NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Groceteria » 17 May 2019 20:17

Steve Landry wrote:
16 May 2019 10:18
I'm not certain but I think Del Farm was in Denver in the mid 1970s??
National seems to have used that brand to some extent in most of its regions. In addition to Milwaukee and other parts of Wisconsin and Illinois, they also used the name in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Denver, and Pittsburgh (on former Loblaw stores there). I don't know for sure if it was ever used in St Louis or New Orleans, but I'll be able to tell you soon!

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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by rich » 18 May 2019 12:07

Del Farm was an inner city city Chicago chain they acquired in the 50s or early60s. They used the name for stores that were other built or repurposed as discount operations with no trading stamps. Often they converted them back to conventional operations with trading stamps. Sometimes they went back and forth on this as they did in Akron. They used the name in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Denver, as well as Youngstown. They didn’t use the name in St Louis but might have used it in that division in places like downstate Illinois. The Canal Villere name was used in New Orleans for essentially the same format. They previously had followed the same patttern with their Big D name in the early 60s. These operated for varying lengths of time in their Duluth and Youngstown divisions. The Pittsburgh Big Ds became DelFarm! They retired the Big D name with this Youngstown Division as far as I can tell.

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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Andrew T. » 18 May 2019 22:56

There are ample stories about Krambo/Kroger and Del Farm/National to go around...but I feel ready to get to the meat of the matter and talk about Milwaukee's greatest defunct grocer of all: Kohl's.
kohls-logo.jpg
For years, my go-to source of information about Kohl's early years as a company has been this prose-laden newspaper article from 1970. Here's what it says about the origins of the chain:
Milwaukee Journal, 9 Sep 1970 wrote:"[Max] Kohl was born in Poland in an area then claimed by Austria. His parents ran a small dry goods store there. When he migrated to Milwaukee in his midtwenties he got a factory job and started saving his money to open a store, too. He married a Milwaukee girl, Mary Hiken, and they opened a grocery at Lincoln and Kinnickinnic..."
This was 630 E Lincoln Ave., a pre-supermarket store that was Kohls' only retail operation throughout the 1930s. At least nowadays, this address is in a residential block two blocks east of Kinnickinnic Ave., so I'm unclear on this store's precise location.
"By the late thirties some merchants were experimenting with the supermarket method of doing business. Kohl decided this was the trend to follow. He was willing to risk his savings. He opened a store at 38th and North, another at 38th and Vliet, then started a 1938 version of a supermarket in the 3700 block of N. Teutonia. These stores provided some off-street parking and allowed the customer to serve himself to a greater extent than before..."
Sounds like they weren't entirely self-service at this point! Sure enough, all three of these new locations appear in the 1940 column of the table. At least two are storefront locations barely any larger than Kohls' original store (one of which lasted into the 1960s and lived out its last days as Kohl's Liquor Store), but...
"It was not until the Vliet St. store was enlarged in 1942 that anything comparable to a modern supermarket emerged. It had something like 7,000 square feet of sales area. [...] Except for the meat department, it was entirely self-service. It even had automatic doors."

This is where things start to get a little confusing. In 1940 and 1950, "Kohl Bros." is listed as having an address at 3826 W. Vliet St. In 1944 and from 1955 on, their store is listed at 3818 W. Vliet St. A&P also had a store at 3818 W. Vliet in 1935 and 1940: Did A&P and Kohl's have storefronts side by side? Did the latter annex the former? The article doesn't say. Maybe the answers are in the reverse-lookup section of the directories, maybe not.

