I spent the weekend in Baltimore. If you follow me on Twitter, you saw a pretty amazing collection of photos from around the city–not amazing because I’m such a great photographer but because there’s so much supermarket history still standing in Baltimore and so much of it is in such recognizable condition. Acme, Food Fair, A&P, Penn Fruit, and more. It’s all there. I did library research as well and there will be much more soon.
But do check out the past few days on Twitter…really.
(Photo above is from an item in the Maryland Department, Enoch Pratt Free Library.)
Food Fair arose from a chain established in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the 1920s. Primarily based in the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast United States and in Florida, the chain also briefly operated stores in California. By the 1980s, stores were rebranded as Pantry Pride, a process that started in the late 1960s with the rebranding of some stores into a discount chain. By 1991, the company had sold off its supermarkets and renamed itself The Revlon Group, based on its 1985 of the cosmetics company.
Per contributor Steve Landry:
Food Fair was once one of the 5 top grocery chains in the country. It even had stores in California and I believe Nevada under different names. The Friedland family owned it; Revlon Corp. was involved in its buyout and eventual liquidation. The company’s last stronghold was in Florida (Ft. Lauderdale, Miami Beach, Sunny Isles Beach). The LAST store built was actually in Sunny Isles Beach in 1991 called Pantry Pride Food Emporium.
At one time the company was an innovator in many concepts that became very popular later on in retail grocery: electronic registers, scanning, UPC, combination stores, discount grocery stores (Pantry Pride), etc.
The company had a rich and controversial history and was one of the original big grocery store chains. Major mismanagement caused this once mighty (and pioneering) grocery store chain to perish!!
In this section:
Elsewhere on Groceteria.com:
- Wikipedia entry
- Union Premier Food Stores, Food Fair Stores Inc., Food Fair Properties, and Pantry Pride Inc. Annual Reports: 1937–1985
- Archived timeline
- flickr photo gallery
Food Fair lives. Sort of.
This photo, courtesy of Michael Williams, shows a new indepedent in Paterson NJ, that has adopted the Food Fair name. Interstingly enough, this location had been an actual unit of the Food Fair chain several decades ago as well.
Wow. What happened to November?
Anyway, the semester from hell is now pretty much officially over (I submitted my last two papers today), and I’m hoping to be a little more active here in the coming weeks. For now, I’ll leave you with this nice shot of the former Food Fair store at Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey. You don’t often see supermarkets as a part of enclosed malls. In fact, it’s an obscure enough topic to have its own thread on the message board.
Interesting trip to Norfolk VA and the Tidewater area this past weekend while I was having all the domain problems. It’s a fascinating place that I plan to visit again soon for a more detailed research excursion. But here are two shots from this weekend:
The first is a former Food Fair location on Little Creek Road in Norfolk. Its exterior is quite well preserved, despite having been recycled as a Dollar Tree location. This is actually one of the first former Food Fairs I’ve actually seen “live and in person”, and I hope to visit more soon.
The second is related since it’s pretty obviously a former Food Fair-owned J.M. Fields department store. This one is apparently about to be torn down; it sits right next to the area that Virginia Beach is redeveloping as the “downtown” it never really had. I assume it’s been abandoned a long time, as it still amazingly bears the logo of the long-defunct HQ (Home Quarters) chain, which hasn’t existed in more than fifteen years, if I recall correctly.