The A&P Comes to Greensboro

Part 3: 1936-1957

This section is dedicated to my mom, who passed away on 5 June 2018, and who patiently and indulgently dragged a very precocious, obsessive eight-year-old around to most of the stores in the early 1970s, because she was like that. I love you and miss you, Mom!

Greensboro News & Record

225 Commerce Place

On 10 March 1938, A&P opened its first Greensboro supermarket location in a converted tobacco warehouse on Commerce Place downtown. At 11,000 square feet, it was the largest A&P location between Washington and Atlanta, and the largest market in Greensboro. It was not, however, the first supermarket in town; that honor had gone several months earlier to the Big Star store a few blocks away at Greene and Washington. In 1935, A&P operated its peak number (eighteen) of stores in Greensboro. Half of these had closed by 1940 and most of the shuttered locations were within a mile or two of the new supermarket location downtown. The smaller stores in outlying neighborhoods were spared for a few more years before being consolidated as well.

Greensboro Public Library

In July 1946, the Commerce Place store burned down and replaced by a new building on the same site which opened on 16 June 1947. The new Commerce Place store was something of a flagship for the chain and was the first vintage supermarket to capture the fancy of a much younger version of yer humble host, and thus may be viewed as the starting point of this website. More interior photos can be seen here (my day job). The new store lasted until the first big round of A&P closures in 1973, closing on 21 February of that year.

Greensboro News & Record

Shortly after closing, it was renovated beyond recognition.

110 Martin Luther King Jr Drive

By 1946, another A&P supermarket had opened on the other side of downtown on what was then called Asheboro Street. This location held on a year longer than Commerce Place, finally closing on 26 January 1974. A faint A&P labelscar was visible on the building until the wall was repainted just a few years ago.

2113-2115 Walker Avenue

The Walker Avenue store relocated to a new building (with parking lot) next door in June 1948. The new store was officially a supermarket, but was a smaller, “neighborhood” format, and it remained an A&P for only nine years, relocating to larger quarters a couple of miles away in June 1957. Local chain Bi-Rite occupied the space at that point, rebranded as Bestway in the early 1970s, and has remained there ever since as the last outpost of the former local chain. It retained its 1950s interior more or less intact until a few years back, when new owners “upscaled” the location to some extent.

944 Summit Avenue

As the 1950s dawned, A&P had consolidated its eighteen stores from 1935 into only six. The newest opened in 1950 as part of Greensboro’s first large suburban shopping center on Summit Avenue. The center, across from the soon-demolished St. Leo’s Hospital, also featured a Rose’s variety store and several other merchants. A&P remained in the center until the late 1970s, when it was replaced briefly by Bi-Rite, through 1983. It has since been occupied by an auto parts store and a clothing store, among others.

907 West Gate City Boulevard

In 1954, the small streamlined location on West Lee Street was also replaced with a new supermarket a few doors down. This location was also closed in the 1973 wave of A&P closures and has been occupied by a U-Haul facility pretty much ever since. The exterior was given a cosmetic renovation in the early 2010s.

4125 Walker Avenue

A&P’s last new location in the 1950s was a relocation of the nine-year-old Walker Avenue location to a new suburban store twenty blocks west. This location opened on 26 June 1957 and closed in 1975, during the second major wave of A&P closings. It has been renovated into office space.

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