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Research Notes on the History of Grocery Stores in St. Louis, 35 Years Since Kroger Closed

November 15, 2021 Featured, Local Business, Retail, STL Region Comments Off on Research Notes on the History of Grocery Stores in St. Louis, 35 Years Since Kroger Closed

After visiting the newest grocery store in St. Louis last week, I took a deep dive into the history of grocery stores in St. Louis, spending hours in Post-Dispatch archives through the St. Louis Public Library website. I’ll write about the new store soon, but today is my research incomplete notes.

The Schnucks on Lindell (Lindell Marketplace) was one of two Kroger’s under construction when they left in 1986. National bought this location, Schnucks got it later when they bought out National. Schnucks then closed their Delmar & Kingshighway location, where an ALDI was built less than a decade ago.

It was 35 years ago today (11/15/1986) the first of Kroger’s 54 St. Louis area stores began closing, following their decision to pull out of the St. Louis market after 74 years. Most would reopen as a National, Shop ‘N Save, or Schnucks. These other chains each closed some of their existing locations in older/smaller buildings. Other Kroger locations closed. Cincinatti-based Kroger remains a huge player in the national grocery market.

I moved to St. Louis in August 1990, so Kroger leaving was recent history.  As I recently learned, there’s so much history before Kroger left.  My research is still ongoing, but I wanted to share what I found so far:

  • A & P was already in St. Louis in 1886. A December 20, 1886 advertisement listed 3 locations: 611 Franklin, 1256 S. Broadway, and 712 N. Broadway. [I’d heard of A & P numerous times of the years, but didn’t know anything about it so I turned to Wikipedia: “The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, better known as A&P, was an American chain of grocery stores that operated from 1859 to 2015. From 1915 through 1975, A&P was the largest grocery retailer in the United States (and, until 1965, the largest U.S. retailer of any kind).”  Wow!]
  • A May 5, 1895 A & P ad showed four stores, but one change from 9 years before. The 611 Franklin store wasn’t listed, but 1043 Vandeventer was added.
  • 1901 Straub’s opened, per their website.
  • March 12, 1908 advertisement for Maurer’s meat & grocery stores listed five locations: 8 & 10 S. Jefferson, 2612-14 Franklin, 3858 Garfield, 1402 Market, and 1740 Division.
    9/29/1911 display ad for Maurer-Remley Meat and Grocery Co., 21 locations (not listed)
  • 11/12/1911 David L Remley sues scale co. Recently merged with Jacob Maurer’s stores.
  • 1912 Kroger buys 25 Maurer Remly Meat & Grocery Co. locations. [Maurer & Remley both grew quickly by opening stores or buying out others.  In 4 years Maurer went from 5 to 25 locations before selling out to Kroger. 
  • Saturday  10/12/1912 Kroger bought ground & a plant bounded by Tiffany, vista, rutger, and frisco tracks. Had already purchased 30 Maurer-Remley stores. [25 or 30? stores purchased]
  • Per the Dierbergs website: one store was purchased on Olive, east of the present day I-270. A merchant had opened that store in 1854!
  • Monday 12/16/1935 ad for A&P — the great Atlantic & pacific tea co. 2300 n union, 2905 n Newstead, 4135 shreve, 3127 s. Grand, 3155 Park, 4065 Shaw, 7501  S. Broadway, 5535 S. Grand, 5009 Gravois, 8126 Gravois, 4607 macklind, 118 Lemay Ferry, 5707 Delmar, 6388 Delmar, 6689 Delmar, 6720 w. Florissant, 6208 natural bridge, 8820 St. Charles rock road, 7200 Oakland, 8 s Euclid, 4753 McPherson, 528 n. Taylor, 4389 Laclede, 46 n. Central, 15 s. Florissant in Ferguson, 2533 Woodson Road in overland, 121 n Kirkwood, new store opening 102 Lockwood in Webster groves.
  • Apparently the Schnucks at 10275 Clayton Rd was originally a Bettendorf or a Bettendorf-Rapp store.

    1939 the first Schnucks opened, per their website.

