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Colonial Groceries, 4825 Forest Drive: 1970s   25 comments

Posted at 1:22 am in Uncategorized

This building across the street from Trenholm Plaza in the remnants of the Forest Lake Shopping Center is now Coplon's department store, but in the 60s and 70s, it was the store where my mother most like to shop for groceries: Colonial.

Although I went there many times, I was young enough that certain very specific things stick in my mind rather than a good overall memory. In particular, I recall that if you came in through the main doors (which were on the Sakura side of the building, I think), took your cart and jinked left across the row of checkout lines, you would find a wire cage filled with boxes of Barnum's animal crackers, and we would always try to wheedle our mother into buying some (it rarely worked). They also shared a house brand for cheese, Farm Charm with Big Star groceries, and we all felt that this was the best cheddar of all the local groceries.

In the right back corner of the store, there was a Coke machine (presumably mostly for employee breaks) which stayed at $0.10 long after all the other Coke machines I was familiar with had gone to $0.15. The restrooms were, I believe, through a swinging door behind the machine. As was common with grocery stores, and indeed most other stores, in this period, these were not official restrooms -- there was no customer access. Of course all bets were off with childhood emergencies and a persuasive mother. I recall she talked the staff into letting me back there once, and I was tremendously impressed by the raciness of having an exasperated handwritten sign taped up over the urinal: Those of you with shorter bats please stand closer to the plate. That never would have flown in an "official" restroom.

And then of course there was the park behind the store where we spent many hours while our mother shopped, and where I climbed the monkey bars and got stuck hanging from my knees.

Groceteria has a history of Colonial and Big Star. It's clear from that that Colonial was in trouble by the 70s and was rebranding as the lower margin Big Star, but I don't know exactly when this store closed. I know it was well before I went to college, so I'm thinking mid-70s. After it closed, we sometimes shopped the Big Star co-located with the Fort Jackson Boulevard K-Mart for Farm Charm cheese, but in general that was too far, and I think my mother usually went to Trenholm Plaza after that.

Coplon's remodelled the Colonial building to add the front drive-under canopy, and moved the main entrance to the Forest Drive side of the building. I have never been inside since Colonial left but I feel sure you can't get a $0.10 Coke there anymore.

Written by ted on April 14th, 2009

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25 Responses to 'Colonial Groceries, 4825 Forest Drive: 1970s'

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  1. I remember Farm Charm!

    Somehow we never made it to this Colonial Store, but we did hit the one at Richland Mall often. It became a Big Star at some point.

    I loved to push the cart for my mother when I was little.

    There are a couple of grocery store staples that have gone the way of the horse and buggy, but I remember them fondly, such as those gigantic magic markers (4" across!) they used to make the sales signs. I always wondered if someone got a job there based on their handwriting skill with those things.

    I also miss the produce man, who stood by his scale in the middle of the fruit and vegetable dept. and weighed your things, then wrote the price on the brown paper bag with a marker. In later years he also stapled it shut to prevent that one extra apple you forgot from finding its way into the bag.


    14 Apr 09 at 3:41 pm

  2. Yes, I remember the produce weigher guys. They were often a bottleneck as they would be off spritzing the greens or in the storeroom when you needed your stuff weighed. I think Piggly Wiggly got around this by pre-weighing produce, putting it on a styrofoam plate and saran-wrapping it. My mother hated that. Nowdays of course the scales are built into the register.


    14 Apr 09 at 11:09 pm

  3. Remember bagboys? Employees who were actually taught how to distribute a cart's worth of groceries among several large paper bags in a way that would not break your back when you tried to lift them, or crush your Twinkies beneath your canned ham. Then they would carry it to your car! They wore ties!

    Compare to the modern end-of-the-shopping-trip experience. And don't even get me started on those horrible plastic sacks.


    15 Apr 09 at 5:05 am

  4. I love that newspaper ad. 22 cent sale/the deuces were wild! And beer was only $1.39 for a six pack.
    I like to stand waaaaaaaaaaay back from the plate.


    15 Apr 09 at 5:07 am

  5. I love those old ads! If you zoom in and read the "Chronic Complainer Explained" article, you'll see a bunch of typos. I can't believe The Los Angeles Times let that out. Also the "Gas Hike" story. Of course, in 1973, they had no idea what was coming in the late 70's!! Great find, Ted!!


