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Meet the town’s first supermarket

Article and photos by Arlene Feldman. Her father-in-law, Irving Kolovson, owned the IGA Foodliner franchise. Her husband George even took the store’s architectural plans on their honeymoon in 1955. The Foodliner later became the Building 19 ½  rug/furniture annex, and the whole area is now under development as the Shoppes at Simonds Park.


After experiencing success in a small grocery store in another town, Irving, Burt, and George Kolovson were looking to develop a grocery store in an area with an expanding population and growth. The electronics industry was springing up along Route 128 and drawing more people into the area. Burlington, with a population of 3,200 people in 1955, was an ideal location.

The first store was in the future Rexall drugstore, at 1,600 square feet. By 1965, Burlington had grown dramatically, and the IGA expanded to 30,000 square feet to meet the demand. The Kolovsons developed a franchise agreement with IGA and completely owned and managed the store.

The self-service meat cases were 120 feet in length with another 40 feet devoted to service fish and delicatessen. Word spread quickly of the good quality, prices, and service in all departments.

A store policy was to sample as many new products as possible to entice the customer to buy. One of their best promotions was a cheese that weighed 5,580 pounds. It cost $240 to get it from the truck through the window into the store. The cheese sold out in three weeks!

The bakery situated within the supermarket was a novelty feature for the time. Not much attention was given to a bakery as a separate department in most supermarkets, but at the IGA it became a separate department managed by George. You could always smell the aroma of baked goods and were very likely to receive a sample of what had just come out of the oven. There were always new products in the showcase. American, European, and maybe something your mother or grandmother made that brought back many memories. You could have a snack at the coffee shop next to the bakery, with the swivel seats being a big hit with the children.

The IGA gave back many times to the community. The market awarded two scholarships a year to Burlington high school seniors. Their service and generosity resulted in receiving many awards, amongst them: the American Legion Community Service, Morgan Memorial Goodwill, Service the Handicapped, Family Circle Gold Merit Award and the Outstanding Business Supermarket in the U.S.

Irving passed away in 1964. George went on to develop freestanding bakeries incorporating new bakery products and ideas and Burt pursued a career in the real estate field. George died in 1998, and Burt in 2011.






32 thoughts on “Meet the town’s first supermarket Leave a comment

  1. Thank you so much for posting these! I never knew the IGA started where the Rexall was…and the prices in the ad! Wow! And seeing the store with the sign “Package Store” made me smile. I live 10,000 miles from Burlington and every now & then the phrase “Packy” still slips out. Thank you for this trip down memory lane!

  2. I never knew the IGA was there before the Rexall! Learn something new everyday!
    I loved the roller carrier that brought your groceries out!

  3. How many early romances that started there ended up as marriages? I know of one couple who I believe fall into that category AND are still married and live in Burlington.

  4. I went there when Hub toys was attached to it. At the front of the IGA store to the left they had toys and clothes like scarves and mitten. They had this round bin with matchbox cars 3 for $1.00. I would search that bin to find my boys cars they didn’t have. You could find anything at that store.

  5. Such great memories! Who could forget Irving?? Brings back wonderful memories of time gone by…..wish we could have those again! And the prices!!!

  6. Love looking at the old cars parked outside the market and guessing the year of the car. And, of course, the prices of food at that time…and how about the prices of cars at that time.

  7. My Mom worked at that IGA. I would go see her and and wait for her to finish work, walk around the store and eat candy. LOL

  8. I G A was the only supermarket in town when we came here in 1957. I remember Irving very well. He would meet at the door and ask how he could help you. His sons worked there also. It was a great store. I miss it. Happy memories.

  9. Bozo looks like he’s been living rough….

    I remember Hub Carriage being like the Promised Land – full of toys.

    Years later, I would work in the same building when it was Building 19 Annex……

  10. They had the best bakery, as one of the photos shows. Haven’t found anything to measure up to their pastries since. I still remember going with my mom every week to shop. Great store!

