Much fanfare and excitement is in the news regarding the announcement that “Jungle Jim’s” of Fairfield will be opening a second location in Eastgate at the site of the former Bigg’s Placemall. To us oldsters, it doesn’t seem that long ago that Bigg’sopened, but in fact, it was 26 years ago, and a rather historic occurrence.
By 1984, Eastgate Mall had been opened for about 5 years, and the surrounding area had added several retail establishments. But the area was still largely idle agricultural. South of S.R. 32 and Eastgate Mall was a large vacant tract of land. Bigg’s Place Mall was built to house the store and a number of inclusive retail stores, restaurants, and adjacent movie theater and home improvements store.
What was particularly noteworthy, though, was that it was the first “hypermarket”, which we now call superstores. In addition to complete grocery line, it also, under the same roof, included aisles of general merchandise from electronics to gardening. The concept was new; Bigg’s Eastgate was the first such store in the United States. The concept came from Europe, where Bigg’s Hyper Shoppes, French owned, were already established. The store was a huge success. Eventually 6 stores were opened in Cincinnati, and seven more in other states. The concept was copied, of course, and now the grocery – superstores are ubiquitous, as other grocery or merchandise chains closed smaller stores and opened new stores with square footage in the hundred-thousands.
Bigg’s encountered financial difficulty in the 2000’s, went thru some merger and ownership changes, and closed its Eastgate store in 2007. But its example lives on in every city in the country.