NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

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Groceteria
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NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

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Andrew T.
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

Post by Andrew T. »

This is great! As the gatherer of data, there are a few words and caveats I need to disclose...

* First: Most of the locations I've collated so far are limited to Minneapolis (the city) only. I still need to comb through my notes from the Minneapolis Suburb directories. Some suburban locations showed up in the "proper" Minneapolis directories (and thus, the spreadsheet) anyway; but there wasn't any real consistency about this. I also need to make sure that every suburban location is listed under the name of the town or city it actually geographically falls within, because I'm a stickler for such things.

* The Minneapolis city directories from the 1920s to the 1950s are exhausting to sift through. The city was (and is) enormous, and its grocery retailers were historically weighed more towards independents than chains...so I had to squint at tiny, hard-to-read text on dozens upon dozens of pages, without having much to glean from the effort. Worse, some chains in some years were omitted altogether from the classified listing sections: I'm missing National listings from 1930, for example.

* The day after I plugged in the first draft of the spreadsheet, I discovered errors from my initial round of data entry: Addresses keyed in as "3550" instead of "2440," locations in the wrong columns, stuff like that. I managed to catch the worst of it, but I won't rest easy about the accuracy of the data until I've double-checked every single location I keyed in! Argh.

* Minneapolis and its suburbs represent only half of the Twin Cities. What about St. Paul, and the suburbs that surround it? Unfortunately, St. Paul was not to be: I was pressed for time at the Minneapolis Central Library, and I wasn't able to review their collection of directories beyond the Minneapolis and Minneapolis Suburbs volumes on the open stacks. Researching the Twin Cities will have to be a long-term project.

That said...Minneapolis is a city of personal significance to me, and I nearly moved to live there on more than one occasion. And, it was fascinating to see how its grocery chains evolved!

There was a surprising amount of continuity between National, Applebaum's, and Rainbow Foods (Sid Applebaum's bio makes it clear as to why), and one ex-Del Farm store location on 1104 Lagoon Avenue evolved through all four brands! I suspect it was rebuilt at some point, though.

Applebaum's and Rainbow Foods also reoccupied a former Kroger store at 1808 NE University Ave; an artifact of that Ohio chain's short-lived and disastrous 1960s stab at the Twin Cities retail market. All the more ironic that Rainbow Foods was bought by Roundy's, which was bought by Kroger (sans Rainbow division, alas).
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

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Andrew T. wrote: 29 Jan 2020 15:01Some suburban locations showed up in the "proper" Minneapolis directories (and thus, the spreadsheet) anyway; but there wasn't any real consistency about this. I also need to make sure that every suburban location is listed under the name of the town or city it actually geographically falls within, because I'm a stickler for such things.
Welcome to my world. This is a bigger issue in the northeast and midwest than elsewhere, and it makes the process much more labor-intensive, so thanks for tackling it!

I have access to the ProQuest Star-Tribune archives at least for a few more months if there's anything I can look up there for you.
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

Post by Groceteria »

March_1,_1930_(Page_15_of_32).png
This (from 1930) pleased me when I did a quick query...
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

Post by Andrew T. »

BIG news: Big updates to Minneapolis!

https://www.groceteria.com/place/us-min ... nneapolis/

Yes, it's been 21 months since I did my initial research in the stacks of the Minneapolis Central Library in December 2019...and that cold day in the city now feels so distant it might as well have been a lifetime ago.

In December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic hadn't yet taken hold: People could still cross the border and live their lives the way they always had, without masks or worry of being sickened by science deniers. December 2019 was also five months before George Floyd's death was a spark of kindling on dry straw, turning Minneapolis into ground zero of a long-awaited societal reckoning on systematic white supremacy and insubordinate, militarized policing in North America. The world has changed...and so has the city.

The time was right to revisit Minneapolis, though. Here is what I did:

* Check every existing address number in the table for mistakes. (And yes, I found a few.)
* Add stores covered in the separate "Minneapolis Suburbs" directories.
* Add previously-overlooked stores, including many that were part of the "voluntary" chains like Red & White, Big Ten, and Country Boy that abounded from the 1950s to 1980s. I also traced the pre- or post-chain history for many of these locations.
* Check every address in Google Maps; both to scout out sights for well-preserved architecture, and to straighten out Minneapolis' confounding thicket of directional prefixes, directional suffixes, and ambiguous city and village names. (This took a whole day.)
* Remove non-retail addresses (offices, warehouses) that had slipped in.
* Canvas Google Maps for current supermarket locations.
* Comb through digitized Minneapolis directories on the Hennepin County Library website to fill in gaps in my own info. Unfortunately only the 1950 and earlier editions have been digitized, but this did allow me to fill in the previously-missing 1930 National and 1950 Zipoy locations.
* Comb through the library's digitized Edina, Hopkins, and St. Louis Park directories to try to find even more store locations. (They didn't yield much, but I'm still glad I checked.)
* Uploaded it all.

