According to English folklore, Tom Thumb was a lad who was smaller than his father's thumb. Why J.R. Bost and Bob Cullum called their grocery store they started in Dallas in 1948 Tom Thumb is beyond me. But I read today that the chain may be moving closer to its original namesake, i.e. going smaller.
Since 1999, Tom Thumb has been owned by Safeway, which is beginning to experiment with the concept of a smaller, neighborhood grocery store initially being called The Market. (Wal-Mart is trying out a similar concept with something called Marketside.) Analysts are saying consumers are shying away from "big-box" stores and these smaller markets are "the next new thing."
The first of these new Safeway stores has opened in Long Beach, Calif. It features a wooden-floor entryway that leads immediately to stacks of fresh produce, a fresh bakery, a prepared-foods counter, a selection of some 1,000 wines and a Starbucks kiosk. In fact, half of the store's offerings fall into the categories of fresh produce, meat, cheeses and prepared foods. It carries only 15 percent of the items carried by the larger grocery stores.
Plans are to open four more of these markets this year and, if they prove successful, as many as 50 in 2009. No word yet if any of them will be in Dallas area.