Our History

Our History



May 26, 1860.

Twenty-seven year old George Clinton Shaw opens a small retail grocery store boasting his name at 285 Middle Street in Portland, Maine.




ACME gets its beginning when two friends, Samuel Robinson and Robert Crawford, open a small neighborhood grocery store at Second and Fernon Streets in South Philadelphia that emphasize quality products, low prices and friendly service.


Jewel begins as a group of door-to-door salesmen selling tea and coffee from the back of horse drawn wagons. In 1899, Frank Ross and his brother-in-law Frank Skiff, start their company with $700, a rented horse, and a secondhand wagon.




After partnering and naming the venture Jewel Tea Company, the routeman calls on his customers every other week directly to their homes. He names the company Jewel for its fineness and stability. Jewel rents their first retail store at 643 East 43rd street in Chicago.


With $1,200 in savings, Charles Von de Ahe opens his 20-foot wide Groceteria on the corner of 7th and Figueroa in Los Angeles in 1906. The first store caters to the needs of local families, where Von der Ahe pioneers "cash and carry" as an alternative to "charge and delivery."


Jewel begins to produce its first products under its own brand label - Jewel Baking Powder and Vanilla Extract.




Sarkis DerMugardichian borrows $900 from nine relatives and buys his store in 1915. The whole family – father, mother, son and three daughters plus a few uncles – work in this first store in the Star Market chain.


An ambitious young man in the small Idaho town of America Falls in 1915, M.B. Skaggs gets into the business and purchases a tiny grocery store from his father. In 9 years time, the chain grows to 400 stores and becomes Safeway, Inc.


In 1916, founder, H.D. Snell, opens his first United Cash Store. Today, our United stores number 37, and they are located in 24 Texas communities.


Acme joins four other retailers to create American Stores Company.


Another ambitious New Englander named Maynard A. Davis establishes a group of small downtown grocery stores in the Brockton and New Bedford areas called Brockton Public Markets, or BPM stores. In 1919, Davis purchases the George C. Shaw Company of Portland, Maine, and operates the two companies independently.




Stephen Mugar instituted the customer oriented philosophy that is still prevalent at Star Market today.  “Take good care of the customer, the customer will take care of you.” Home delivery was an important part of this concept. Customers could phone in orders in the afternoon and receive their product the following morning – even if they ordered a competitor’s product, like A&P coffee!


Homemakers’ Institute begins to gather and test recipes for the Jewel News, a folksy publication distributed to customers along the Jewel tea route.


Safeway Inc. is founded in 1926 when M.B. Skaggs merges his 428 Skaggs stores with 322 Safeway (formerly Selig) stores.


M.B. Skaggs lists Safeway on the New York Stock Exchange. Safeway introduces produce pricing by the pound, adding “sell by” dates on perishables, nutritional labeling and some of the first parking lots.


Charles Von der Ahe sells his chain of 87 Vons stores. Safeway expands into Canada 1929 with 127 stores.




Star Market opens a second store during the height of the Depression. Soon a third store opens in Wellesley and then another in Newtonville – directly across the street from the old store. Billed as the most modern supermarket in New England, the new store is built following an airplane hangar design so that it could be turned into a movie theater if the store failed. Instead, it serves as a prototype for the industry, introducing one-stop, self-service shopping.


Jewel enters the retail grocery store business with the purchase of 81 established self-serve retail stores food stores in Chicago owned by Loblaw Grocery.


Despite the Depression, two of Von der Ahe sons, Ted and Will, re-start Vons. Its growth and innovation over the next 70 years is non-stop.


Jewel organizes a door-to-door survey that gathers the opinions of more than 18,000 shoppers who tells them what they like and did not like about Jewel. From that input, Jewel develops its 10 Commandments of customer service. In 1934, Jewel closes all stores for three days. They clean, renovate and restock the shelves, announcing the reopening in the Chicago Tribune.


Jewel arranges for daily deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables a move that shocks its competitors. Safeway introduces a money-back guarantee on meat. Through the 1930’s Safeway becomes the second largest grocer in the US.


The first ACME Store opens in New Jersey. Osco’s Start: L.L. Skaggs opens a chain of self-service drugstores in the Midwest similar to his brother L.J.’s stores in the west. First Called Payless, it was eventually called “Self-Service Drug, Inc.” Star Market’s eventual CEO John M. Mugar was appointed treasurer, reducing company expenses by 30%.

July 21, 1939

Founder Joe Albertson opens the first Albertsons at 16th and State streets in Boise. For just over 75 cents, customers can purchase three pounds of tomatoes, a pound of coffee and a one-pound roast. An in-store ice cream shop serves double-dipped, handmade ice cream cones dubbed “Big Joe’s” for a nickel.




Franklin J. Lunding introduces the Jewel “First Assistant” philosophy. In our company we think that the executive responsibility involves assisting people down the line to be successful and that their boss in any department is the first assistant to those who report to him. Lunding inverted the traditional pyramid of power insisting that bosses work for those under them. Beginning in the 40s, Jewel customers could place orders for items from a catalog. Merchandise was then delivered by mail.


