A Trip Down Grocery Lane – Time Travel Thursdays

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Groceries ART BLOCKS – Set of 21 Ephemera Art BLOCKS 1950’s Magazine Advertisements by Suzanna Scott, Sushipot Parts on Etsy. $145.00 USD.

I was born in the early seventies, that means the big 4-O is coming soon, but even I remember a time before grocery stores became giant tributes to mass consumption of over produced and over packaged goods. Most people dread the “weekly” trip to the grocery store, some people go out less than weekly. Our food has become so laden with preservatives that shopping carts are now immense, ready to hold all those giant boxes and bags that can shelf sit for decades.  Many of my friends and family have turned to shopping on-line, with a standard order delivered right to their doors at great expense, but it is a busy family’s savior in a time pressured world.  We now have so much waste, so much to recycle, that taking out the garbage can be more labor intensive than cooking up dinner.

Vintage 1946 Grocery Shopping Advertisement – Mother Daughter at French Frou Frou Antiques on Etsy. 10″x13″. $12.95 USD.
Vintage 1950 Mother Daughter Grocery Advertisement at French Frou Frou Antiques on Etsy. 10″x13″. $12.95 USD.

So when did it all go so horribly wrong? I am by no means the best at being ‘green’, I am not a vegetarian, and I am not someone who is the most socially aware, but I would have to be blind not to see that we have gone in a direction that is going to be very hard to change.  The old Corner Grocery Store is almost extinct, and that is a shame.

Corner Drug Store Vintage Photo of A Woman Standing In Front of a Drug Store at Romance Writer on Etsy. 3 3/8″x3 3/8″. $2.50 USD.
Girl Buys French Bread & Spaghetti from Retail Market Shop in Snow – Antique Photograph at Snaposaurus on Etsy. 3.5″x2.5″. $4.25 USD.

 In Canada [where I hail from] and the United States, the mega-sized grocery and drug store combo is a dominant feature on the landscape of most suburban shopping centers.  We don’t really even question it when yet another Big-Box shop opens around the corner. However, there was a time when small corner grocers were essential to a neighborhood, and many shopped for fresh goods on a daily basis.

Large Vintage Wire Shopping Basket with Handles – Old Country Store at Antique Beans on Etsy. SOLD.
Vintage Light Blue Grocery Store Shopping Basket at Planet Alissa on Etsy. Estimated 1970-1980. 16″x10 1/2″x9″. $20.00 USD.
Old Vintage Metal Store Display Tag for Fruit Flavor Certs Candy Breath Mints at Leora’s Magic Carpetbag on Etsy. 2 1/4″ Across. $9.99 USD.
Old Vintage Metal Store Display Tag for Dentyne Spearmint Gum at Leora’s Magic Carpetbag on Etsy. 5 3/4″ Across. $12.99 USD.

We drank out of glass bottles, which we returned. Dry goods were sold in paper boxes lined with wax paper, or tins that would be re-used.  Ice cream came in a paper box. Bread, produce, and meats were wrapped in paper and tied with a string. Your home ice-box didn’t hold as much, and things did ‘spoil’ as you would expect fresh food to do.

Vintage Sky Flakes Cracker Tin – Add To A Collection or Use To Store Special Items at Artsy Gemini on Etsy. 7″x4 3/4″. $4.50 USD.
Vintage Spice Tins & Extract Bottle – Lot 2 at UnAbashed DeStash on Etsy. 5 Spice Tins/Boxes, 1 Bottle. 1940s. 50s. 60s. $30.00 USD.
Vintage Spice Tins – Lot 1 at UnAbashed DeStash on Etsy. 7 Spice Tins/Boxes. 1940s. 50s. 60s. $35.00 USD.

So what, you may ask, is my point? Well, sometimes we need to take a look back in time to remember that most families had all their needs met by their corner store, and that the more we package and preserve, the more wasteful we have become.  For many, a look at vintage grocery ads, items, and containers in a wonderful way to remember the days of their childhood. For others, a reminder that for all our “progress”, we have taken a huge backwards leap in taking care of Mother Nature.

Set of 10 Sample Size Grocery Products Rare Collectibles at Antigua on Etsy. Boxes and Talcum Powder Tin Contain Product. Circa 1960s. $100.00 USD.
6 Vintage Jack And Jill Strawberry Gelatin Dessert Boxes at Antionettes Vanilla & Vintage Finds on Etsy. 3.5″x3″x1″. New Old Stock, Never Used. $8.95 USD.
Vintage Chocolate and Food Extracts for Vintage Snacks at Violet’s Steamer Trunk on Etsy. Original Price Tags On Some Items. Range in Size. $11.00 USD.

My family is rather unique in that I come from a ‘Grocery Ancestry’ of sorts. On my father’s side, his parents owned a corner grocery store on St. Clair Avenue in part of Toronto’s most well known early residential areas. He grew up working the store, and as he tells it, bribing the delivery drivers to let him drive their trucks long before he was of age.  On my mother’s side, her father and his partner had a ‘pop’ bottling plant in Thunder Bay, Ontario where they bottled such favorites as Nu-Grape and Sun Crest.  My maternal grandmother also had her time working in a butcher shop as a young woman before she married my grandfather.  You could say my love of the corner grocery store is almost a genetic trait.

