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Grocery Outlet: Then and Now

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When I wrote Sacramento: Then and Now I wanted to show some images that were missed in other local history books, but were immediately recognizable by people who lived in the neighborhoods portrayed. I chose the image of the grocery store at 17th and Capitol because it was just this sort of place: ordinary, but recognizable and essential. At the time, it was still Rick’s Uptown Market–one of the hazards of a book titled "Then and Now" is that the date of publication immediately becomes a new "Then."

The building is about 100 years old–I am pretty sure, but not positive, that it was constructed in about 1910. It was constructed as the Perkins and Company grocery store, selling food as well as dry goods and other essentials. Perkins & Company was first established in the town of Perkins, about seven miles east of Sacramento by Thomas Calley Perkins, renamed in his honor from the earlier name of Brighton. Thomas’ son, Charles Calley Perkins, expanded the family business to Sacramento in the early 1900s, so this store was probably his idea. More about the history of Brighton Township, including Perkins, can be found in this a free online book called Stories of the Land by Paula J. Peper. The book was published by Stonebridge Properties, who currently plan to develop the Perkins/Brighton area into a new Sacramento County subdivision.

When the Perkins Store was built, Capitol Avenue was still known as M Street, and a streetcar line ran down its center. Paving was becoming commonplace in that decade, so the road may have been macadamized, but there was still a lot of horse traffic in addition to the streetcars, bicycles, pedestrians and a growing number of automobiles. Like most streetcar routes, M Street’s property values were higher than adjacent blocks, so buildings on the street were more commonly commercial, multi-family dwellings or large, expensive homes of prominent families.

The Perkins & Company Store went out of business in 1944, but it served as a neighborhood market after Perkins closed: by the 1950s, it was a Raley’s store. More recently it was part of the Compton’s Market local chain, and most recently Rick’s before closing and reopening as a Grocery Outlet store.

As the photos show, other than covering up some of the street-side windows with stucco, the store hasn’t changed very much. The mural, now in mid-restoration/enhancement, gives a little bit of flavor, not strictly what the building actually looked like but enough to evoke the past. In the past week, Sacramento lost one of its oldest market buildings to fire, but places like the old Perkins Store, reopened today as a Grocery Outlet, still function in their historic role. As Sacramentans redisciver their central city, buildings like this one and places like neighborhood markets will have an important role to play. Perhaps this building could serve the neighborhood as a grocery store for another hundred years?

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