Friday, August 31, 2007

The Three Faces of Lucky

In 1959, Lucky began to expand upon their basic 20,000 square foot grocery store footprint with the opening of the first “Lucky Discount Center”, a new concept which added a variety of non-food items – clothing, small appliances, outdoor products and more in combination with their regular supermarket departments. Many of the Discount Centers featured liquor and pharmacy departments as well. These stores ranged from roughly 30,000 to 65,000 square feet.

The following year, Lucky purchased the forerunner of their Gemco membership store division. Lucky proceeded to open several more Gemcos through the ensuing years in their California market, eventually expanding in the later 60's and into the 1970's to Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, Texas and the metropolitan Chicago area. In the eastern states and Chicago, the stores were operated under the slightly different name “Memco”. These stores sold the above-mentioned items, along with greatly expanded apparel offerings plus several leased operations – including shoe, jewelry and automotive departments, gas stations and snack bars, a cleaners and an optometry shop. The Gemco and (and later Memco) stores averaged 100 to 110,000 square feet.

These photos show nice examples of each of the three faces of Lucky. They date from 1966, a year in which the chain grew to 166 standard supermarkets, 18 discount centers and 11 Gemco stores.


  1. It seems as though the Lucky, Gemco and Memco stores made really great use of the stores and modern architecture of the time. All the stores I ever see pictures of are all uniquely designed.

  2. You're right, there was tremendous variety in their store designs.

    The one thing they had in common was that they were always good!

  3. Lucky looks like it had potential to go national without American Stores' help in the 1980s...a diversified chain, and even operated regular supermarkets in Houston for a while (under the Eagle Supermarkets name). Lucky did run pretty small stores, though, at least in Cali.