Vintage Coca-Cola Bottles, Set of Coke Bottles in Original Carry Carton at Kona Boutique on Etsy. Holiday Style Cardboard Holder Included. $19.99 USD.
Vintage 7up Green Glass Soda Bottle at Antoinette’s Vanilla & Vintage Finds on Etsy. Circa 1950s. 7 oz. Bottle. 8″ Tall. $6.95 USD.
TWO VINTAGE Sun Crest Soda Bottles at Dee’s Attic Treasures on Etsy. 10 oz. & 7 oz. Bottles. Bottles From Atlanta, GA. $18.00 USD.

 Most people, I imagine, have had some connection to a corner store at some point in their family tree, there were just that many small shops serving the community.  Today I want you to remember those days, before the mega-ginormous food outlets, and remember all the families that relied on the small corner stores for their livelihoods and as a main food source for nourishing their families.  The stunning art blocks at the top of the post are the perfect way to honor that heritage in a new and eye-catching way. If you collect old photographs or glass bottles, you can find some of the best on Etsy. Vintage packaging and ephemera remind us of a simpler time and are great photo props or serve as inspirations for decor and artwork projects.  An old soda crate can become a great way to organize your craft room or studio.  This Time Travel Thursday, I ask you to think outside the “Big Box” grocery stores.

Vintage Wood Divided Soda Crate A-Treat Supplies Storage Primitive Industrial Box at Vintage Jane on Etsy. 17 3/4″ Long, 12 1/2″ Wide, 5 1/4″ Tall. $36.00 USD.
Coca-Cola Crate at Cottage On Cactus Lane on Etsy. Vintage Original. 18″ Long, 12″ Wide, 4.5″ Deep. Perfect for Storage, Decor, or Shelf. $25.00 USD.
Vintage Land O’Lakes Wooden Cheese Box at Uknow Uneed Another on Etsy. 11 3/4″ Length, 3 3/4″ Height, 4 1/4″ Wide. Bottom Opening Hinged. $25.00 USD.
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About Ketsy

Amateur Artist and Writer, Professional Procrastinator, and a Die-Hard Insomniac. A Child of the 70s, an Identical Twin with a Rampant Fondness for all things Cake and Candy. Equal parts Rockabilly Pin-Up, Sad Eyed Vixen, Kawaii Kitten, Sloppy Geek, Paranormal Dreamer, InterNOT DJ, Book Glow Worm, Punk Racketeer, and Retro Headed Hoarder. Lover of Things Sweet & Sour, Teeny Tiny, Rainbow-Tastic, and Ugly Cute. Tendency to Over-Use Capitalization. The Internet is my Source of Endless Inspiration. Everything I See, Read, Listen To, and Watch Helps To Fire My Creativity Boosters and Gives Me Fuel To Dream.

8 responses »

  1. I love old stuff! Hummmm what does that say about me? From time to time growing up I'd visit my cousin in the country where we would visit the old corner store (for candy of course) as much as we could. These photographs remind me of those times.Thanks for featuring my COKE BOTTLES IN A HOLIDAY CARRY CARTON.Kona @ http://KonaBoutique.etsy.com

  2. Love this post. I remember as a kid walking through Packard's, our local grocery store, and the look of the rough wood plank floor (I was a lot closer to the floor at that age!) Today's stores don't have half the character that store did.Thank you for including my shopping basket in this post. Loved all the fun items, especially that A-Treat crate. Makes me thirsty. A-Treat's a local soda company, but even in local stores their soda is getting harder and harder to find. That's a shame.

  3. What a wonderful stroll down the aisle of the corner store! Wonderful post and thank you for featuring my grocery blocks. So neat to hear your personal story…I remember saving my change as a kid to buy Now 'n Laters at our corner store in Philadelphia.

  4. I love old stuff! Hummm what does that say about me – LOL!When I was growing up I would get to spend time in the country to visit my cousin. We would visit the corner store to buy candy of course! These items remind me of that cool old country store!Thanks for featuring my Coke Bottles in their Holiday carry case.Peace, Kona @ http://KonaBoutique.etsy.com

  5. Love your post and all the wonderful items. I miss the sounds, smells, and character of the old storefront. Thanks so much for including my vintage photo.

  6. Loved the article!! THANK YOU for including my old wooden cheese box, in your trip down memory lane.I HATE the big box stores, with all their "sameness". Luckily, Long Island does have quite a few produce/grocery stores that have begun to compete with the mondo, "we sell anything supermarkets". Flea markets are beginning to crop up more, by me, too.I have also begun to re-discover some of the yesteryear shops as online businesses.Does anyone remember "green" or "plaid" stamps?

  7. Ketsy,So inspiring! I remember when I was four, walking through neighbors' back yards to "Dewares" grocery store to get milk….By the way, I am convinced I luv vintage because it was the time when my grandparents were in their prime – and my Mom's whole life was ahead of her….She's still here – it just makes me feel like i get to live it all over again with them. -Anna Lou

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