  • Wednesday 3/21/1956: New Detroit based food group ACF-Wrigley purchased Fred P. Rapp Inc includes 10 stores and a warehouse. ACF formed in December 1955 by merger of wrigley stores and big bear super markers of Detroit, standard food and humpty dumpy & subsidiaries of okc, A Wolf Inc, a Detroit wholesaler. They later acquired 13 supermarkets operated by food town stores of Cleveland.  Five new Rapp stores planned for STL in 1956. By early 1957 this will give ACF 40 total stores. Sale includes warehouse at 8590 Page, supermarket at 8455 Gravois. Others leased. Rapp began about 1930 with a small neighborhood store. Opened 2 more in the following 2 years. In 1935 the first 2 were sold. The third, at 3111 Watson Rd converted into a supermarket to begin the chain.
  • December 20, 1956 ad Schnucks giant value markets 4135 Shreve, chambers & west Florissant, 9474 lackland, 9120 Manchester, 4356 Manchester, 6301 St. Louis Ave. [This was the first I found on Schnucks, despite their claim of opening in 1939.]
  • December 1957 meat cutters union dispute with all grocery stores.
  • Thursday 10/2/1957 merger of Bettendorf and Rapp completed today. Both owned by ACF-Wrigley Inc of Detroit. They purchased Rapp in 1956 and Bettendorf earlier in 1957. 
  • 1983 coupon war started by Kroger. They also announced plans to build 5 new stores.
  • Tuesday 10/7/1986: Kroger to sell/close all 54 stores, sell distribution center. Was 3rd largest STL chain. Schnucks (53 existing units) to buy 8 Kroger locations, close 6 existing. Schnucks is #1, National is #2. Independents served by Wetterau are #4. Wetterau is a distributor that services 2,400 independent grocery stores in 26 states! Kroger started doubling & tripling coupons in 1983, causing a price war. Kroger first expanded beyond Cincinatti to St. Louis in 1912 when it bought 25 Mauer Remly Meat & Grocery Co. Kroger cited large number of discount warehouse & independent grocers as reason for closing.
  • Wednesday 10/8/1986: Wetterau Inc to buy 10 of Kroger’s 54 St. Louis stores. These will become Shop ‘N Save. National to buy 26 stores and 560k sf distribution center at 6050 Lindbergh. Two Krogers still under construction: Sarah & Lindell, and north Florissant in Ferguson.  National’s 360k sf distribution center on page will eventually close. National had 45 stores, plus 26 will give it 63 in the metro, plus 8 outside. Heard national would close 9 existing locations. National is owned by Toronto based Loblaw. Schnucks buying Kroger’s at river Des Peres road on south side, Maryland heights, Alton, Cahokia, granite city, and Wentzville. Plus under construction in south county and Brentwood.
  • 11/12/86 elderly upset about Kroger at 3865 Gravois Ave closing. National buying it, but closing. National also buying 4617 Chippewa, will reopen.

Obviously there are huge gaps in my notes. I presume Schnucks bought Bettendorf-Rapp locations from ACF at some point. Eventually I hope to fill in other major mergers/consolidations.

— Steve Patterson

 

Smart Electric Meters & Time Of Use (TOU) Rate Plans Coming To Ameren Missouri Customers

April 28, 2021 Environment, Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Smart Electric Meters & Time Of Use (TOU) Rate Plans Coming To Ameren Missouri Customers

Recently we received a flyer from electric utility Ameren Missouri notifying us that our meter will be changed to a smart meter within the coming months.

I soon began digging into Ameren’s website to learn more detail:

Smart meters enable wireless, two-way communication that will allow us to pinpoint and solve outages sooner and provide near-real-time energy usage information to help customers better manage their energy habits and potentially save on their bill. The meters also enable us to offer a suite of new time of use rate options that give customers the power to choose a rate that fits their lifestyle. Customers will have more convenience, choice and control. (Ameren)

Watch brief Ameren video here.

In my 30+ years in St. Louis my electric rates have always been the same regardless of when I/we used electricity, but I’m looking forward to having the option to pick a plan to potentially save money:

Customers with an upgraded smart meter can choose from a suite of rate options including our new time of use (TOU) rates. TOU rates offer the opportunity to save on your bill if you can shift your energy usage to off-peak hours.

This meter change applies to all Ameren Missouri customers, the rollout is apparently about 20% complete. The following map shows when customers can expect their meter to be changed.

Click on map to open on Ameren’s website, you can search for your address to see the appropriate day your meter is scheduled to be changed. Ours is June 3, 2021.

I put in a few addresses like previous residences, friends, etc. One friend in St. Charles already has a new smart meter, but no new time of use reporting yet.  I had a video meeting with Steve Willis, Ameren Missouri Director of Rates and Analysis,  to learn more about this. Next month they’ll have a portal for smart meter customers to view detailed usage information. After a few months of use they’ll suggest which plan is best.

