Fred Meyer (center), August 1998, before it was leveled to make room for Lowes. Notice that Butte College Chico Center does not yet exist! Austin's Furniture is just to the right of Fred Meyer. Courtesy of Terraserver and USGS.

Unable to include Departed Business

Former Location
2350 Forest Avenue
Current location of Lowes
Former Owners
Formerly Fred Meyer Co. now Kroger since 1999
Business Lifespan
May 1990-1995

Fred Meyer was a very large superstore in South Chico that was in business in the early 1990s. It is comparable to what one now commonly sees in a Super Walmart, with clothing, food and home improvement goods all available under one roof. Fred Meyer was different than Walmart because Fred Meyer had union employees that were paid higher wages and benefits. Also, the store offered a greater selection of upscale groceries and merchandise than Walmart. Fred Meyer is an Oregon-based company and still exists in the Pacific Northwest. The Chico store was its flagship move into Northern California (much the same story as Troutman's) with plans that were never fulfilled to expand into other areas of the region. They found that maintaining the store so far from their headquarters and other stores was expensive and decided to pull out of California.

The store was very popular in Chico, and never suffered for business. The immense 188,000+ square foot store had three separate entrances (marked "Entry A" for food, "Entry B" for clothing and "Entry C" for home improvement) and dozens of individual departments. Included was a full grocery store, pharmacy, photo developing, clothing for the entire family, a garden center, home improvement (including a small indoor lumber yard), sporting goods, electronics, music and movies, jewelry, toys, and more. In addition, they had a '50s style diner and a kids' babysitting area where parents could leave their children to be watched while they shopped.

One memorable thing about the layout of Fred Meyer, which can still be seen in other stores in the chain, was the cows on the wall above the dairy department. They were painted on the wall and had wooden tails attached that would periodically swing back and forth, much to the amusement of children passing by. Photo

The parking lot for Fred Meyer was huge, and ideally located to catch a fireworks show happening at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds. It was tradition for many Chicoans to bring the kids out to the parking lot on the 4th of July, set up lawn chairs, buy some snacks and sodas inside, and watch the show for free.

The building sat vacant for several years before Lowes moved to town. The Fred Meyer building was leveled and a brand new building was built in its place.

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2009-05-13 00:05:56   I remember when my sister went to Chico State in the early 90's I LOVED going to Fred Meyer because there was nothing like it at it's time. Not even comparable to Wal Mart because Wal Mart sells a bunch of junk and has no actual customer service, they're just nice, that's not customer service. Anyway, I digress. This place had it all including an electronics store which I liked a lot, that was before the time of my first computer in 1994.

I dearly miss it and wish it was still here :( —technkl

2009-05-13 21:47:13   I think everyone who ever shopped at Fred Meyer in Chico misses it! The comparison to Walmart in the article was simply to express the enormity of the store and the crazy variety of stuff, since not a lot of other businesses carry so much different merchandise. About a year and a half ago, my family was on vacation up in Washington, and stopped at a Freddy's just for nostalgia. It's really too bad they couldn't make it in California. —StaceyEllis

2009-11-27 14:50:15   One of the most similar Fred Meyer stores is Bend, Oregon. Built the same year. The grocery area is very much the same except for a little less room in the meat and seafood areas.

There are rumors that Fred Meyer is returning to Northern California in the near future.

The parent company, Kroger, has distribution centers all over the west. Distribution issues are what plagued the otherwise healthy Chico Fred Meyer store in the past. So now that this issue is settled, FM should do fine.


2011-04-05 06:02:43   I loved Fred Meyer! It was the only store like it where I could buy good fresh fish. They had a daycare center where you could drop off your kids while you shopped. They not only sold guns and ammo, but also gunpowder, bullets, and primers, pretty much everything except for the brass! (They may have sold that too, but I allways had tons of it.) I remember when they were trying to liquidate everything before they closed forever. They had an awesome Timberwolf pump-action .357 rifle —

2011-04-17 21:42:53   What happened to Dave Austin of Austin's Furniture store nearby? —


2014-11-29 I will never forget the day my grandparents (whom I lived with) and I came down from Magalia to check out the Fred Meyers. I was 12 years old and absolutely awestruck. It was an incredible experience. Now I live in Portland Or., and Freddies are a dime a dozen and obviously the novelty has long since worn off :) And on another note, I cannot even believe this wiki exists. I just googled Fred Meyer in Chico to see if it was still there and lo and behold it even has its own wiki page. Long live the memory of Chico Fred Meyers, I guess!