Skip to main content

TOUR: Putnam Supermarket - Putnam, CT

Putnam Supermarket
Owner: Jay Sinha
Opened: 2010 under current ownership; unknown previously
Cooperative: none
 162 Providence St, Putnam, CT
Photographed: September 25, 2020
Welcome to Putnam, Connecticut! The quaint town of 10,000 people is such a quintessential small town that it's been used as the setting for Hallmark movies (which frequently feature Hartford, Providence, and Worcester -- all of which are within about 40 miles away -- as the big bad city). There are two supermarkets in the downtown area, plus a Stop & Shop about two miles outside of town.
One of the two is the longtime independent Putnam Supermarket, not a member of any cooperative but supplied by New Hampshire's C&S Wholesale Grocers (which originated in Worcester, by the way). I haven't been able to place when the store opened, and Historic Aerials isn't much help either, showing that it was constructed some time between 1934 and 1970. If I had to guess, it would be a 1960s-era store. It's about 10,000 square feet.
We can enter from the parking lot on the right side (as you can see in the first picture, the sun was not my friend that day) to produce in the first aisle. Meat and deli are on the back wall, and frozen foods and dairy are in the last aisle.
The interior is a fascinating time capsule. I have to wonder about the exposed ceiling here. That's not typical for a supermarket of this time, so was there previously a drop ceiling across the whole store that was removed at some point? Was this a repurposed building constructed as something else?
As we can tell, the inside is extremely old-school. There's a little of everything, but the store really sticks to the basics. The meat department is delightfully unchanged since day one, I'm sure...
The current owners purchased the store in 2010, but I can't find who owned it previously or for how long.
The aisle markers look like they could be newer than the rest of the decor, but I'm not positive.
The large mirror across the whole back wall makes me think that there probably was not previously a drop ceiling, but it's hard to tell on that, too.
Looks like the shelving may have been replaced here, with the warehouse-type shelving that appears to be newer than the rest of the store's shelves. Depending on the store's age, though, it's also possible it's not newer.
Looking at reviews online, the butcher and deli seem to be big draws here. Multiple reviews mention the grinders, which are of course sub sandwiches in the local parlance. (Heroes in New York, hoagies in Philadelphia, grinders in southern New England, and in parts of northern New England like Maine, they're Italians.)
Speaking of, here's the deli in the back left corner...
The frozen foods and dairy, both in newer cases, line the last aisle of the store.
And looking towards the back wall...
I am so glad I got to visit this store, because I can't imagine it will continue to last as this time capsule for too much longer! It was a lot of fun to see the history here but also that it continues to be used as a community supermarket.
And that is despite the big-chain competitor opening up in town back in 2006. Speaking of, let's check out that store tomorrow on The Market Report!