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National's History

* In 1986, the old National Super Markets Inc. made a major expansion here when it bought 26 stores and a distribution center from Kroger Co.

* Kroger, the Cincinnati company that's the nation's largest grocery chain, pulled out of St. Louis because its stores were unprofitable. National reopened 18 of the stores later that year.

* In January 1995, Schnuck Markets Inc. said it would buy all 89 National stores from Loblaw Cos. Ltd. of Toronto for $355 million and would sell 29 stores in New Orleans to Schwegmann's Giant Super Markets Inc. Schnucks said it would keep 60 of the National stores in the St. Louis area.

* The deal hinged on approval by the Federal Trade Commission, which required that Schnucks sell 24 stores in the St. Louis market: 18 Nationals and six Schnucks. City officials, union leaders and community activists vowed to work to keep the 24 stores operating as full-service supermarkets.

* In March 1996, Family Co. of America, formed by an ex-National official and others, including Jim Gibson, a Belleville businessman, reopened 23 stores under the National name. Family Co. bought the stores from Schnucks. Among the 1,700 employees of Family Co. were 800 to 900 former National employees.

* In April 1997, Family Co. said it would close five National stores - in Florissant, Crestwood, Wood River, Cahokia and Collinsville. Family alleged that Schnucks sabotaged the stores while it owned them, before selling them to Family.

* In August 1998, Family said it would close the National in Kirkwood; the building was owned by Schnucks.

* In November 1998, Gibson, a majority owner of Family Co., said he was changing the names of National stores to Gibson's Markets. But the change was not made at all locations.

This information is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 3, 1999.