Shaw’s and BPM Stores are converted to self-service, a bold move in those days.


“Self-Service Drug, Inc.” is dissolved and succeeded by “Owners Service Company”, a partnership of L.L Skaggs, H.B. Finch, Paul Stratton and George Hilden. From this company ‘OSCO’ is coined. The same year, Osco moves its headquarters from Waterloo, Iowa to the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, Illinois.


Christian Call and Ira Brown open a chain of self-service drugstores in California. They open the first Sav-On drugstore in San Bernardino, CA.


Safeway sales exceed $1 billion for the first time.


The first Tom Thumb store opens in August 1948 at 6909 Preston Road in Dallas. The store was 9,000 square feet in size. Brothers Bob and Charles Cullum, along with J. R. Bost, founded Tom Thumb in Dallas. Charles always said, “Some things are constant and never change – integrity, character, keeping promises, serving customers faithfully and well – they are always basic.”


The Vons brothers opened their most ambitious store at the corner of Santa Barbara and Crenshaw, offering some of the first self-service produce, meat and deli departments. Shaw’s/BPM began the New England Food Buyers Association, a member-owned food co-op in order to compete more effectively with the “house brands” of larger chains. This association later became Topco associates of Chicago.




H.D. “Jack” Snell, Jr., purchases the Vernon and Wellington grocery stores from his father and the United Texas tradition begins to grow.


H.D. “Jack” Snell, Jr., introduces United to Lubbock.


Albertsons opens its then-largest store – 60,000 square feet, featuring both a food and a drugstore. Shaw’s Stores builds the first “shopping center” in Maine, with the opening of its Millcreek Shopping Center in South Portland.


Shaw’s Brockton Public Markets opens its West Shopping Center in Brockton, MA.


Safeway opens its first store in the new state of Alaska—the first major food retailer to enter that market. The company opens three stores in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks over the next several years. The store in downtown Fairbanks is built on the site of a red-light district, known as The Line, which operates for close to a half century. Most of these stores are in buildings constructed by Anchorage real estate developer Wally Hickel, who later becomes governor of Alaska and U.S. Secretary of the Interior.




Jewel expands by attaining several chains, including Osco Drug. Soon thereafter, the business begins building Jewel-Osco combination stores. United Supermarkets is introduced in Wichita Falls, TX.


Jewel Companies Inc. approaches Osco with the idea of a merger and a plan to develop a combination or a side-by-side food store and drugstore.


Albertsons opens its 100th store in Seattle. Safeway again opens stores in Hawaii, having exited this market in 1934.


Albertsons celebrates 25 years and enters Southern California by acquiring a 14-store chain. Albertsons becomes the 25th largest grocer in the United States, with 127 stores and more than 5,000 employees. The company also introduces the Service Deli, paving the way for its signature Fried Chicken. Star Market merges with Chicago’s Jewel Tea Company and as a result a new brand, Star Osco, is born.


Shaw’s Stores open stores in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and Derry, New Hampshire. The first two Shaw’s locations outside of Maine.


The first Osco in New England is opened.

July 1966

Randalls founded. Three entrepreneurs, Robert Randall Onstead, Norman Frewin, and R.C. Barclay develop the concept of a discount supermarket. Among their innovations are special prices advertised in their large front windows, hot delis, on-the-premises bakeries, electronic check cashing, scanners and mart carts for seniors.




Vons branches out to 159 stores with 16,000 employees, making it firmly the #1 grocery retailer in Southern California. United Supermarkets is introduced in Amarillo, TX.


Construction of the new Shaws offices and distribution center in East Bridgewater (Laurel Street) began. The East Bridgewater DC boasts a capacity to receive 11 railroad cars indoors, and features 49 shipping/receiving doors.


Sales top the $1 billion mark for the first time, and Albertsons has more than 16,000 employees across 250 stores.


“It’s Joe Albertson’s Supermarket, but the bakery department is mine!” television ads air for the first time…. still a favorite among associates and customers.


George C. Shaw & Company officially merge with BPM to form Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. There were 37 stores at the time – 23 stores in the north and 14 stores in the south. American Stores Company buys Skaggs Companies.



Jewel Companies, Inc. acquires Sav-On Drugs. Safeway acquires Pak N’Save. The original Albertsons on 16th and State Streets in Boise is torn down to make way for a new 46,000 square foot store.


Jewel-Osco stores are now constructed as a single store under one roof.


Shaw’s opens second distribution center in Wells, Maine — 252,000 square feet, of which 70,000 is for frozen food product. 180,000 square feet is dedicated to dry grocery, with the remaining square footage used for offices and maintenance facilities. In 1987, a 230,000 square foot expansion is added to the building.


Vons launches the Pavilions brand in Southern California. The first Pavilions opened in Garden Grove, California and catered to families who were paying more attention to the quality of food and valued freshness, nutrition and variety in their shopping experience.


Shaw’s acquires Iandoli’s Supermarkets in the Worcester-area, bringing the store count to 60. On July 23, Shaw’s becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of J Sainsbury.


