Superior Grocers/Shoppers Market


In April, 2014 the original Googie facade of Shoppers Market was destroyed as the planned remodeling project began. 

Place Details


133 West Avenue 45,
Los Angeles, California 90065
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Northeast Los Angeles




Photo by Cindy Olnick / L.A. Conservancy


On November 5, 2013 the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) voted unanimously to disapprove the recommendation of the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) for Superior Grocers/Shoppers Market as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM). With full City Council action supporting this recommendation, the proposed HCM nomination failed.

This outcome allows the current operator of Superior Grocers to move forward on a proposed renovation that will completely remodel the front facade of the building and destroy intact Googie features.

Highland Park Heritage Trust prepared a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) nomination for the building to intervene. The HCM was recommended for designation by the Cultural Heritage Commission in August 2013.

The operator opposed the nomination, and Councilmember Gil Cedillo representing Highland Park ultimately supported this position. Without a councilmember’s support, it is very difficult for an HCM nomination to move forward.

On November 8, 2013 Councilmember Gil Cedillo issued the following statement:

The Councilman is a big supporter of historic preservation and has received various awards on his efforts to preserve cultural monuments, but he has serious concerns about this process at a local level. A closer look found that the historic preservation process is flawed. As the City of Los Angeles moves forward in trying to revitalize some of its poorest areas we must find a way to balance our historic cultural icons, while encouraging smart growth and economic development. The denial of the historic designation will allow for the supermarket to remodel and improve the physical structure of the building in order to better serve the needs of the community. In the coming weeks Councilmember Cedillo will work with the Planning Department to ensure transparency in the process, and to make sure we are protecting our historical monuments while encouraging revitalization of our neighborhoods.

About This Place

About This Place

This grocery market was completed in 1960 and typified grocery markets as a building type in the postwar era. Originally opened as a Shoppers Market, the grocery operated as a Lucky’s Market from 1965 to 1999, and later as an Albertson’s before its current use by Superior Grocers.

Designed by architect Ronald Cleveland of the firm Leach, Cleveland & Associates, the distinctive building featured modern architectural and Googie elements and a high degree of transparency along its main façade.

The roof form was a dominant feature of the market, forming both the zig zag ceiling of the interior and projecting beyond the glass walls to form the lozenge-shaped roofline that functions as an entrance canopy.

Strips of fluorescent lighting were arranged in rows on the underside of the angled ceiling and canopy. When illuminated at night, the canopy and interior ceiling appeared to float above the glass walls along the entrance, giving the market a transparent quality.

Patterned concrete lent additional texture to the walls flanking the central glazed section of the market. Spanning 42,000 square feet of space, the market is set back from the street by a large parking lot.

The store’s Googie features were demolished in April 2014 as operator Superior Grocers began a faux-Craftsman makeover.

Our Position

We believed the Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) designation would not have interfered with the store’s operations, its continued use as a market, or plans for interior upgrades and improvements. Instead, we encouraged the operators to embrace this opportunity to showcase the building’s mid-century Googie architecture.

While the Conservancy appreciates the operator’s desire to renovate the building in a style compatible with the surrounding Highland Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ), postwar buildings outside the period of significance for the HPOZ are becoming landmarks in their own right as time passes.

The HPOZ was designated in 1994, before many postwar resources were considered historic. Many resources, such as the Shopper’s Market, are generally in scale with the neighborhood fabric and have become part of Highland Park’s long, layered history.

The Shoppers Market building is a good example of the mid-century grocery market that is becoming an increasingly rare building type.

Only a handful of such buildings remain in the city that haven’t been altered beyond recognition or demolished. The few intact examples currently house the Vicente Foods in Brentwood, a Ralphs Market in Studio City, a 99 Cents Only in North Hollywood, a Hannam Market World in Koreatown, and a vacant former Big Lots in Hollywood.

Though they were designed in many different styles by different chains and stores, these markets are instantly recognizable for their wide spans, visible lighting patterns, and extensive glazing that displays the inside out.

With so few remaining, we believe the Googie-style Shoppers Market is a worthy example with a high degree of integrity that should have been recognized and protected.


Shoppers Market
Shoppers Market in September, 2013 | Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy
Shoppers Market
Remodeling of exterior of Shoppers Market, April, 2014 | Photo by Cindy Olnick/L.A. Conservancy
Remodeling of exterior of Shoppers Market, April, 2014 | Photo by Cindy Olnick/L.A. Conservancy
Shoppers Market
Googie details, Shoppers Market in September, 2013 | Photo by Cindy Olnick/L.A. Conservancy