Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What's in a Name?


Not long ago it dawned on me that throughout this site’s existence, over six years now, I’ve never taken the time to explain the origin of its name. You see, the phrase “Pleasant Family Shopping” is associated with my earliest retail memories – it’s among my earliest memories of any kind, in fact.

From 1962 through the mid-70’s, the phrase appeared on the facade of nearly all Jewel-Osco combination food and drug stores (“Master Markets”, they were called in the early days), in a distinctive orange font on a white background. In my case, at the Des Plaines/Elmhurst Road location, it was on a white-painted brick section next to the entrance, at what seemed a mile above my eye level at the time. If you take a look at our very first post, click to enlarge the photo and squint real hard - you’ll see it.

More common were the “ranch-style” (or as Jerry Lewis would put it, “ranch-type style”) Jewel-Oscos, like the Highland Park, Illinois location (opened 1962, photographed mid-70’s) pictured above, where the slogan was displayed front-and-center inside an extra wide gable. A great many variants of this design were built.

In the summer of 2007, when I was kicking around the idea of starting a blog, I put together a mental shortlist of several names. I came this close to calling it “Supermarkets Past.” (How lame is that? It would have been very limiting as well, since we’ve covered numerous forms of retail over the years.) Then I kind of liked “More Posts About Buildings and Food” (Yeah, like I need legal trouble with David Byrne), and finally there was the old standby “Dave’s Retail Reminiscences”. (Or "rumblings" or "rants". Guaranteed to attract six readers a year. Leap year.)

Finally, the perfect name came to me – the phrase I’d seen on that wall, week after week, year after year as a kid.  To me it’s broad, yet specific, open to interpretation by individual readers, the way it should be. 

In 2010, I applied for and received official trademark rights to “Pleasant Family Shopping.”  Jewel, who never trademarked it in the first place, stopped using the phrase around 1976. In the 1978-80 remodeling program, it disappeared from most storefronts, hanging on a bit later on others.

So there you have it, O curious ones - an answer to one of life’s “great” mysteries. Ah, but there are many more, far more important retail mysteries to explore, and I promise the next posts will be more substantive. Thanks for bearing with me!

27 comments:

  1. Congratulations for having your own trademark...

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  2. l work at an Indiana store. Worked at 3 Indiana Jewel Osco stores since 1978. Those stores never had that facade. Wish they did. Wish all the stores still did. It was a nice touch that grocery stores today just don't have anymore.

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    1. Seems like a lot of their Indiana store facades were of the all-brick type, some with the brown mansard roofs. Jewel had at least one of these in Michigan, though (in Benton Harbor), maybe more.

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  3. I never realized that Jewel used the name as a slogan. That is neat, Dave! So is the photo.

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  4. Perhaps it is apt, ironic even, that I first ran across this blog because you had a picture of the great mid-century Katz here in Springfield, MO. CVS still operates in this location, and when I was a kid the store, was Skaggs Discount City. It had a name after this sometime in the 80s...Medicare-Glaser, perhaps? But in the 90s and early 2000s, it was an Osco! Of course, by then, there would have been no "Pleasant Family Shopping" signage. I just took a look in my city directories, and it turns out that the Medicare Glaser that was at Battlefield Mall when I was a kid was originally an Osco too (at least in 1976). No Jewels around these parts, so the grocery segment of pleasant family shopping was done in Springfield, MO during the 1962-1976 period at local Consumers, Rameys or So-Lo, or at regional chains like Milgram (with its jaunty "boxboy" mascot).

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    1. I'd love to have seen Battlefield Mall in the day, Mike! I've seen some pics of a Milgram store(with the boxboy)and it had a very cool mid-60's design. Thanks!

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  5. Good thing you didn't grow up in Florida -- I assume you wouldn't have been able to get a trademark on "Where Shopping Is a Pleasure" (still very much in use, albeit not on new store facades...).

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    1. Jim - I wouldn't have dared to try to use an active trademark, and Publix's famous slogan is still going strong as ever. One funny thing is the late, great Eastern discount chain Caldor used "Where Shopping is Always a Pleasure" for decades. I guess since Publix and Caldor were different types of retailers and there was no geographic overlap, no one saw a problem with it.

      Also, Walmart's "Save Money. Live Better." is pretty close to the old Kroger slogan "Live Better For Less."

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  6. Where in Highland PK. was this located? There used to be one on Central Ave. and last when I was up there, in was some independent food store.


