Courtesy of the Greensboro Historical Museum. Used by permission.

 

I’ve written about this store and how important it was to me before.

Most of you probably do not know that in my other life, I am an academic librarian whose job primarily involves supervising the digitization and online presentation of archival material. The job and the hobby intersect from time to time and this is one of those cases. These photos are part of a huge grant-funded project we recently unveiled on the history of Greensboro from Reconstruction to World War II. They’re great (and a rare find) because they show the pristine interior of this store at its grand opening. They come from the papers of Jim Sifford, who was apparently an A&P regional manager in the area. I’ll add more later.

Another great photo surfaced as well, but you’ve seen that one before.

 

col-newbern

Just got back from a conference in Morehead City NC and thought I’d throw up a few pictures I grabbed in cities along the way back. I only had my phone camera with me, so the quality is somewhat lacking. Above is a beautiful former Colonial store at 1201 Broad Street in New Bern. It was closed so I was unable to determine if there were any interesting interior remnants.

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This former A&P is at 919 Broad Street, also in New Bern.

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Contact sheet (click image above to enlarge) of several Indianapolis Stop and Shop locations after they were purchased by Colonial Stores in 1955 (but before they were subsequently unloaded in 1959). Colonial purchased the Albers chain in Ohi0 at about the same time and had much better luck with those stores. Colonial did similar co-branding with both chains.

These are from a large collection of construction archives I recently acquired. They’d been sitting in the abandoned Colonial Stores HQ in Atlanta for probably twenty years. Lots more to come.

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This is big.

A very observant member of an Atlanta architctural firm (who’s now my hero, by the way) contacted me a few weeks ago to tell me about some materials he found while working on a client project, wondering if I might be interested. I picked the stuff up today. Turns out it came from the former headquarters of Colonial Stores and was apparently material that was simply abandoned upon the demise of the company in 1988 and had been sitting in the office ever since.

The take: twelve boxes and more than a dozen rolls of blueprints, sign plans, mechanical drawings, lease information, and other material. It seems this may be most of the records of the real estate and/or construction department of the chain. There are layouts and fixture plans dating to at least 1952, proposals for the conversion of the Albers stores in the Midwest after that chain was acquired by Colonial Stores in 1955, and lost of materials on the conversion of stores to the Big Star format in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This is incredible stuff and I am really grateful that it was saved from the dumpster and that I was able to get my hands on it. I’m just starting to go through all the boxes and I’ll keep you posted.

It’s amazing what you can fit inside a 2002 Buick LeSabre when you try really hard:

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082608-bigstar

This is the Big Star I remember from my childhood. This photo was taken in Augusta GA in 1978, and was sent to me by Groceteria reader Terry in Oklahoma. He’s in the process of sending me an absolutely amazing archive of photos he’s taken over the years, including this Colonial store in Atlanta from 1978:

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More to come…

092307-columbia-2

We all have our fetishes related to vintage stores, I guess. One reader is particularly interested in floor tiles, while a few others are fascinated by various HVAC components. A big one for me has always been the front entrance. I get really excited when I find an old store that still has its original door configuration, and especially so when it has its original doors, as does this former Colonial store on North Main Street in Columbia SC. I was obsessed with old doors when I was a kid and was first looking at — and drawing pictures of — old stores.

Here’s another one from my Saturday road trip, located on Harden Street in Columbia’s Five Points area. I’m not sure what it was (Columbia is definitely a future research candidate) but it sure is pretty.

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Maybe I’ll add a “doors” feature to the site one of these days.

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This beauty from the 200 block of East Front Street in Burlington NC, just a few blocks from Blanche Taylor Moore’s Kroger, undoubtedly started life as a Big Star about 1938 or so. A lot of variations on this prototype were built in the southeast in the late 1930s, and a good proportion of them have held up remarkably well. The craftsmanship and materials are a stark contrast to the cheap stucco effects on most new chain stores.

I’m also guessing the building to the left was a 1940s A&P, but I’ll save that for another post.

Also from this weekend’s long drive:

091607-yanceyville

I’m saying with maybe 60% certainty that this building from downtown Yanceyville NC once housed an A&P.

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This Family Dollar on South Scales Street in Reidsville NC was definitely something, probably an A&P as well, but I’m not sure. It also looks like it may have expanded into a neighboring (but built at the same time) adjacent storefront.

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Courtesy of Mike, this photo of the spooky, abandoned A&P offices in Paterson NJ shows label scars from at least two different versions of the A&P logo.

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From Robby Delius, an interesting TV news shot of an early 1980s Big Star in Durham NC highlights the chain’s Grand Union era makeover.

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Lots of updates today. I’ve reworked the following pages and added entirely new galleries with lots of new photos. This is part of my effort to standardize the format of all the store and city features (and to add new photos):

To match the format of the newer city features, I’ve added full location spreadsheets in the following sections. This should make it easier to track locations over time. Updated location lists are:

More to come.

052307-colonial

This interesting snippet from a 1968 Colonial Stores grand opening ad from Atlanta comes to me from Robby Delius. It’s particularly noteworthy because it makes such use of the “Big Star” motif that would ultimately be applied to all Colonial Stores by the mid-1970s.

052307-safeway

Also from 1968 (and from the same source) is this grand opening ad for a Safeway store in Richmond. There’s nothing really remarkable about this one, I guess. It’s just, as the ad says, really ultra-modern. And the cartoon shoppers look so darned happy

More reader submissions to come.