Barney Kroger opened up his first grocery store in Cincinnati in 1883, and by the following year had opened his second store. By 1902, the Kroger Grocery and Baking Company had been incorporated. By this time, the company had grown to forty stores and sold $1.75 million worth of merchandise each year. In addition, Kroger became the first grocery chain to have its own bakery. Within a short time, the stores began selling meat as well as the typical produce and other goods that groceries normally sold during this era.
During the nineteenth century, customers would order the food that they wanted, and the grocers then delivered the order to their clients' homes. Kroger also followed this policy and, in 1913, began delivering its groceries with Model T trucks instead of with horse-drawn wagons. The company introduced another innovation in 1916 with the beginnings of self-service shopping. Like today, customers went to the grocery store, chose their own merchandise, and brought it home themselves. Kroger became a very prosperous company and, by 1929, had opened 5,575 stores.
Kroger continued to grow throughout the twentieth century. By 1950, annual sales had grown to more than one billion dollars. The company built a skyscraper in Cincinnati to house its corporate offices at the end of the decade. By 1980, sales had grown to ten billion dollars a year. Kroger had become the second-largest food retailer in the United States. In 1999, Kroger merged with Fred Meyer, Inc. This merger made Kroger the largest grocery retailer in the United States. The company's prosperity continued, and it claimed a new sales record of $50 billion dollars in 2001.
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