Today, a one-story building stands at 3824 W. Vliet St. that looks like a typical 1940s supermarket. According to the Milwaukee assessor, it was built in 1942...exactly when the "expansion" took place. It's flanked by vacant lots to either side.
"Further store construction was impossible until 1946. Kohl was ready. Late that year, he opened an even larger store—it is still at 46th and Burleigh and is the same size, although it has been remodeled inside."
This location appears to be 4623 W Burleigh St., which surprisingly doesn't appear in the table until 1955. This was a flat-roofed store, and shockingly it lasted all the way to the end in 2002-03! It still stands in intact condition today as a convenience store...and though this was a flat-roofed store, the façade contains ridged brick cues identical to those that later appeared on arch-roofed stores.
"A year or two after the Burleigh store opened, Kohl acquired a building that had been the Selig auto agency and converted it into another large supermarket [...] at 76th and Greenfield."
This was technically the first Kohl's outside of Milwaukee, since 7546 W. Greenfield Ave is in West Allis. This was another flat-roofed store, and a relatively short-lived one, closing in the 1960s. It also still stands intact...and interestingly, you can make out where Kohl's made some small alterations to the dealership, such as bricking over a showroom window on the left wall.

By this point, Kohl's had opened six stores. The seventh was 8616 W North Ave. in Wauwatosa...their first with an arched roof. But how did Max Kohl get the idea? Well, the article is bluntly forthright about that:
"On a trip to Philadelphia the elder Kohl admired the design of stores being opened there by the Penn Fruit Co. When he built another new store—this one was at 86th and North—he adapted the Pennsylvania design, with the domed roof that has become identified with Kohl's in Wisconsin."
After this point in the chronology, the level of detail in the article drops off considerably. No specific post-1950 store locations are mentioned. As far as the company's growth is concerned, it merely mentions that they had "about 10 stores in the Milwaukee area" in 1955 and had grown to encompass 48 supermarkets and 5 department stores in 1970.

So, it's over to the table for guidance! To be continued...
"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: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Andrew T. » 19 May 2019 13:02

In summary: Max Kohl went to Philadelphia, was taken aback by the magnificence of the arch-roof stores that Penn Fruit was just starting to build, then went home to Milwaukee eager to copy the design. Here is the grand opening ad for their first arch-roof store, which was located in Wauwatosa (two blocks from the city limits) and opened its doors on August 22, 1951:
kohls-510822sm.png
This is a very special store. It's been occupied by a supermarket almost continuously for 67 years and counting. It's been diligently maintained and modernized, yet it survives today with all of its structural integrity intact. Here's what it looks like now, courtesy of the Groceteria Twitter feed:

Image

Under A&P, the store operated as a high-end "Kohl's Food Emporium," one of their stranger mashups of disparate brands. After A&P shut down the Kohl's division in 2003, the store was sold to the local Sendik's firm, and they've continued to run a store here ever since.

The store design isn't the only aspect of Penn Fruit that Kohl's copied. These are the logos that both chains used in their newspaper advertising in 1951. My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw this:
pennfruit-kohls-1951.png
Given how meticulously one chain in the 1950s was emulating every last detail of the other, it's almost hard to believe that Penn Fruit and Kohl's weren't affiliated outright.
"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: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Andrew T. » 20 May 2019 11:09

Continuing the Kohl's chronicles...

In addition to the locations already mentioned, Kohl's opened stores at 1301 W Forest Home Ave., 2777 N Teutonia Ave., and 4145 N Oakland Ave. by 1955. Only N. Oakland Ave. appears to have had an arched roof. Unfortunately, all of these stores have been demolished.

By 1960, Kohl's had basically doubled in size from its physical standing five years before. Of the five stores in Milwaukee and Glendale that had opened in the meantime, at least four (5500 W Capitol Dr., 6940 N Santa Monica Blvd., 3334 N Holton St., and 5656 N Port Washington Rd) have been demolished. 3334 N. Holton St. was an archtypcal arch-roofed store, it opened 24 June 1959, and it's the one that was being reduced to rubble when the Google Car drove by. The sole survivor of this batch, 9210 W Lisbon Ave., is a very odd store with a narrow arch (hidden from view in front) and trapezoidal footprint. It was built in 1956 (per assessment records), and is still open today as a Sentry store.

