11 Old Grocery Store Chains You’ll Love to Remember
You have to "check out" all the supermarket chains on this list. You might be surprised by how many you know.
What started as The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company became the first grocery store of its kind. Instead of asking a shopkeeper for flour or sugar from a barrel, shoppers could walk down the aisle and simply grab a package! A&P was THE grocery store of choice in most towns, especially from the 1930s through the 1950s. See what an old-fashioned general store looks like today.
Courtesy Bill Burmaster
White Hen Pantry
Chicagoans will fondly recall this chain of convenience stores that could almost replace your weekly grocery run. You could stop by for a deli platter on your way to a party and pick up a few Powerball tickets, too. Most White Hens converted to 7-Elevens in 2010.
Courtesy Robert Olivera
Kash n’ Karry
If you live in Florida, you’re bound to recall a Kash n’ Karry visit with your family. The name comes from the fact that people would bring in their “cash” and “carry” out their groceries. Their claim to fame was providing quick service for busy shoppers. If more than three people were waiting in line, Kash n’ Karry would open up a new check-out!
Kohl’s Food Stores
This well-known department store brand was a grocery store first. Polish immigrant Maxwell Kohl started his chain in Milwaukee in 1927. In 1962, after building Kohl’s Food Stores into the largest supermarket chain in the Milwaukee area, Kohl opened his department store and left the food business. Now, Aldi groceries may soon be sold at Kohl’s.
It’s alive and well in Minnesota, but Cub Foods exited most other markets due to the super-competitive grocery landscape. Cub was a pioneer of the “no frills” shopping experience, thanks to its bag your own groceries policy and a warehouse environment like Costco.
When Ultra Foods first opened in 1987 it was a low-price leader, offering discounts of 25 to 30% on regular grocery prices. It gained a foothold in northern Indiana and the Chicago area, but faced fierce competition from huge discounters like Aldi and Walmart. Exactly 20 years after Ultra Foods opened, the last location was turned into a Strack & Van Til grocery store.
Courtesy Sieg Herrnreiter
By the end of the 1920s, National Tea had over 600 locations in Chicago and another 1,000 stores across the country. Many were closed or sold during the Great Depression, but National Tea remained among the 10 largest grocery chains in the United States until 1976, when they sold to A&P.
Pantry Pride opened in the 1920s and went through some name changes (including Best Markets and Food Fair) in the ’50s and ’60s. This now-defunct supermarket chain was never able to recover from financial troubles in the late ’70s, and gradually disappeared from the grocery landscape. Have you seen this list of defunct restaurant chains?
Courtesy Orange County Archives
The first Alpha Beta grocery store opened in 1917. This grocer actually arranged products in alphabetical order on each shelf to help shoppers find exactly what they needed. It was a top spot to shop, particularly in California. See what grocery chains are best in the U.S. today.
The departure of Dominick’s left many Chicago strip malls empty. Dominick DiMatteo, who was born in Sicily, founded the chain in 1918. The second Dominick’s opened in 1934, and the family continued to run its stores until the ’90s. When Mr. DiMatteo passed away, his son and daughter sold the chain, and Dominick’s quickly merged with other grocery brands.
It all started in 1899 when a group of door-to-door salesmen sold tea and coffee from horse-drawn wagons. They partnered up and named the venture Jewel Tea Company. Beginning in the 1940s, customers could place orders for items from a catalog and merchandise was then delivered by mail. (This brand is still around today as Jewel-Osco!)