WHITE FRONT

So-Cal's Harry and Lillian Blackman opened the first White Front Household Appliance Company store, in South Central Los Angles, in 1929.

The moniker was derived from the appearance of several stoves, refrigerators and wringer washers lined up in a "white front" at the entrance of the store...this being long before home appliances would be available in shades of turquoise, yellow and pink (or, later on, in coppertone, avocado green and harvest gold).

By 1959, the couple were overseeing the operation of the aforementioned Los Angeles store, as well as locations in North Hollywood and Van Nuys. The successful enterprise caught the eye of New York City-based Interstate Department Stores president Sol Cantor. He divested several conventional stores in the Interstate chain and acquired the holdings of White Front in April 1959.

The chain was reconfigured into a large-scale discount mart operation, whose stores would encompass between 110,000 and 170,000 square feet. In addition to home appliances, there would be general merchandise, a sizable grocery department and a freestanding or attached Tire Center.

By early 1968, there were twenty-eight White Front stores in -and around- the Los Angeles Basin. The first of seven San Francisco Bay Area stores opened in June 1968, followed by two Sacramento locations and a single store in Fresno. Expansion into the Seattle market came about in 1969 and was soon followed by a store at MALL 205 in Portland, Oregon.

At its zenith in late 1971, the chain encompassed thirty-seven stores in three states. The economic slowdown of the early 1970s, along with the so-called "Boeing Bust" in the Pacific Northwest, contributed to the decline and fall of White Front Stores.

Shutterings got underway in late 1972, with stores in Washington State and San Francisco being some of the first to close. By 1975, the entire chain was defunct. Vacant White Front stores were re-opened by chains such as Rainbow, FedMart, Kmart, Fred Meyer, Two Guys and Zodys.