Rainbow Stores, Newly Organized S. F. Buying Body, to Begin Operation in Few Days
Expansion Throughout East Bay, Northern and Central California Planned by Backers

The Examiner Retailer | San Francisco August 1928 | Vol VII No 8 G

Rainbow Stores, San Francisco’s newest and largest retail grocers’ buying organization, will shortly begin operation in this city. Established by V. Traverso Company, 443 [sic] Washington Street, youngest wholesale grocery house of this city, it is estimated that this buying club will begin to function with approximately 250 members, each owning and operating his own store.

In making this public announcement company officials said: "The establishment and organization fills a very definite need in the community. We have been actuated by the need of the retail grocer for a buying organization that will permit him to operate on a real competitive basis with chain stores. Members of the Rainbow Stores will be able to meet any legitimate price on all grocery staples and yet net a reasonable return."

Officials of Rainbow Stores are Victor Traverso Jr. and John A. Traverso. These men are also operating heads of the parent organization. The concern is a closed company. No outside financing will be required.

According to present plans, Rainbow Stores will be extended to the East Bay section just as soon as The San Francisco unit is functioning smoothly, and later on it is hoped to include the entire northern part of the State.

All Rainbow Stores will be distinguished by a four colored rainbow arc with the words Rainbow Store in gold letters directly below. The number of the store is lettered on a horizontal line within the arc. One or two of the telltale insignia will be exhibited in a prominent part of the store windows of all the members. This will readily establish the identity of the store.

The firm of V. Traverso is well known in San Francisco, having been established over twenty-seven years ago. Their connection with the grocery business is of comparatively recent date. In 1917 Victor Traverso Jr., founded a retail grocery store at 491 Greenwich. Four years later he was joined in this enterprise by his brother. This business grew so fast that it became more than they could handle. Feeling that they could handle a wholesale grocery business to better advantage, they entered that branch of the trade in January, 1922.

There is a picture attached to this article | V. Traverso Jr. The caption under Vic’s picture reads | Official of V. Traverso Co., San Francisco’s youngest wholesale grocery firm, who has played a prominent role in the formation of the Rainbow Stores. This buying body will shortly begin operations in this city.

Safeway Moves into Bay Area

The Safeway chain was created in a merger engineered by Merrill Lynch in 1926 of Skaggs Stores and Sam Seelig Company. The name "Safeway" was created at that time for the stores and group.

Skaggs Stores had its start in 1915, when Marion B. Skaggs purchased his father's grocery store in American Falls, Idaho, for $1,089. The chain, which traded under the name Skaggs' Cash Stores grew quickly, and Skaggs enlisted the help of his five brothers to help grow the network of stores which reached 191 by 1920.

Sam Seelig Co. was founded in Los Angeles in the 1920s. (Source: Wikipedia)

By the time of the merger in 1926, Seelig Stores had 322 stores centered in Southern California, while Skaggs had grown to 673 stores centered in the Pacific Northwest region. The merger was orchestrated by Charles Merrill of Merrill Lynch, who later left Merrill Lynch, for a period of time, to run Safeway in the 1930s. At the time of the merger, the company was headquartered in Reno, Nevada. But in 1929, Safeway relocated its headquarters to a former grocery warehouse in Oakland, California.

Skaggs Cash Stores came to San Francisco in 1925, with locations at 1175 Market and 2584 Mission. In 1927, the San Francisco stores assumed the Safeway name and increased significantly in number.

Most locations were along streetcar strips in relatively suburban areas, with the developing Outer Mission, Richmond, and Sunset Districts being particular favorites. None had dedicated parking. A significant number appear to be purpose-built single-story structures with a similar architecture, although some stores were located in existing multistory buildings.

Chain stores were just arriving in San Francisco and Safeway competed with Mutual Stores (later MacMarr), Public, Pac Coast, and its own Piggly Wiggly franchise stores, along with many independent markets. As the 1920s closed, Safeway was operating 26 stores in San Francisco. (Source:

San Francisco Chain Grocery/Supermarket Locations, 1928-1999

The Rainbow Stores

The V. Traverso Co., who are heading a group of 163 dealers known as Rainbow Stores, have been in the wholesale grocery business for the past six years at 445 (sic 441) Washington Street. Previous to that time they ran a very successful grocery business from which they retired due to the difficulty of securing clerks able to read and write both English and Italian. The name Rainbow was the suggestion of the firm's young lady cashier. (Unknown Source and Date)

28 October 1938 | Unknown Magazine Advertisement | Rainbow Food Stores at 170 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco