The A&P Comes to Greensboro

Over a period of 78 years, from 1909 to 1987, a total of 42 A&P-owned stores opened (and closed) in Greensboro, North Carolina. Of those, 24 are still standing as of 2018. This article (inspired by this one) will trace the history of all 42 locations and include photos from the 24 remaining buildings. Click any photo to enlarge.

Part 1: 1909-1928

Greensboro News & Record

As reported in the Greensboro Daily News, the first A&P store in Greensboro opened on 22 November 1909, at 326 South Elm Street. The store operated at this location (now a parking lot) until approximately 1913, when it moved a block north to a new store at 217 South Elm. City records show that the current structure at 217 was constructed in 1938, but I am not 100% certain I agree. This location remained an A&P until approximately 1923.

526 South Elm Street

By 1925, the Elm Street store had relocated to the south end of downtown at 526 South Elm. This building, now the earliest documented A&P site still standing in Greensboro, is in a rapidly gentrifying area. It is currently occupied by an upscale barber shop serving craft beer.

900 Spring Garden Street

The only other remaining A&P building from the “Class of 1925” is located at Spring Garden and Mendenhall Streets, near The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). A&P was not in this building for more than five years, but the chain had two subsequent locations in the area, the first at 1301 Spring Garden (late 1920s) and its replacement at 1214 Spring Garden (late 1920s through early 1940s). Both these buildings had fallen victim to UNCG expansion by the 1970s. 900 Spring Garden now houses College Hill Sundries, a popular neighborhood bar.

The Elm and Spring Garden Street stores had also been joined by four additional locations by 1925, none of which is still standing:

  • 600 Ashe Street (now approximately 600 South Eugene Street), on the edge of the Warnersville community. This store would remain open until sometime between 1947 and 1950.
  • 810 East Market Street, in Greensboro’s primary African-American business district prior to desegregation. This store would relocate by 1930 to 823 East Market Street and would operate there until about 1951. Both buildings are now gone, victims of “urban renewal” and the expansion of nearby North Carolina A&T State University.
  • 115 West Market Street. This store had relocated a few doors down by 1930 and this new store was also closed by 1935. The building was probably torn down in the 1960s.
  • 209 Paisley Street. Just northwest of downtown, this store briefly had a Pender’s as its next-door neighbor. The A&P lasted until the late 1930s and the building is no longer standing.

747 West Gate City Boulevard

This small store at what was then 747 West Lee Street opened between 1925 and 1928, closed by 1930, replaced by a new store two blocks west.

1310 Glenwood Avenue

This store at Glenwood Avenue and Grove Street would relocate (or expand) to the adjacent 1320 Glenwood Avenue by 1930 and would close by 1935. The building, significantly remodeled, later housed one of the first locations of the local Bi-Rite chain.

710 West Market Street

Located in a small streetcar strip, where it was joined by Pender’s and the Ivory Store, this location operated from the late 1920s to the late 1930s. It is currently occupied by a beauty salon, while the former Pender’s has housed a succession of bars, and is now a gay club.

221 Summit Avenue

Adjacent to a recently restored triangular apartment building, this location opened in the late 1920s  and quickly relocated several doors down to 235 Summit Avenue by 1930. The second location is no longer standing, lost to street construction that connected Church Street with the former Forbis Street.

In addition, A&P had added several more locations by 1928, none of which are still standing:

Part 2: 1928-1935

901 West Gate City Boulevard

This modern store at what was then 901 West Lee Street definitely stands the test of time and has a remarkably intact exterior. This was the First A&P location in the city to have a meat market. Opened in 1928, and replacing a smaller store two blocks east, it would serve its community for nearly twenty-five years before being replaced by a new store just a few doors west in 1954. It’s been occupied ever since, currently housing a motorcycle shop. City records show the current building as dating from 1948; I don’t buy it.

220 West Market Street

While A&P was entering suburban residential districts, there was still a significant presence downtown as well. This store at 220 West Market replaced a store one block east in the late 1920s but would close in the late 1930s with the arrival of A&P’s first supermarket location in Greensboro just a block north. The building dates to 1925 and is now occupied by offices and condos.

This location pictured below, at 416 Martin Luther King Jr Dr. (Asheboro Street at the time), opened between 1928 and 1930, and closed by 1950. It is no longer standing, though the adjacent fire station has been restored.