The following are the new Time of Use rate plans, based on currently approved rates. Summer rates are four months June-September, winter is the other 8 months. Generally the mid-peak & peak rates apply only to Monday-Friday, except major holidays.

Anytime is what we’ve always had, the rate is unchanged regardless of the time of day used.

So now here are the plans that can potentially save money compared to Anytime. I say potentially because if you use air conditioning, dryer, etc during peak rates your bill could be higher than on the Anytime plan.

The Evening/Morning Savers plan is only a slight variation from the Anytime plan. A slight reward for shifting some use from day to night.

The above plan is to begin to get customers to reduce their energy use during peak periods.

 

Now we see a greater difference between peak and off-peak, but the peak period is very long.

Now we get 3 tiers weekdays, 2 tiers on weekends.

And finally the biggest potential savings, but with a catch. Both summer & winter include a demand charge per billing cycle, based on the highest use 6am-10pm any day in the period.

For years I’ve been working to reduce our carbon footprint, including a reduction in energy use. We signed up for Arcadia a couple of years ago so 50% of our electric is wind credits.  Since we keep our air conditioning at 77° in the summer I never worried about using power during peak demand times. For over a year we’ve been on Ameren’s Peak Time Savings plan — this allows Ameren and our thermostat provider to briefly take control of our thermostat to reduce demand at critical times. They’ve never had to adjust our settings.

I’ve started prepping for the change to Time of Use rates by adjusting the schedule on our smart thermostat (Ecobee 3), my goal is for the Ultimate Savers plan to be our best bet. Since we’re still in the winter rate months until June 1st our HVAC is set so it’s unlikely to come on between 6am-8am and 6pm-8pm Monday-Friday. I lowered the lowest setting from 66° to 45°, and increased the maximum from 77° to 80°. It has been very mild so it hasn’t been an issue, not sure how well it would’ve gone in January & February when we had single digit temperatures outside.

In the summer rate months (June-September) I’ll adjust our air conditioning to come on less frequently during the 3pm-7pm peak period. This four hour period will be harder than the four hours in the winter, split into morning and evening. I’m going to contact Ecobee to ask them to add the ability to have summer & winter schedules to save having to make changes twice per year.

We’ve been using the dishwasher delay or just starting ours after 10pm. I’ve avoided using the dryer in the 6am-8am peak period, though one morning I forgot and started it during the peak period. My power wheelchair charger has been on a smart plug for years, coming on after midnight.

Part of me wants to change to a saver plan immediately after our smart meter is installed in early June, but intellectually I know I should wait until I can see my actual use before making the billing change.

— Steve Patterson

 

Auto-Centric Pandemic, Vaccine Site Adjacent To Light Rail Station Didn’t Mention Using Transit

March 25, 2021 Central West End, Featured, Public Transit, STL Region, Transportation Comments Off on Auto-Centric Pandemic, Vaccine Site Adjacent To Light Rail Station Didn’t Mention Using Transit

The previous 12 months have highlighted how auto-centric the United States is. So far during this pandemic we’ve seen drive through food banks, and COVID-19 testing. Each with cars backed up for miles. To keep the cars on the road there were also lines at licensing offices.

From May 28, 2020:

On Friday, May 29 CVS Health will open 22 new COVID-19 drive-thru test sites across Missouri, including locations in St. Louis.

CVS Health expects to have up to 1,000 locations across the country offering this service by the end of May.

The testing will be by appointment only. You won’t go into the store, but sit in your car and administer the test. (Fox2)

From June 11, 2020:

Many St. Louis-area residents endured long lines and waiting times at licensing offices Thursday, which recently re-opened due to COVID-19 worries.

Thursday, a News 4 crew found some people who waited several hours at two licensing offices in west St. Louis County, where only a few people are allowed inside at one time to due to COVID-19 restrictions. (KMOV)

From November 25, 2020:

From California to New York, pictures have emerged of thousands of people waiting to receive groceries from their local food banks ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

It’s one side effect that has cropped up as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that continues to sweep the nation. Experts say the problem is rooted in high unemployment and low cash flow. (CNBC)

So it was no surprise when it came time for vaccinations that many sites weren’t accessible by foot or public transit. As with food & testing, people in their cars were backed up for miles to get a shot.

Last Thursday:

Traffic was backed up for more than a mile in both directions entering the county’s drive-thru mass vaccination site. The event, put on by the St. Charles County Health Department with support from the Missouri National Guard, was expected to vaccinate 4,000 people by the time it wrapped up Thursday evening. (KMOV)

Monday I got my first shot. I’d been on a waiting list at BJC only, as I knew I’d be able to take transit. Many people signed up for multiple lists with the expectation they’ll drive wherever they need to.

Valet parking makes sense, especially for those who can’t walk far.

I was given a choice of vaccination sites, but I picked the 4353 Clayton location because I knew it was adjacent to the Cortex MetroLink station. The instructions from BJC, however, didn’t mention transit at all.

  • Due to social distancing restrictions, do not arrive before your scheduled time.
    • If you arrive earlier, please remain in your vehicle until it’s time to enter the building.
  • Please park in the lot at the front of the building, labeled “30 minute visitor,” or the lot west of the building, labeled “2 hour visitor.”
    • Free valet parking is also available at the front of the building.
    • Click here for a parking map.

Despite my criticism of their lack of mentioning transit, the entire process was very well orchestrated. Outside they had signs & people to direct drivers. At the building they had people stationed at every step to keep the flow going. I was in and out in under a half hour!

– Steve Patterson

 

Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

November 28, 2020 Featured, Metro East, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Retail, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, STL Region Comments Off on Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

Early this week the KMOV News (CBS/4.1) had a story on the Jefferson County Health Department approving a mask mandate — and the upset group protesting outside. The very next story was the St. Louis Area Task Force saying hospital beds, including ICU, beds were filling up with COVID-19 patients.

People were protesting wearing masks in public while area hospitals are announcing they’re filling up quickly. There’s a term for this: cognitive dissonance.

The mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in people is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: they reject, explain away, or avoid the new information; persuade themselves that no conflict really exists; reconcile the differences; or resort to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in their conceptions of the world and of themselves. The concept was developed in the 1950s by American psychologist Leon Festinger and became a major point of discussion and research. (Britannica)

Metro requires riders to wear masks on buses and trains. Metro doesn’t serve Jefferson or St. Charles counties.

How does this relate to masks?

Because of the intense polarization in our country, a great many Americans now see the life-and-death decisions of the coronavirus as political choices rather than medical ones. In the absence of a unifying narrative and competent national leadership, Americans have to choose whom to believe as they make decisions about how to live: the scientists and the public-health experts, whose advice will necessarily change as they learn more about the virus, treatment, and risks? Or President Donald Trump and his acolytes, who suggest that masks and social distancing are unnecessary or “optional”? (The Atlantic)

I don’t like wearing masks, but it’s the right thing to do around anyone other than my husband. The worst days are when I have treatment at Siteman Cancer Center, my mask is on for hours.

Then on Wednesday I saw a news story at Lambert airport on holiday. An airport spokesperson was explaining how everyone inside the terminal had to wear a mask — except she was inside the terminal and not wearing a mask! Two different travelers inside the terminal, both with masks, said they weren’t concerned because they were taking precautions — but their nostrils were visible!

My mom was a waitress for many years, so I feel for food service employees and restaurant owners. A recent story showed an owner upset at recent St. County restrictions prohibiting indoor dining. They argued it was unfair, if people could go into Target & shop they should be able to dine in. Uh, except that shoppers have to keep their masks on in retail stores — inside bars & restaurants the masks come off after being seated. Apples to oranges.

As I was writing this yesterday I saw a story on dine in supporters in St. Louis County. I wish as much effort was put into improving the carryout experience (ordering & packaging).

We’re back to limits on items because some placed their own important over that of the community.

A lot of this cognitive dissonance is due to the vastly different pandemic policies in different jurisdictions in the region. At least the Illinois side of the region has one uniform policy imposed by Governor Pritzker.  Here in Missourah Gov Parson has taken a hands-off approach, resulting in an infection rate double that of Illinois.   As a result each county has to go at it alone even though residents frequently cross over borders. Other than the hospital’s pandemic task force we have no regional leadership.

Our hospitals are full and their workers are exhausted. All because people aren’t willing to wear a mask in public or eat their restaurant dinner at home.

– Steve Patterson

 

Completed The 2020 Census Online Yet?

April 22, 2020 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Completed The 2020 Census Online Yet?

Many of you have been at home for a month. Getting bored? If you haven’t done so already, you could complete the 2020 Census — a count of everyone on April 1st.

The time is now. Help shape your future, and your community’s future, by responding to the 2020 Census.

Most households received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20. These official Census Bureau mailings will include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.

In addition to an invitation to respond, some households will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). You do not need to wait for your paper questionnaire to respond to the Census. (2020Census.Gov)

It only takes a few minutes to complete online. Phone & mail are also options.

— Steve Patterson

 

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