Grocery Stores from Yesteryear


Chinatown Grocery Store – San Francisco

H I S T O R I C A L   P H O T O G R A P H S

Apple-Touch-IconAThere have been a number of historical photograph galleries this past year on Peachridge Glass such as Colorado Saloons, Ghost Towns, Utah Saloons and Breweries, Drinking EstablishmentsApothecary and how we transported the merchandise. If you go to the History Category on the right of each page you will see dozens of similar posts.

We have lost so much of this personality when we have ‘giant-sized’ the shopping experience.

I really enjoy looking at old photographs as they relate to our hobby. The pictures really add character and personality to the pieces of glass and bottles we research and own. Today I was looking at grocery stores researching Liebenthal Brothers in Cleveland and found this great Milk picture. Where else would you find a picture of a Dog Delivering Milk? Look carefully at each picture and see how proud each merchant is in the picture. We have lost so much of this personality when we have ‘giant-sized’ the shopping experience.

It is also really important to know that many wholesale and retail grocers were heavily marketing and selling medicines and bitters products. Many had their names embossed on the bottles and or printed on labels.


Milk delivery by dog cart, probably around 1910. This was taken at the intersection of Ventura Blvd. and Lankershim Blvd. in San Fernando Valley, California. The milkman is pouring milk into a pitcher.

G R O C E R Y   S T O R E S

Grocery stores are descended from trading posts, which sold not only food but clothing, household items, tools, furniture, and other miscellaneous merchandise. These trading posts evolved into larger retail businesses known as general stores. These facilities generally dealt only in “dry” goods such as flour, dry beans, baking soda, and canned foods. Perishable foods were instead obtained from specialty markets: Fresh meat was obtained from a butcher, milk from a local dairy, eggs and vegetables were either produced by families themselves, bartered for with neighbours, or purchased at a farmers’ market or a local green grocer.

Many rural areas still contain general stores that sell goods ranging from cigars to imported napkins. Traditionally, general stores have offered credit to their customers, a system of payment that works on trust rather than modern credit cards. This allowed farm families to buy staples until their harvest could be sold.


The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Memphis, Tennessee. The first self service grocery store, opened 1916.


The first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, was opened in 1916 in Memphis, Tennessee by Clarence Saunders, an inventor and entrepreneur. Prior to this innovation, customers gave orders to clerks to fill. Saunder’s invention allowed a much smaller number of clerks to service the customers, proving successful (according to a 1929 Time magazine) “partly because of its novelty, partly because neat packages and large advertising appropriations have made retail grocery selling almost an automatic procedure.” [Extracted from Wikipedia]


The August Storz grocery store in Portland, Oregon was at 469 N. Williams Avenue in this fine 1910 photograph. Today’s street numbering system puts this at at 2211 N. Williams, at the end of Thompson Street.


Early 1900s, two men standing outside old grocery stored. Barrels of vinegar, crates, canned goods, and fresh produce can be seen. Sign in windows say ‘L.H. Marsh Grocery’. – Grinnell, Iowa


Grocery store with an abundance of Coca-Cola signs

Elbert T. Osborne's Grocery

Elbert T. Osborne’s Grocery, west side of Main Street, Port Jefferson, New York


R.M. Richards Groceries. Three Men in Front of R.M. Richards Grocery Store in 1912. Man is holding two boxes of Morton Salt. Also shown in the image is Kellogg Toasted Corn Flakes, Doll, and bag of Potatoes.


1936 Alabama Roadside Stand – Walker Evans


Brothers Fred, second from left, and Henry Roth built their grocery store in 1920 at 723 G St. in Fresno, California. The store was the era’s version of a supermarket


The Williams brothers, Charles, Thomas and George opened the Williams Bros grocery store at Washington and Irving Streets in 1913 in Syracuse, New York. The store stayed opened until 1944.


The interior of the Volkert grocery store at 24th and W. Warren, Detroit, Michigan in 1920. The man with the hat by the “oysters” sign is Conrad Volkert. Names of the two “helpers” are not known.


Photograph of the interior of Fisher’s Grocery Store in Kansas.

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The Litsch Store at Shasta State Historic Park in Redding, California was the last surviving original Shasta business.


The exterior of S.N. Lopez Co. grocery store on San Fernando Road in 1918. – San Fernando Valley, California


“Grocery store in Overton, Nebraska.” Glass plate negative by Solomon D. Butcher. Nebraska State Historical Society collection. – 1904


Photograph of Wheeler’s Boston Branch Grocery store at 26 Washington Street in Keene, New Hampshire, with the proprietor. – Keene Public Library and the Historical Society of Cheshire County, circa 1900 – 1920


An 1888 photo taken from Ventura Street looks northwest on J Street (now Fulton Street) into the young city of Fresno. The “false front” of Spiro Obradovich’s grocery store, Cash Grocers, mimics the architecture of the era. Obradovich is seen at right, with his wagon in front.


Charles E. Miller’s grocery store, southwest corner of Main Street and Maple Place, Port Jefferson, New York. Miller is seated behind the wheel of the Oldsmobile.


C.D. Rake Groceries – Marietta, Ohio


Maison Laurent (1905) located at 198, Rue de Vaugirard, Paris XVe, France. Vintage real photo postcard, circulated in January 1905, divided back, photograph by Haus (?, Montrouge, Hauts-de-Seine). This postcard was sent by Monsieur Laurent himself wishing a friend a Happy New Year.


J.F. Barker & Co. Groceries – Roseburg, Oregon


Old Murphy Grocery Store in Yerba Buena, California. Built as the Big Trees Hotel on Big Trees Road in the 1890s, the two-story frame building was moved to its present site in the early 1900s. It was then occupied by Ben and Jim Stephens as a grocery store for many years, and after that by Buster and Rose Riedel’s Murphys Grocery Store until the 1980s.

About Ferdinand Meyer V

Ferdinand Meyer V is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and has a BFA in Fine Art and Graphic Design from the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. Ferdinand is the founding Principal of FMG Design, a nationally recognized design consultation firm. Ferdinand is a passionate collector of American historical glass specializing in bitters bottles, color runs and related classic figural bottles. He is married to Elizabeth Jane Meyer and lives in Houston, Texas with their daughter and three wonderful grandchildren. The Meyers are also very involved in Quarter Horses, antiques and early United States postage stamps. Ferdinand is the past 6-year President of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors and is one of the founding members of the FOHBC Virtual Museum.
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