Stop & Shop, a fixture on the New England retail landscape and long its dominant grocery chain, began humbly with a single store in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1914. Founded as Economy Grocery Stores by Julius Rabinovitz, the chain grew rapidly but soon began losing money. In 1920, Rabinovitz sold the business to his brother Joseph. Joseph’s son Sidney was a Harvard graduate with considerable ingenuity and marketing skills who had joined the business to assist his uncle in 1918, and soon began to implement policies that would ultimately turn the company around. (Sidney, along with his two brothers who would themselves join the company a few years later, shortened the family surname to Rabb.) In 1924, Economy became a public company and in 1930, at the ripe age of 29, Sidney Rabb was named chairman, a position he would hold for 55 years until his 1985 death.
A true innovator and visionary, Rabb implemented the low price concept long in Economy’s stores long before it became standard industry practice. The most significant innovation, however, came in 1935 with company’s introduction of the first (and Boston’s first, for that matter) self-service supermarket, called the “Stop & Shop Foodmart”, which was located on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, Massachusetts in a former factory building. The Stop & Shop name was born, although the company would formally be known as “Economy Grocery Stores” until 1946.
The photos above are in reverse chronological order, showing first a typical late 1930’s Stop & Shop (“hamburg”, scallops and clams – how New England can you get?), secondly the company’s first supermarket, as mentioned above, in a 1930’s photo, and lastly, one of the company’s earliest stores.