Answer Man

Belleville’s grocery stores did a lot of moving around

Q: My partner and I are having a friendly debate about which businesses once occupied the current locations of Club Fitness, Schnucks, Shop ’n Save and where Sears used to be next to Bamboo Valley. We agree that National had at one time occupied at least one of these structures, but disagree over whether Shop ’n Save has been anything but a Shop ’n Save. Could you set us straight?

Timothy Zuehl

A: You two either have forgotten or you’re too young to remember when three of the area’s biggest supermarket chains played musical groceries in the east end of town.

In the early 1980s, what is now the strip mall with Bamboo Valley housed only Kroger’s along with one of the supermarket’s Gasen Drug stores (later Sears). Across the street was a National supermarket (in what is now Club Fitness) and a stand-alone Schnucks (which had taken over the old Bettendorf-Rapp.)

Then the fun began. First Kroger pulled up stakes, and National moved across Carlyle Avenue to take over the bigger Kroger space. But in 1994, Walmart, which was where Schnucks is today, decided it need a bigger store, so it tore down the old Sav-Mart next door to build a new 124,000-square-foot home. That allowed National to return to the complex with its even bigger National Market concept and share the Walmart space with Sure Ace Hardware.

But that lasted just one year. In 1995, Schnucks bought National and converted the Carlyle Plaza National store into the current Schnucks. Eventually the original National store became a Big Lots and then an Office Depot before Club Fitness moved in. Walmart moved east to Green Mount Road, leaving its “new and improved” store sitting closed and abandoned.

As for the Shop ’n Save, I hope you remembered that during Kmart’s continuing national slide, it ran a blue-light special on its Carlyle store that Shop ’n Save bought to convert into its current east end supermarket in 1996.

Today’s trivia

Who reportedly changed Helen Beck’s name to Sally Rand — and why?

Answer to Monday’s trivia: Since they were at least partially conceived by the same man, Fran Striker, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet have family ties. John Reid, the Lone Ranger, had a brother named Dan, who, in turn, had a son named Dan. It was Dan Jr.’s son Britt Reid — John’s grandnephew — who would don his green overcoat, fedora and mask to become the vigilante nocturnal crimefighter. His radio show debuted in 1936, three years after the Lone Ranger.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer