Saturday, June 13, 2015

619 Broadway - Pal's Grocery

© Christian Cassidy, 2015

Old Safeway
Place: Pal's Grocery
Address: 619 Broadway (map)
Opened: March 29, 1940
Cost: $14,000
Architect: Lanktree Thompson
Contractor: Lanktree Thompson Building Co.

October 5, 1907, Winnipeg Tribune

The address 619 Broadway was first associated with a residence. The second home on the site, which appears to have been built around 1904, was a stately brick dwelling featuring 11 rooms and two entrances, one onto Broadway and another onto Young. (Unfortunately, I cannot find an image of it.)

It was home briefly to John Hume Agnew, a lawyer who at the time was the provincial Treasurer of Manitoba.

 March 7, 1928, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1907, the house was sold to another lawyer, newly appointed judge Alexander Dawson

Dawson was single, so he often had other family members or lodgers living there as well.

It was his home until his death in 1928 and his
estate sold the property to commercial interests.

From 1937 - 38 Winnipeg newspaper ads

The years 1928 - 1929 marked the arrival of big American grocery chains such as Mutual Stores, Piggly Wiggly and Safeway. In a period of just couple of years, they scooped up dozens of properties, especially corner lots on regional streets, to build stores.

In late June or early July 1929, 619 Broadway opened as one of Piggly Wiggly's first ten Winnipeg stores. By the end of October there were twenty of them in operation.

Piggly Wiggly originated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1916 and considers itself the first chain to offer  "self service" grocery stores. Instead of dealing with a clerk who fetched down items from shelves behind the counter, PW had their stock individually priced and on the shop floor for customers to pick up themselves and bring to a central cash register.

The chain also introduced refrigerated display units to their stores so that a wider range of foods could be carried under one roof which saved customers having to go to a variety of shops to do their daily shopping.

Above: Dec 29, 1939 Winnipeg Tribune
Below: 1940s Safeway ad

Safeway entered the market in 1929 and also opened dozens of stores in its first months of operation. A key to Safeway's growth, though, was acquisitions. It took over a number of chains, including Piggly Wiggly's 179 Canadian stores in 1935, and operated them under the PW name for a couple of years. It then began selling off locations it didn't want.

Around 1938, Safeway rolled out its new concept store simply called "The 1940 Store". It was double the size of their original stores and offered a wider range of goods and in many cases a little bit of on-site parking. Where land was available, they demolished existing stores and built the new ones in their place. In other cases, they found new locations and sold off the old buildings.

The construction of the new stores was carried out by S. Lanktree Thompson Building Co.. Thompson was primarily a home builder focused on River Heights, (he built 30 homes on Borebank alone), but in the 1930s built a few commercial blocks on Broadway. (Another one was 641 Broadway at Langside.)

Above: March 28, 1940, Winnipeg Free Press
Below: August 28, 1961, Winnipeg Free Press

On November 2, 1939, building permits were issued for four new-style Safeways including this location. Construction appears to have gone smoothly and the $14,000 store opened for business on March 29, 1940.

The store continued on under the Safeway banner even after the chain moved on to 1950 and 1960 concept stores. It was extensively remodelled in 1961.

This appears to be the only surviving "1940 Style" Safeway in Winnipeg.

November 1978 Penner Foods ad

The grocery business continued to march on and newer, larger stores were introduced in the 1960s and 70s. The Broadway and Young Safeway, now three generations old, simply did not fit into the chain's business model anymore.

In the 1970s, Jim Penner was looking to move into the Winnipeg market. Penner Foods was a Steinbach-based grocery business started in  in 1964 after he bought out the family's 600 sq foot grocery store. The company had supermarkets in Steinbach and Altona and by 1977 had two Winnipeg locations, 619 Broadway and in a strip mall location on Rothesay Street in North Kildonan.

Above: November 4, 1990, Winnipeg Free Press
below: from 1994 Pal's Supermarket ad

Penner sold this store around 1984 and it became Broadway Grocery and Meats. In 1990 Cora Naar took it over and renamed it Crystal Mart.

In 1991, it became part of a new four-store grocery chain called Pal's Supermarkets. Brothers Hal and Shiv Pal were experienced in the grocery business and created the chain from existing grocery stores shed by larger chains.

Pal's kept many of the features of a full-service grocery store, offering a large produce department and an in-house butcher. They were open 7 days a week and offered grocery delivery.

In 1995 they added a fifth store on Henderson Highway.

Pal's on Broadway

619 Broadway has had a quiet existence. Store employees do not appear to have made the news and the number of fires or major crimes are few.

In November 1978, as Penner's, there was a roof fire that caused $20,000 worth of damage and it had to close for three weeks to repair water damage. 

In 1991, as Pal's, someone robbed the store with a shotgun. Nobody was injured. It was robbed again in December 2011 at knife point and the clerk was seriously injured, though recovered.

The Medicine Wheel mural was added to the east wall by Art City in 2012.

The store, which is one of only two supermarkets in West Broadway and three in the downtown area*, had been for sale through 2014 - 2015, though currently appears to be off the market.

My four part history of Safeway in Winnipeg
My Flickr album of old Safeway locations
Penner Foods History
Piggly Wiggly History

* From the Downtown Winnipeg Community Food Assessment by Food Matters Manitoba, 2013. See appendix D, p. 43, for a list of food retailers in the downtown.)

1 comment:

  1. My earliest memories are of this intersection and area.
    Our rental home was at 230 Young Street.
    The four corners of the street consisted of this Safeway Store, the apartment-block across the street, Broadway pharmacy(drugs) and the Rosery Florists which occupied the 1/2 block(the Gaspe Apts was the other).
    The Rosery property was surrounded by a tall wooden fence and they had a fairly extensive landscaping/soil yard at the rear of the property.
    There was a large home along the West side of Young Street(middle of the block)that belonged to the "Chivers" ladies. I believe they were spinsters. My major recollection of the house (and its wrap-around verandah)were the 19-teens architecture and the many carpets throughout the home.
    A large Bull-moose head, hung on the wall of the shaded-side of the verandah looking out to the street...watching the activity in the neighborhood.