This may not be considered much of a throwback to some folks depending on what part of the country (or maybe even world if I'm feeling ambitious) that you're in. However, that's not quite the case for all of us in Central Iowa. This name is a blast from the past for us. A name that was commonplace for a minute and has since fallen by the wayside.
I happen to remember Albertsons from even further back in the day when I used to work in the pension department at Principhell. They were one of our biggest customers at the time. No clue if that's still the case since I haven't been there for years. It wasn't until working there that I even realized what Albertson's was. Someone pointed out they were a rather large grocery chain that was popular down south. That was all fine and good but that certainly wasn't the case in Iowa where Hy-Vee and Dahl's reigned supreme. It was like Albertson's heard me thinking that because they set out to change that very soon after.
It was probably around the late 90s that the Albertsons stores started popping up around the Des Moines area. And it wasn't like they were doing it gradually or even small for that matter. These were huge grocery stores that were surfacing in heavy populated areas of the city. They were making it known that they were moving it to take over the turf that Hy-Vee had laid claim to for so long.
For a while, Albertson's stayed pretty hot because they were the knew kids on the block. Folks wanted to see if they really were as good as their reputation proclaimed to be. Was there something that we were missing in the midwest that the south had known all along? Well I don't know if their locations down south were different but their presence in Iowa was unimpressive to say the least.
The first time I walked into the Albertsons in West Des Moines, I noticed something very odd. I looked impressively large and extravagant for a grocery store. More grandiose than any other we had at the time. However, the problem was the smell didn't quite match. It had the nasty stench of a pet store. As if kitty litter and stale dog doo permeated the air. It was extremely nauseating. I don't know if I happened to catch the store on a bad day or what, but I never forgot that.
That wasn't their only issue though. The other thing that kept me from returning there was their prices. It was a known fact that Hy-Vee was so popular because they were so economical. Dahl's stuck around because they were higher priced, but they tended to carry items that Hy-Vee didn't (like my Gate's barbecue sauce). But Albertson's was priced higher than both of those. It's like they were trying to cater to the niche crowd of the rich folks but doing so with the misnomer that Des Moines had a plethora of those. Us common people weren't having it
Before long, the Albertson's stores starting shutting down as quickly as they arrived. I don't even think they were around a year if I remember correctly. The Albertson's bigwigs very soon realized that their business model would not work in our community and they were ghost. As a matter of fact, there is still a remnant of their presence in West Des Moines where one of their former buildings remains unoccupied. A stark reminder that bigger isn't always better. At least not as long as it means more expensive.