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Posted: 06 Feb 2007 19:44
by Groceteria
For those who are interested, I added a post focusing on Atlanta chains in 1978 on the site today. I'd love to expand on it here (in anticipation of a future Atlanta section on the site) if anyone's interested in a discussion:

Posted: 07 Feb 2007 21:35
by krogerclerk
I had forgotten about Thriftown/Big Buy. The last two I recall were in Canton and Ellijay, under the Thriftown banner. I think they were primarily independents under a common banner and usually in a former chain location. They were short lived and I think SuperValu supplied, as many were former Big Apple or Food Giants.

I prefer the old Big Apple/ Food Giant logo over the 80's version adopted by the Delhaize/SuperValu joint venture. Big Apple was resurrected on some warehouse locations and Food Giant became the primary banner before CUB Foods eventually becoming the primary Delhaize/SuperValu operation after the mid-80's. The final Food Giant banner looked a lot like a stripped down FoodTown/Food Lion banner.

The Richway Foods was short lived, if the Johnson Ferry location was ever Richway Foods it was for a short time. However, the Windy Hill location was Richway Foods and only a Big Star for a short period until it closed. The Richway Foods/Big Star could only be entered from the back of the Richway which did not benefit business, pushing a full cart through another store to get to the rather large parking area. The Windy Hill and Johnson Ferry locations are still in business as Targets. Target doesn't use the entire building at Windy Hill nor the former Richway Auto Center in the front. The Johnson Ferry location passed from Big Star to A&P to Harris-Teeter to Kroger. i believe Kroger uses it as storage for the nearby Sandy Springs Circle Kroger, itself a former Bruno's, rather than a retail store.

Posted: 12 Feb 2007 17:00
by buckhead
Thriftown and Big Buy did generally operate in locations no longer wanted by other operators. They were typically quite small. Some locations offered trading stamps at one time. The only location in Athens was a former A&P on Dougherty Street behind the Post Office. Many of the Atlanta stores were in declining areas. They had a rather catchy jingle in the TV commercials that went, "At Thriftown and Big Buy we work harder to make you happy."

A&P was already shrinking in the area when this ad came out. They actually built some new stores in the 60s and 70s and shuttered some of the old ones and smaller locations. Again, in Athens, the location that became a Thriftown was the "No. 2" location. The attractive "No. 1" location downtown where Oconee Street veers off of East Broad Street was torn down somewhere around 1970. It did NOT have a dedicate parking lot and must have dated from the 20s or 30s. The face of the store was finished in attractive black marble with green streaks and a big, red A&P circle logo engraved in the marble above the entrance. I don't know if anyone salvage the marble of if it was just unceremoneously allowed to fall victim to the wrecking ball with the rest of the store. The "No. 3" location hung on for several more years into the 80s. The building has had many tenants since then, including a Jewel-T, Turtle's Music, a Bass Mimms Goodyear retailer, and a Post Office branch (the latter two occupied space concurrently with A&P). Except for their foray into the FutureStore concept, A&P really did not build many new stores by the early 90s. FutureStores were ultimatley rebadged to a variation of the A&P name. What may have been that last (or nearly so) totally new A&P store built from the ground up and NOT a FutureStore reversion, opened on Delk Road in the Delk Spectrum Shopping Center in Marietta in around 1992. When A&P pulled out of Atlanta, Publix took over the location.

The Alterman brothers, owners of Alterman Foods (operators of Big Apple/Food Giant) before selling their stores really were in the business of developing and operating shopping centers anchored by their food stores. Once they sold their interest, the company entered a fairly swift decline. The company stores contracted more and more as they pulled it closer to the Atlanta area. At least for a while, back in the early 70s, they had operated the food stores adjacent to or inside some of the local K-Mart stores as well. Once the K-Mart Foods name came down the Food Giant name went up. While those grocery operations were still K-Mart foods, I'm not sure if Alterman supplied/operated them or if it was some other player such as Allied.

Winn-Dixie was still a huge player in the market at that time. They had even begun offering trading stamps again. Kroger was really applying the pressure with their new superstores. Winn-Dixie seemed already to be lagging a bit in offering expanded and updated services, but had begun enlarging some stores, ultimately moving to the Market Place concept in later years at many locations.

As already stated by krogerclerk, Richway foods was really just Big Star at the back of some older Richway locations. I recall the ones on Cobb Parkway (US 41) near Windy Hill Road a few miles south of the Big Chicken, as well as the ones on North Druid Hills Road, Covington Highway, in Forest Park just off I-285, and the one in Sandy Springs off Johnson Ferry Road. The Druid Hills location comes to mind in particular because it was the first place where I HAD to use my HONEST FACE check cashing card to write a check (all the chains were using was another aspect of the EFT projects being experimented with in Atlanta such as Buypass). Richway Foods were ultimately rebadged to Big Star. Some of the locations incorporated into Richway stores closed in time. IIRC, in Sandy Springs for a brief period of time the Colonial name was resurrected on a totally new store, but I think it was the only such store ever built. I think it was an attempt to grab more affluent customers who remembered the name and were already moving their business to independent operator Ogletree's. After Grand Union bought Colonial/Big Star the decline accelerated, and the tattered remains were acquired by A&P in the 90s. A&P pulled out of the Atlanta market just a few years later.

