The supermarket has sure come on a long way since the days of people making half a dozen trips to different shops to get the things they needed for the day. I couldn’t imagine anything worse!
These days, if I go shopping, and I have to go to more than two different shops, I consider myself hard done by. But then I guess I’m a millennial, and my lot in life is to complain. In any case, there was a time when the idea of a supermarket was something you thought you’d only see if you watched an episode of Tomorrow’s World.
First conceived in 1930, after several unsuccessful attempts in the early decades of the century to get the idea off the ground, a former Kroger employee by the name of Michael J Cullen opened the first ever modern supermarket. A 6,000-square-foot former garage in Jamaica, Queens in New York City housed the store. The slogan for his supermarket, King Kullen, was ‘pile it high, sell it low!’ and that, in a nutshell, is what supermarkets are about.
Now, you might be wondering why I’m giving you this history lesson. Well, basically, my point is that supermarkets have been around for almost as long as sliced bread, and throughout the years we’ve seen many come and go. It’s curious that for some of us, our earliest memories take place in a supermarket, as we got wheeled around by our parents.
But alas, some of those supermarkets and food shops are no longer with us. Whether they went out of business or they merged with another company, and now operate under that banner, there’s nothing like seeing an old shop, long since gone out of business, to get the memba berry juices flowing.
In this list, we’re going to take a look at some of the places from which we used to buy food in the 90s, but are no longer around. See how many you can remember!
To some people, Safeway may have been a very British supermarket – about as British as complaining, passive aggressiveness or still laughing at Morecambe and Wise’s sketch with Andre Previn, but believe it or not, it was actually a subsidiary of the American company Safeway Inc.
First coming over to blighty in 1962, Safeway established itself as one of the most successful supermarket brands in the UK with 167 stores, and pulling in a healthy amount of money.
However, in 2004 it was sold off and merged with Morrisons and the Safeway logo has filled us with nostalgia ever since.
While Netto may have gone the same way as many on this list, it is still a flourishing business in mainland Europe. Nothing said 90s shopping like having a quick peruse around Netto, which is the modern day equivalent of stores such as Lidl and Aldi.
Eventually, in 2010, Netto was sold to Asda and by August 2016 all of its stores had closed up. But no one who shopped in the 90s will forget about that cute (yet weirdly terrifying) huge dog that welcomed us into the store.
Kwik Save was a staple of 90s shopping, especially if you wanted to just nip down the shops for a pack of cigarettes or the morning paper, and it was a staple of British high streets until 2007 when it went into administration.
Kwik Save, however, struggled to make profits in the early 2000s, as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s introduced their own budget brands. Not only this, but Lidl, Aldi and Netto, brands from overseas, came to the UK and muscled Kwik Save out of the picture.
As of 2012, the brand was re launched as Costcutter – every student’s nirvana!
Perhaps most famous for its cameo in Hot Fuzz, Somerfield was originally known as Gateway, and believe it or not, but the brand itself was first founded in 1875. I know right?!
The company also briefly owned Kwik Save, which seemed to get passed around more times than a parcel in a game of pass the parcel…that is on fire…but eventually it was sold to the Co-op in 2009 for a whopping £1.57 billion, but by 2011 the brand was phased out completely and replaced by smaller Co-op stores.
At its peak, more than 500 Wimpy stores operated in the UK, with one on every high street in every major city. Wimpy first launched in the UK in 1954 and became one of the biggest names in fast food.
The chain expanded throughout the 1970’s and became the first international burger bar chain in Egypt. However things didn’t remain so positive after the emergence of of a little known company called McDonalds. Closely following this came another little known company named Burger King.
Things continued to work well for Wimpy, but the success of rivals BK and McDonalds couldn’t be ignored.
In 1989, Wimpy underwent the most significant change in its history. A company called Grand Metropolitan PLC (which had also recently bought out Burger King) purchased it and converted nearly 100 Wimpy counter-service units into Burger King stores. By 1990, 200 Wimpy restaurants were fully converted into Burger King, though the Streatham branch floated on serenely.
In 2002 another takeover took place, backed by Bank of Scotland which, saw 300 Wimpy restaurants purchased in the UK and Ireland.
By Mid-2016, only 86 restaurants remained in the United Kingdom, after once again seeing a change in management to Famous Brands – in 2007 – who changed the logo and style of diner to follow suit of a typical ‘American diner’.
At time of writing there are 81 Wimpy restaurants still operating, with the number seemingly on the decrease with rivals McDonalds and Burger King adding to their portfolio annually.