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Business On The Square In The 1940's
This article first appeared in issue 5, and was written by Ed Waggener.
The old Columbia Kroger store, with its tall ceilings and oiled floors, was located in half of what is now Dwight's Quilting. At the time, the Corner Drug store was located where Adair Warehouse Outlet's annex is now, then there was Paul Marshall's Variety Store in the other half of what is now Dwight's, then Kroger, then C.R. Hutchison & Son Hardware where Adair Warehouse Outlet is now, and then Lany Bray, where Mana Shoes is today.
When the picture of the old Kroger store was taken, the world was different, some things even reversed.
The store wasn't air conditioned. The only Columbians luxuriating in cold air then were usually on trips, when they were lucky enough to stay in air conditioned, as opposed toair cooled, motels and hotels
Kroger wasn't self service, then, either. Customers took their lists to the counter and the clerks filled their orders.
Grocer's long arms were used to get items from the high shelves.
There was no frozen food section. In fact, the meat case and the fish section were cooled with ice, Kenneth Scott, who made a career in the grocery business, remembers.
The small stock in the store would have been lost in today's Columbia supermarkets. Most people went to the store then only for the essentials: sody, salt, baking powder, sometimes pepper, and always coffee and sugar.
Many customers brought eggs in to pay for their orders. It worked this way: Kroger bought the eggs. The customer bought the standard baking soda, etc., list, and the customer could usually go home with some change left.
That was because the eggs/coffee exchange was the reverse of today's economics. Adair County eggs brought 39 a dozen, approximately half what they do now, making eggs an excellent commodity. Coffee was relatively much, much cheaper, maybe 15 per pound, Scott remembers.
The Kroger store was later doubled in size following a fire at Marshall's Variety Store. After the fire, Mr. Marshall constructed the building now occupied by Grimsley's Jewelry and moved there. Kroger added the old Marshall's Variety Store to its space, and remained in Columbia until the late 1950's.
Information for this item was supplied by Kenneth Scott, Hartzell Hodges, and J.D.Harper. Mr. Harper worked at Kroger briefly after returning from World War II. Mr. Harper and Mr. Hodges preside at Columbia relevant history roundtables at the Circle R Restaurant..The not-for-college-credit sessions are generally held MTWThF starting at around 2:30-3:00 p.m. Only serious historians are invited to participate as strict historical standards are adhered to: Nothing is considered authenticated unless both Mr. Harper and Mr. Hodges unanimously concur it happened that way. Or at least ought to have . -Ed.
This story was posted on 1996-07-01 12:01:01
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