The 1970’s were an evolution of the turmoil that defined the 60’s. Counterculture took center stage and the ripple effects of this movement changed how retailers and restaurants presented themselves. Counterculture gave rise to new types of stores that catered to views and interests outside of the traditional mainstream. It was also a time when corporate values began to matter to customers and eventually evolved into the proactive community and activist companies we see today. How you do something became just as important as what you do.

Civil rights and women’s rights continued to gain significant momentum in the 1970’s. After facing so many tragedies in the year before, people focused on the state of America and what needed to change. It was a stark contrast to the glitz and glamour of the baby booming 1950’s. Activism was not just on the mind of everyday consumers; it also factored into how companies projected themselves. It was no longer enough just to sell a useful product; a company needed a message behind that product if they wanted to stand out. A company statement in support of civil rights or a commitment to humane treatment of animals went a long way with consumers. This consciousness was an extension of what began in the 1960’s and shaped how businesses tried to reach their consumers.

The Cold War still raged, yet the 70’s saw a sour ending to the war in Vietnam. This contributed to more stability at home in America and opened the door for more companies to flourish. The restaurant industry saw a boom during this decade. More women in the workforce, soldiers returning from war, and interest in pursuing life outside the home all contributed to restaurants and bars becoming destinations for families and large groups. Major chains like The Cheesecake Factory and Jason’s Deli premiered during this era. Times were also good for apparel and discount industries. Hippie fashion trends from the 1960’s continued and new apparel stores chasing these fashion lines exploded. American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, and The Burlington Coat Factory are just a few of the garment tastemakers that debuted in the 1970’s. Similarly, retail giants like Costco, under the name Price Club, and Michaels got their start here and they continued to build on the success of their predecessors.

However, the boom did not work so well for grocery stores. The pre-packaged and convenience items that were a whirlwind sensation in the 50’s and 60’s became less popular, and consumers questioned the origins and costs of such products. Supply chain transparency became a factor for shoppers and grocery stores began to focus on discount goods and developed new store formats around it. The decade also saw the emergence of more niche stores that catered to elements of counterculture such as record stores and boutiques. These new types of stores represented how segmented the populace was and how many new opportunities were out there. The 1970’s cemented counterculture’s place in America and made companies take notice of what was on the mind of their target consumers.