Results? The number of locations tracked in the table has increased from 295 to 637. The coverage now extends beyond the Minneapolis city limits as far south as Bloomington, as far west as Mound, and as far north as Blaine. And I'm now happy enough with the quality and accuracy of the data that I can vouch for it!

St. Paul will still have to wait, though...
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

Post by Steve Landry »

Wow Andrew!!!

Extraordinary "forensic" skills in grocery store research!

I should hire you to research the Food Fair Inc. "empire"!
The Food Fair Empire
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

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Oh, and there's more! The Minneapolis city directories of the 1930s had somewhat shoddy classified listings, with lots of omissions. But by doing a full text search, I was able to scrounge up 57 additional National, Piggly Wiggly, A&P, Red Owl, and C. Thomas chain grocery locations! All of these have been flown into the table, making the data better than ever. They also show the continuity between Piggly Wiggly and National, hinted to by the image upthread.

More analysis to follow...
Steve Landry wrote: 29 Sep 2021 11:10 Wow Andrew!!!

Extraordinary "forensic" skills in grocery store research!

I should hire you to research the Food Fair Inc. "empire"!
Haha, I'd be totally out of my element trying to make sense of Food Fair! (Now if this were Food Fare, I'd be all in!)
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Steve Landry
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

Post by Steve Landry »

Andrew T. wrote: 29 Sep 2021 23:06 Oh, and there's more! The Minneapolis city directories of the 1930s had somewhat shoddy classified listings, with lots of omissions. But by doing a full text search, I was able to scrounge up 57 additional National, Piggly Wiggly, A&P, Red Owl, and C. Thomas chain grocery locations! All of these have been flown into the table, making the data better than ever. They also show the continuity between Piggly Wiggly and National, hinted to by the image upthread.

More analysis to follow...
Steve Landry wrote: 29 Sep 2021 11:10 Wow Andrew!!!

Extraordinary "forensic" skills in grocery store research!

I should hire you to research the Food Fair Inc. "empire"!
Haha, I'd be totally out of my element trying to make sense of Food Fair! (Now if this were Food Fare, I'd be all in!)
Ahhhh yesssss..................the enigma of the Friedlands and their "friends" and relatives (from all along the east coast to Colorado, Nevada, California, the Caribbean and Israel).
The Food Fair Empire
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

Post by Andrew T. »

So...what grocery chains have risen and fallen in Minneapolis over the last century?

While eyeing over the data, National Tea is a name that stands out. Minneapolis was one of the incredibly rare places where this laggard company was actually a first mover; sweeping into the market in advance of other chains (by 1920!), generally keeping its stores competitive and up-to-date, and dwarfing others in store count. In fact, it seems that National basically "ran" Minneapolis as far as chains go, until Red Owl and Country Club Markets edged in on them during the 1960s and 1970s.

Several of National's recognizable 1950s pylon-type buildings survive:

* 2105 57th Ave N in Brooklyn Center.
* 2813 W 43rd St (a location dating back to before 1944, so it may have been rebuilt on the same site).
* 4010 Bloomington Ave.
* 3034 Lyndale Ave S.
* 3742 Nicollet Ave.
* 14625 Excelsior Blvd in Minnetonka.

Another fantastic National artifact is this streamlined 1940s store at 1419 Chicago Ave., which features a corner entrance decorated by glass block.

National's regional divisions must have had a bit of autonomy in dictating store design: The pylon stores in Minneapolis look a tad different from those the company built in Michigan, and they have flat roofs instead of barrel roofs. I also found no evidence that National ever graced Minneapolis with any of the 1960s Marina-esque buildings that it built in Milwaukee...which is a shame, really.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

Post by Andrew T. »

The Hennepin County Library has a number of pictures of old National stores in its digital collections. Some of them are quite old:
Now, if only I could find photos of Minneapolis National stores bearing the post-1972 Loblaws logo...

As for Applebaums? Well, let's begin. From what I understand, Applebaums was originally a small, local grocery outfit (based in St. Paul, not Minneapolis, which explains the lack of early store locations in the table). Sid Applebaum was founder, although it was hardly the first time his family name was involved in the grocery business: During my research, I found a Bernard Applebaum and a Jacob Applebaum that operated stores in Minneapolis as early as 1920!

