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Why the Supermarket Was Born in Los Angeles

The City Has Long Been a Diverse Laboratory Where Retailers Study Consumer Behavior

By Benjamin Davison
November 17, 2015

In 1926, Los Angeles grocer George Ralphs opened the first supermarket. His property diverted from many of standards of the time, offering off-street parking, a selection of fresh meats and produce, and an environment amenable to middle-class women.

Nearly a century later, Ralphs’ creation has become a quintessential institution of American capitalism, representing national abundance and insatiable material desire. Yet for such a central part of daily life, Americans know very little about how the supermarket as a retailing concept came …

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