Sunday Ads: The Start of One Stop Shopping?

Written by on August 21, 2016 in Sunday Ads - 2 Comments
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Who knew that the venerable Block's department grocery store once offered groceries?! An early example of the big box store perhaps? (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

Who knew that the venerable Block’s department  store once offered groceries?! An early example of the big box store perhaps? For those interested, Vegex was a popular brand of Mermite. The paste comes from the concentrate of waste products emitted by yeast during the brewing process. Yum! (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

Business:  Wm. H. Block and Company

Date of Ad:  August 15, 1926

Location:  Block’s Department Store, Southwest corner of Market and Illinois, downtown Indianapolis

Years of Operation: 1874-1987

Notable: While strolling the cavernous expanses of the new Meijer store on Keystone Avenue, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. Acres of florescent lit floor-space serves as a beacon for shoppers to peruse hardware, clothing and groceries in one location, but this is hardly a new concept. The William H. Block Company opened their massive new department store in 1911 right across from the Traction Terminal. From the get go, groceries were part of the equation, with the entire fifth floor being dedicated to culinary delights.

Block’s became part of Federated’s Lazarus chain in 1987. The downtown store was scaled back to three floors before closing in 1993. In 2003, the building reopened featuring condominiums on the upper floors and a T.J. Maxx department store on the ground floor. The public lobby features art-deco escalators and mirrors that were part of the store’s 1926 remodeling and expansion.

Additionally: Another Indy retail giant revived the one-stop shopping concept some thirty years later than this ad. Ayr-Way stores began popping up in 1961. The concept, created by L. S. Ayres and Company, featured a large discount department store and attached grocery. At the peak, the chain had locations in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky including eleven stores in Indianapolis. The company sold in 1980 and the department stores were gradually converted to Target locations. Many of the grocery stores became Preston Safeway locations. The one-stop shopping concept returned in 1994 when Meijer opened their first Indy store. It continues today through Meijer, Target Superstores, and others.

This 1920 ad offered assistance on how to serve the exotic grapefruit. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

This 1920 ad offered assistance on how to serve the exotic grapefruit. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

The Ayr-Way chain operated from 1961-1981. Started by the rival L.S. Ayres and company, stores featured everything you could ever want under one roof including groceries. All of the stores eventually became part of the Target chain however none of the original locations feature the red bull's eye anymore. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

The Ayr-Way chain operated from 1961-1981. Started by the rival L.S. Ayres and Company, stores featured everything you could ever want under one roof including groceries. All of eventually became part of the Target chain.(Courtesy Indiana State Library)

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About the Author

An avid runner who enjoys daily jaunts throughout Indy's historic neighborhoods, Jeff deeply appreciates the detail and workmanship of old architecture. So much so, that he lives downtown in a restored historic building. He also works downtown as a manager of a not-for-profit that promotes globalization throughout Central Indiana. In a past life, Jeff worked in the hospitality industry and may one day pen a book about the ridiculous things people do while staying in hotels. Stay tuned.

2 Comments on "Sunday Ads: The Start of One Stop Shopping?"

  1. Bob Palma August 24, 2016 at 2:22 pm · Reply

    Jeff: There was never a fiscal/business relationship between Ayr-Way and Target stores, was there?

    Some parts of your writing could be interpreted to suggest that Target “bought out” Ayr-Way or some such, but wasn’t it just that Target bought older Ayr-Way properties from L. S. Ayres & Co to convert them to Target stores when Target entered this market? Just curious.

  2. Bob Palma August 24, 2016 at 2:23 pm · Reply

    OOPS! ‘Forgot to add that yours was an interesting writing overall; enjoyable. Thanks. BP

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