Birmingham (Alabama)

Introduction:

Birmingham proved much more fascinating than I expected. The Magic City was one of the largest cities in the Southeast during the first part of the Twentieth Century and had a massive store count and a fascinating history of chains including:

  • Hill Grocery Company: An offshoot of the H.G. Hill stores, owned by a brother of H.G. Hill, established in Birmingham in 1911. Hill took over the Memphis Piggly Wiggly stores in 1929 but phased out that branding by 1947 (though it would later return under another owner). Hill stores were acquired by Winn-Dixie in 1962 and were rebranded shortly after that.
  • Bruno’s: Founded by the Bruno brothers in 1932. the chain later operated under the Food World, Food Fair, Consumers, and Vincent’s brands, and was slowly dismantled through various mergers and acquisitions after 2001.
  • Western Super Markets: Established in 1948 by Inos Allen Heard and Stewart Yerton. At one time, a major player in the market, Western closed its last stores in 2019.
  • Colonial Stores entered Birmingham briefly starting in 1955. It did not end well, with the stores closing ca. 1964-1965. Most were not ever repurposed by other chains.
  • Kroger had a presence primarily in the city of Birmingham (rather than the suburbs) starting in 1955, but vacated the market in the early 1970s.
  • More to come…

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