Jewel (supermarket)

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Industry Retail
Founded 1899 (Chicago, Illinois, U.S.)
Headquarters Itasca, Illinois, U.S.
Number of locations
Key people
Robert Miller, Chairman and CEO
Products supermarkets/food-drug stores
Parent Albertsons
For the defunct Australia supermarket chain see Jewel Food Stores (Australia).

Jewel-Osco is a supermarket chain headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.[1] Jewel-Osco has 185 stores across northern, central, and western Illinois; eastern Iowa; and portions of northwest Indiana.[2] Jewel-Osco and Jewel are currently wholly owned subsidiaries of Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons.


Jewel Food Stores logo until 1980.


In 1899, Frank Vernon Skiff founded Jewel in Chicago, Illinois, as a door-to-door coffee delivery service. In 1902, Skiff partnered with Frank P. Ross, renaming the venture the Jewel Tea Company. In 1929, the company built a new office, warehouse, and coffee roasting facility in suburban Barrington, Illinois, creating hundreds of local jobs despite the Great Depression.[3] Area residents nicknamed the new five-story headquarters the "Gray Lady" due to its sophisticated art deco style.[4][5]

The company's expansion continued throughout the mid-20th century. In 1932, Jewel acquired the Chicago unit of Loblaw Groceterias, Inc., then a chain of 72 self-service stores, as well as four Chicago grocery stores operated by the Middle West Stores Company, and began operating them under the name Jewel Food Stores. In 1934, Jewel Food Stores merged with Jewel Tea Company. In 1957, Jewel acquired Eisner Food Stores, located in downstate Illinois and west central Indiana (Lafayette, West Lafayette, Indiana), and in 1981, the Eisner stores were converted to the Jewel name. Also in 1981, Jewel sold its home-shopping service, which now operates under the name "J.T.'s General Store".

1960s-1970s expansion[edit]

In the 1960s, Jewel expanded by acquiring several chains. Jewel acquired Osco Drug in 1961, and soon started building Jewel-Osco stores. In 1964, Jewel acquired StarMarket, who bought the Turnstyle chain of five stores in the Boston area. Hence the Turnstyle name, which allowed for expansion of the Osco chain eastward all the way to New England. The acquisition of Star Market also gave Jewel control of Brigham's Ice Cream. In 1965, Jewel expanded into the convenience store business by opening Kwik Shoppe, then renaming the chain White Hen Pantry. In 1966, Jewel acquired Buttrey Food Stores, expanding the chain westward all the way to Montana.

Before 1970, Jewel stores were typically located on arterial city streets. Between 1970 and 1990, Jewel moved or expanded most of its stores to be freestanding buildings with ample parking. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Jewel built and operated many Jewel-Osco side-by-side stores, but most construction after 1983 consolidated Jewel and Osco stores together as one large store under one roof. Today, the two stores present to the customer as one unit; for instance, a customer can check out any items at Jewel or Osco registers, find Jewel and Osco merchandise commingled throughout the store, and can call one telephone number to reach their Jewel-Osco. However, each operating unit keeps its own separate marketing identity to the public as a "food store" or a "drug store." Jewel opened five stores in Michigan in the 1970s, but closed all five in 1996.[6]

Until 2010, Jewel and Osco stores under the same roof have had separate operations, managers, ordering and receiving procedures, budgets, and employees. A 2010 cost-saving measure brought both Jewel and Osco oversight under one store director for each site.[7]

American Stores[edit]

A current Jewel-Osco combo store.

American Stores made an offer to acquire the Jewel Companies in 1984. The Jewel Companies, Inc. chairman Weston Christopherson was opposed to a merger and Sam Skaggs was forced to engineer a hostile takeover. On June 1, 1984, American Stores tendered an offer worth $1.1 billion for 67 percent of Jewel's outstanding shares at $70 per share.

For two weeks, Jewel's management refused all comment on the offer, maintaining its silence even at a stormy shareholder's meeting before which Jewel shareholder groups controlling 20 percent of the company's stock had come out in favor of negotiating with American Stores. Finally, on June 14, Sam Skaggs and Jewel president Richard Cline reached an agreement after an all-night bargaining session. American Stores raised its bid for Jewel's preferred stock, increasing the total bid to $1.15 billion in cash and securities. In return, Jewel dropped plans for a defensive acquisition of Household International Inc. and accepted American Stores' offer. American Stores soon sold Buttrey Food Stores, Star Market, and White Hen Pantry, to pay off debt and for other reasons.

