Monday, September 10, 2007

Safeway's Wonderful World of Color


























“Color does brighten things up, doesn’t it?” Walt Disney asked the television audience in the opening minutes of his first Color TV broadcast in 1961. Well, it was true for Disney’s “Wonderful World of Color”, and it was also true for Safeway and many other leading supermarket chains throughout the 1950’s and into the early 60’s. Pastel colors were used to great effect in this 1953 Portland, Oregon Safeway, which also features signage the company would use as a standard in its stores for more than a decade. The different colors allowed easy identification of departments and created an illusion of space in an era when most supermarkets still averaged 15,000 square feet or less.

As the sixties wore on, Safeway changed to deeper, darker shades for their standard color scheme. Many others who had used a pastel scheme did the same, or switched to one or more of a much wider variety of wall finishes, including paneling, wallpaper, mosaics, murals – you name it.

9 comments:

  1. How are you getting these wonderful pictures?

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  2. From old trade journals, company publications, postcards, newspaper microfilm archives, Ebay...

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  3. I love the prepacked bags of oranges in the second picture! RR Ryan

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  4. Wow, cartons of cigarettes right out in the open. Wouldn't see that today!

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  5. You sure wouldn't, but you're right, it was common then. I made reference to that fact in a recent post:

    Pleasant Family Shopping - Ralphs Granada Hills 2

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  6. And where exactly was this Safeway that you say is in Portland, OR? I am from Portland, too.

    ~Ben Edge

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  7. Ben - The caption info I have for this only mentions the city. If you have access to local library microfilms from Portland newspapers from late 1952/early 1953, you might be able to narrow the location down via old Grand Opening ads.

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  8. I think it would be soul-cleansing to shop in a store that looked like this, nowadays. Makes me want to put on a cotton dress with a full skirt and balerina flats just to go get the weeks groceries.

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  9. Love it, and I agree! (Except for the cotton dress part, though...maybe some Sansabelt slacks, loafers and a wild pattern short sleeve shirt for me!) ;)

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