Monday, December 15, 2008

Kroger in the "Big D", 1965

These photos of the new Kroger at Dallas’ much-ballyhooed NorthPark Shopping Center were taken shortly after opening, which occurred in July 1965. They show the store’s entrance (the young girls are wearing outfits that don’t appear all that out-of-style today), the floral department, increasingly a standard part of supermarkets in upscale areas but by no means universal yet, the gourmet foods shelf, same story, the bakery and produce areas, the frozen dessert case (They just taste expensive!) with a colored strip panel matching the bakery area walls, the straightforwardly named toiletries section and the paper goods section, flanked by a relatively small greeting card display. In the early 1970’s, supermarket greeting card sections would be vastly expanded due to the products’ high margins, larger average store footprints and relentless promotion on the part of the card manufacturers. The décor package for this store, including the two-toned valances, was used on a number of Krogers, both newly constructed and remodeled, during the 1965-66 period.


  1. I am loving all this stuff. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

  2. When supermarkets began adding greeting cards, did they always have a certain company over another? If you walk into a Walgreen's or Dominick's today all you see i Hallmark cards as opposed to American greetings. I don't always remember it being this way.

  3. What always astonishes me in these photos is the amount of space between the aisles... Nothing like a modern store which tries to cram ever more product and departments into the same space.

  4. Heh...looking at the lady restocking the greeting cards reminded me that my grandmother absolutely refused to call paper towels anything other than ScotTowels - regardless of the
    brand. More awesome photos, Dave! Thanks!

  5. Richard, Thanks and Merry Christmas to you!

    Didi - The biggest player involved was Hallmark, which marketed to grocery stores and discounters under the name "Ambassador Cards", so as not to offend their dealer network, which sold the company's higher-end cards under the Hallmark name. In the 70's, Hallmark set up a whole program for supermarkets called "Social Expression Centers", which was basically a whole side of an aisle with cards, candles, centerpieces (like those thanksgiving turkeys that folded out like a fan), and other stuff.

    Derek - I agree. One reason for that, in my opinion, was the fact that manufacturers had yet to fully discover "brand extension" - where you now have 17 Oreo branded products (or however many there are) there used to be just one.

    Adrienne - That's a great story about your grandmother and the ScotTowels. Loyalty is a powerful thing! :)

    I always wondered why my mom didn't buy ScotTissue, since they sold it in those cool individually wrapped rolls. When I moved out on my own and had to start spending my own money for it, I realized why. We did buy the ScotTowels, though!

  6. I don't think it's just brand extension Dave, there are whole categories of products carried now (microwave foods) and extensions of existing categories (designer coffee, superpremium ice creams, ethnic foods), etc... etc... to consider as well. Not to mention that the grocery stores are facing ever growing competition from the 'super' stores and from the expansion of drugstores like Rite-Aid and Walgreens.

  7. This is an interesting store design for a Kroger of that era. The bulk of the 1960s Krogers tended to be indistinguishible. None of the 1960s era stores I recall were ever this attractive for Kroger-and most stores from the 1960s tended to be closed or replaced in the following decade.
    The Floral shop is ahead of its time and a harbinger of the future for Kroger. I had forgotten about frozen desserts often having their own separate freezer as late as this era. And the ladies uniforms remind me of restaurants and doctors, as uniforms like these were common until the early 80's, but I recall women's uniforms in retailers usually being a smock, apron or pantsuit-type uniform.

  8. Derek - Good points all. To one of your examples, when I was a kid, you'd have to go to Baskin-Robbins or a mom and pop equivalent shop to get premium ice cream, and of course now there are many fine brands to choose from in your local supermarket.

    Ken - This basic interior design scheme was used only during those couple of years, I believe, and I'm not sure how widely. (a major overhaul of a Cleveland Kroger in this same basic look received a lot of press at the time.)Since the supercenters followed less than 10 years later in many markets,it must have been pretty short-lived.

  9. Ken said: None of the 1960s era stores I recall were ever this attractive for Kroger-and most stores from the 1960s tended to be closed or replaced in the following decade.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! These are the pictures I've been looking for! Most of the Kroger stores in the Columbus area looked through the beginning of the Superstore era looked EXACTLY like the Dallas pictures, sans the bakery wall treatment. Berwick Plaza was the Kroger store my mother used to shop. It was in a dud of a location built in 1963 and lasting only 10 years before being replaced by a Superstore. The store interior looked very similar to the Dallas store, espcially the overhangs concealing the perimeter lights and the "Toiletries" section.

    The Kroger near my grandmother's house was located at James and Livingston and originally featured this decor. However, by the time I was old enough to notice such things, it had been repainted to use the Superstore colors and some Superstore graphics. Mind you, the store was essentially the same as the store pictured in Dallas but with more vibrant colors matching those of the new Superstores. I'm guessing that this was a busy store as it was one of the first to be open 24 hours.

    If you have more pictures of the interior, please post them. This brings back lots of memories!


  10. Dan - I'm happy that these are the ones! I hope to have some more of these to post soon. I was fairly sure this was a common prototype in Ohio, and that the overhangs (they called 'em valances) were a standard feature.

    I'm glad they bring back such good memories for you!

  11. That first picture shows something that would be totally alien to today's college age kids.... remember the rubber pressure mats we'd have to stand on to get the electric doors to open?