Saturday, January 10, 2015

Tin Toy Grocery Stores by Wolverine: the Corner Grocer and the General Grocery

This tin grocery store playset was one of a variety of such miniature shops made by the Wolverine Supply and Mfg. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1903, Wolverine began as a tool and die manufacturer before transitioning to toy making. From the 1930s - 1970s, the company made a huge range of toy stoves, refrigerators, kitchen cupboards, tea sets, and many more domestic playthings, all crafted from lithographed metal.

This store, known as the Corner Grocer, was made by Wolverine in the 1930s - 40s. The two wings of shelves fold in for storage. When extended, the entire shop measures 31 inches wide by 14 inches tall.

The highly detailed main panel features an historic grocery store interior. Visible in the lower left are glass fronted cracker or biscuit bins, and a variety of carefully arranged dry goods line the shelves.

The store's actual shelves came filled with miniature packages, and the original child owner added a few additional pieces, including some salesman samples she probably got while shopping for real groceries with her mother.

The free standing counters and accessory pieces that came with these stores are usually missing today, since they couldn't be stored inside the closed shop as the groceries themselves were. We were very lucky to find this one intact, along with its original shop phone. The scale and cash register were added, but fit the playset perfectly.

The front of the counter is illustrated to look like a deli case, complete with cold cuts and cheeses.

The miniature tin cash register actually works: as the levers are moved, numbers ring up on the other side, and the drawer springs open to take in tiny coins. 


The Corner Grocer was one of this year's best Christmas gifts. A few years ago, I received another Wolverine tin shop, the General Grocery, which also dates from the 1930s - 40s. This one is smaller, measuring 20 inches wide by 12 inches tall. It is structured differently from the Corner Grocer, with its shelves in the center panel. The side wings still fold in for storage, but they feature beautifully lithographed images of children shopping. Although this set is missing its counter, it still has its original shop phone, along with a feature unique to this particular grocery, a fold out awning. 


These shelves are better stocked than my own cupboards....I'd better stop blogging and head off to the real grocery store!


  1. I love these little shops.

    Thank you very much for sharing the photos and the information.


  2. Hey Miss Tracy! That's a great little shop!! Love the cash register! Hope all is well! Hugs!

    1. Thanks! Glad you liked it! Hope all is well with you up there!

  3. Corner grocery or general grocery? I can't decide which like best, but they are both works of art. I love the miniature groceries, but the awning and the side panels on the general grocery are magnificent.

  4. I can't believe my eyes!! I played with this set some time in the mid 40's when my aunt would take me to visit a neighbor. I was in my absolute glory as you can well imagine. I remember finding mouse poop in it one time, but that didn't deter me - I just brushed it away. All those little items! That's a treasure for sure, and I'm so happy it belongs to a loving person who will be its caretaker for now.

    I'll be 78 tomorrow - and I still play with my dolls and toys. Thank you from the bottom of my old heart for sharing this beautiful example of the better things of our past. There's nothing to compare these days that I know of. What do little girls play with I wonder...

  5. Sorry - I was so excited - I meant that I played with the Corner Grocer set.