Kroger in Cleveland

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517634
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Kroger in Cleveland

Post by 517634 »

So I know that Kroger operated in Cleveland, but pulled out sometime in the 80's. Does anyone know why? I haven't been able to find much, other than that Giant Eagle bought some of the stores. I'm not even sure when they entered the market other than that some of the stores range from the 70s-80s.

So does anyone have any info the former Cleveland Division?
pseudo3d
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Re: Kroger in Cleveland

Post by pseudo3d »

I think it was union-related, as with most of the Kroger pull-outs in the 1970s through early 1990s.
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Groceteria
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Re: Kroger in Cleveland

Post by Groceteria »

517634 wrote:I'm not even sure when they entered the market other than that some of the stores range from the 70s-80s.
Kroger was in Cleveland at least as early as the 1920s.
rich
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Re: Kroger in Cleveland

Post by rich »

The came to Cleveland in the 20s and expanded their footprint buy buying out the local Piggly Wiggly franchise. they always had an odd footprint with relatively few stores in the affluent Eastern suburbs but some in well -off West Side ones. They went through several waves of closings between the mid-60s and mid-70s, although they also opened a number of superstores and converted some existing stores to that format. Their market share plummeted from the mid-50s when they did a major expansion, often in league with shopping center developers like Debartolo and Visconsi-Jacobs to the 60s--they were weak in perishables and slow to build the kind of large stores that independents and local chains had started to open in the 50s. they had a number of stores that opened and quickly closed in the late 60s/early 70s--one in Twinsburg and another in North Olmstead come to mind. They simply failed in the market--they and A&P tended to be everyon'es last choice.. they kept their DC open and it served stores in Akron, Youngstown and some Pennsylvania markets along with peripheral cities to Cleveland like Painesville. I suspect the decline of those markets had a lot to do with their ultimate withdrawal. They did have some experimental formats in Cleveland during this period, including Barney's , a warehouse format, and Bi-Lo, a limited format, and also produced baked goods for other chains. I do know that the superstores did not do well in some of the smaller markets. They probably blamed the unions, but basically just failed between economics and not being very competitive. They pulled out of numerous northern markets through the 70s and 80s. They finally closed the DC in the 80s.

Giant Eagle may have bought stores outside of the Cleveland area; most of the last ones in the Cleveland area were bought by First National/Pick-n-Pay and at least a couple (Great Lakes Mall and Richmond Mall) were converted to other uses.

The old Kroger DC in Solon is now Schwebel's Bakery--it's on Aurora Road, E of Harper. The even older DC on Tuscon Ave near Broadway in Cleveland is still standing and you can see some ornamental brick that gores back to its Kroger days.
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Re: Kroger in Cleveland

Post by Groceteria »

As an aside, I'm actually working on a Cleveland location list for the site. I've just gotten started and I only finished 1930 last night, so probably a week or more before it's live. I have access to city directories from 1930, 1936, 1940, 1943, 1951, 1955, and 1974.

For the record, the "big three" in 1930 for Cleveland and the inner ring suburbs (Lakewood, East Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Shaker Heights, Rocky River) were:

A&P (302 locations)
Fisher (280 locations)
Kroger (204 locations)
rich
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Re: Kroger in Cleveland

Post by rich »

What's ironic given your numbers is that in the "super market era", Kroger never had more than half the locations that Fisher or A&P (or later rival Pick-n-Pay) had in the Cleveland area and they were gone from places like Cleveland Heights where they once had had a number of neighborhood groceries.

BTW, the oldest operating store in the area probably is Dave's on Cedar Road in Cleveland Heights--until Giant Eagle bought out the Stop-n-Shop cooperative, the store operated as Russo's, beginning as a fruit & vegetable market. It probably dates from the 20s, although they may have started in a different storefront. Fisher once was a block away and that building has been the India Community Center since the late 60s.

Two other stores that date from the 20s (but were greatly expanded over time) were a Stop-n-Shop on Clifton near W 117th (now closed I believe) and a Fisher's at Lake Shore near E 266th in Euclid which was Holzheimer's for for several decades (affiliated variously with IGA, BiRite, & Eagle-the owners had been kicked out of Fisher management when Fazio and members of the Seaway wholesale group took control of Fisher and never had a Seaway-related co-op affiliation). Before that, the store was Sgro's, an original Stop-n-Shop member for quite a long time. Holzheimer's closed a couple years ago and was for rent the last time I drove by. The original Pick-n-Pay super market was on E 185th Street (the store on Coventry was branded #1, but had replaced parent company Farmview Creamery's nearby dairy store) and later operated for decades as Gale's Bi-Rite. It was vacant the last time I drove-by. The Coventry Road Pick-n-Pay operates as a drug store that includes quite a few groceries.
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Re: Kroger in Cleveland

Post by Groceteria »

Thanks for the great info. I should have the Cleveland location list up tomorrow. Unfortunately, I have nothing between 1955 and 1974 and nothing after 1974. I may have to visit in person to do that bit of research.

And yeah, Kroger seemed something of an "also-ran" in Cleveland, with a very strange geographic footprint.
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Re: Kroger in Cleveland

Post by pseudo3d »

A post on RetailWatchers mentions that Kroger "tried out multiple concepts in Cleveland for a decade before they left the market" but it doesn't mention what they were. What happened in Cleveland toward the end?
rich
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Re: Kroger in Cleveland

Post by rich »

Barney's was large, warehouse format. They opened it in two former discount stores (one was a Spartan-Atlantic, I don't know about the other). The Spartan-Atlantic was on Lakeland Blvd at East 305th Street in Wickliffe---it later became Carl's, a similar format operated by Fisher Foods. The building is now used by Progressive Insurance.

The other format was Bi-Lo which was a limited assortment model that opened mostly in former, inner city Kroger locations--one was at E 152nd & St. Clair (still standing as retail), another was on Buckeye Road & E. 89th (demolished).
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