Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vintage Kroger in Rainbow Plaza Shopping Center: Panthersville/Decatur, GA

Kroger has lasted in the Atlanta area longer than any other chain grocery store.  Winn-Dixie is gone, Food Giant is gone, Ogletree's/Bruno's is gone, Big Star is gone and other local offerings in the area include Publix (arrived 1992) and Ingles (arrived late 1980's).  Because of this, people in Atlanta area have a certain affection for Kroger despite its external origins.  In fact, people in Atlanta tend to assign nicknames to many of the stores.  The most famous of those is Disco Kroger...a late 1970's Buckhead location that has seen significant renovation over time but holds the name due to its proximity to a popular disco in the same strip.  Business poured in late at night from the disco into the Kroger, because it was one of the first 24 hour stores.  While the disco is gone and the place is now called "Fresh Fare by Kroger", to the locals it is still "Disco Kroger".

Unfortunately, some of the Kroger nicknames are a bit less illustrious.  Names like "Funky Kroger" and "Murder Kroger" do not exactly paint a pretty picture but also do not seem to hurt their business. The Kroger I am covering here is one of the "Ghetto Kroger" locations.  Honestly, the name is deserved because of the shoddy condition of the store from the outside.  In fact, a friend of mine there actually thought the store was out of business until he looked in and saw the lights on inside followed by the sight of skinny teenagers in red shirts retrieving carts from the parking lot.  However, when I say the store was "shoddy" that does not mean I did not like it.  It did, however, look like the outside canopy was on the verge of collapse.

The "Bank of America" sign basically gives away that this is far from a closed location.  The "Delicatessen/Bakery" and "Prescriptions" diamonds look like something from a vintage photo.  If I had made these black and white, nobody would have known I took them in 2010.

I have to like this store, because it is straight up early 1970's.  What's not to like?  It had the diagonal-cut cedar siding, shingled mansard roof, ancient store offering signs and of course, the Kroger sign in block letters that I have not seen since the early 1990's.  It was actually a very unique and low-key design for its time, and it perfectly complimented South DeKalb Mall, which was built in the same era.  The store, of course, was also doing a decent business since areas like that tend to be under-retailed at best.  I guess you can say I was impressed to see a vintage stylish Kroger still operational, but at the same time it probably is not fair to the local population not to have a larger, nicer store.  Eventually the company is bound to cave and give them a nicer store, but at the same time I hate to see it go.  I bet I am not the only one amazed, however, at this relic still being in operation.


  1. Neighborhood groups have complained about the lack of a modern supermarket in the area. Originally, it was slated for closure and replacement by the Flat Shoals store in the late 90's but was kept open due to neighborhood support. The store represents a unique mansard roof interpretation of the Kroger superstore which once was commonplace in DeKalb County.

  2. I saw the store this summer and was amazed that it was still open. Another bit of trivia- notice how the drugstore section is separate from the rest of the store (it's to your right when you walk in the front door). That's because Kroger stores didn't have full drugstores like they do now. In the 1970s, Kroger owned a chain of drug stores called Super X (the R and X were combined to make the Rx abbreviation). Super X stores were normally right next to a Kroger grocery. At some point, Kroger combined them. I remember construction at the Kroger on Old National in College Park to remove the wall between Super X and Kroger and make it one store. For some reason, this doesn't seem to have happened in the Panthersville store (though I could be wrong - maybe the back wall has been taken out - I only noticed the drug store section on the way out).

  3. Funny how this was considered the Modern Kroger in the 1970's. There was a kroger in the moreland shopping center where we did alot of shopping( it was very small and dated).This Kroger had it all even a deli. Then in 1980 a new and even more modern Kroger was built across the street from Moreland shopping center( it was also a stand alone store) BTW the Kroger picture here, I remember fondly because my next door neighbor worked there and I got my second ever lunch box here( 2nd grade it was a Space 1999 lunch box...but I so badly wanted a Star Wars but none were to be found and my dad was like "get something now or you will be brown bag'n it lol)

  4. For those of you who don't know, but this kroger store is officially closed. The store looked getto from the outside but was very convenient for shoppers in that location. They had a tendency of dumping their trash seemed like it would only get picked up once a week cause in the summer time the parking lot would have the horrible smell. I only hope something better comes in that location. but then that whole area needs desperate change.