    15 Apr 09 at 8:42 am

  6. I remember Colonial Stores giving out Gold Bond stamps,which were not as popular it seemed as S&H or Greenbacks.

    And does anyone remember the giveaways that made you watch a 30 min tv show? I remember several ones involving horse racing and "all-star" bingo.


    15 Apr 09 at 9:02 am

  7. I can sort of remember the produce guy weighing your things for you in the scale that hung from the ceiling at A&P..but that was back in the early to mid 60's. Do you also remember that if you wanted coffee, that at the registers up front the "coffee" guy or a guy would groud it fresh for you while you waited in line? that was at A&P also.. I dont remember Colonial all that well since my Mom and Dad got most of what they wanted at A&P or the occasional trip to Parkland Plaza, or the one on Harden St. at the Sears "complex".


    15 Apr 09 at 11:49 pm

  8. Tom,
    I had forgotten all about those horse races on TV.
    In the 1967/68 period Piggly Wiggly Stores would hand out a ticket with every purchase that had your picks for a few horseraces on a given afternoon. These were televised on a local UHF channel (rolling video and snow) and if your horse won a race you would collect the prize. I couldn't count the number of horse races I watched one summer.


    16 Apr 09 at 3:54 am

  9. I remember watching the "Let's Go to the Races" game on TV. Of course the horses on our tickets never won, but it was exciting for a few minutes. What I remember about the Colonial Store at Richland Mall was that there was a small deli-like area near the back. There was a large barrel filled with big dill pickles. You fished out the pickles with tongs,as I remember, then put them in little waxed paper bags. That wouldn't work today, I don't guess.


    20 Apr 09 at 5:29 pm

  10. I dont remember Colonial being at Richland Mall..just Parkland Plaza and Sears. Where was it at Richland Mall?


    20 Apr 09 at 7:42 pm

  11. Del - The Richland Mall Colonial Store (later Big Star) was right in the middle on the side facing Forest Drive.

    Let's see if I can remember the whole side in order: J.B. White's, then a walkway, then Redwood Cafeteria, Hickory Farms (later they moved across the mall), Woolworth's, another walkway, and Eckerd's on the corner.

    Russell Stover was out in the parking lot, along with a little automated Post Office.


    20 Apr 09 at 9:16 pm

  12. The technical address, according to the newspaper ad above was "57-63" Richland Mall.


    20 Apr 09 at 10:17 pm

  13. My mom won money on that horse racing show with a ticket she got shopping at the Colonial Store in Parkland. Seems like it was $100!


    21 Jan 10 at 4:26 pm

  14. I just found this site and love it. I grew up right down the street from the Colonial Strore. There was a bakery right across from the Colonial Store that my friend and I would visit every Saturday after cartoons. We would collect soda bottles and turn them in at the Colonial for the deposit. Then we would walk over to the bakery for some chocolate iced donuts and eat them while we sat on the bridge over the creek that ran along the back of the shopping center.


    19 Oct 11 at 9:33 pm



    17 Apr 12 at 12:26 pm

  16. Article about the Colonial store on Rosewood closing...


    25 Apr 13 at 10:32 am

  17. Here's a 1974 ad from Colonial Stores. Pretty cool.


    25 Apr 13 at 8:24 pm

  18. Dang it - I didn't realize that ad was posted above. And here I thought I had something new...Que Sera Sera!!!!!


    25 Apr 13 at 8:31 pm

  19. Interesting. Images from this blog land in a lot of places..


    25 Apr 13 at 10:47 pm

  20. I stumbled across this image along with a bunch of old grocery ads and saved them a while back.....


    26 Apr 13 at 12:31 am

  21. That Colonial CS logo with the rooster head was used by the USC baseball team in the 1960s with the letters obviously reversed.


    29 Apr 13 at 9:21 am

  22. i won a thousand dollars on lets go to the races i wasnt but 18 this was in 1977. i felt like i hit the lottery

    scott kinnett

    3 Apr 14 at 8:58 am

  23. @scott - man I had totally forgotten about 'Let's Go To The Races'. My Mom used to bring those tickets home every time she would shop at Colonial Stores. We would be glues to the TV during every race to see if we would win. We never did.....


    3 Apr 14 at 11:44 pm

  24. My dad was Ed St. Clair and he did the show Let's go to the races. Does anyone remember the show or him?

    Sharon St. Clair Nooney

    29 Apr 16 at 11:44 pm

  25. I remember always getting my paperbag bookcovers from Colonial, playing on the monkey bars, and the horse races!

    Martie Walker

    13 May 19 at 10:01 am

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