Kohl's architecture had also stabilized by 1960, and the chain built consistent arch-roofed stores throughout its trade area for the next 15 years or more. The following stores in greater Milwaukee survive:

Image
* 3555 S 27th St. Built in 1959 (opening in 1960?). Photographed in 2010. Now Office Max-cum-Depot.
* 3333 S Howell Ave. Opened 3 Aug. 1960. Hidden behind a false front; now Milwaukee Center for Independence.
* 10707 W Cleveland Ave., West Allis Built 1960. Now Office Max.
* 2601 W Hampton Ave. Built 1960. Now Family Dollar.
* 6350 W Silver Spring Dr. Built 1962. Now MKE Food Market.
Image
* 7619 W National Ave., West Allis. Built 1964. Photographed in 2010. Now Family Video.
* 2322 W Oak St. Built 1965. Now Save-a-Lot.
* 8211 W Brown Deer Rd. Built 1975. Now apparently a thrift store.
* 5455 S 27th St. Now Pacific Produce. This store actually stands across the street from Milwaukee in Greenfield, which may be why it didn't appear in the Milwaukee directories until 1998.
"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: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Andrew T. » 20 May 2019 11:23

The following stores have not survived:

* 5811 W Oklahoma Ave. Demolished by 2005; an Aldi now stands on the site.
* 8201 W Blue Mound Rd. I have a suspicion this may have been a food store-department store combo location, but I have nothing to back this up. Replaced on the site by a new store bearing the 1990s A&P corporate architecture.
* 1441 S 35th St. Demolished for a new Aldi by 1991.
* 1433 W Burnham St. Doesn’t appear to have had an arch roof.
* 8338 W Appleton Ave. Demolished for new development in 1999.
Image
* 3525 W Juneau Ave. I photographed this store in 2011, shortly before it came down. It was built in 1963, yet it doesn’t appear in the table until 1990.

The following locations are something of a mystery...so if there's any information anyone can fill in, I'd be grateful!

* 137 W Wisconsin Ave. This was a downtown store that almost certainly was housed inside a pre-existing building.
* 8201 W Burleigh St. Perhaps there was a typo or a numbering shift? Google puts this address in a residential neighbourhood.
* 3718 N Teutonia Ave. Built in 1963 as a warehouse, not a store?
mysterystore.jpg
* 2214 N 35th St. This is easily the store I have the most questions about. This is a fantastic googie building with stone walls and a serrated roof, built in 1963. It’s not an arch-roof store, however, and the table suggests that Kohl’s didn’t move in here until the 1970s. I wonder what this was originally?

The post-1970s A&P-era afterlife of the Kohl’s chain doesn’t interest me nearly as much...which is just as well, since there’s a dearth of architecture from that era in Milwaukee anyway. At least A&P had the courtesy of building two stores with their recognizable 1990s architecture (four to six pairs of columns by the entrance, pseudo-centennial roof) before departing from the state altogether: 8705 N Port Washington Rd., and 8151 W Blue Mound Rd.

I'll pause now, so that everyone else can catch up. :)
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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Groceteria » 20 May 2019 18:54

Andrew T. wrote:
20 May 2019 11:23
* 8201 W Burleigh St. Perhaps there was a typo or a numbering shift? Google puts this address in a residential neighbourhood.
That one was a copy/paste issue on my part. The correct addresses are 8201 W. Blue Mound for Kohl's (continuing the earlier dates for that address) and 9015 W. Burleigh for Sentry (formerly National). I actually remember when it happened and thought I had fixed it but I apparently had not.

No guesses on Juneau's late appearance in the city directories (I re-checked) nor on Wisconsin, which could also have been an office, I suppose.

Teutonia looks to have been a simple relocation from the older store across the street.

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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Andrew T. » 21 May 2019 11:16

Well, that's one location to strike off the list! As for another...
Groceteria wrote:
20 May 2019 18:54
Teutonia looks to have been a simple relocation from the older store across the street.
It could be that Kohl's was precluded from using an arch roof due to the constraints of this site, and a subsequent tenant bricked the storefront up. I checked Historic Aerials, and it turns out the building had a frontal vestibule in the '60s and '70s that's gone now.

