The Start of Kroger, 1966

“These photos, taken in 1966, show the Kroger location at Dover Center and Oviatt Road in Bay Village, Ohio, an affluent suburb of Cleveland. The store had just reopened after a brief closure for remodeling. First is a color shot of the store’s façade, followed by alternating black-and-white and color photos that provide a “before and after” look at the various departments.

The story of Kroger Bay Village involves one of the earlier attempts by a major supermarket chain at molding the “look and feel” of an entire store to fit the preferences of a specific demographic, as opposed to mere promotional displays. The remodeling came about as a result of a joint effort between Kroger, Progressive Grocer magazine, and the Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation, a company best known as a major publisher of Bell System telephone directories. Progressive Grocer was in the midst of its landmark “Consumer Dynamics” study, the main purpose of which was to help supermarkets identify and respond to demographic characteristics of their shoppers. Ultimately a series of categories, based on age, marital status, income levels and ethnicity was arrived at. To make (an extremely) long story short, it was concluded that supermarket chains would be wise to maintain a complete selection across all demographics, yet to tailor each individual location with the predominant local demographic in mind. To borrow an example from another study, while all Kroger stores might maintain a minimum inventory of a particular exotic vegetable on an upper shelf, higher income area stores would carry it in quantity, displaying it more prominently.”


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