Bernard Kroger

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Bernard Kroger
Bernard Henry Kroger

(1860-01-24)January 24, 1860
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
DiedJuly 21, 1938(1938-07-21) (aged 78)
Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U.S.
Resting placeSpring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati
39°09′52″N 84°31′22″W / 39.164559°N 84.522672°W / 39.164559; -84.522672

Bernard Henry Kroger (January 24, 1860 – July 21, 1938) was an American businessman who created the Kroger chain of supermarkets starting in 1883.

Life and career[edit]

Kroger was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the fifth of ten children in a family of German immigrants, John Henry and Mary (Schlebbe) Kroger.[1] The family lived above a dry goods store that his parents owned. In 1873 due to the economic downturn the family had to close their store.[2] Kroger went to work at age thirteen to help support his family. He quit his first job in a drug store because his Christian mother objected to his working Sundays. He then worked as a farmhand near Pleasant Plain, Ohio, before contracting malaria and coming home.

Kroger then began working as a door-to-door salesman for the Great Northern and Pacific Tea Co., eventually ending up at the Imperial Tea Co. The grocery was not doing well, and the two owners made Kroger a manager. When the owners later refused to make Kroger a partner, he used his own money to open his own grocery.[3]

Kroger's store, The Great Western Tea Co., succeeded despite numerous growing pains and catastrophes. Kroger opened four separate locations within two years. He renamed the company Kroger Grocery and Baking Co. in 1902, later shortened to Kroger, and opened over 5,500 stores by the end of the 1920s. He advertised extensively in local papers, which he thought led to his success.[4] He is credited with introducing the low-cost grocery chain models that persist today [5].

Kroger also invested in the creation of Provident Bank, selling his holdings in the bank in 1928, shortly before the Wall Street Crash of 1929. During a bank crisis in 1933, he converted $15 million of his savings into cash and displayed it at the bank to demonstrate the financial soundness of the bank, averting the crisis locally.

Kroger was also involved in many charitable ventures, including the opening of parks, donations to zoos, and medical research.

Kroger died of a heart attack on July 21, 1938, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, at the age of 78.[6] He was buried in Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery.[3]


  1. ^ Entrepreneur magazine encyclopedia of entrepreneurs – Anthony Hallett, Diane Hallett
  2. ^ Charles F. Philips. "A History of the Kroger Grocery and Baking Company" in National Marketing Review, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Winter 1936), p. 204
  3. ^ a b "Barney Kroger". NNDB. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  4. ^ Garrison, Zachary. "Bernard Heinrich Kroger." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 3, edited by Giles R. Hoyt. German Historical Institute. Last modified August 28, 2014.
  5. ^ "Bernard Henry "Barney" Kroger, Sr (1860-1938) -..." Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  6. ^ "B. H. Kroger Dies". The New York Times. July 22, 1938. Retrieved January 21, 2009. Founder of Business Made Up of 4,844 Stores Succumbs to a Heart Attack. Once Lost Everything in Ohio River Flood. Cincinnatian Also a Philanthropist. Operated 4,844 Stores. Bernard H. Kroger, who founded the Kroger Grocery and Baking Company, died tonight of a heart attack at his Summer home at Wianno, Mass., on Cape Cod. He was 78 years old.

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