Open main menu

Marion Barton Skaggs, nicknamed M.B. (April 5, 1888 – May 8, 1976) was an American businessman and leading member of the Skaggs Family of retailers who expanded the predecessor of Safeway into a major supermarket chain.

Marion Barton Skaggs
Born(1888-04-05)April 5, 1888
DiedMay 8, 1976(1976-05-08) (aged 88)
RelativesJoseph Long (son-in-law)

He was an advocate of the cash and carry system for grocery stores. His father was a Baptist minister and was convinced that the prevailing system of credit increased prices since grocers and storekeepers had to wait to get paid and made the customers overly dependent on those grocers and storekeepers. His father established a store in American Falls, Idaho. He sold groceries for cash and passed the savings from not offering credit to customers in the form of lower prices. In 1915, Skaggs bought the store from his father and continued the cash and carry business strategy helping him amass wealth and prominence in the grocery retailing industry.[1] Skaggs’s aversion to credit sales is exemplified by an admonition about: the growing evil of installment purchasing.[2]

Skaggs was also against the prevailing high-cost system of the grocer having clerks serving all the needs of each customer. He was an early proponent of the self-service concept where customers picked up baskets as they entered the store, selected what they wanted from the shelves, and paid for their purchases at a checkout counter. His self-service stores expanded from the one he bought from his father in 1915 to a 418-store chain eleven years later (1926) that became the dominant element of the Safeway Company.[3]

Skaggs sold controlling interest in 1931 to Wall Street's Charlie Merrill and retired.[4]


  1. ^ Halper, Emanuel B. (2003). Shopping Center and Store Leases. Law Journal Press. p. 1521. ISBN 978-1-58852-003-6.
  2. ^ Halper, Emanuel B., "Supermarket Use and Exclusive Clauses". Hofstra Law Review, Vol. 30, No. 2, p. 297, 2002, retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  3. ^ Halper, Emanuel B. (2003). Shopping Center and Store Leases. Law Journal Press. p. 1513. ISBN 978-1-58852-003-6.
  4. ^ "Safeway Invades New York" Time magazine, June 16, 1941, retrieved on 2008-06-07.