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Big Y Foods is the subject of a new exhibit at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, in Massachusetts, which traces the independently owned New England chain's origins back to a single small grocery store. The exhibit, "The Big Y: From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket," is now on permanent view at the museum.
Near displays honoring such other local successes as Friendly’s Ice Cream and Smith & Wesson, the Big Y exhibit details the founding of the company in 1936, when Paul D'Amour, a Wonder Bread salesman, purchased a store on his route, at the intersection of Chicopee and Meadow Streets in Chicopee, Mass.' Willimansett Village, known as the "Y" section of town. D'Amour and his brother, Gerry, soon expanded beyond that first location, Y Cash Market, by leveraging innovations like prepared and frozen foods, in-store pharmacies, electronic ordering systems, and shopper-friendly store design and services.
Telling Big Y's story through photographs and memorabilia, the exhibit features a reproduction of the original storefront at 726½ Chicopee Street, as well as a vintage shopping cart, delivery bicycle and groceries from the company's first years.
"We feel confident that our loyal customers and wonderful fellow employees will be rightfully proud of their contribution to the success and growth of this locally owned and family oriented company, committed to serving the nutritional needs of our communities," noted Big Y Chairman Donald H. D'Amour.
"This exhibit helps to underscore the often overlooked story of how supermarkets like Big Y helped to develop quick and efficient food delivery systems and refrigeration technology, advances that are such key components of modern life," added Guy McLain, the Wood Museum's director.