Alternate History

Gemco (Good Times Keep Going)

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Type Public (NYSE: GEMCO)
Industry Retail
Founded 1959
Headquarters Buena Park, California
Products groceries, clothing, footwear, housewares, sporting goods, hardware, toys, electronics
Parent Albertsons

Gemco is an American chain of membership department stores that is owned by Albertsons. It was founded in 1959 and operates stores in the US' west coast. Gemco has a version called Memco, also owned by Albertsons, which operates stores in the Chicago and Washington, D.C. areas.


Gemco was first established in Anaheim, California in October 1959. A year later, the company was purchased by Albertsons. Gemco has 2,134 stores across the US as of 2015.

"GEMCO" is currently not an acronym, despite rumors ("Government Employees' Merchandising Company," etc. probably stemming from a similar store named Fedco in southern California) to the contrary. The letters are simply an easily pronounced and remembered name. Brown (with tan accents) was Gemco's original main exterior background color, and the letters "GEMCO" were originally in red. An early 1980s redesign changed the chain's main exterior background color to blue (with light blue accenting), and its letter coloring in its logo to white (adding a yellow diamond on top of the "M"). The name may also be associated with the jewelry-camera concessionaire, Gem Distributing Company, which was based in Long Beach and which began operations during WWII by selling jewelry, and engagement rings in particular, to sailors on leave. A few of Gemco's earliest employees were transferred to Gemco locations near Long Beach.


The East Coast stores, located in the Washington, D.C., area, were called Memco instead of Gemco to avoid confusion with an already existing area chain called GEM. Memco stores had a blue color scheme on its walls and signage. Memco honored Gemco membership cards, and vice versa.

Memco entered the Washington, DC market in 1969 with 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) stores on Little River Turnpike at Braddock Road in Annandale, Virginia and on Allentown Road in Camp Springs, Maryland, Richmond, Virginia, Reston, Virginia, and two in the Baltimore area , and one in Burke, Virginia (a suburb of Washington DC).

Memco also had stores in other locations, for example one in in Arlington Hts. IL (a suburb of Chicago, IL). That particular store opened in the early to mid 1970's.

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