Some more mysteries:

* The Kohl's chain was listed in pre-1950s directories as Kohl Bros. Did Max Kohl have a brother that he co-founded the grocery business with? If so, he was written out of the 1970 company history. By the time the chain started taking out citywide newspaper advertising in 1946, they were doing business as "Kohl's;" no mention of brothers in the copy.

* Kohl's newspaper ads of the late 1940s and early 1950s list a "produce only" store at "Third Street at North Avenue." This location doesn't appear in the table...and since no precise number was given in the ads (nor do they specify whether this was West North or East North), it's hard to tell where this font of produce actually was. This store also seems to have gone away when the arch-roof store at 8616 W North Ave opened its doors.

Some not-so-mysteries:

* Kohl's relied on Roundy's as its house brand and wholesale supplier in the 1950s. I guess in a weird way, it was a homecoming when Roundy's bought some of Kohl's stores outright some fifty years later.

* A few of your images have been added to my site in the quest of illustrating as many documented vintage Kohl's locations as possible.
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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Groceteria » 21 May 2019 21:39

Andrew T. wrote:
21 May 2019 11:16
Kohl's newspaper ads of the late 1940s and early 1950s list a "produce only" store at "Third Street at North Avenue." This location doesn't appear in the table...and since no precise number was given in the ads (nor do they specify whether this was West North or East North), it's hard to tell where this font of produce actually was. This store also seems to have gone away when the arch-roof store at 8616 W North Ave opened its doors.
FWIW, that would be the 200/300 block of W North Av or the 2200/2300 block of N Dr MLK Jr Dr (which is what that part of 3rd St is now called).

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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Groceteria » 21 May 2019 21:58

Because I'm an irredeemable nerd, I dove into Ancestry and found that Kohl's "produce-only" store under "Fruit Dealers -- Retail" in 1950. It was at 2244 N 3rd St (now Dr MLK Jr Dr) and is now a Subway.

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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Andrew T. » 22 May 2019 00:07

Groceteria wrote:
21 May 2019 21:58
Because I'm an irredeemable nerd, I dove into Ancestry and found that Kohl's "produce-only" store under "Fruit Dealers -- Retail" in 1950. It was at 2244 N 3rd St (now Dr MLK Jr Dr) and is now a Subway.
Wow, that is a fantastic building! A damn shame that the upper side facade fell off last year.

The name "H.E. Bauch" is visible on the upper facade. That led me to this page from the MPL, which contained a picture from 1948 with the words Kohl Bros. emblazoned on the side of the building.

Meanwhile, here's what I found on 137 W Wisconsin Ave.:
kohls640618.png
This ad is from June 1964, and it definitely sounds as if this was a specialty foods boutique, and not a conventional supermarket. The store was almost definitely housed in the Plankinton Arcade, an old block-long development that later became part of the Grand Avenue Mall.
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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Groceteria » 22 May 2019 10:55

Andrew T. wrote:
22 May 2019 00:07
This ad is from June 1964, and it definitely sounds as if this was a specialty foods boutique, and not a conventional supermarket.
Nice.

There was a (minor) trend toward small-format inner-city stores in the 1960s. Safeway did similar stores in DC and SF, though most of these were located in apartment buildings. I think Kroger may have tried one or two, and there was also that one (Eberhardt?) in downtown Grand Rapids.

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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by rich » 22 May 2019 11:59

Safeway had an international/gourmet format in downtown DC in the 60s. They also had relatively small, conventional stores that in the Watergate, as well as condo/apt buildings in Rosslyn and Bethesda. The Bethesda store recently closed and the one in Rosslyn had a recent makeover. They also had some similar but really tiny stores in office buildings on K Street and near Dupont Circle. Those were branded as "Town House" for awhile in the 90s and had higher than normal pricing. The really tiny stores all have closed, along with the Watergate store. More recently they have opened large format stores in urban locations, including one in a condo building.

Jewel and National had small format combo food/drug stores in Chicago in the 20-25K sf range. National built a few in other markets including one on Atlantic Ave. In Warren, Ohio which survives as some other retail.

