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I made a road trip up to Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro on Sunday. These foothill towns have always been a little over-retailed relative to their size, because they serve a rather large, rural hinterland. The Wilkesboro area is also the birthplace both of Lowes Foods, the regional grocery retailer, and of the nationally-known Lowes Home Improvement.

I’m guessing the store in the photo above, just east of downtown North Wilkesboro, is a former A&P, but I could be wrong. The store below, located east of downtown, definitely was, though:

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This one may have done some time as an A&P as well, even though it was obviously built as a Kroger. Note the revamped pole sign sporting A&P’s Sav-a-Center logo , probably from the late 1980s:

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The Sav-a-Center inset photo is by Groceteria reader Thom Wright, by the way.

The following, from downtown Wilkesboro, strikes me as a likely Piggly Wiggly location, but I have no evidence to back that up:

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Last on the tour is a remodeled, but seemingly rather old (and definitely very small) Lowes Foods on old US 421:

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Lest anyone worry, my favorite Cala Foods location in San Francisco (previously featured here and here) is apparently still a Cala Foods location, per this recent photo snapped by the photographer I love. This store was one of the only ones not sold by Kroger a few months back. Therefore it has not been converted into a Delano’s IGA. And I’m very glad, although I’m not exactly certain what the future holds for 1095 Hyde Street.

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Today’s feature: two amazing former Kroger stores in central North Carolina, the former here in Winston-Salem, and the latter in nearby Burlington. Both are extremely well-preserved examples of this particular prototype from the early 1950s. This is becoming one of my favorite old store designs, and may be one of my most sought-after over the next few years, now that I’m no longer living in the land of the Marina Safeway.

As an interesting side note, I’m told the Burlington store below is the one where black widow murderer Blanche Taylor Moore (portrayed by Elizabeth Montgomery in a 1993 TV movie) was employed along with one of her victims.

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I’ve uploaded the first chunk of my much-expanded look at the North Carolina Triad. Even though the entire new photo gallery has not been added, there’s till a lot to see. The revamped Greensboro section features about three times as much information, plus additional vintage photos. It’s complete through the 1970s, and may even beat last year’s Charlotte section for sheer volume of research.

Winston-Salem and High Point are coming soon.

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Spotlight on Atlanta, Georgia. The following logos are from the 17 August 1978 issue of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. The newspapers combined publication that day due to a blackout downtown. The actual newspaper was only four pages, but the food sections had apparently already been printed and were included in their entirety.

The Big Apple and Food Giant chains have been discussed on the Message Board.

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A&P would remain a fairly major player in Atlanta until 1999, when it sold many of its stores to Publix.

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Big Star, built on the foundation of Colonial Stores, was purchased by Grand Union in 1978. The Atlanta division lasted longer than the rest of Big Star, until 1992, when most of the stores were sold to A&P. Big Star also operated the food departments of Richway discount department stores, in much the same way that Colonial had operated Kmart Food stores in some areas.

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Kroger is the only one of the 1978 chains to still have operations in Atlanta.

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I really don’t know anything about Thriftown and Big Buy.

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And we all know about Winn-Dixie. Enough said.

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From Galax VA, an early 1970s Kroger superstore prototype (like this one) which has been through a minimal renovation, where the lower section of its original arched canopy wasn’t removed when the center was given a new facade. The interior is the standard early 1990s red, white, and pink package that was applied to so many of these superstores, usually as their first remodeling ever.

Sorry for the delay. The last few weeks became a bit hectic, with lots of freelance work, a death in the family, and my Thanksgiving trek to the west coast to visit the in-laws.

I’m ready to continue on with those road trip photos now:

Let’s start with Indianapolis:

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This Preston Safeway store at 5040 East 16th was most likely a former Standard Store. Preston Safeway is an odd little chain in Indianapolis that has successfully managed to use the Safeway name without trademark issues for quite some time. There is no connection to the more well-known chain other than the fact that Preston Safeway seems to be using the “Ingredients for Life” typeface on some of its banners.

On to Chicago:

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Despite its somewhat modernized appearance, the Jewel-Osco above, located at 3531 Broadway, is in an ancient building which I suspect may have been something else to begin with — perhaps a garage, a car dealership, or even a garden variety warehouse. The store is at ground level and the second level is enclosed parking.

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I suspect this was originally a Kroger. It’s at 7620 North Western.

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This gorgeous former Jewel store is at 4335 West Oakton in Skokie.

And now, the Detroit suburbs:

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I found this 1950s-era Kroger interesting because it had obviously been remodeled and expanded into an early 1970s superstore. There’s a 1990s version still open in the same center.

And finally, Toronto:

It’s interesting that the grocery industry is so completely consolidated in the hands of three companies (Loblaw, A&P/Metro, and Sobey’s) but still operates under so many different banners. Loblaw owns Zehr’s and No Frills, while A&P owns Dominion and Food Basics. Sobey’s also operates as Price Chopper, IGA, and more.

I was unable to find the one documented former Safeway location I’d been given in Toronto, but I found other good stuff:

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A Loblaws from the 1950s at 301 Moore is still open and in relatively good repair. It seems larger than average for its era.

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Probably a former Loblaws at 2187 West Bloor.

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Also a probable former Loblaws, this one at 1450 East Lawrence.

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The Dominion store above, at 425 West Bloor may or may now have been an A&P. It probably dates from the early 1950s. The late 1940s/early 1950s model below, at 3142 Yonge, was definitely an A&P in a previous life, if its parking signs are to be trusted.

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I may try to post one or two more at some point.

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This Food Basics store on Yonge Street in North York, Ontario definitely gets first place in the “cool sightings from my recent road trip” contest. I’m not sure if it’s a former Dominion, A&P, or what, but I almost spit out my nifty Canadian formula Diet 7-Up when I saw it.

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This was a close second. A current Red & White franchise, it was originally a Loblaw’s, and is located on Lakeshore Avenue, in (I believe) the Islington section of Toronto. The Loblaw’s label scar is even still visible on the front, although it didn’t photograph well.

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Speaking of Loblaw’s, I rarely feature new stores here, but this megastore at Queens Quay Market was too amazing not to include. Keep in mind that this photo is only the produce department, which is about a third of the total floor area of the store.

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I was relieved to see that one of my favorite old Kroger locations, on Tenth Street in Indianapolis, is still open. The store is all of 10,000 square feet, but it does a booming business in the surrounding (not great) neighborhood. I even got a few photos inside this time through.

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More pictures and commentary tomorrow.

Input solicited: I’m leaving Saturday on a two-week road trip which will give me several days each in Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto. Anyone have ideas about old chain stores and vintage shopping centers I should see?

I’m particularly interested in old National Tea, Jewel, A&P, and Kroger stores. I’ve also been told that Safeway had a Toronto division for a time. Location pointers would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

I just went through two months of email, some of it things I’d managed not even to see before. My apologies. Moving into my first house was more work even than I expected.

A few cool things unearthed in the big pile o’ mail: