The Xenia Kroger Grocery may have the distinction of being the oldest continuous grocery in Xenia.
From a small store on Cincinnati’s riverfront in 1882, the Kroger Company has expanded through much of the United States. In 1903, the store was manufacturing many of the products sold in the store such as bread, cake and crackers. There was a coffee roasting plant and a factory where Kroger’s own brands of baking powder, flavoring extracts, catsup, jelly and household supplies were manufactured. Later dairies, meat packing plants and beverage bottling plants were added.
Barney Kroger, the original owner, insisted that the chemists, scientists and home economists in the business run tests on every product for taste and quality.
The Kroger Grocery and Baking Company first opened a store in Xenia in 1904 at 30 S. Detroit – now the Donges building. The staff consisted of Ben Kramer, manager, Edna Phillips, cashier, Nellie VanCleaf, assistant Cashier, Mary Ratchford, Clerk and George Floaser, the driver. At that time in order to have a successful grocery, the store needed to provide home delivery as requested.
The business was so successful, that additional sites were opened at 100 N. Detroit – Xenia Hotel and 122 E. Main during the early 1920s. By 1927, another store was opened at 525 W. Main St. A building was later leased on West Second Street for a short while, but a major change came in 1940 when a former residence was razed to make way for a new structure.
Bernard Sinz came to Xenia to establish a grocery business, which proved to very successful during his tenure. The store was located at the corner of Main and King. The family, including a daughter Ella, lived in a frame building at the rear of the grocery. This served as a residence for the family for many years.
The 100-year-old building was not in good condition when Mrs. Schmidt was encouraged by her sons to allow the building to be razed and a new structure put in its place.
The property at that time had an address of 45-49 W. Main St. The two buildings on the property had tenants at that time, one being the W. J. Kennedy I. G.A Grocery, the other Anderson Flower Shop. A two-story brick building in the rear of the lot was used by Kennedy’s as a combined garage and warehouse. Both tenants relocated to other locations and then the buildings were razed to make way for a new Kroger store building which would be erected by the Schmidt family. This would be a one story building estimated at a cost of $20,000.
Negotiations for a 10-year lease with the Kroger Company had been completed with Mrs. Schmidt through the Schmidt Realty and Insurance Agency.
The Kroger Company planned a new “super market” which was to be of fire proof brick construction with a 50-foot frontage and a depth of 120 feet. It was anticipated that construction could begin soon after July 1 with tentative completion set for Sept. 1, 1940. Construction was under the direction of McCurran Bros., a Xenia firm.
The building had a total of 6,000 square feet of floor space with a parapet wall extending several feet above the first floor front and a 5-foot marquee over the entrance. The front of the building was to be finished with “modernistic enameled steel with tan, green and black trim.” Inside store aisles were wide with a color scheme of green and white and natural wood finish. The fresh fruit and vegetable department was located in the front of the store, while meat, fish and poultry would be found in the rear. Sixteen clerks were on hand to assist the customers. In order to acquire store fixtures and necessary equipment and merchandise, the total outlay for opening was about $30,000.
The parking lot was accessed from an alley on North King. This was expected to be adequate for all the patrons but if more parking spaces were necessary on the west side of King Street adjacent to the building site was reserved for shoppers.
Business was so brisk; the store at the corner of King and Main became inadequate. The store at King Street was closed and a new building was constructed at 431 W. Main St. in 1957. Many shoppers will remember getting “TV Stamps” with their purchases at that time. For those who may not recall “TV Stamps” were received with grocery purchased, placed in a book and later “cashed in” at the TV Stamp store for household items. Some other stores gave “Green Stamps” for the same purpose.
That location served the community for nearly twenty years when the Xenia Tornado of April 3, 1974 destroyed the building. The former Kroger store was razed, and a new McDonalds was erected in its place.
The Kroger Company sought a new location soon and moved into the store previously occupied by Albers Grocery on Dayton Ave.
When land was acquired at what became known as West Park Square a new, larger Kroger store was built at that site. After a few years, a service station was erected on the site.
Joan Baxter is a local resident and weekly historical columnist.