Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Kroger 2012 and Marketplace Décor

I'll just go ahead and admit it: this décor post isn't gonna be as fun. It's 2012 décor, for crying out loud; if you have a Kroger near you, there's a good chance this is on the walls! Of course, those anomaly stores are still out there, and I look forward to featuring them in the next (last!) décor post. But until then, for this to be a complete documentation, we've gotta trudge through 2012.

As far as I'm aware, there's only one 2012-built store in the Memphis metro area (if not the entire Mid-South) as of right now: at Poplar Plaza, replacing an older neon store. kingskip1 got photos from the day before opening, including this very cool shot from the upper level looking down! Photos in this post come from him, Bradley_Memphis, l_dawg2000, and myself.

Now, I did want to get this straight - I don't dislike 2012 décor. In fact, the garden sign, as pictured above, is stunning! It's just that it's so common, what with Kroger going on what we've collectively termed a "remodel rampage" and getting rid of all of their older looks. From that aspect, I have to say 2012 décor is versatile, or at least Kroger is making it that way; since they pretty much have all the stores they need, very few new builds with this décor are going to pop up. Instead, they're having to make modifications so that the look will fit in stores of Bauhaus, wannabe neon, neon, millennium, script, etc...

A cool aspect of 2012 décor in the newly built or expanded stores is that alongside the deli and bakery departments (pictured with the garden, above) are several self-serve areas and café seating. Very nice, especially for a chain like Kroger, which us flickrites tend to mock as usually having only two tables!

Other areas that you encounter soon after entering [in most stores] are floral (most signs of which look like the second one pictured - I just thought the first one was unique) and natural foods (sometimes "nature's market"). Not sure where wine and beer would be in a store, we don't have that around here... I included it because it shows a different aspect of 2012 décor.

Along the back - as always! - meat and seafood fish as well as lunch meat. Also, since I feel obligated to mention it, even though I don't have it pictured - the garden is signed as produce in some stores. The identity crisis lives on!

Other signs gracing the general aisles - something essentially, but not totally, new to Kroger décor - include, but are not limited to, baby and pet circles and greeting cards rectangles.

Further departmental signage includes dairy and "the freezer," although depending on where frozen foods are in a store being remodeled, signage may not be given.

Now to the small things of 2012 décor! In addition to the so-called "basket signs" (which often go sans "lid" in neon store remodels) and the accompanying stenciling, sometimes Kroger puts up some little phrases, and often those department-specific pictures. Also, I can't leave out the infamous "tri-siders!"

Lastly, closing out the 2012 tour, you have the pharmacy and health and beauty departments. But that's not it for today...

Although we don't (yet) have any in the Mid-South, it wouldn't be a comprehensive Kroger décor set without including their Marketplace look! The marketplace concept actually isn't original to Kroger, but is used (maybe even owned?) by the company in stores of their namesake and other brands, like this Fry's Marketplace store in Tempe, Arizona. The above and below Marketplace photos are featured on the blog courtesy of flickr member Raymie Humbert, but as they're just a quick glimpse, I hope you'll check out his complete remodel diaries!

...and that does it for today's post! Again, I invite you to check out Raymie Humbert's Marketplace Remodel Diaries, as well as here, soon, for the final Kroger décor post - I've saved the best for last!!

Until then, enjoy exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell


  1. Raymie? I know that guy- he's a regular poster over at TVNewsTalk.Net! He knows a lot about the New World/Fox deal of 1994 that shook the broadcast world- and his home of Phoenix suffered the most from that.

    1. I was wondering if that was him! I'm over there too - memnews :)

    2. ...I know too much about too many things. :)

    3. Haha! That's not a bad thing at all :) For example, I'm learning way too much about the whole Seessel's / Albertsons / Schnucks / Kroger fiasco in Memphis myself. I've collected a good deal of news articles and am in the early stages of formulating a soundbite and photo post for later this year...

  2. Yo! I've got some more words to say about the Marketplace decor set and specifically where Marketplace comes from in the Kroger family.

    To understand Marketplace, we have to go to the mid-late 90s, and more specifically to a disappeared store name in the Kroger heritage, Smitty's. Smitty's was a chain founded by Clyde "Smitty" Smith in Iowa in 1948. It expanded to Arizona in 1961, and the AZ operation remained fairly separate from the IA/MO unit.

    In 1996, Smitty's Arizona was sold to Smith's which led to the two banners operating together in Phoenix and total conversion to Smith's in Tucson. The next year, Smith's was bought by Fred Meyer as part of its massive expansion (it also bought QFC and Ralph's at this time), and over the next couple years Smith's and Smitty's disappeared to bring the Fred Meyer banner to Arizona.

    It was in the last few years of Smitty's when the Marketplace format was pioneered. These were very large grocery stores containing garden centers, expanded non-grocery departments with more SKUs for household items, patio furniture, and electronics up front. The two nearest Marketplaces, both built in the mid-90s, had attached Blockbuster Video locations with entrances from the store. Two stores were piloted in 1997, and five came on for 1998, with another 11 opened by the end of the decade. To do this, food courts in some 20 former Smitty's stores closed.

    (Fred Meyer, however, never operated its traditional superstore format in the Southwest. The closest it came was its acquisition of the Smitty's Marketplace stores.)

    In February 1999, the Smitty's name disappeared and the entire chain became Fred Meyer. I believe all the remaining Smitty's stores were Marketplaces by that point.

    I recall seeing the Fred Meyer name until 2000, a year after FM turned around and merged with Kroger. Kroger, sensing an opportunity for market domination and already owning a banner in the state, bid adieu to the Fred Meyer and Smith's banners in Arizona (with some exceptions in northern Arizona where the Smith's name hangs on) and converted them to Fry's stores. Remodeling was not part of this conversion as most of the Marketplace stores had just been renovated in recent years.

    I actually have Smitty's Marketplace and Fred Meyer Marketplace magnets. I recall thinking the latter were a little off because they had 602 on them as the area code when Phoenix was split in three and the store was now in a new area code.

    In the 2000s, propagated from the Smitty's AZ chain to the rest of Kroger. The serif "Marketplace" logo still used throughout the chain was introduced with the conversion of the Fred Meyer Marketplace stores to the Fry's banner.

    My 1996/97-vintage original Smitty's Marketplace has received two major renovations. The original look had a lot of orange, purple and triangle accents - the last piece of it in the store is documented in the Remodel Diaries, too! The first concluded in 2005 and featured a package I've never seen documented that was itself a kinda cheap derivative of a similar look used as early as 2003. It also enclosed the garden center, which had fallen into disuse, for more store space. The second was the current generation Marketplace decor and is the one featured in the Remodel Diaries; it was far more exhaustive in terms of involving a lot of demolition and reconstruction. (They reclaimed the Blockbuster for store space and rearranged several departments.)

    I still can't believe they managed to do that store renovation in three months, and in doing so they finally made the decision to just have one store at the intersection (a script decor Fry's was at the same intersection and operated there until just after the renovation completed).

    1. Awesome, thanks for all the great information!! Tell you what - I won't update this post, but once the Kroger Marketplace opens in my town, I'll get some pictures; do a post regarding its opening and with a quick mention of the project's beginning, my coverage of it, etc.; and include this history of the entire concept as a bonus, with your permission of course :) I'd love to see those magnets as well!


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