Friday, August 08, 2014

Vintage Photo Friday

Pronto Market, Downey, 1960's


Tiki Stylin' Hawaiian Shirts for Pronto Employees.  Downey, 1960's.  Photo courtesy of Downey Conservancy

You know how sports fans go on grand tours of historic baseball fields around the country?  Well, my friend Shayne and I have come up with the idea of "Le Grand Tour de Trader Joes."  There are Trader Joe markets ALL over the country now.  We LOVE Trader Joes.  We could intersperse our TJ's stops with visits to regional yarn shops too.  This, to me, sounds like a spectacular driving tour across the United States!  Souveniers?  Well, in addition to regional food taste tests, we could collect all of the new and beautiful regional tote bags that TJ's has recently issued!  The TJ totes could hold all of our yarny souveniers too.  It's a win-win tour!

My new Northern California TJ bag, gifted to me by Shayne!

Trader Joe's started out right here in Southern California.  Joe Coulombe started the Pronto Markets as a type of convenience store under the auspices of the Rexall Company, as a competitor to the newly established 7-Eleven chain.  Rexall pulled out and Joe bought all six Pronto Markets in the area.  He refined the stores' content by adding more grocery items, wine and foods you could not get at traditional super markets.  In 1967, he renamed the stores, Trader Joe's right at the end of the popularity of Trader Vic's and other Trader Tiki establishments.  Joe eventually sold the chain in 1979, but retains an interest in the stores.

There was a Pronto Market on National @ Westwood Blvd. in West L.A. that eventually became the first Trader Joe's on the Westside of Los Angeles.  I used to stop in there when I was a college student and many of my friends had apartments in Palms.  It was a sweet little neighborhood store, much like my childhood store, Norm's Market which became Owen's Market and now is Roxbury Market at Pico and Roxbury on the edge of Beverly Hills.  We also frequented Balian's Market on Venice Boulevard and Bagley on the border of Beverlywood and Culver City.  Many of these smaller markets had prepared food sections, making it easy to throw together impromptu dinners.  Here's the Balian's Market on Adams Blvd. near Hauser, typical of markets at the time, before Super Von's, Ralph's, Safeway, Market Basket and Alpha Beta took over.
Balian's Market, 5469 W. Adams Blvd., 1951. Photo courtesy of the Balian Family Archives

Trader Joe's feels like a small, neighborhood grocery store.  That's the appeal for many.  You get to know your grocery checkers and market personnel.  On top of the unusual products that TJ's carries and the excellent prices, it's my go-to store for groceries.  Yes, I am the target demographic for TJ's.  All of their marketing strategy is working on me.  NOW, they are appealing to my artistic side and the need for MORE TOTEBAGS by offering all of those stylin' regional bag designs!
OK, Shayne, I'll meet you in Flagstaff and we can start our Grand Tour de TJ's!

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