Looking Back: Big Bear Market

St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 11, 2015


ST. CLAIR SHORES — The Big Bear Market was located on Greater Mack on the site of present-day Great Lakes Ace Hardware. It was one of the first major grocery stores in St. Clair Shores. Big Bear Markets of Michigan operated 33 supermarkets. By 1957, Big Bear Market changed into a Wrigley store. The brief history of this market in St. Clair Shores comes with an interesting story about supermarket monopolies.

In 1955, one of the fastest and largest mergers in the local retail food market occurred. ACF-Brill Motors, a company that formerly manufactured buses, in the space of a few months gained control of 135 supermarkets with annual retail sales of $240 million. The company purchased 50 percent of Wrigley Stores Inc., acquired control of wholesale food distributor Abner A. Wolf Inc., purchased Big Bear Markets of Michigan, Humpty Dumpty Supermarkets in Oklahoma, and 13 other markets operating under the name William Edwards Co. in Ohio. The newly formed company was renamed ACF-Wrigley Stores Inc. In 1957, hearings were held in the U.S. Congress before the Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly to amend the Clayton Antitrust Act to prevent price fixing by large corporations. The National Association of Retail Grocers provided the above information in their exhibit of the report on supermarket mergers.

— Submitted by Cynthia Bieniek, archivist