Indiana was Once Home to the World’s Largest Grocery Store
Before Walmart, Target, Meijer, and other similar-style "supercenters" became our go-to places to get everything we could possibly need or want, grocery stores were much smaller, and only sold groceries. While smaller grocery stores certainly still exist, one man in Fort Wayne, Indiana had the vision to turn the routine task of going to the grocery store into an experience that no doubt laid the groundwork for the stores we shop at today.
Fort Wayne Grocery Store was Once the Largest in the World
Today, the average size of a Walmart Supercenter is around 187,000 square feet while most Meijer's are between 150,000 to 250,000, about 10 to 15 times the size they were back in the 1950s and 60s. Of course, today's supercenters use their massive spaces to sell more than groceries, with most of them also including clothing departments, home goods sections, electronics departments, automotive centers, and more. But back then, grocery stores typically sold groceries and only groceries, but a man in Fort Wayne by the name of Henry J. Eavey wanted his store to be more than just a place to get your milk, bread, and eggs, he wanted it to be an experience.
Eavey's Supermarket was an 80,000-square-foot store located on the south side of Fort Wayne near the intersection of Decatur Road and East Hawthorne Street and was considered the largest supermarket on planet Earth in 1958. In addition to groceries, Eavey's featured a kitchen where chefs cooked ready-to-go meals, a three-story coffee grinder that ground 2,000 pounds (a.k.a. one ton) of coffee each day and was hooked into the central air condition so the smell of fresh ground coffee filled the store.
But, the "extras" weren't confined to inside the store. Outside, Eavey had the brilliant idea to install a swimming pool complete with two lifeguards where parents could leave their kids so they could shop in peace. The outside also featured the store's signature mark, the 80-foot tall sign shaped like a cornucopia which you can see in the picture at the top of the page. The unique store drew quite a bit of attention as you can imagine and was even featured in an article in Life Magazine in July of 1958.
What Eavey's Supermarket Looks Like Today
Eavey eventually sold the store to a man named Don Scott who changed the name to Scott's but kept the cornucopia in place because he knew it had become synonymous with the building. The store was eventually sold to Kroger, who closed it in 2009.
According to a December 2020 article from the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, the property was purchased by a local church with plans to "reinvigorate the property" and turn it into a "neighborhood-oriented resource." However, recent photos shared by a member of the Abandoned and Forgotten Indiana Facebook group seem to suggest those plans haven't started yet. With that said, someone who claims to work for the construction company that scored the winning bid for the project commented on the post and said no start date for the work has been set yet.
Whatever happens to it, the fact it holds a special place in history and is right here in the Hoosier State is pretty cool if you ask me.
[Sources: The Free Library / Mashed / Meijer / Groceteria.com / Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette / Child of the Fort / Abandoned and Forgotten Indiana on Facebook]