    Also I live in Park Ridge and they had the Pleasent Family Shopping logo at the Busse & Greenwood store until the 90's I believe.

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    1. Mike - Don't know the street address for that one.

      Wow, every Jewel I'm familiar with was refaced long before 1990. Maybe the classics lasted longer in Park Ridge, though! Didn't their Dominick's keep the original design long after other Dom locations wee remodeled?

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    2. River Forest is the one I was thinking of. Evanston, also.

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  7. Thanks for doing this blog. I really enjoy it!

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    1. Thanks very much, Jay! I'm glad that you do.

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  8. Jewel kept some other old school facades much later. There was a porcelain coated metal one in Lincoln Park around Clark & Broadway until well into the late 80s. The Broadway store in Lakewview kepts its 60s facade until well into the 90s.

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    1. Wow, was the Lakeview store always a Jewel-Osco? I'd love to have seen it in its 60's state at that late hour. I made a change to the post, since obviously a few of these hung on later than 1980, but again, most I saw were changed in that very aggressive program of 1978-80.

      I also remember a handful of the non-Osco Jewels keeping their porcelain fronts (don't think these ever had the Pleasant Family Shopping tagline)well into the 80's. I had a great aunt and uncle who lived right off of Northwest Hwy. in Chicago, and there was one across the street from them. We usually visited once a year, at Christmastime, and I'll never forget the striking look of the store with its orange signage and white porcelain front on a snowy night.

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  9. The Lakeview Jewel-Osco had a twin in Evanston, with the same rooftop parking. Jewel and National both had small combo food/drug prototypes (in the 20K sf range) and this was one of them. I saw the National counterpart in Warren, Ohio.

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  10. Speaking of the North Shore, the Jewel at the Plaza, can't even think of the full name, while it has the moden signs the interrior definitly looks ancient.

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    1. Plaza del Lago on Sheridan Rd.? Another classic.

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  11. I was going through all my internet bookmarks, and found your blog. (you will have to pardon me, I have A.D.D, so I lose focus, which is why I bookmark stuff a lot) You have SO much here I want to look at, so I have poured yet another cup of coffee, closed my door so that my adult kids who have moved back in can scream at each other without me being in the middle, and I am going to take a well-deserved trip to the past. I have always been fascinated by retro, um... everything, but for me it's mostly old local stores and TV commercials.

    Thanks for all your hard work!

    Lynn

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  12. Lynn - Thanks so much for taking the time to read here and for your great comments! Hope it brought you a little peace and quiet along with the memories! :)

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  13. A kid down the block from us in the 1950s said his father worked for Jewel Tea. Co. This was Los Angeles, CA. I never saw any stores in CA. I'm not sure in what capacity he worked...mail order?

    Doug

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    1. Doug - Jewel had two main businesses in those years - the Jewel Food Stores, which were located in the Chicago area and the Jewel Tea Home Service Routes, which were nationwide (albeit based in Chicago). These initially sold coffee, tea and other foodstuffs but had expanded to carry clothes, toys and other items by the 1950's. Your neighbor's father most likely worked for the latter division, as a route man or maybe at Jewel's L.A. regional distribution center.

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  14. I always figured it was an expression that you remembered from your young-'un days. But thanks for the explanation.

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  15. I grew up in the south suburbs, and both the Dolton (144th st.)and South Holland (162nd st.) Jewels had those fronts.

    The front on the Dolton store bit the dust first sometime in the early 1980's totally replaced by the ugly brown sided fake box front (the store being brown brick) that Jewel was doing then. The Dolton store is no longer a Jewel and is now a school!

    However the South Holland store kept that front probably until about 10 years ago. I don't remember if the "pleasant family shopping" was still on it at the end of that facade's run but it had all the other late 1960's signs on it. By the end it was in terrible condition as Jewel wasn't maintaining it for some reason. It was roofed in cedar shakes, and looked really sharp (until they stopped maintaining it).

    In addition the South Holland store has white glazed brick on the front (it still does actually) behind the sloped roof section, the rest of the front and the sides and back a red brick. It now has a facade to look like the newly built Jewels (in white, cream and grey stucco and red brick). The 1960's style parking lot lights were replaced at that time too.

    The South Holland store was built in 1967 (before my time) to replace a burned down Jewel built in 1956. The Dolton store was built in the early 1970's, so it was strange to change the newer building first.

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