Barney Kroger used his life’s savings of $372 to open his first store, The Great Western Tea Company, in 1883 in downtown Cincinnati. (Remember A&P, it was the great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. It started in 1869.)
By 1902, Kroger had opened 40 stores and renamed it the Kroger Grocery and Baking Company. Less than 20 years later, the company had grown to more than 5,000 stores nationwide. Kroger’s stores featured bakeries and were among the first to combine meat markets and grocery stores under one roof.
He advertised regularly in newspapers and started a private-label line of goods to sell in his stores, including sauerkraut and pickles made by his mother. Kroger retired in 1928, but the company continued to grow and remained a pioneer in the industry. In 1972, Kroger was reportedly the first grocery retailer to test an electronic scanner. Today, Kroger has sales of more than $70 billion.