BTW--National had the KMart Food concession in the Indianapolis area--those stores were among those sold to Preston-Safeway. I would guess that something similar happened in Milwaukee.

Kroger has had occasional, small urban stores. They had an odd one that was mostly frozen food across from the city hall and near the state capital building in Atlanta in the 00s.

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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by rich » 22 May 2019 12:17

Re; Kroger in Milwaukee & Wisconsin, generally---Kroger had a bad time of it in the 60s, esp. in northern markets, but also in Atlanta. They continued to build new stores but they often were smaller than the competition and their perishables program generally was weak, while their house brand merchandise was very uneven. their sales were pretty flat in this period and the one bright spot might have been their development of SuperX.

Even during their rapid development of new stores in the 50s, they never reached a competitive level of store counts in the Chicago area. They were in a similar situation in Cleveland and rapidly closed stores in well-off areas when they didn't perform. They also went into a number of markets in the late 50s/early 60s, but with small acquisitions or expansions that included a small number of stores. The latter happened in the Twin Cities and Erie, PA, which were places they exited in the early 70s around the same time they left Chicago.. The major small acquisition was in DC, where they had stiff competition and exited in the mid-60s.

My guess is that they simply were not up to any of their rising competition in Wisconsin---small stores, weak perishables and perhaps like Cleveland they appear to have not opened as many stores as they actually did because of rapid closures. Their closures in Chicago and the Twin Cities also would have made it easy to close their Wisconsin operation as well---they didn't seem to like having isolated areas of stores. The exception was Market Basket in LA, which like some of their Midwestern markets was never brought to a competitive scale in terms of numbers of locations, although it lasted longer than their operations in places like Chicago.

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Re: NEW: Milwaukee, 1930-2015

Post by Andrew T. » 23 May 2019 00:23

Thanks again, Rich!
rich wrote:
22 May 2019 11:59
BTW--National had the KMart Food concession in the Indianapolis area--those stores were among those sold to Preston-Safeway. I would guess that something similar happened in Milwaukee.
I've tried digging around Google's Milwaukee Journal archives to see what went down with National in the mid to late 1970s. You'd think the local closure of the chain would have been headline-worthy. Unfortunately the archives are incomplete and unindexed, making any leads tough to find.

1975 appears to be the year that National rebranded the Kmart Food stores as their own; the "Shop these National Super Markets in the following K-Mart Quality Discount Stores" disclaimer disappeared from their advertising that year. At the time, National was also operating more than two dozen stores in Milwaukee and its vicinity.

Then...this. On November 12, 1976, A&P ran a full-page ad headlined "8 National Food Stores Will Close Tomorrow at 6 P.M....WHY? Because the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company has purchased 8 Milwaukee and Kenosha Food Stores from the National Tea Company!" Of the eight stores that were transferred, four were in Milwaukee: 3217 W. Villard Ave., 1650 N. Farwell Ave., 3401 W. Fond du Lac Ave., 6410 N. 76th St.

The next week's National circular carried a disclaimer that the prices and items were applicable only at 5 locations: 4821 N. 76th St, 3333 S. 27th St, 1644 S. 9th St, 2701 S. Chase St, and 1933 S. 60th St (in West Allis). Five lingering stores plus the four sold to A&P equal nine: What had become of National's umpteen other Milwaukee stores at this point? I don't know.

When the sale unfolded, A&P made a point of advertising that they accepted National check cashing cards. When A&P bailed out of Milwaukee barely more than two years later, Jewel made a point of advertising that they accepted A&P check cashing cards! So: Which Milwaukee chain took it upon themselves to accept Jewel check cashing cards when that chain shut down a few scant years after that? :-)

On December 29th, National ran a closing ad for 3333 S. 27th. No mention is made of the fate of the other four lingering stores. This is the last trace of National I've found in the Journal so far:
national-761229.png
By 1980, three of National's Milwaukee stores had been reoccupied by Sentry, and three (including two of the National-to-A&P flips) had become Super Valu franchises. Others may have been sold to independents, but it'd take a thorough comb-over of that year's directory listings to know for sure.
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