1990s expansion[edit]

In 1989, American Stores expanded to Florida using the Jewel-Osco and Jewel-T names, but operating as a separate division distinct from the midwest Jewel-Osco operations.[8] Florida was considered a good market for Jewel because of the high number of Chicagoans who had relocated to that state.[citation needed] However, after a few years, Jewel closed those stores. To consolidate the names of some of its subsidiaries under one title with nationwide recognition, American Stores renamed some of its Skaggs-Alpha Beta stores to Jewel-Osco in mid-September 1991. American replaced the Skaggs-Alpha Beta name with that of Jewel-Osco on all 76 stores in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arkansas, expanding the chain south.

In the late 1990s, Jewel purchased a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, food chain and opened fifteen Jewel-Osco combo stores in the Milwaukee metro area, some of which employed urban designs.[9][better source needed]

Albertsons and SuperValu[edit]

Albertsons acquired American Stores' holdings, including Jewel and Jewel-Osco stores, in 1999.[10]

Seven years later, parent company Albertsons and its stores would be taken over by two separate groups. On May 30, 2006, shareholders approved the break-up of Albertsons. All Jewel-Osco and Jewel Food Stores outside of Springfield, Illinois were now wholly owned by SuperValu. The Springfield stores, meanwhile, were acquired by an investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management. Both of those have since been sold to Niemann Foods, an independent operator of grocery stores, supermarkets and convenience stores in Central Illinois which now operates them under the Cub Foods–County Market brand. All free-standing Osco drugstores are now owned by CVS Pharmacy. The Osco name is still used for pharmacies within Albertsons, Jewel, Star Market and Shaw's.

SuperValu announced on January 5, 2007, that it would offer for sale its Jewel-Osco stores in the Milwaukee area.[11] Pick 'n Save agreed to take five of the 15 stores.[12] Two other stores were purchased by Lena's Food Market.[13] SuperValu announced to its workers that the remaining stores, if unsold, would close at the end of March.[14]


Jewel-Osco locations in purple

Jewel-Osco employs more than 45,000 associates.[citation needed] Its customer base gave it a 45 percent share of the grocery market in Chicago,[10] trailed by the Safeway Inc.-owned Dominick's chain (ranking second at 15 percent) before its closure.[15] Consumers from 80 percent of all households in the Chicago metropolitan area visit a Jewel-Osco store at least once a month.[16]

On January 10, 2013, SuperValu announced the sale of Jewel food stores to Cerberus Capital Management in a $3.3 billion deal.[17][18] The deal closed on March 21, 2013.[19]

Past ventures[edit]

Over the years, Jewel has tried other concepts and ideas. It is credited with selling the first generic brand product line in 1977.[20] The packaging had no name or pictures — just a list of contents, UPC, and required nutritional information on a white package with a pseudo-army-surplus, olive-green stripe. The generic line was given the brand "Econo Buy" in the early 1990s.

Jewel Grand Bazaar[edit]

In 1973, the chain opened an experimental Jewel Grand Bazaar, on the southwest side of Chicago; a store that encompassed an entire city block at the northwest corner of 54th Street and Pulaski Road. This store featured bulk packaging, free samples on weekends, and 24-hour service. See photos: photos This experimental store was in service from 1973 until the 1980s, when it was reformatted as a standard Jewel-Osco combo store. A second Grand Bazaar was opened in 1974 at 87 W. 87th St in Chicago and in 1977, a "Jewel Grand Bazaar" was opened at 6505 W. Diversey in the Brickyard Mall. During the 1990s, the Diversey Avenue Grand Bazaar was reformatted to a regular Jewel grocery store, but continued to carry some of the traditional "Grand Bazaar" features such as bulk foods. With the reconstruction of the Brickyard Mall in 2003, the Grand Bazaar store was demolished and replaced with a smaller Jewel grocery store. Rockford, Illinois also had a Jewel Grand Bazaar. There was also one on Grand Ave. and Kostner Ave. on Chicago's West side. The last "Grand Bazaar" format store was opened in 1976 at Grand ave. and Mannheim road in Franklin Park, Illinois. This building is currently being operated as a Jewel-Osco.

Turn Style[edit]

In 1961, Jewel acquired a chain of discount stores in the Chicago area called Turn Style. This chain was moderately successful throughout the 1960s. Some locations were combined with Jewel's supermarket brands to form Family Centers. In 1978 most locations were sold to May Department Stores and converted to the Venture format. Other stores were converted into large Osco Drug Stores.

Jewel T[edit]

In the early 1980s Jewel operated a no-frills grocery chain called Jewel T. Jewel T stores operated outside of Jewel's home trading area, some as far away as New Jersey and Florida. The chain was sold to Save-A-Lot in 1984.

Other ventures[edit]

In 1979, Jewel, under the Osco division, sold four of its five Republic Lumber locations to R & L Lumber, parent company of Handy Andy Home Improvement Center. They were located on the west side of Chicago at 4052 W. Grand Ave (a former Jewel opened in 1957 to celebrate the chain's 25th anniversary), Oak Lawn, Arlington Heights and Chicago Heights. A fifth location in Norridge was closed early in 1979 when the lease was not renewed; it later became a Joseph Lumber location.

Beginning in the 1990s, Jewel began installing Jewel Express gas station / convenience stores on its out lots.[21] Today, fewer than 5 locations have Jewel Express services.[22] These are currently being or have been rebranded to Shell gas stations/Circle K convenience stores.

In 2008, SuperValu converted one of its closed Sunflower Market stores on Clybourn Avenue to an Urban Fresh by Jewel, a smaller store than the usual Jewel, with more upscale and organic products. It was announced that this store would close on October 31, 2009, and there are no plans to open anymore stores under this banner.[23]

In October 2008, Jewel-Osco opened its first LEED certified store at Kinzie & Des Plaines in Chicago. This new store was built with recycled materials and recycled 98% of its construction debris. It features a rooftop garden, uses water-saving devices, has non-ozone-depleting refrigerants in cooling equipment, uses a refrigerant detection system, and has energy efficient lighting.

President's Choice house brand[edit]

Jewel-Osco has been offering the Canadian staple President's Choice branded products since the early 1990s. President's Choice is a house brand created and distributed by Loblaw Companies Limited of Toronto, Ontario. Even though both Jewel-Osco and Loblaw's carry President's Choice products, both companies' past and present owners are unrelated. At Jewel, President's Choice has since been supplanted by other house brands, including Culinary Circle and Wild Harvest.

Organizational philosophy[edit]

A 1972 book written by Jewel senior leaders, The Jewel Concepts, stressed good citizenship within the community, "watching the horizon," and sponsorship of young people.

In an Illinois Retail Merchants Association online article, retired Jewel-Osco chairman Don Perkins reflects, "Jewel has a tradition of people orientation." One of these traditions came in the form of the "first assistant" philosophy of management.[2] Each higher-level manager was to see himself or herself as serving the employees he or she managed. On the store level, this would mean that the manager would be the "first assistant" to the employees by making personal contact and taking personal interest, solving problems, suggesting solutions, and using flexibility in order to best serve the employees' concerns. Then the floor employees' duty was to be in service as the "first assistant" to the customers.

Jewel also was progressive in creating partnerships with vendors, at a time when the practice was rare.


Current stores[edit]

  • Albertsons LLC owns these Jewel-Osco stores:
    • Jewel-Osco and Jewel stores (168 stores), located in Chicago metro area, including northwestern Indiana.
    • Jewel-Osco and Jewel stores (10 stores), located in Central and Western Illinois, Eastern Iowa.

Former stores[edit]

  • These former Jewel-Osco or Jewel stores are now owned by Niemann Foods and were rebranded as Cub Foods–County Market
    • Jewel-Osco (2 stores) located in Springfield, Illinois (originally acquired by Cerberus)
  • All freestanding Osco drugstores (90 stores in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Wisconsin) were sold to CVS and rebranded as CVS/pharmacy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us." Jewel-Osco Grocery Stores. Retrieved on February 14, 2011. "Jewel-Osco Headquarters 150 Pierce Itasca, IL 60143"
  2. ^ a b Jewel-Osco, SuperValu. Last accessed February 24, 2007.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Sterrett, David (February 20, 2010). "Jewel-Osco slicing 110 managers from groceries". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  8. ^ Jewel Osco dazzles Tampa with sparkling new format, Drug Store News, April 3, 1989.
  9. ^ Milwaukee pushes retailers for "responsible" development, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 11, 2004.
  10. ^ a b Jewel-Osco information,, Last accessed January 17, 2007.
  11. ^ "Jewel-Osco stores for sale". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. January 5, 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  12. ^ "5 Jewel-Osco stores to reopen Friday as Pick 'n Saves". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. January 30, 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  13. ^ "Lena's buying 2 Jewel stores". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. February 2, 2007. 
  14. ^ "Jewel workers receive notice". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. January 24, 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  15. ^ Roundy's joins Chicago grocery fray
  16. ^ It’s not only how he works, but how well he works with others that has made Greg Josefowicz the 1999 Illinois Retailer of the Year, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, October 1999 (#189).
  17. ^ Antinori, Shannon (January 10, 2013). "Supervalu to Sell Jewel-Osco stores". Patch. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  18. ^ York, Emily (January 10, 2013). "Supervalu to sell Jewel-Osco, other chains to Cerebrus group". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  19. ^ York, Emily (March 21, 2013). "SuperValu completes sale of Jewel, other grocers". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  20. ^ A historic walk down the aisles of the supermarket, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 17, 1999.
  21. ^ Sample Jewel Express Locations
  22. ^ Count of Jewel Express locations
  23. ^ Jackson, Cheryl V. (September 20, 2008). "Jewel makes 2nd try at small-scale store". Chicago Sun Times. 

External links[edit]