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I made a road trip up to Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro on Sunday. These foothill towns have always been a little over-retailed relative to their size, because they serve a rather large, rural hinterland. The Wilkesboro area is also the birthplace both of Lowes Foods, the regional grocery retailer, and of the nationally-known Lowes Home Improvement.

I’m guessing the store in the photo above, just east of downtown North Wilkesboro, is a former A&P, but I could be wrong. The store below, located east of downtown, definitely was, though:

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This one may have done some time as an A&P as well, even though it was obviously built as a Kroger. Note the revamped pole sign sporting A&P’s Sav-a-Center logo , probably from the late 1980s:

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The Sav-a-Center inset photo is by Groceteria reader Thom Wright, by the way.

The following, from downtown Wilkesboro, strikes me as a likely Piggly Wiggly location, but I have no evidence to back that up:

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Last on the tour is a remodeled, but seemingly rather old (and definitely very small) Lowes Foods on old US 421:

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Sorry for the delay. The last few weeks became a bit hectic, with lots of freelance work, a death in the family, and my Thanksgiving trek to the west coast to visit the in-laws.

I’m ready to continue on with those road trip photos now:

Let’s start with Indianapolis:

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This Preston Safeway store at 5040 East 16th was most likely a former Standard Store. Preston Safeway is an odd little chain in Indianapolis that has successfully managed to use the Safeway name without trademark issues for quite some time. There is no connection to the more well-known chain other than the fact that Preston Safeway seems to be using the “Ingredients for Life” typeface on some of its banners.

On to Chicago:

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Despite its somewhat modernized appearance, the Jewel-Osco above, located at 3531 Broadway, is in an ancient building which I suspect may have been something else to begin with — perhaps a garage, a car dealership, or even a garden variety warehouse. The store is at ground level and the second level is enclosed parking.

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I suspect this was originally a Kroger. It’s at 7620 North Western.

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This gorgeous former Jewel store is at 4335 West Oakton in Skokie.

And now, the Detroit suburbs:

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I found this 1950s-era Kroger interesting because it had obviously been remodeled and expanded into an early 1970s superstore. There’s a 1990s version still open in the same center.

And finally, Toronto:

It’s interesting that the grocery industry is so completely consolidated in the hands of three companies (Loblaw, A&P/Metro, and Sobey’s) but still operates under so many different banners. Loblaw owns Zehr’s and No Frills, while A&P owns Dominion and Food Basics. Sobey’s also operates as Price Chopper, IGA, and more.

I was unable to find the one documented former Safeway location I’d been given in Toronto, but I found other good stuff:

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A Loblaws from the 1950s at 301 Moore is still open and in relatively good repair. It seems larger than average for its era.

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Probably a former Loblaws at 2187 West Bloor.

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Also a probable former Loblaws, this one at 1450 East Lawrence.

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The Dominion store above, at 425 West Bloor may or may now have been an A&P. It probably dates from the early 1950s. The late 1940s/early 1950s model below, at 3142 Yonge, was definitely an A&P in a previous life, if its parking signs are to be trusted.

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I may try to post one or two more at some point.

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This Food Basics store on Yonge Street in North York, Ontario definitely gets first place in the “cool sightings from my recent road trip” contest. I’m not sure if it’s a former Dominion, A&P, or what, but I almost spit out my nifty Canadian formula Diet 7-Up when I saw it.

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This was a close second. A current Red & White franchise, it was originally a Loblaw’s, and is located on Lakeshore Avenue, in (I believe) the Islington section of Toronto. The Loblaw’s label scar is even still visible on the front, although it didn’t photograph well.

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Speaking of Loblaw’s, I rarely feature new stores here, but this megastore at Queens Quay Market was too amazing not to include. Keep in mind that this photo is only the produce department, which is about a third of the total floor area of the store.

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I was relieved to see that one of my favorite old Kroger locations, on Tenth Street in Indianapolis, is still open. The store is all of 10,000 square feet, but it does a booming business in the surrounding (not great) neighborhood. I even got a few photos inside this time through.

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More pictures and commentary tomorrow.

Input solicited: I’m leaving Saturday on a two-week road trip which will give me several days each in Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto. Anyone have ideas about old chain stores and vintage shopping centers I should see?

I’m particularly interested in old National Tea, Jewel, A&P, and Kroger stores. I’ve also been told that Safeway had a Toronto division for a time. Location pointers would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

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Ninth and Safeway Streets, Durham NC…

Spent the weekend in the Triangle area of North Carolina, and got a few interesting shots. I’ll post a few later and I may have one or two with information requests on the message board soon…

And the new Charlotte section is coming right along. I hope to have it posted in another week or so…

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Happy New Year!

I spent my New Year’s Day in Charleston, South Carolina, and it seemed like a good excuse to put up one of my rare self-portraits. The backdrop is a really cool Harris Teeter store crafted from an old railroad warehouse building in the historic district of Charleston.

In case you’re interested and don’t hang around at the Message Board, I’ve posted a few photos there in the Name That Store forum. If you have any guesses, please feel free to let me know…

Thanks to everyone who confirmed my suspicion that the Camden SC store pictured here was in fact a former Colonial…

I’m off to San Francisco for a couple of days. No, now that you ask, I HAVEN’T missed my former home since departing in June. But I will be glad for a chance to shoot pictures of the remaining Cala and Bell stores, because I’m pretty danged sure they won’t be there next time I visit. Or not under those names, at least…

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If it weren’t in Columbia, South Carolina, I’d almost think it had been a Safeway in an earlier life. I have no idea what this used to be, and I’m not even sure it was a supermarket. It’s located on Beltline Boulevard near Devine Street. Ideas?

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And while I’m at it, how about this one from Camden, South Carolina. It’s on US 1 just east of downtown. It may have been an independent from day one. Or not. I sure don’t recognize the prototype…

Cool site here on National Tea stores in the St. Louis area, if you’re so inclined…

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I felt like I’d died and gone to Brady Bunch heaven when I walked into the Ingles store above in Asheville NC last weekend. It’s in a semi-dying shopping center on Tunnel Road and was the most wonderfully orange and brown beauty (inside and out) that I’d seen in years…

And there’s another one just like it a few miles north in Hendersonville…

I’ve arrived in Charlotte and I’m looking forward to documenting my new hometown. Saw a few interesting stores along the way, including the oldest continuously-operating A&P in New Orleans. Pictures and more news soon…

Interesting, though, that I seem to have driven out at least one supermarket chain after only a week in town…