FEDMART

Among several Southern California-based, mid-century discount chains was San Diego's FedMart. Founded by Sol Price in December 1954, the first location was established in an abandoned aircraft hangar that Price had inherited.

His business connections resulted in an odd array of merchandise in the first FedMart store, which featured only jewelry, furniture and liquor. The enterprise was conceived on a membership-only basis, serving US Government employees...hence the FedMart moniker.

The endeavor was an astounding success, spawning expansion into Phoenix, Arizona in 1955 and Los Angeles and Texas by 1960. By the mid-1960s, the 2 dollar membership fee had been dropped.

In 1974, there were forty-five stores, housing between 60,000 and 100,000 square feet. Lines of apparel, housewares and groceries had been added. There were also in-house pharmacy and optical operations and freestanding gas stations.

In May 1975, Sol Price sold his majority interest in the chain to Hugo Mann, a West German retailer, who operated the Wertkauf chain of hypermarket-type stores. Mann removed Price from his leadership position in 1976.

Under Mann's leadership, FedMart expanded, taking in several former White Front, Two Guys and Globe Discount City locations. By 1979, there were seventy FedMart stores in operation.

A European-style hypermarket concept had been adopted, with newly-built stores encompassing 150,000 square feet. Unfortunately, the prototype, considered too large and disorganized by So-Cal shoppers, was a failure.

An initial phase of store shutterings began in April 1982 and concluded with the closing of the final FedMarts, on July 3, 1982. Sixteen locations were acquired by the Ralph's supermarket chain. Nineteen re-opened as Target stores on April 17, 1983. The remaining sixteen made the transition to Target in late 1983.