Friday, August 3, 2007

Market Basket Mayhem!!

Highly recommended viewing for fans of old supermarkets is the 1964 Jerry Lewis film “The Disorderly Orderly”. This film features le Jerry in typical fine form, wreaking havoc as he earnestly performs the duties of an entry-level job, this particular one being an orderly in a sanitarium. Our family digs this film, even though my wife is only 1/8th French!

The climactic scene features Jerry and company laying waste to the nearly-new Studio City, California Market Basket store, which was located at 11315 Ventura Boulevard. Not only is it funny, but it offers a rare, up-close look (especially when viewed in slow-motion) at a classic SoCal grocery store in the prime of its life. When you see this you’ll gasp, you’ll marvel, you’ll think “Man, they were running a heck of a promotion on Hi-C that day!”

A little background – the Market Basket chain of Southern California (not to be confused with the unaffiliated Texas and New England chains bearing the same name) was founded with a single store in Pasadena in 1930. By 1963, the year the Studio City store was opened, the company had 56 stores throughout L.A. and the surrounding regions. In October of that year the chain was acquired by Kroger, providing them a beachhead (no pun intended) in the vital Southern California market. Prior to this time, Kroger had no stores west of Kansas.

The Market Baskets’ most distinctive features, to be sure, were the gigantic “basket-weaved” signs that towered above each store. Even in an era when many L.A. thoroughfares boasted great, often outrageous signage, these babies really must have stood out.

A few more notes - the building still exists, although it is no longer a grocery store. Secondly, if you watch the film carefully, you can spot a “Cinnamon Cinder” nightclub near the Market Basket. There were several of these non-alcoholic clubs in the SoCal area in the early 60’s, and many now classic rock and roll acts played there. They were owned by legendary concert promoter and Newlywed Game host Bob Eubanks.


  1. As a kid I used to enjoy watching Jerry Lewis and I probably saw this one at one time although it has been a long, long time so I don't recall which ones I ever saw.

    If I did see this film, I was a lucky kid because that building is just so groovy looking.

  2. It's on DVD and well worth seeing, if you get a chance!

  3. I worked at this market from 1977 to the closing of the store @ 1982. Lots of great memories and people I worked with. Great to see the store in its prime.

  4. Another movie which has wonderful 1960 interior super market shots is "Bachelor in Paradise" (1961), with Bob Hope and Lana Turner. I love that movie for its classic early 1960's style and color.

    Great blog, Dave!

  5. Anonymous, thanks for commenting. It must have been a great store in its day. Were there any old timers around who remembered the filming?

    Julie - Thanks very much, and I've seen "Bachelor in Paradise" and thought it was great! It was filmed in part at a Hughes market, a well-known LA chain at the time. Someone mentioned the location a while back, but I've forgotten it. You're right on about the style and color, it really was a great era visually. Combined with the storyline, it's one of those movies that could only have been made in the early 60's - the kind that keep me glued to TCM.

  6. Evidently The Beatles made a stop at the Cinnamon Cinder for some sort of event on one of their first visits to Los Angeles.

  7. Anonymous - That is true. Bob Eubanks, (later the Newlywed Game TV host), was at the time owner of the Cinnamon Cinder and a DJ on L.A. radio station KRLA. He was the promoter for the Beatles' Hollywood Bowl concerts and hosted the Beatles' press conference there before the concert in 1964.

  8. Visiting again because your blog brings back so many happy memories.

    Market Basket was one of my favorite grocery stores. We shopped at Alpha Beta because it was closer to our home and Mom didn't drive.

    Do you remember another market called The Pantry? For some reason, I thought The Pantry was affiliated with Market Basket.

    Also, didn't Market Baskets have a laundry inside/next store (the laundromat with the globe-ball with the dots?)For some reason, the name Norge sounds familiar.

    Once again, thank you so much for your blog. Do you know what pleasure you bring your viewers?

    Take care!

  9. I revisited this post after coming across the film on cable today, and I realized something. You say Kroger acquired the chain in October 1963. Did they keep the Market Basket name or change any/all over to Kroger?
    I'm sure the movie had to have been filmed after that date, given the number of 1964 model cars seen.

  10. Paul – I believe they kept the Market Basket name into the 1970’s, and at that time some stores were converted to the “MB Discount Foods” banner. I’m not aware of any West Coast stores that ever went under the name Kroger. Out of curiosity I took a quick look at the Imdb entry for the film, which showed a December 1964 release date, confirming that you’re right!

  11. Market Basket was kept around until the early 80's many became Hughes Markets whick Kroger later turned into Ralph's Markets in the late 80's and early 90's.

    Supermarkets are ugly as hell now. They all have that ugly faux mediterranean open market look which I find tired and gaudy.

    The early 60's were clean lined, minimal and subtle pretty pastel colors.

  12. Just to clarify a few things, yes Kroger did own Market Basket on the west coast until around 1983ish, then sold off all the stores on the west coast, some were bought out by Boy's Markets , some by Ralphs, others were closed and others became little independents, there then were several mergers & acquisitions between Luckey, Albertsons, Vons
    Safeway,Hughes, Alpha Beta, Boys and Ralphs, can't remember who bought who and when but now there are basically only three of those companies left, Ralph's which was NOT owned by Kroger until the early 2000's. Von's which is owned by Safeway and Albertson's which is owned by Supervalue. I have been in this business for over 35 years, and it is sad to see how everything has changed. Thanks for all the great memories

  13. Hi Laurie, My name is Mark and I worked for Market Basket just after graduating from High School and for about 8 years; July '71 thru early '80. I worked in the Anaheim Store# 22 and started just after my brother stopped working there because of enlisting in the Air Force.
    I started there as a Box Boy and after working as a Checker and Stocking, I went Full-Time as a Produce Clerk.
    I was used as extra help and did Vacation Fill-in in a few different stores. Later I was transferred to the new store in Santa Ana (can't remember the #) on Grand Ave just south of the 22 Fwy (produce mgr Paul de P...) and later was moved to store 144 in Huntington Beach.
    Do you remember the offices on Eastern Ave just off of the 5 Fwy in Vernon?, I had to go there a few times because of getting a loan from the Company for the first car (used) I bought on my own.
    It was a good Company to work for, made a lot of friends, had a lot of good times an learned a lot.
    Thanx PleasentFamilyShopping for your efforts

  14. I remember this Market Basket well! So fun to see pictures and read about these old stores. Enjoying reading your blog!