If you live in the American Midwest or South, you most likely do your grocery shopping at your local Kroger, the country’s largest supermarket chain by revenue, the second-largest general retailer behind Walmart, and the 23rd largest company. But have you ever stopped to think about the history of this mega-chain? We bet that there’s a lot you didn’t know about this legendary supermarket.
Kroger was founded way back in 1883 by a grocery store employee named Barney Kroger. When Kroger’s employers, the owners of a company called The Imperial Tea Co., refused to make Kroger a partner, he struck out on his own, using his life savings of $372 to open a grocery store he called The Great Western Tea Co. He re-christened it Kroger Grocery and Baking Co. in 1902, and by the end of the 1920s there were more than 5,500 locations.
In many ways, Kroger invented the modern-day grocery store as we know it. He sold bread and other staples along with general groceries so customers wouldn’t have to shop at multiple stores, and in the 1930s it became the first grocery store chain to monitor product quality and implement strict product-testing standards. In the 1970s, it became the first store to introduce electronic scanning and formalized consumer research. And through a no-holds-barred acquisition plan from its earliest days, it bought out many of its regional competitors, leading to complete industry dominance.
Today, there are 2,774 Kroger locations in America, with 2014 revenues of a whopping $108.5 billion. It runs a chain of big-box stores called Kroger Marketplace, owns a wide network of manufacturing plants, and it has its hands in a couple non-grocery related industries as well. Even if you’ve never shopped at an actual Kroger, we bet that you’ve contributed to their revenue windfall in one way or another. Read on to learn 10 things you may not have known about Kroger.