It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so I thought I’d shift gears for a while with some holiday related posts.
The photos above show the winners of A&P’s Christmas Display Window Contest, Toledo (Ohio) Division, from 1926. Up until the 1950’s, grocery stores generally featured a “window display” not dissimilar in concept to a fashion window in a department store. They usually consisted of artistically arranged food, cardboard display stand-ups and the like, oftentimes with an element of humor incorporated. For sure, the holidays brought out a burst of creativity in many grocery store staffs.
One of the things I love about these photos is that all four stores feature the same exact decorations, leading me to believe they must have all come from division headquarters. The placement varies, of course, as do the window configurations themselves. At this time A&P was near the peak of its store count, with nearly 15,000 units. Most of there were small “Economy Stores” (an A&P term) featuring dry groceries only, including their top-selling coffee brands. The first three stores feature Quality Meats signs, indicating that they were “combination stores”, among the first A&P’s to feature a meat department.
It is commonplace today to hear of the late 1920’s as a flush, prosperous time, and in comparison with the decade that followed it certainly was. The fact remained, however, that many Americans lived very simple lives at that time, with few luxuries. Many families purchased only staple items - flour, sugar, etc., and occasional meats, to supplement what they could grow or raise in their backyards or on their land. For those families, Christmastime was probably the lone exception to their regular buying habits.
For the record, the standings and store locations from the top: First Prize, 3376 Monroe Street, Second Prize, 305 South Detroit Street, and tied for Third Prize, 2208 Monroe Street and 1305 Collingwood Street.