Blog post by Randi Richardson
Monroe County wasn’t exactly hurting for grocery stores in the 1950s. According to the 1953 Bloomington Telephone Directory, there were 53 supermarkets spread throughout the county with the large majority situated in Bloomington. Nevertheless, Louden’s Supermarket at 4th and Madison opened with much pomp and circumstance in September 1955.
An 8-page ad was published in the Bloomington Daily Herald Telephone on September 28, 1955. It included a complete description of the supermarket’s features: lots of parking, a spacious (9,000 feet) facility, conveyer-type checkouts, a self-serve meat department and the largest frozen food display in Bloomington.
The store opened that first day at 8:30 AM. People were by then lined up six abreast for half a block. Maybe they were just eager to see how the new store compared to all the other stores in the area. More than likely, however, they wanted to put their name in a drawing for a NEW 1956 Ford Victoria that would be given away. A NEW Ford. Wow!
Louden’s in Bloomington was owned by two brothers, Pryce and Doyle Louden, and Cecil Mills. The men owned three Louden supermarkets in Bedford and one in Mitchell. In order to expand into the Bloomington market, they purchased a beer distributing company, City Beverage, Inc., at 314 W. 4th Street and modified it to suit their needs.
In spite of the owners’ best efforts to make the new supermarket a jewel in the city of Bloomington, something dire must have happened between 1963 and 1973 when the store disappeared from the Bloomington City Directory. Today where Louden’s once stood are several buildings known simply as The Kirkwood, an upscale, downtown apartment community that extends all the way north from 4th Street to Kirkwood. The Wonderlab is east of The Kirkwood on 4th Street just across the alley.