1900: The David Pender Grocery Company is incorporated in Norfolk. The chain will have more than 200 stores in Virginia and the Carolinas before Pender sells his interest in 1926.
1901: Pender opens its “grocery department store” downtown on Monticello Avenue.
1907: The first A&P store opens in Newport News. The chain had already been operating in Norfolk for several years by this point.
1937-1938: Pender opens its first two Big Star supermarket locations in Norfolk (1700 Monticello Avenue and 2002 Colley Avenue). The Colley Avenue location will remain open as a Colonial store until the late 1970s.
1940: Pender is merged with Rogers Stores of Atlanta to form Colonial Stores. The two chains had had the same corporate parent for several years prior. Upon consolidation, the stores ultimately operated under the Little Star (small service stores) and Big Star (supermarkets) names before uniting under the Colonial Stores banner in the late 1940s as the service stores were discontinued. The Big Star name would re-emerge as a discount banner in the 1960s.
1948: A new Colonial store with rooftop parking opens at the site of the 1901 downtown Pender “grocery department store.”
1948: The Be-Lo chain begins with a store on Little Creek Road.
1953: The first enclosed Giant Open Air Market opens on Campostella Road.
1956: The largest Colonial store in Virginia, with rooftop parking, opens on First View Street in Norfolk’s Ocean View neighborhood.
1957: Food Fair enters the region with stores in Norfolk (Little Creek Road) and Hampton (Pembroke Avenue).
1963: The flagship Giant Open Air Market opens on Little Creek Road near Ward’s Corner.
1971: Safeway opens its first area store in the Woolco-anchored Todd Center in Hampton.
1971: J.M. Fields (part of Food Fair) opens its first area location on Little Creek Road near Ward’s Corner.
1979: All Food Fair stores in the area rebrand as Pantry Pride. J.M. Fields locations are liquidated as part of bankruptcy proceedings.
1982: Grand Union closes all remaining Big Star locations in the area. Many reopen as Safeway, Be-Lo, or Food Lion locations.
1984: A&P purchases approximately 20 Pantry Pride stores in Virginia. These stores operate under their own name until being rebranded as Superfresh in 1987, along with the remaining A&P locations in the area.
1986: Farm Fresh acquires Giant Open Air Markets and the latter name is retired.
1987: Gene Walters, CEO of Farm Fresh, leaves the company to start his own chain, Gene Walters Marketplace. He sells the chain to Farm Fresh in 1992.
1987: Safeway closes its area stores. Many end up in the Farm Fresh family, either directly or as part of Gene Walters Marketplace.
1995-1996: Hannaford Brothers enters the region. One of the company’s stores opens in part of the former J.M. Fields space on Little Creek Road. Another was apparently planned for a J.M. Fields location in Virginia Beach but never came to fruition.
1997: A&P begins rebranding some Superfresh locations to the upscale Farmer Jack banner. The rebranding will not succeed and both banners will depart the region in 1999.
1999: Supervalu purchases the Farm Fresh chain.
2000: Delhaize, parent company of Food Lion, purchases Hannaford Brothers. Hannaford locations are divested and Kroger enters the market through the purchase of several locations.
2008: Farm Fresh opens an upscale store in downtown Norfolk called “The Market.” It closes in 2011.
2018: Farm Fresh sells most of its area stores to Kroger and Food Lion. Mopst of the Kroger-purchased stores reopen as Harris Teeter locations. One exception is the former Giant Open Air Market flagship on Little Creek Road, which is purchased by Kroger (presumably as a replacement for its store across the street) but never reopens. The Kroger store, adjacent to a new-build Harris Teeter, ultimately closes as well.
2019: Wegmans opens its first area store on the site of a former J.M. Fields in Virginia Beach.