Inside vintage grocery stores & old-fashioned supermarkets of yesteryear

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Grocery shopping in the 50s - 1958
Take a look back at the kind of shelves and aisles, counters and checkouts that American shoppers used to encounter every day when shopping for food and everything else at vintage grocery stores.

Vintage sixties supermarket scene (1964)

Vintage sixties supermarket scene (1964)

Old-school checkout lanes at vintage grocery stores (1964)

National Food Stores 1964

Carb-loading, ’50s style (1952)

Woman supermarket shopper 1952

Nickels and dimes at the Kroger store (1957)

From back when it was a new thing to have cash registers that calculated the correct change

Vintage grocery store cash registers from the 50s - 1957

Free baby sitters at D’Agostino’s grocery – shopping carts (1950)

This youthful New Yorker, Shawn Tully, 15 months, is completely relaxed about grocery shopping. And so, for that matter, is his mother, Mrs Edward Tully. Their favorite grocery store — D’Agostino Brothers, on Manhattan’s East 85th Street — knows how to make it easy and pleasant for both of them.

Vintage supermarkets and grocery stores 1950 (2)

How self-service meats in cellophane make shopping quicker, easier (1950)

Vintage supermarkets and grocery stores 1950 (1)

Vintage green stamps (1956)

Join the 20 million smart, thrifty women who shop where they receive S&H Green Stamps. Over 60,000 stores of all types give them! Actually, 4 out of 5 women who save stamps save S&H Green Stamps.

Vintage grocery stores and supermarkets - 1956 (1)

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1950s grocery store – scene in the produce section

1950s grocery store

“Kresge’s new registers figure your change!” (1956)

Vintage grocery stores and supermarkets - 1956 (4)

“Land sakes, this IS a nicer way to buy lettuce” (1953)

Lettuce at the grocery store in 1953

The ‘supermarket’ is the latest in modern convenience (1959)

Lubbock Morning Avalanche (Texas) February 12, 1959

This new supermarket brings to Lubbock the ultimate in shopping convenience. There is simply no more modern — nor more complete — grocery market to be found anywhere.

New Piggly-Wiggly Supermarket Covers 27,000 square feet

The building covers nearly 27,000 square feet of floor space, running about 2,000 feet larger than when it was originally planned on the drawing board.

Here’s how some of that space is utilized: There are 180 lineal feet of frozen foods — and these counters are in a soft pastel blue, easy and restful on the eyes. Another 121 linear feet make up the market display, which includes tile fresh meats and cheese.

A new note has been introduced here with the use of tan leather-trimmed cases — quite a change from the unbroken stark white to which we’ve become accustomed.


Special delicatessen department

Forty-eight feet have been set aside for frozen fish, in addition to which the special delicatessen department will have a fresh fish section with supplies coming in daily by air and by express from the East Coast, Houston and Galveston.

In the delicatessen, you can find all kinds of salads and prepared foods, including barbecued fryers. You’ll want to take special notice of the outstanding produce department covering 60 feet of wall space as well as substantial aisle displays.

Regular cosmetic counter

Then, 51 feet of space will contain drugs, on top of which there’ll be a regular cosmetic counter, where milady can purchase lipsticks, colognes, perfumes, etc.

Wandering still further around the store, the observer will see a nice gourmet section offering fancy foods, a complete dietetic section… a garden supply section, and 66 feet of housewares, too.

Vintage grocery stores and supermarkets - 1955

“Extra services” available

Store officials point out with justifiable pride to such “extra services” as being able to prepare 10 baked hams at a time, which is in effect, offering a catering service.

If you’re having a large party or a church dinner, and would call ahead in the morning, these could be ready for you in the afternoon, thanks to a special large oven installed at this supermarket.

We are told that a dinner for as many as 500 to 600 people, complete with salads, could be prepared on 5 or 6 hours’ notice. Or — if one wanted barbecued fryers or chickens — they could prepare enough to serve up to 4,000 people if necessary!

Ten check-out stations

The old-fashioned forerunner of this market (the general store) may have carried a little of everything available for sale in its day — but it’s certain that it never approximated the service of its modern-day counterpart!

Ten motorized check-out stations will provide faster-than-ever service. A continuous belt moves the groceries out of the way of the checker, down to the sackers who take them to the car.

Women in produce section of grocery store - supermarket in 1958

Room for kiddies

The long-suffering shopper is really in for her day with the opening of this new Piggly- Wiggly supermarket — because she can come in and shop… park her kiddies in the TV and Magazine Room especially provided for that purpose… and stop to rest her own tired feet while she sits on comfortable divans and sips coffee with her friends, in the conveniently located lounge in the store’s lobby.

The building, constructed by Tidmore Construction Co., is completely air-conditioned both summer and winter, with central heating and refrigerated cooling system. And one of the finest sound systems will provide pleasing music during shopping hours, continuously and coincidentally with the music which is provided all over the Monterey Center, both inside and out.

Grocery shopping in the 50s - 1958

Indirect lighting

Soft, indirect lighting is used in the dropped ceilings over the check-out stations… and a new type of fluorescent lighting throughout the rest of the store gives twice as much light per square foot as what hag been available heretofore.

Last, but not least, all meats will be weighed on completely automatic scales, and your change made on the new Change-Maker cash registers which tell you how much money you’ve coming back, and installed for the first time in a Piggly-Wiggly supermarket.

Covered, lighted walkways alongside the building provide protection from the weather, and shoppers may enter the building through electrically-operated doors on both sides as well as through the front entrance.

Supermarket checkout 1951 - Vintage grocery store

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Woman with her two kids & a shopping cart at a vintage grocery store (1956)

Vintage grocery stores and supermarkets - 1956 (2)

A little Pyrex display at a vintage drugstore

A little Pyrex display at a vintage drugstore

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Your change automatically figured! (1954)

Vintage National cash registers and printed store receipts at vintage grocery stores

Vintage grocery stores and supermarkets - 1954

The vintage supermarket check-out cash register (1966)

What happens when “the office machines company” enters your supermarket? You exit faster.

New Victor cash registers are designed to step up the tempo of any check-out line. Their keyboards respond instantly to the lightest touch, and eliminate the time-consuming chore of pre-sorting taxable and non-taxable items.


“Now there’s real service — a register that figures our change!”

Vintage grocery stores and supermarkets - 1956 (3)

The checkout of a vintage grocery store (1960)


Detergent and cleaning product scene – with motor oil (1967)

LIFE Oct 6, 1967 Grocery store

Meat at grocery store – food shopping (1937)

Nov 22, 1937 Meat at grocery store - food shopping

1950s A&P grocery store

1950 A&P grocery store

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2 Responses

  1. I love looking at anything from the 50`s and 60`s, It brings back so many memories. Times were hard back then but we did manage somehow. Thank you for bringing back these pleasant memories.

  2. Love to go back in time, such an innocent time period. The early 60’s, and 70’s a full two carts of groceries in the early 60’s? 45.00 meats included. The advertisements, signage brings back awesome memories keep them coming.

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