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: