King Kullen

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King Kullen Grocery Co.
Industry Retail (Grocery)
Founded August 4, 1930
Headquarters Bethpage, New York
Key people
Co-chairmen: Bernard D. Kennedy, Ronald Conklin
Presidents: Brian Cullen, Donald Kennedy
Revenue Increase US$ 800 million (2006)

King Kullen Grocery Co., Inc. is an American supermarket chain with 35 stores, on Long Island. The company is headquartered in Bethpage, New York and was founded by Michael J. Cullen on August 4, 1930. It is notable for its title of "America's First Supermarket" as recognized by the Smithsonian Institution[citation needed].


King Kullen headquarters in Bethpage.

King Kullen was founded by Michael J. Cullen, a former Kroger employee who devised the concept of the modern supermarket. While General Sales Manager of 94 small Kroger stores in Illinois,[1] Cullen wrote to a Kroger vice-president, proposing a new type of food store with a focus on low prices, cash sales, and without delivery service, in larger stores (at low rents) with ample parking. He described what he envisioned as “monstrous stores, size of same to be about forty feet wide and hundred and thirty to a hundred and sixty feet deep, and the ought to be located one to three blocks off the high rent district with plenty of parking space, and same to be operated as a semi-self-service store – twenty percent service and eighty percent self-service.”[2]

In his proposal, Cullen suggested that this new type of store could achieve 10 times the volume and profits of the average Kroger or A&P. After Cullen's letter went unanswered, he quit his job and moved his family to Long Island, where he launched his concept. Cullen leased a vacant garage at 171-09 Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica (Queens), near a busy shopping district. The store, dubbed "King Kullen", opened on August 4, 1930. After an over 80 year presence in New York City, King Kullen left that market in 2011 with the closing of its 3 remaining New York City stores in Eltingville, Graniteville, and Greenridge on Staten Island.[3]

King Kullen is notable for its title of "America's First Supermarket", and is recognized as such by the Smithsonian Institution. The chain remains owned and operated by the Cullen family, with second, third and fourth generation family members working for the Company. During the 1980s, former New York City Councilman Jack Muratori served as a King Kullen Board member.[4]


Supermarket News ranked King Kullen No. 75 in the 2007 "Top 75 North American Food Retailers" based on 2005–06 fiscal year estimated sales of $800 million.[5]


Exterior of the King Kullen store in North Babylon

King Kullen operates 35 locations on Long Island, in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.[6]


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