Other stores that opened between 1928 and 1930 included:

401 State Street

This corner unit in the State Street shopping area opened in 1931 and closed around 1946, when it briefly became an Ivory Store. It seems to have been vacant as of early 2018.

405 Tate Street

This store on the Tate Street “strip” adjoining UNCG opened in January 1935 and had closed by 1938. It has been continuously occupied by a grocer ever since, housing a Bi-Rite store for decades and currently home to a convenience store. While the row of shops received an unfortunate exterior remodel around 1970 the store’s interior remained relatively intact until about 1990.

2117-2119 Walker Avenue

Another corner location in suburban Lindley Park opened in 1930 and remained in this space until moving a few doors east in 1947. The store occupied at least two of three bays in the building, and was classified as a “supermarket” by 1946. Its former space is currently occupied by Fishbones Restaurant (2119, right) and the vacant former site of the Blind Tiger nightclub (2117, left).

Also open between 1930 and 1935 was 212 North Elm Street, the final downtown storefront location, which closed in the late 1930s and is no longer standing.

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.

Part 4: 1958-1987

A&P was showing signs of weakness in Greensboro as the 1950s became the 1960s. Of its five locations, only one was located outside a two-mile radius of downtown. While other chains were starting to build new suburban stores, A&P retained older stores in less desirable locations, a pattern the company repeated in cities all over the country.

2268 Golden Gate Shopping Center

A&P and Kroger originally anchored the Golden Gate Shopping Center, which opened on 16 March 1961 adjacent to the affluent Irving Park neighborhood. A&P survived at this location until 1976, when the site was taken over by local chain Bestway. Bestway was replaced by Harris Teeter in 1986, while the Kroger store in the center had become Greensboro’s first Food Town (later Food Lion) store.

Harris Teeter vacated the premises in 2011. Food Lion took over the lease at that point, apparently to keep another grocer from moving in.

2437 Battleground Avenue

Greensboro News & Record

A&P’s Early American-styled “Centennial” prototype is one of the most recognizable store formats in American history, replicated hundreds of times across the Unites States and Canada. Interestingly, Greensboro was home to only one of these stores. Located in the Oakcrest Center on Battleground Avenue, this location opened 19 August 1963 and remained in operation until 1978, when it was replaced by local chain Bi-Rite, which rebranded as FoodRite in 1980. Since the mid-1980s, the site has been occupied by Fleet-Plummer Hardware.

721 East Market Street

Opened in 1967 as part of an urban renewal project that destroyed Greensboro’s traditional African-American business district on East Market Street, this location was never a big success and closed within ten years. It was replaced by the Cosmos Club and was torn down in the late 1990s.

429 West Meadowview Road

Located in the Spring Valley Shopping Center, across from Greensboro’s first Kmart on Randleman Road, this location opened in 1967 and had the distinction of being the last A&P store In Greensboro to close, on 25 August 1979. At that point, it briefly became part of local chain Food World, and has in recent years been occupied by a Save-A-Lot franchise.

1912 Coliseum Boulevard

While the Meadowview Road location was the last A&P to close in Greensboro, this location (on what was then known as South Chapman Street) was the last A&P store to open in 1968. It had closed by 1976 and had become a Food Town (later Food Lion) which has since relocated across the street. After Food Lion, the building housed a Big Lots, and now a Citi Trends.

3604 West Gate City Boulevard

Greensboro News & Record

By August 1979, the A&P brand had vanished from Greensboro after just under 70 years. Six months after the final A&P location closed, however, A&P opened its first (and only) Family Mart location on what was then known as High Point Road. The Family Mart was a “combination store” that featured general merchandise and groceries under one roof and was a format A&P tested in several southern cities. The Greensboro location lasted until 1987, when it was taken over by Kroger, finally ending A&P’s 78-year run in Greensboro.

Kroger exited in the late 1990s and the store was remodeled (not very gently) into a World Market and a Bed Bath and Beyond.

By 2016, the building had been restored to something approaching its original appearance to house a Conn’s furniture and appliance store.

A&P retained stores in the Charlotte and Raleigh areas of North Carolina until 1997. By 2015, the chain had become a regional operation based mostly in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. On 30 November 2015, the last A&P store closed, and the 156-year-old company was no more.

Updated on 26 November 2022

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