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Nostalgic Memories of Closed Boston Area, New England Supermarkets

Here's some food for thought: Did the now defunct grocery stores of yesteryear have more of a genuine feel, or is it that a love for nostalgia created inaccurate memories of places that might not have been great in the first place?

I think back to the closed larger chains like A&P  (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company), First National (Finast), Grand Union and the smaller ones like Angelo's, Fernandes, Johnnie's Foodmaster and Purity Supreme, and Victory, and come to the conclusion that few of them were great as far as variety of merchandise.

But they were great supermarkets because each one had its own distinct personality and that, despite the lack of brand name options, you could pretty much find everything you needed. Sure, none could hold a candle to what could be found at Super Stop & Shop or Shaw's, but that's really not the point.

A&P had a small, intimate community feel even though it was a nationwide chain. First National  offered a great produce section and seemed to hire, lively, career-minded personalities that you didn't forget. Grand Union mostly resided in New York, but the New England stores (like the one in Stowe, Vermont) had that friendly Upstate New York vibe, too. Angelo's and Fernandes had South Shore written all over them and seemed even friendlier than Grand Union. Johnnie's Foodmaster surprised us with products we couldn't find anywhere else -- and an excellent variety that was more like the modern day supermarket. It was, to many, an underdog who we rooted for against the bigger chains. Purity Supreme looked clean -- henceforth, the name -- and featured a very organized look. It was like the Felix Unger of grocery stores. Victory seemed more disorganized and inconsistent from store to store, but I liked that style -- sometimes imperfections can be quite endearing.

Last but not least, how about the old Waltham Supermarket? I think it started in the 1930s and closed some time in the 1990s. Back then, it seemed like the Boston version of Wegman's with its large space and outstanding departments -- especially the huge meat department with really high quality beef. I was crushed when it closed. Today, Hannaford -- one of my favorite modern day markets -- takes that space, but there was nothing quite like the Waltham Supermarket.

Do you have memories/stories of any of these places, or any other nostalgic thoughts of other closed Boston area supermarkets?


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