Throwback Thursday: Skaggs Home Center


An article in the July 16, 1984 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, reported on the opening of the fourth Skaggs Home Center in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah, a 25,000-sq.ft. DIY-focused home center.

This was more than just a mom-and-pop player. Skaggs was a subsidiary of American Stores, a powerful player in late 20th century American retail. The Utah-based company at one time was the second-largest U.S. food retailer, behind Kroger, and one of the largest drugstore chains in the country. And in 1984, the company looked poised to embrace the home improvement retailing.

“Home centers have been a sideline for American in the past” a store manager said. “Now they have decided they want to go full bore into it.”

The stores were an early adopter of an “Idea Center,” where customers can obtain DIY project advice

Plus, the stores pioneered advances in one-stop shopping. Each store was located in the same building as a Skaggs Alpha Beta drug/food combo store. They had separate entrances, and as little merchandise overlap as possible. The home centers, for instance, ceded housewares to the grocery side.

A distributor told NHCN: “Your whole household – from lawn and garden to plumbing and groceries – is taken care of in one stop.”

American Stores closed its four Skaggs Home Improvement stores in August of 1990, as the corporate focus returned to grocery and drug. The home centers  were described as “non-performing assets of the company,” said American Stores President Mike Miller, at the time, in a Deseret News article from 1990.

Albertsons acquired American Stores in 1998, for $11.7 billion

The name Skaggs deserves its high place in retailing. Sam Skaggs took over the company when it had 11 stores. In 1995, at his retirement, there were 1,700 stores. His death in 2013 at the age of 89 was reported admirably here in the Salt Lake Tribune.

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