Paper...or Paper? A Look Back at Vintage Grocery Store Excursions

I posted the above photo on Go Retro's Facebook page a couple of days ago, and it resulted in 47 shares, 56 likes, 39 new page likes, and was seen by approximately 4,000 people. Whoa. Clearly one of my page's most popular posts, and proof that people still hold a certain nostalgic fondness for interior aesthetics gone by. 

Maybe it's because everything about the scene is so different compared to today's typical grocery store. There isn't a single environmentally unfriendly plastic bag to be found. The customer is writing a check. There are hanging plants (ferns?) above each check-out station, and the cashier is wearing what appears to be platform shoes or sandals. Not to mention that styling interior decorating combo that was so prevalent in the 1960s and 70s: bright orange and fake wood paneling. Who knew that running out for milk and bread could be so groovy?

I decided to dig up more photos of what supermarkets looked like during my childhood, and before I was born...

My first job ever, when I was 15 and a half (the legal age to be able to work in Massachusetts in the late 1980s) was as a grocery store cashier/bagger. Our store was a little behind the times compared to our competitors, because we didn't have that latest technology--scanners--yet. Every price had to be punched in by hand. That's what the above photo reminds me of, and probably the reason why so many people in it look kind of disgusted at having to wait. I noticed that all of the kids in the photo seem calm and well behaved (even the boy oogling the candy display.) Today, I can't walk into any kind of store without having to listen to screaming kids...but that's another post for another time. 
I like the alternating pastel checkout stations in this store; clearly a product of the mid-century. 
Remember riding shotgun and sans safety restraints in the back of your mom's station wagon? Those were the days. 
Imagine if you saw a grocery store display today dedicated to cigarettes? I'm not sure why there is a chef helping to promote the Marlboros, but I get a kick out of what I assume is the store manager, puffing away.
This photo was taken in the late 1940s. I don't know what I am more amazed by--the fact that a woman is wearing shorts in public at a time when it really wasn't that popular yet to do so...or the prominence of her lady lumps. 
I don't recall a supermarket that had a special pick up area. I hope they're not picking up goodies for a Superbowl party, because I can't imagine that VW Beetle can hold much food, with an engine in the rear trunk and the spare tire under the hood. 
This is quite possibly one of the most impressive store displays I've ever seen; clearly, this clerk holds a degree in structural engineering. 
Cookie Monster just had an orgasm. 
I wonder how many people today would jump the chance to win a beach ball. 
"Can I interest you in our processed meat specials?"
Kind of nice to see the husband/father shopping with his entire family here.
59 cents a pound for pot roast! It's also interesting to see a woman back then working the deli department--you think management might have been concerned we could slice one of our fingers off. 
Old timey Halloween display. I can't tell if these women are dressed for the holiday or if this was their regular wardrobe. 
Remember when soda was sold in glass bottles?
Wow. Her shopping list had just about every consumer food brand of the 70s covered. There's not a single fruit or vegetable to be found. And she's writing out a check!


  1. All these pictures transport me back in time, for sure!

    Our local store had a rack of teen magazines near the check out, and I was so excited when I was old enough to get one (like that needed a mature mind to comprehend). Bobby Sherman and the Monkees on Tiger Beat - who needs food?

    My favorite old time grocery store was in my grandmother's neighborhood. I'm still amazed that she paid for groceries once a month. When I got things for her, I just told the cashier, "This is for Mrs. Shafer."

    Those were the days. Great post, once again!


  2. Up until about a year ago, one there was an IGA grocery store here in Springfield, MO with the rubber mat that opened the door when the cart rolled over it.

    In the movie Messiah of Evil, a terrified woman tries to open one of these doors by stepping on it over and over as a group of zombies are about to attack her. She caught them scarfing raw merchandise in the meat department. What is great about this scene is that there is no overly dramatic score, but you hear some peppy, cheesy supermarket music.

  3. Cardinal Foods had a conveyer belt where after you bought your items it was put into a bins with the same number, you would then drive up to the Pick up are give them your number and they would load up your car.

  4. Glimpses of a time when we were a sane society; when children behaved themselves in public; when both men and women dressed like grownups when they went shopping, instead of in shorts and T-shirts like cartoon characters. Ah . . .

  5. I run a page called grocery stores of yesterday.I post old pictures of stores and thier circulars. I also posted the music and televised ads.I also run a group called yesterdays grocery store dedicated to products no longer made.

  6. We had an A&P in our town that also sold LP records. One day I noticed the records were gone. I asked the manager what happened to them. He told me folks were shoplifting them by sliding them inside frozen pizzas.

  7. The kid eyeing the brachs do you mean they weren't free samples


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