Shaw’s opens its first store in Rhode Island, located in Woonsocket.



Safeway becomes a publicly traded company again.


Randalls earned over a billion dollars in revenue, making it easily the fastest growing company in Houston. Randalls doubled in size with the acquisition of Tom Thumb stores and the gourmet Simon David stores.


Albertsons honors the memory of their founder, Joe Albertson, who passes away at the age of 86 in Boise. Shaw’s acquires Cerretani’s Supermarkets north of Boston.


Randalls expands to Austin with purchase of AppleTree Market stores and changing Tom Thumb banner stores to Randalls. Invest Corporation purchased Star Market. Star continued to expand and introduced Wild Harvest.


Safeway Inc. acquired a 35% stake in Vons, and the two companies fully merged in 1997. Shaw’s acquires 8 Almacs Supermarkets locations in Rhode Island.


The 1,000th Albertsons store opens at 3614 W. State in Boise. The 1,000th store is a one-stop shop: Customers can use banking services, pick up dry cleaning, grab dinner or file a police report.

Albertsons completes the merger with American Stores company in June, making it one of the top three grocers in the nation.

Safeway acquires Carrs Gottstein and Randalls in separate acquisitions.

Shaw’s opens its first stores in Vermont. Shaw’s acquires Star Market, gaining a major presence in Greater Boston.



Safeway also created the subsidiary Blackhawk Network, a prepaid and payments network, a card-based financial solutions company, and a provider of third-party prepaid cards.

United receives the Better Business Bureau’s “National Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics,” joining previous winners IBM, Sony Corporation, and Dollar General Stores in being recognized for ethical treatment of Guests, employees and communities.


Albertsons purchases Shaw’s / Star Market.


Albertsons LLC is formed from acquiring 660 Albertsons stores, folllowing the divestiture of Albertson’s Inc. to three separate buyers.

ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Shaws, Star Markets, and the balance of Albertsons stores are sold to SUPERVALU.


Albertsons LLC sells the Northern California division to local operator Save Mart and begins a pattern of making strategic sales and acquisitions with the purchase of 10 Raley’s stores in New Mexico, most of which were converted to Albertsons stores.

United unveils its new “Amigos United” banner in Plainview.


United’s second Amigos store opens in November with the conversion of the N. University store in Lubbock.


United Supermarkets announces on Aug. 26 the purchase of Praters Foods, Inc., a fixture of Lubbock’s food industry for more than 50 years.



Albertsons LLC successfully acquires all of the remaining assets purchased by SUPERVALU in 2006, re-establishes the corporate headquarters in Boise, and brings a fresh
approach to Boise’s favorite hometown grocery store.


Albertsons LLC acquires Lubbock, TX-based United Supermarkets, which operates 50 retail stores under 3 brands: United Supermarket, Market Street and Amigos. Additionally, their United Express Brand has 7 convenience stores and 26 fuel centers.



Albertsons and Safeway Announce Definitive Merger Agreement. “Together, we will be able to respond to local needs more quickly and deliver outstanding products at the lowest possible price, more efficiently than ever before.” – Bob Miller, CEO Albertsons LLC


Albertsons and Boise State University enter into a 15-year agreement to create Albertsons Stadium. “It is our privilege to support Boise State,” said Bob Miller, CEO of Albertson’s LLC. “Albertsons has chosen to link our name with Boise State because we admire and share their commitment to the values of becoming part of the community, integrity, hard work, developing leadership and continuously learning and improving."

July 21

Albertsons celebrates its 75th Anniversary by honoring the legacy of its founder Joe Albertson while preparing for a long future of tender loving care for their customers.


January 30

Albertsons and Safeway Complete Merger Transaction; The newly combined private company will operate 2,200 grocery stores in 33 states and the District of Columbia.


Star Market celebrates 100th anniversary.



United Supermarkets celebrates 100th anniversary.

April 4

Albertsons Companies launches its largest private label brand, Signature. Albertsons Companies creates quality items for the Signature brand across six product sectors – Signature SELECT™, Signature Kitchens™, Signature Farms™, Signature Cafe®, Signature Home™, and Signature Care.

June 2

Haggen Northwest Fresh stores begin the first day of operation as a standalone business unit in the Albertsons Companies family of banners.


May 31

Albertsons Companies acquires MedCart Specialty Pharmacy, an industry-leading, URAC accredited, pharmaceutical and healthcare provider of customized specialty care services and medication management for patients and physicians addressing complex diseases.

September 20

Albertsons Companies acquires Plated, a premier meal kit service that makes it easy for people to have amazing dinner experiences at home by delivering chef-designed recipes along with fresh, pre-portioned ingredients to customers’ doorsteps.

November 16

Albertsons Companies Invests in El Rancho Supermercado, a Texas-based Latino grocer.


January 11

Albertsons Companies popular Own Brands label, O Organics, becomes a $1 billion brand, a major milestone for one of the nation’s largest brands of USDA-certified organic products.





Our History