Eagle Food Centers

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Eagle Food Centers
Former type Grocer, subsidiary of Lucky Stores
Industry Retail
Founded 1893 Davenport, Iowa
Defunct 2003
Headquarters Milan, Illinois
Key people Tenenbom family (founders); Richard & Maynard Waxenberg; Howard Cohn;, Ben and Morris Geifman; Frank, Bernard & Ira Weindruch
Products Bakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, general grocery, meat, pharmacy, produce, seafood, snacks, liquor
Parent Lucky

Eagle Food Centers was a chain of supermarkets that operated in Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois for a number of years. The company was based out of Milan, Illinois, which is near the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa. The company operated stores under many names, including BOGO'S, Eagle Country Market, Eagle Discount Centers, Eagle Discount Supermarkets, Eagle Food Centers, May's Drug and MEMCO. Eagle also operated stores in Houston known as Eagle Supermarkets until March 1985. The chain held a 6 percent market share and had 1,100 employees before leaving the area.

History[edit]

Beginning[edit]

In 1893, Tenenbom family opened the forerunner of Eagle's chain in Davenport. In 1921, Geifman's and Eagle Kash and Karry opened small neighborhood markets in the Quad-Cities, which specialized in fruits and vegetables. These two operations grew during the 1930s as both family operations added new stores. Eagle's was owned by brothers-in-law, Frank Weindruch and Isadore Pesses. The Geifman brothers of Rock Island, Ben and Morris, owned the Illinois Geifman stores. Their uncle George and his sons, Morris and Sam owned the Iowa Geifman stores. By 1935, self-service had become an important part of the grocery business, with Eagle and other stores responding by allowing self-service at lower prices.

1950s-1960s[edit]

In 1952, Abe Tenenbom died, and his nephew, Richard Waxenberg took over Tenenboms, and the Illinois Geifman's merged their five stores with the eight stores of Davenport's Tenenbom-Waxenberg family. Together, they became known as United Supermarkets. In 1954, United merged with 10 stores of Eagle Kash and Karry, forming the largest area chain, called Eagle-United Supermarkets. In 1957, construction was completed of the New Milan warehouse with 155,000 square feet (14,400 m2) of space. The former Eagle warehouse on Fifth Avenue in Moline was sold to Fresh-Pak Candy. In 1961, Eagle was purchased by Consolidated Foods Corp. of Chicago, one of the nation's leading food processors and distributors. Consolidated operated 68 Piggly Wiggly stores at that time. The Eagle and Piggly Wiggly operations were then combined and operated from Eagle's corporate office and warehouse in Milan, Illinois. In 1965, Coin Bakery (of Rock Island) was purchased and became a part of Eagle, under the name Harvest Day Bakery.

Sale to Lucky[edit]

In 1968, California-based Lucky Stores bought Eagle Food Centers from Consolidated Foods Corporation. Eagle Food Centers and Piggly Wiggly stores were renamed Eagle Discount Supermarkets, following Lucky's successful discount pricing program. Lucky established Lucky Midwestern Division headquarters in Milan, Illinois.

1980s[edit]

In 1981, Eagle operated 136 stores and had sales of $1.2 billion. Eagle expanded into the Midwest by opening a new distribution center in Westville, Indiana. In 1984, a strike by the United Food and Commercial Workers against Eagle Foods Stores created a bitter labor atmosphere. In 1985, after only four years of operation, the Westville distribution center closed. In November 1987, Lucky Stores sold majority ownership of Eagle Food Stores to New York-based Odyssey Partners. Odyssey provided a monetary transfusion which allowed Eagle to expand old stores and add new ones. In December 1987, Eagle filed a building permit for a $1.2 million expansion of its Avenue of the Cities store in Moline, ballooning the store by 13,000 square feet (1,200 m2). In 1988, New stores opened in Galesburg and the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove. In August 1988, Eagle announced construction of a $2.5 million, 42,600-square-foot (3,960 m2) grocery store in East Moline to replace an aging, 27,700-square-foot (2,570 m2) store at 1313 42nd Ave.

In November 1988, Eagle applied for a building permit to allow a $1.2 million, 23,800-square-foot (2,210 m2) expansion to the Milan warehouse, and also announced a $1 million expansion of the Geneseo store, expanding the building from 19,000 to 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2). In August 1989, Eagle became a publicly owned corporation.

1990s[edit]

In June 1990, Eagle Food Centers elected its first board of directors at the company's first annual stockholders' meeting at the Milan Community Center. In May 1992, Pasquale "Pat" Petitti, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Eagle Food Centers, Inc., retired after 35 years with the company. In December 1999, Eagle sold five of its Chicago-area stores, leaving 90 stores in Illinois, Iowa and Indiana. Eagle stock price dipped to $2.03, down from a 52-week high of $4.25, and the company reported a net loss of $1.5 million.

Bankruptcy[edit]

Eventually, the company found that it was unable to compete with other chains, such as Jewel-Osco, Dominick's, Hy-Vee, Walmart and Kroger . The first sign of this was the selling of the Harvest Day bakery plant in Rock Island, Illinois to the Metz Baking Company in 1998. The company went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2000.

In 2003, Eagle Food Stores ceased operations, and sold off its assets. Some of the stores were acquired by other chains, such as Hy-Vee, Kroger, Albertsons, and Butera. The Downtown Eagle Corporation was founded to take over two stores - one in Clinton, Iowa and the other in Dubuque, Iowa. They purchased the rights to the Eagle Country Market name and signage and operate the two stores under the Eagle Country Market name. One location in Coralville, IA was purchased by GEICO and converted into a call center. One location in Cedar Rapids was bought by Rockwell Collins; another site in Iowa City was bought by Auto Zone. The Buffalo Grove, IL location was converted into a bowling and entertainment center known as "esKape" - and following a sale to the Brunswick Corporation, it was renovated into the country's third "Brunswick's" upscale bowling center.The Eagle store in Galesburg,Illinois was later a B&G grocery store created by 2 former Eagle workers.Now the building is a Dunham's Sports.

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