Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grocery stores of our day

Remember grocery shopping in the 1970s and 1980s? While it wasn't that long ago, in many ways, it was a whole 'nother world from shopping today.

Let's list some differences:

1) Hardly any stores were open 24-7. That was just crazy! Some stores weren't open Sundays at all.

2) Big chains were much less prevalent, it seems. Our area was ruled by local stores--Knowlan's (where I worked in college), Schiller's (my first-ever grocery store), Red Owl, Applebaum's. And of course, stores like Target did NOT have grocery sections.

3) Everything had a price tag on it. Scanners just started to come along when I got hired at Knowlan's in late 1985, and of our nine-store chain, only two stores had scanners (thankfully, mine was one of them).

4) You bought pop in eight-pack glass bottles, which you had to pay a deposit on and then return, stickily, to the store to collect your change.

5) All grocery bags were paper. No plastic, no bringing your own reusable sacks.

Check out these wonderful old photos of grocery-store interiors from The Imaginary World. There's also a wonderful Flickr pool of photos from old stores.

Please share your memories of how grocery stores were different back in your childhood!

Oh, and don't forget our earlier post about The Brady Bunch at the supermarket.


Sylkozakur said...

I remember the clerks ten-keying I'm every item! We shopped at Gemco. It was a membership store that was like target with a full grocery. My mom would shop while my dad & I would look at fishing tackle or I would sit on the floor in the book section reading. I loved Gemco!

Wendell said...

From '63 to '73 I was growing up in the San Fernando Valley, a block away from one of the few Piggly Wiggly Supermarkets on the West Coast. It was one of the first chains to stretch out as far as it did, and for this store (on the edge of trendy Encino), they went upscale as "Piggly Wiggly Continental". Then after Piggly decided to give up on getting a toehold in California, it was sold to a local chain called "The Boys' Markets". Yep, "The Boys' Continental". I do remember it was the first supermarket that had a deli counter where they made humongous corned beef sandwiches 'just like a New York deli'. That's kinda Continental, right?

Also, I was a customer of Gemco during its final years. Very cool shopping experience, but the grocery section was way in the back of the store, so (living alone) I had to do the rest of my shopping first (or else the frozen food would thaw) and then take what I considered a 'brisk walk of shame' to the exit and my car where I would inevitably see a dozen things I wished I'd bought...

Brian said...

In the '70s, my parents used to buy cases of Pepsi in glass bottles - and the cases were made of wood - from a local gas station. On the weekends my dad would lug the cases back to the gas station to collect the deposit.