Going to the market to buy food is something people have been doing for hundreds of years. Shoppers have certainly been doing this for much of Marietta’s history. Long before there were Walmarts, Giant Eagles and large Krogers there were simple neighborhood stores that slowly morphed into the giant supermarkets we see today. They thrived at a time when refrigeration and transportation were more difficult than they are today. You didn’t buy more than you could carry home and you only bought what you could eat within a few days. If you look closely, you can still see some of these markets that stand today, many repurposed for other uses. Stay in the area long enough and you start playing the game of “what-used-to-be” when talking about different locations.
Let’s take Kroger for instance, it’s been at least five locations in Marietta, including a small store front on Greene Street. A photo of that location can be seen on page 2 of today’s Times. Based on the cars in the photos it was around the 1930s. It would be a while before it ended up where it is today. After the Greene Street location, Kroger moved to Third Street between Butler and Second streets. That building would later be an Uncle Bob’s and later a Marietta Food Center location. Today it is a parts store.
Kroger went “big” when it moved to Seventh and Butler. This location would later become an IGA, which would then become a student center for Marietta College. I’ve heard the staff at the college refer to it as the former IGA building but if they were a bit older, they might call it the former Kroger building. Since Kroger has moved so many times, that may not be specific enough.
From there Kroger moved to Acme and Pike streets, and the building would become Big Lots when it moved across the street to its current location. Big Lots moved and the site is now part of Bridgeport Equipment. If I missed a Kroger location, just remember that I said “at least” five locations.
At the corner of Butler and Third streets was the A & P grocery store. It later became a club before it was purchased by Marietta College to house its Physician Assistant Studies Program. That’s right, the College owns two former grocery stores. It also owns a former liquor store. The A & P was formerly located near Fourth and Washington at a location that was a barber shop for many years. I used to get my hair cut there and I often wondered how you could fit a grocery store into such a small place.
There are a lot of small former neighborhood markets spread around Marietta. There is a brick one at Greene and Plum streets attached to a house, another at Ninth and Warren. Warren Street had a few stores, including a former location of Warren’s IGA (named for the owner Chuck Warren, not the street). Harmar had The West Side Market at Maple and Gilman streets. The building is now a union hall. A few have survived by selling alcohol. Weber’s, for instance, at Third and Scammel streets, still sells groceries even though half the store is devoted to beer, wine and liquor. The Westside Carry Out on Franklin has done the same.
I worked at one neighborhood store, The Colegate Food Center, as a teen. The business started as a place where people could store their food in frozen food lockers at a time when people did not have refrigeration in their homes. Located on a hill, you had to be careful when you took customer groceries to their car, or they could end up in the middle of Colegate Drive. It did not survive the growth of the superstore, and the spot is now the site of a dentist office.
The large markets of today have a level of variety that would have been hard to imagine a century ago. As a child I used to get sent to the Food Center with a hand full of nickels to get a gallon of milk. Stores today have gotten so big you might want to pack a snack for your trip inside.
Art Smith is online manager of The Times, he can be reached at