By Joel M. Albrizio, President
"This is an article to be published in the March issue of The Griffin Report. I chose to think about the changes over the "50 Years" and the man who spent his professional career documenting it for us.
"A Look At What A Man Saw And How He Told Us About It"
The year was 1966 and supermarket retail had some subtle differences to how we experience food retail in 2016. In looking at how the supermarket has changed in the last 50 years we might want to first look at the store owner.
In 1966 The Market Owner Was A Grocer.
He or she had either grown up in a local family market business or put up everything they owned to finance that perfect location with the supplier, a grocery wholesaler
In 2016 the supermarket owner has often times had no actual individual supermarket background or experience. Today's market owner is likely a private equity group, or a public investment firm with a three to five year exit strategy and certainly not an integral part of the community.
Supermarket wholesalers who were once on every corner willing to finance a qualified independent supermarket operator have one by one disappeared.
In this span of time where everything seemed to change at warp speed in food retail the market became the supermarket, then the warehouse store, the marketplace and now every retailer seems to have their version of the fresh store concept.
"One By One The Food Retailer Is In Search Of A Branded Identity"
The supermarket business has digressed and become food retail because almost every retail entity either now sells food or has a plan to sell food very soon.
The gas station wasn't a competitor to the supermarket in 1966, he was a friend who did not sell all of the same products the supermarket did. A gas station was simply a place to get gas.
Fifty years ago we did not recognize branding as an approach we simply advertised.
The supermarket was in the center of town and if you hurried you could do your grocery shopping before they closed. Closed? Yes, in 1966 markets as they were called, closed by 8:00 and never opened on Sunday.
Marketing now evolving into branding and its resulting advertising are the result of an overstored industry. Who would ever invision two or three major supermarkets in every community?
Today even the smallest of communities across America often have multiple supermarket offerings.
"Yes, The Supermarket Has Changed"
Pain relievers in 1966 came in a simple bottle in the grocery aisle.
Today Tylenol comes in a box, inside the box is a bottle with a wrapper around the rim. One past the wrapper is a child proof cap. if you can open the cap you find a foil barrier to be broken. Once past the foil barrier you must remove the cotton and there finally is the Tylenol.
Every product is labelled to protect us with knowledge of almost anything we might need or have interest in. Everyone today is Gluten allergic or at the very least gluten knowledgeable. We all have that relative who no matter what is wrong reminds us it must be caused by gluten.
"In 1966 if you discussed gluten, only the obvious scientist might have any idea what this term might describe"
We scan our own items at the supermarket register to ring up the sale and communicate with the retailer instantly and digitally. Everything is at our fingertips in seconds and we can shop in many food retail locations to round out the weekly grocery order.
In 1966 we lived in a world where the grocers name was on the back of a little league uniform much like that of the gas station and the local liquor store.
We all wanted to drive to the store in that....
"New To Market" 1966 Ford Mustang.
The grocer was a special part of each of our communities and for that reason we gave our grocer the entire weekly grocery order. We looked forward to grocery shopping experience and liked most everything about "our local store".
Yes, the supermarket world has changed and with those changes we have lost the innocence of retail and the familiarity with that friendly grocer and the local color we were drawn to.
I for one would never mind living and shopping in 1966.
On a personal note, I knew John Griffin and witnessed his accomplishments. John defined what we consider the food industry and created a vehicle to document its every event. John cared enough to cover philanthropic events as heavily as the minimum wage or a potential bottle bill.
While as an industry during the last 50 years we miss the grocer for many of us we miss the commentary that John made certain always took place.
Not a one of us would ever miss reading "The Griffin Report"
Thank-you John, I learned a great deal from you as I am certain many did, Joel
Thank-you for your support and ideas.