In 1882 John James Sainsbury bought a shop at
11 London Road, Croydon and converted it into a showpiece branch.
His son John Benjamin later recalled the great care his father
gave to the decoration of the shop. John James selected the tiles
for the walls and counters and mosaics for the floor. These were
predominantly in the rich browns and greens which were fashionable
at the time. The counter tops consisted of Italian marble.
This is how the Croydon shop would have looked
on its opening day. At the far end of the shop a mahogany screen
was erected, where customers paid for their purchases.
The windows were decorated with stained
glass spandrels. Upon the rich marbled granite shopfront
were carved the words 'Daily Arrivals of Pure Butter'. Above
this, in even larger gilded letters was the name 'J.Sainsbury'.
Many rivals thought John James had been too lavish
in fitting out a new shop. John Benjamin later recalled that:
failure was predicted
for such extravagance by others but the critics missed the
point my father had in mind, and that was to produce a shop to
ensure perfect cleanliness and freedom from the menace of all
food shops in those days - mice and rats. For all time my father
must stand as the founder of the modern provision trade.
An 1894 advertisement
described the goods on offer.
The store had great success, and John James opened
further branches in Croydon, as this 1892 Croydon Street Directory