Sunday, September 07, 2008

Grocery Shopping in the 80's

The main grocery store our family shopped at 20+ years ago was Randall's. It was located on the west side of Winona in what was called the Westgate Shopping Center. Let me take you through a typical visit there. Before leaving our home in Rollingstone, my mom would make sure that we returned our 8-packs of Pepsi glass bottles. Yes, glass.

When we arrived at the store, the empty bottles would be put in a container near the shopping carts and we would be given a credit for 75 cents or so which would be applied to our bill. I remember when I was quite small, I would sit on the metal bars underneath the cart while my mom went through the aisles.

As I grew older, I would frequently go to the Book Nook store located adjacent to Randall's while my family was shopping. The reason being that Randall's did not stock my favorite sci-fi movie magazine, Starlog,

or the Marvel comic of "Star Wars". I'd browse both items and if I had money, would usually buy one or the other. One night, I bought a paperback book that had thousands of jokes in it. Many of them were really dirty, so dirty that I didn't even understand them.

Book Nook also stocked dozens of "sexually explicit" magazines. On many an evening, I would see some guy choose one (or more) and take it to the checkout. They had some nice looking ladies that worked there at the register. I wonder what they thought of the poor guys as they rung 'em up.

The Nook also had an office that overlooked the whole store (to discourage shoplifting, I assume). The lady that sat up there was an older one. She looked just like your typical librarian. The store also stocked Hallmark cards, but I wasn't too interested in that stuff.

Getting back to Randall's, I would sometimes look at their aisle of toys. They'd have a small amount of Star Wars figures which were typically higher priced than JCPenney, so I rarely bought them there, but it didn't hurt to browse. I can recall one night seeing frog legs for sale in the freezer section. Eww.

Checkout was much different than it is these days. The register person had to manually enter the amount of each item into the old-time register (no bar codes yet). Stickers were placed on every item in the freakin' store. Obviously, it could take awhile to get through the checkout. One of the newspapers available at the checkout was Grit.

Our food was put into paper bags and a number was scribbled on one of them. We then strolled to the car. On the way out, we could see people working in Randall's small office and just before hitting the doors were more than a dozen gumball and candy machines. There were penny gumballs as well as ones that cost a quarter. They also had a copy machine there which was a pretty new thing at the time.

Once in the car, we drove by Randall's exit doors. Usually one of us kids would roll down the window, mom would give us the numbered card and we would display it for the Randall's bagger to see. He would then come out and put all our groceries in the "third-tier" of our awesome station wagon.

We never had to wear seat belts. If mom or dad had to stop real quick, they'd reach their right hand over and gently push us back against the seat.

It was always a treat when mom would let us have some Pepsi that evening. She would open a bottle with the opener and the five of us would be wired for the next couple hours.


houstonmacbro said...

OMG! We used to have a station wagon like that too. I remember shopping trips, but they were decidedly unhappy because it felt like I had to do all the work of 'hunter-gatherer' while my sisters rode the cart through the aisles.

Oh .. and did I forget about the unpacking and stocking once we got home. Yours truly again.

But thanks for the trip down memory lane. :-)

paige said...

For us, the store was Loblaws. It was a weekly journey tha the three of us made (my Mom, my suster and I, my Dad didn't live with us). It was kind of fun because my Mom always let us pick some sort of treat like fresh strawberries or a frozen McCain cake.
My sister and i used to look at all the gross weird stuff too like tripe or pickled pigs feet. Bizarre.

Rocketstar said...

I used to love going to the grocery store with Mom, seeing all of those things I couldn't have, like sugar cereals. Maybe that is why it is easy for me to deny myself of what I want but do not need.

Anonymous said...

I always hated going grocery shopping with my mother-it always took her twice as long than necessary to get the shopping done. To this day I have still not figured out why.

Timothy Smith said...

We also did the bottle return thing at Randalls. We thought the whole country had those 16oz bottles in the 80s when in fact only a few bottlers still existed. One was in Oregon where we moved from and the other was in MN.

Soda always tasted better in those long bottles, I wish they would bring them back. Be better for the environment anyway.

Thomas said...

Houston, you're welcome.

Paige, pickled pigs feet? Eww!

Rocket and Silver, thanks for sharing your experiences as well.

Tim, I wasn’t aware that not everyone had access to those 16 ouncers. That explains why last night when I bought my mom a “nostalgia” four-pack of Coke glass bottles for her birthday, there were only 8 ounces or so in each one. I was thinking that’s just the way they did it in the 60’s when she was growing up. Thanks for shedding light on this.