You Can add this to the Site

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Re: Bismarck and Fargo, ND chain grocery/supermarket history

Post by Groceteria » 29 Oct 2018 12:23

Thanks! This is great! Unfortunately I did not have permission to access the file but I sent you a request.

I'm a little behind on new additions (including several of Andrew T's) but I hope to catch up in the next couple of days.

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Re: Bismarck and Fargo, ND chain grocery/supermarket history

Post by bm10k » 29 Oct 2018 12:48

I enabled link sharing so hopefully it works

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Re: Bismarck and Fargo, ND chain grocery/supermarket history

Post by Groceteria » 29 Oct 2018 15:53

bm10k wrote:
29 Oct 2018 12:48
I enabled link sharing so hopefully it works
It did. Thanks!


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Re: Bismarck and Fargo, ND chain grocery/supermarket history

Post by Andrew T. » 31 Oct 2018 01:36

The Fargo/Moorhead updates are highly illuminating!

* National didn't survive the 1950s, no surprises there.
* Red Owl didn't survive the 1970s, and most of its Fargo/Moorhead locations were converted to something called Country Store (which didn't last long).
* Piggly Wiggly didn't survive the 1980s. As usual a mass conversion happened, with Sun Mart snapping up the locations (which were ultimately converted to Spartan's Family Fare brand.)
* The last big inter-regional chain that tried to compete in the area was Buttrey, but their stores must not have survived the 1990 sale of the chain.

Or did they? Portions of the old Buttrey-Osco buildings at 824 30th Av S in Moorhead and 1321 19th Av N in Fargo still house CVS stores today. Did American Stores divest the Buttrey portions, while holding onto the Osco portions (presumably building partitions to separate the two)? It sure looks that way.

The onetime-Piggly Wiggly at 724 University Dr N is a nice 1960s relic still open for business, with a peak and gable over the entrance. Another great artifact is a 1950s pylon-type Red Owl at 409 Main: I must have driven straight past this store during my visit to Moorhead in 2015, and didn't see it because it was night!
redowl.jpg
"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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