Seattle, Washington (1955–1963 as Lake Hills Thriftway)|
(1963–present as Quality Food Centers)
|Headquarters||Bellevue, Washington, U.S.|
Number of locations
Jack Croco first started in the grocery business in Boise, Idaho, in the 1940s working for Albertsons Supermarkets. By 1950, he had become the district manager in the Northwest and was responsible for opening the first Albertson's stores in the Seattle area. Soon afterward in 1955, he opened his own grocery store in Bellevue which was called Lake Hills Thriftway. The grocery concern that would come to be named QFC in 1963 was founded in 1955 with the first store at 6600 Roosevelt Way Northeast by a group headed by Vern Fortin, the former president of Van de Kamp's Holland Dutch Bakeries and founder of Vernell's Fine Candies. Croco merged his store with QFC in 1960. He remained involved in the company until his death in 1991 at the age of 65, though in 1986 he sold QFC to Seattle investment firm Sloan, Adkins & Co. Sloan Adkins took QFC public in 1987. Christopher A. Sinclair became the CEO in 1996. In 1997, QFC purchased the Uddenberg grocery company which operated Thriftway and Stock Market stores throughout western Washington. In late 1997, QFC was sold to Fred Meyer, and a year and a half later in May 1999 Kroger acquired Fred Meyer and QFC. The Roosevelt store remained open through May 5, 2012, when it was closed to make way for construction of the Roosevelt light rail station.
Over the years, QFC has expanded aggressively through acquisitions. When A&P Supermarkets abandoned the Seattle area in 1974, QFC took over several locations. They expanded to surrounding counties in the 1990s by acquiring and renaming Olson's Food Stores, Johnny's Food Centers, and Stock Market Grocery Stores as well as several Thriftway stores. Between 1990 and 1996, 30 stores were acquired from 11 different independent grocery chains. Reed's Super Valu in Port Hadlock and Stock Market Foods in Port Townsend were acquired in 1997. The company expanded into the Portland, Oregon, area as well.
In the mid-1990s, QFC expanded to Southern California by acquiring Hughes Family Markets (which kept its name). By the mid-1990s, many Hughes store locations were sold to Ralphs, which soon was sold to Fred Meyer, before going to Kroger.
Philanthropy and controversy
In 1996, Stuart Sloan, former owner and chairman of QFC, promised to spend at least $1 million a year for the next eight years to overhaul one of Seattle Public Schools's most challenged schools, T.T. Minor Elementary. The funds were donated in addition to public dollars and helped to pay for uniforms, smaller class sizes and a year-round schedule, though the manner in which the funds were applied sparked controversy.
In the 1960s, QFC ran a memorable animated ad which made use of produce puns, such as "raise our celery".
QFC and Safeway are the dominant supermarkets in the city of Seattle and its surrounding suburbs. QFC is positioned as a smaller upscale supermarket relative to Fred Meyer, although both are owned by Kroger. QFC uses a preferred customer card to track customers and offer discounts.
- Moriwaki, Lee (November 7, 1997). "Fred Meyer to Buy QFC". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
- Gorlick, Arthur. "QFC GREW FROM 4 STORES TO MAJOR CHAIN." Seattle Post-Intelligencer November 8, 1997: A4
- Ramsey, Bruce (January 18, 1986). "QFC GROCERY STORES TO BE SOLD". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. pp. A3. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
- Matassa Flores, Michele; Joe Heim (October 20, 1998). "Attention Shoppers: We've Been Sold — Again". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
- Make room for light rail: Roosevelt QFC closure just weeks away Roosiehood, April 19, 2012
- "Growing QFC Will Buy 25 Supermarkets." Seattle Post-Intelligencer November 13, 1996: B8.
- Staff, P-I (May 20, 1997). "QFC Plans Expansion with Two New Food Stores Near Olympia". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. pp. B4. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
- Staff, P-I (April 29, 1997). "Reed's Super Valu Bought by QFC; Employees to Stay". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. pp. B5. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
- Staff, P-I (May 17, 1997). "QFC Plans to Enter Market In Portland With Two Stores". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. pp. B8. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
- Virgin, Bill (November 21, 1996). "QFC Buys Chain in California". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
- Shukovsky, Paul (May 14, 1997). "Donation to School Criticized by League". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. pp. B1. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
- "Rethinking Sloan's Gracious Gift To School." Seattle Post-Intelligencer May 16, 1997: A14.