Winston-Salem History

The 1940s:

Winston-Salem Chain Grocers, 1940


Winston-Salem continued to grow through the 1940s, and remained the second largest city on North Carolina. In 1941, the medical school of Wake Forest College near Raleigh moved to Winston-Salem and was named for its benefactor, Bowman Gray. Piedmont Airlines, based in Winston-Salem, began operations in 1948. People were still buying cigarettes from R.J. Reynolds, and socks and underwear from Hanes, and the Twin City was thriving.

Following World War II, area grocers began to enter a growth and expansion mode as well.


Former A&P, 1530 West First Street.

Interestingly, the largest grocery retailer in the world maintained a rather stagnant presence in Winston-Salem through the 1940s. By 1945, it had closed the last of its small service stores and was down to three locations, the City Market store, the 1938 supermarket downtown, and a new supermarket on West First Street near what is now Cloverdale Road. This last location may have replaced a smaller service store at the same location.

Big Star and Colonial

In 1940, the David Pender Grocery Company of Norfolk merged with the Southern Grocery Company of Atlanta to form the new Colonial Stores Corporation. In Winston-Salem, consumers saw little change until about 1946, when the Big Star on North Cherry Street first sprouted a “Colonial Stores” sign. In 1948, the old Pender’s on North Liberty Street relocated to a large new Colonial store a few doors down.

Big Bear

In the early 1940s, High Point-based Big Bear, owned by George Hutchens’ National Food Company, opened its first Winston-Salem location in the City Market, alongside A&P. Kroger seems to have abandoned its space in the market about this time, so Big Bear may have taken it over. The market location was joined by a new one on North Liberty later in the decade.

Food Fair

Former Food Fair, 612 North Trade Street.

This local chain, not affiliated with the national chain headquartered in Philadelphia, made its first appearance in the late 1940s with four stores: two downtown, one just south of the old Moravian village that would become Old Salem, and one (in 1948) adjacent to College Village, a large postwar apartment complex on the city’s west side.

I have very little information about Food Fair and would love to have more.


Kroger apparently abandoned its space in the City Market around 1945 and opened two new locations in the late 1940s. One, on Hawthorne Road near West First Street is no longer standing, while the other, on South Main is still present –although significantly altered — as part of the Old Salem museum, archives, and research center.

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One thought on “Winston-Salem History

  1. Ralph Murphy

    November 12, 2018 at 5:35pm

    I worked at the Big Star on Cherry Street in the 40’s during the war while in high school and the opening of the Colonial at Cloverdale and Miller later about 1950.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Dave Oliver

    January 6, 2022 at 12:58am

    Does anyone remember the restaurant called Archie’s lunch ( Cafeteria)on West 4th street in Winston Salem in the 1960s

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Ken Mays

      May 17, 2022 at 2:31pm

      My mother worked there and also at HL Greens in their diner. Last 50s to early 60s.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
      • Spencer Cooper

        January 29, 2023 at 6:52am

        My great aunt worked at HL Greens in the 50s early 60s in W-S . My mother worked there in the early 60s before going to college.

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