In July 1979, Loblaws bought the company to counter National's lagging fortunes in the Twin Cities. Unusually for an acquisition, Loblaws kept Sid Applebaum on the payroll and transitioned its National stores to the Applebaums name. Three years later (probably during one of Loblaws' cash-flow crunches), the company sold the division to Wisconsin-based Gateway Foods...who once again kept Sid Applebaum in charge. In October 1983 the company introduced a new retail brand called Rainbow Foods, eventually supplanting the Applebaums brand. The company also began to be passed around like a hot potato, being sold to Fleming in 1994 and Roundy's in 2003. Sid Applebaum remained president of the chain until 1996.

Then, the downfall. Rainbow Foods undoubtedly stumbled in the Fleming era (was there a single Fleming-controlled chain that didn't?), and by the Roundy's era they were a perpetual #2 behind Cub Foods. Still, they remained a major force in the Twin Cities until 2014. That year, Roundy's pawned off the division to Super Valu and individual owners, probably to drum up cash for its Mariano's expansion. Some individual stores retained the Rainbow name for a few years after that...but with little remaining structure as a chain and with Super Valu having problems of its own, none of them lasted long.

In September 2018, the last Rainbow Foods store closed its doors...the last vestige of National's Minneapolis division, with a history going back nearly 100 years.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

Post by retailfanmitchell019 »

Andrew T. wrote: 30 Sep 2021 19:59 In October 1983 the company introduced a new retail brand called Rainbow Foods, eventually supplanting the Applebaums brand. The company also began to be passed around like a hot potato, being sold to Fleming in 1994 and Roundy's in 2003. Sid Applebaum remained president of the chain until 1996.
Albertsons was very close to buying Rainbow Foods back in 2000. https://mtstandard.com/news/state-and-r ... 27297.html
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

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retailfanmitchell019 wrote: 30 Sep 2021 23:13 Albertsons was very close to buying Rainbow Foods back in 2000. https://mtstandard.com/news/state-and-r ... 27297.html
Wow, that's an interesting "what if!" The timing is intriguing: July 2000 was when Albertsons Inc. was still in expansion mode, fresh off its conquest (and partial rebranding) of American Stores...and before the other shoe dropped, leaving the company collapsing into insolvency in 2001 and 2002 from these ill-advised acquisitions.

If Albertsons had pulled the Rainbow purchase off, the financial strain might have sent the company reeling even sooner than it did. They might have tried integrating Rainbow Foods with Jewel-Osco, since the two brands had Wisconsin overlap. And when Super Valu purchased Albertsons' "good" divisions in 2006, this would have presented additional issues: Rainbow Foods and Cub Foods once had two-thirds combined marketshare in the Twin Cities, which would have been a near-monopoly. Of course this wouldn't have saved the company from its debt load and other accumulated problems, and the end result probably would have been the same in the end: A severely weakened Super Valu running diminished numbers of stores, consolidated under the Cub brand.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

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When did National Tea enter Minneapolis, and how did they enter the market? While researching the chain's origins, I found a newspaper ad from 1919 which confirms that they entered by acquisition:
Irish Standard, 27 Sept 1919 wrote: National Tea Company

Successors to
H. P. McBride Co.

Why pay more?

13 Stores

1100 E. Franklin Ave.
101 E. 26th St.
4348 Beard Ave.
801 E. Lake St.
301 W. Lake St.
3801 Grand Ave. S.
301 E. Lake St.
1623 E. Lake St.
4600 Bryant Ave. S.
2551 Lyndale Ave. S.
3046-48 Hennepin Ave.
2605-05½ Hennepin Ave.
3255 Bryant Ave. S.

United States Food Administration License No. 11464.
So the local lineage of National/Applebaums/Rainbow goes back even earlier than I expected! The 1919 Minneapolis city directory lists 14 H. P. McBride stores, while the 1915 directory lists two.

The earliest mention of H. P. or Harry P. McBride I found was from 1909, when he sold dry goods from a single store on 2947 Hennepin Avenue (which still stands). John M. McBride (his father?) was also listed as proprietor of the store, and his name goes back even further: He operated a grocery store on 3045 Nicollet Avenue as early as 1896, and was employed by B. B. Hart and Son (another early Minneapolis grocer!) as early as 1884!

I love historical research.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: NEW: MInneapolis, 1920-2020

Post by Andrew T. »

And...the table has been extended back to 1910.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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