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From Grand Central Market to Supermarket

The Los Angeles Jewish Grocer

Cate Roman, Author
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IM Hattem's Los Angeles Supermarket

IM Hattem often said he arrived in Los Angeles "with fifty cents in one pocket and a bundle of dreams in the other." These dreams materialized with the building of his first market: Hattem's at the corner of 43rd Street and Western Avenue.

Hattem envisioned all the stalls of the typical market at the time being collected under one single roof. His vision was part of a great shift in the way Americans shopped for groceries. The self-service grocery store was a fairly new concept and many of the leading markets were moving to this business model.

Hattem's Western Avenue market was the first of its kind in many ways. Built in the California Mission style, it had a red tiled roof and a large front patio with a beautiful fountain. The market followed the self-service model with all departments under one roof including meat, produce, bakery, deli, and groceries.

A local newspaper, The Southwest Wave, coined the term "supermarket" in describing Hattem's opening in December 1927. The market was opened 24 hours a day and issued trading stamps–Monday was double stamp day. Los Angeles was a unique city, where space was available to expand dreams. This gave IM the opportunity to build both a beautiful grocery store as well as provide parking. Acknowledging the growing importance of cars ahead of the competion, Hattem's Market had a parking lot in the front of the store where shoppers could drive right up to the open front grocery, park their cars, and conveniently load groceries into their vehicles.

According to the Southern California Grocers Journal’s June 23, 1966, issue: “Although self-service markets were operated experimentally in California since 1916, Hattem’s was the first drive-in market in the country. The crowds were so large that the entrances had be roped off and customers were admitted in groups to keep from overcrowding the store.”

A great promoter, IM documented the opening of this store in 16mm film and his grandson, Michael Hattem, used the footage to create this short documentary for friends and family.

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