Friday, May 18, 2012

Supermarket Sweep!

Note from Mel:  This week I'll be running some of my favorite posts from the past two years.  Consider it a "retrospective".  Maybe you'll discover some posts you never got to see the first time around!  :D

If you follow my other blog, Much Ado About Stuff, you may already know that I LOVE the supermarket.  I always have!  While some kids may have dreaded the bi-weekly trip to Sure-Way or Copp's or Red Owl (the stores where we shopped when I was a kid), I loved it!  Usually my sister Jen and I would hang out at the magazines or the cheap Japanese toys (like Play Money or pretend doctor kits - I still love those too!), or hide in the wide aisles of the warehouse grocery store.

I remember seeing a grocery store ad on TV right after a storm warning had passed - I'm going to say this was in about 1975.  In my 6 or 7 year-old head, that ad was a sign from God that everything was going to be okay.  Grocery store ads back then usually had a very happy family shopping for everything their little hearts desired.  Happy days ahead!

I also loved looking at the labels (and that's a whole different blog entry!).  I didn't know why, exactly - the colors?  The fonts?  The characters? - but they always held my interest.  I know now that this was the beginning of my obession with ephemera! 

As an adult I began collecting supermarket ephemera, beginning with a Red Owl needlecase (I still have it, but it's tucked away somewhere in a box).  This being the first grocery store I can remember (according to my mom, I called it Owie Owl), there's a pretty deep nostalgic and sentimental vein.  Ususally I'd find a thimble or some other item with a supermarket name on it at estate or rummage sales.  I hardly ever found paper.

But then Ebay happened.

It's just amazing to me how I've managed to buy so many different lots of supermarket items - one was an entire lot of matchbooks with only supermarket logos on them!  I've purchased two separate 1940s toy sets with die-cut cardboard Swift and Nabisco brands (heaven!).  I also have matchbox labels with foreign supermarket names.  Very cool.  And let's not even delve into all the grocery store price tags I own - oh wait!  We already have.  :D

Here is some of the art that I've done with these pieces - as you can see, it truly is a favorite subject of mine. I did an Etsy treasury about it and I even started my own Flickr group, if you're into this sort of thing yourself!  You're not alone!  :D

"Market Day" ATC

"Supermarket History" ATC

"Tuesday Morning, 9:30 a.m."


  1. I still love the supermarkets. Compared to other things in life, they still remain somewhat frozen in time. I do miss the sound of the old registers with dollar and cents buttons. The loud "beep" of the laser scanner device just doesn't do much for me today. We had Food Fair, A&P, and Acme, just to mention a few of the main supermarkets.

  2. Frank, I visited an IGA in a tiny town in the UP of Michigan in July that was a total throwback to when we were growing up. The miniscule store hadn't changed since probably the 70s. It wasn't the cleanest store ever, due to the worn-out floors, but I wanted to linger there nonetheless. It's my happy place. :D

  3. I still remember the Red Owl fondly from when we would go on vacation to Minnesota every summer. Now, when we visit WI Dells every August for our family reunion, we always make a point to stop in the little "downtown" supermarket (Zinke's Village Market) right off the main drag. Yeah, the prices are more expensive than the huge mega-mart, but the atmosphere can't be beat!

  4. I love these posts that you're re-running. Great idea to put it in front of people again. And your supermarket artwork is stellar!

    1. Thanks so much, Chris! This post is truly one of my favorites (but it's one that I used to do about an entire subject, rather than one particular item). Thank you for the lovely compliment about my work! Supermarkets are one of my FAVE subject for artwork, as strange as that may seem. :D