Downtown Los Angeles was essentially a small town when Charles Von der Ahe opened his 20-foot wide Groceteria on the corner of 7th and Figueroa in 1906 with $1,200 in savings. It was a neighborhood store that catered to the needs of local families, where Von der Ahe pioneered "cash and carry" as an alternative to "charge and delivery." His formula proved so successful that by 1928 Vons had expanded to 87 stores. Charles Von der Ahe sold his chain the following year, but four years later, despite the Depression, two of his sons, Ted and Will re-started Vons. Its growth and innovation over the next 70 years was non-stop. In 1948 the brothers opened their most ambitious store at the corner of Santa Barbara and Crenshaw. Thanks to the introduction of pre-packaged perishables, they were able to offer some of the first self-service produce, meat and deli departments. This milestone marked the advent of the first true supermarkets as we know them today. The most explosive growth occurred during the 1970's when Vons branched out to 159 stores with 16,000 employees, making it firmly the #1 grocery retailer in Southern California. In 1996, Safeway Inc. acquired a 35% stake in Vons, and the two companies fully merged in 1997. Vons stretches from San Diego to Fresno, from Clark County, Nevada to the Pacific. Its 273 stores serve millions of Southern Californians and Nevadans.
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