  11. I remember when there was a drawing every week in the IGA parking lot and my dad would take me. I also played on the IGA little league team. (Other kids called us “International Girls Association)

  12. IGA was my first job at 15! I was the bread girl-loading the shelves. Then moved up to the office and babysitting George and Arlene’s kids. So many high school kids worked at the IGA. George would let you off to play your sports
    Our home which was located where the original IGA was moved up the hill behind so they could build their IGA and Package Store. You can see the roof of our house. My mother, Ellie, worked as a cashier and in the office. Such wonderful memories we have from those days working for George, Bert and Irving. So fortunate..

  13. Every Thursday night after dinner my Dad would do the shopping. If I had my homework done I could go with him…free samples!!!

  14. These new pictures are great! Interesting how all the women are in dresses and heels! The pictures certainly bring back lots of memories. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Boy these bring back some great memories. I worked there as a kid collecting carts and bringing them inside. Also worked there when it became Service Merchandise

  16. I remember that my mom used to save her green stamps from the IGA and also she would use her coupons there! Loved seeing these old pictures….women in dresses while shopping and baggers wearing a uniform! WOW!

  17. I think I was about 13 when I started working at the original McLain store. The Kolovsons took over that store and I was concerned I would lose my job. But that didn’t happen.
    I became very close to George (he became a father figure and kind of “adopted) me since all they were having was daughters and he wanted a son. I stayed back my sophomore year cause I was working at the new store, getting it prepared for it’s grand opening, more than I was in school. Nearing graduation, George offered to send me to business college. I gratuitous declined and told him I thought I would be happier as an electrical engineer. That didn’t work, but it did lead me into the Army and a career in the Signal Corps.
    I remember so many people from the store that influenced my life. George of course and Arlene, Bert and Irving, Burton and Lloyd Buzzell who was the store manager. The many customers (and their daughters) that became friends over the years. My Mom worked in the produce section and we had to build her a platform so she could reach the scale.
    Spent a lot of time in that small part of town. Many fond memories. Thanks for your effort the bring back our town.

  18. I too am an IGA Alumna. Was a great place to work after school and summers. I remember George being so great to let us off work to participate in school activities. It truly was all the action in Burlington. Great memories

    • Thanks for posting this. Did groceries arrive outside on rollers for loading into cars? A family memory that comes back is this – Our Plymouth Valiant had a push button transmission which malfunctioned after a trip to IGA. My dad had to drive backwards home to Greenwood Rd that night. In addition to scholarships they also supported the little league program for years.

        • We had that same push button transmission on our Plymouth Valiant. It was white with a wheel embossed on the trunk. First car I ever drove! Underage on back streets for less than 15 minutes with my licensed brother. Kids…

  19. Am I right, that the cashier would grind the coffee beans right at the register, for my mother. And I’m pretty sure they carried Halvah, exotic delicacy to have in a grocery store. My friend Cindy and I adopted a large black ant and named him Irving…we must have been 9. Nice memories!

  20. My mother would take my brothers and me grocery shopping there often. There was a candy display at the front of the store with bins of individually wrapped candies, and my mom would always check our pockets before leaving the store because sometimes a few candies would somehow end up “falling in” them. 🙂

  21. I remember back in 1960 / 1961, we would travel from the southend of Burlington ( Muller rd. ) every friday night , at the time my sister and brother and myself and go food shopping. My Dad always parked out front, which meant the car was facing Cambridge st. But beween where the car was parked and Cambridgr street was a steep grade down. The only stop was small curbing holding the tires and car from going down into the street. I was oldest , next my sister, so we stayed in the car while our parents food shopped. Needless to say I was nervous the whole time.

  22. I worked for George from age 15 until graduation from college. I learned to bake some great pastries from the European bakers he hired. I was one of the regular babysitters for George and Arlene’s three girls.

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