Bruno's Food Stores

"You'll find all the foods you like best meet the test, and at Bruno's you'll save more."

"Bruno's .... of Alabama .... takes good care of ... youuuuuu"

Today, it's a regional grocery chain made up of Bruno's Food & Pharmacy, Food World (not the store of the same name in the movie Oh God!), Food Fair and FoodMax.  It's several corporate owners' removed from the original Bruno family of Birmingham.  Way back when, Bruno's was a small Birmingham area chain with a very memorable mascot.....

1971 advertisement featuring Bruno Bear and the original script logo for Bruno's.  Does that B strike a sense of deja vu within?   It should, if you used to patronize a certain drug store chain.  Long after Bruno's discarded the above logo, the "B" lived on as the centerpiece of ... Big B Drugs!  This was Bruno's foray into the pharmacy arena during the '70s.  If it seemed like most of their locations were adjacent to Food Worlds or FoodMaxs, there's your answer!  Big B Drugs sold out first to Revco in 1997, then the following year Revco itself was devoured by CVS, marking its entry into the South.  Nearly all CVS locations in the state were originally Big Bs.

Bruno's store at Five Points West, circa 1965. 
This is when they used the script logo on its buildings.    (Alvin Hudson collection)

Grand opening of the Bruno's store in Dora, Ala. (Walker County), August 1968.   By now they'd gone to using individual backlit hexagons for each letters ... this Bruno's signage is the one I remember. 

This store was located in a new strip center on US-78.   (Remember when the highway split into a divided four-lane JUST long enough for this intersection, then went back into two lanes?) 

(Tim Hollis)

Okay, now this one puzzles me.  Not the kids.  The bear.  That was the Bruno Bear who made a costumed appearance at the Dora store's grand opening.  See, and compare:
The fellow on the left looks more like Bruno SQUIRREL!
On the right is the REAL Bruno Bear. 

But it seems most of the kids didn't care!  The guy in the front with the striped shirt is Tim Hollis, who submitted these pics.

Does the bear in the ad below look like a dad-gum squirrel?

An early, 'full body' picture of Bruno Bear.  He's sharing center stage with Toppie the Elephant.  Toppie, you might remember, was the mascot for TOP VALUE STAMPS, which Bruno's gave out for many years.

Meet Bruno Bear's wife and kids.....

From Tim Hollis' enviable archive of Birmingham history comes this shopping bag which he says is of 1979 vintage.  Not only does this offer a rare glimpse of Mrs. Bruno Bear and their two requisite children .... but one of the last times The Good Bear was seen at all.  Early in the '80s, Bruno Bear became extinct.  His memory has thankfully been kept alive on some Bruno's store managers' nametags.

Bruno Bear lives....well, sort of.....
An old Bruno's trailer may be seen from the Warrior-Jasper Road, west of Warrior in north Jefferson County!  Obviously it was since painted over and used for another purpose ... but the second paint job has begun to fade, revealing a remnant of Birmingham's past:

(pictures by Russell Wells, 01/24/2005)

Paint, schmaint!

Sherwin-Williams may cover the earth, but they didn't say nothin' bout coverin' BEARS!

Here's the whole trailer -- the slogan reads "Alabama's Finest Stores"


Updated 01/13/2007 -- 944 PM EST