Thorsen Brothers Grocery

Anaconda Commercial Historic District

The well-preserved Thorsen Brothers Grocery building is a classic example of an early-twentieth-century commercial building. The decorative brick parapet made the building look larger and offered ample room for signage, while tall display windows brought in daylight and provided a spacious platform for displaying merchandise. Norwegian immigrants Knute and Tandrup Thorsen opened a grocery nearby in 1904 and had this building constructed in 1914. After Knute went into ranching in 1916, Tandrup and his son Ralph continued to run the store. Tandrup retired in 1955, a forty-year veteran of Anaconda’s competitive grocery field. When he started out, the town boasted twenty-two groceries. By 1925, twelve grocery stores operated on East Park Avenue alone, with forty stores operating city wide. Forty-nine stores offered groceries in 1930, including the “self-service” Piggly Wiggly and the “cash and carry” Skaggs Safeway. Small family-run grocery stores like Thorsen’s all but disappeared in the twenty years after World War II. They were victims of increasingly popular corporate chains, which leveraged their buying power to provide goods at lower prices.

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505 East Park Avenue, Anaconda, Montana ~ Public