Posted: 12 Feb 2007 21:47
by Groceteria
Great infomation. Thanks. And welcome aboard, by the way. It's good to add some new east coast voices to the board!

In case you're interested and haven't found it, there is a Food Giant/Ogletree's topic on the board:

Posted: 12 Feb 2007 22:30
by krogerclerk
Kroger, A&P, and Big Star/Colonial tended to draw the more affluent business in Atlanta in the 1970's, with the exception of the stores located near Ogletree's. Big Apple/Food Giant and Winn-Dixie seemed to draw from a wider spectrum of the demographics while primarily appealing to the blue-collar customer. Winn-Dixie had expanded by leaps and bound in the 60's and 70's and passed Kroger and A&P for the third place in the market. Colonial/Big Star dropped from its number position of the 50's and 60's to second against Big Apple/Food Giant. Kroger began a market turnaround after losing ground in the 60's and early 70's. The number of stores operated by Kroger dropped in the Atlanta area in the late 60's and early 70's and the superstore really turned things around in Atlanta and by the early 80's, Kroger had regained the number position it hadn't held since eliminating the Piggly Wiggly banner in the early 50's. Kroger's Atlanta division was consolidated with the Nashville division, an arrangement that lasted until about 1990 and Kroger withdrew from Columbus, Birmingham, Gadsden and Anniston to focus on markets closer to Atanta.

Thriftown and Big Buy never had a large market share and like the Warehouse Grocery stores that also appeared in the region during the 1970's, were in less desirable areas. I had forgotten about the old television and radio jingle the two used.

A&P used the P&Q theme in their jingles and claimed warehouse prices, but never went the PLUS or WEO route in Atlanta. By having stores in affluent areas that were hard to build in, such as West Paces Ferry, they retained an affluent customer base in most locations.

By 1980, Kroger and Winn-Dixie held number one two slots respectively and operated a near equal number of stores. Food Giant, very few Big Apple-bannered stores existed, had slipped to third and Big Star, fell to fourth. A&P became a perpetual number 5 from the 1970's through the 80's. Much of Kroger's and Winn-Dixie's gains came from aggressive construction, which Kroger would continue in the 80's with the greenhouse prototype. Winn-Dixie would slow down its new store construction and slowly open Marketplace stores in the late 80's, only earnestly opening Marketplace stores in the 90's after Publix began an aggressive market entry.

Posted: 13 Feb 2007 00:11
by Groceteria
Anybody have thoughts on A&P's 1993 acquisition of Big Star's Atlanta properties? Obviously it wasn't a huge success, since A&P was gone within just six more years. I've read something somewhere that suggested A&P may have operated some of these stores under the Big Star name for a time. Anything to that?

Posted: 13 Feb 2007 00:22
by buckhead
krogerclerk wrote: A&P used the P&Q theme in their jingles and claimed warehouse prices, but never went the PLUS or WEO route in Atlanta. By having stores in affluent areas that were hard to build in, such as West Paces Ferry, they retained an affluent customer base in most locations.
One thing I left out was the fact that A&P DID operate at least one "discount" A-Mart store in the Toco Hills Shopping Center on North Druid Hills Road. I remember seeing it probably in the mid-70s. I never went it but I drove by it often since I ate at the nearby Burger King and enjoyed movies on the big screen at the adjacent cinema. The store itself was surrounded by other merchants in that rambling shopping center. The standard round A&P emblem on the gable of the Centennial-style store was instead represented by a big white disk with the giant red "A"as the most prominent feature. The lettering style was the same as used in the older A&P livery, with the distended "orbs" at the apex and feet of the "A".

Posted: 13 Feb 2007 00:50
by rich
In their closing days, the A&Ps were neat and clean, and devoid of customers. The perishables weren't great, but the same could be said of their main competitors, Kroger, Winn-Dixie, & Cub. At that time, Kroger was rolling out its card and had adopted high/low pricing. A&P could have tried an alternative like every day low pricing or high/low w/o the card, but they didn't. Harris-Teeter and Publix had begun to enter the market and Harry's was already there, so there were stores that targeted someone looking for something resembling fresh foods and they had staked out relatively affluent areas, with stores that competed with A&P's. H-T had a card & high/low, while Publix made much of not requiring a card and used something somewhat along the lines of everyday pricing.

People who who were in Atlanta before me saw A&P as a chain that had neglected the basics and, when they began cleaning up their act, it was too late. Kroger had become the market leader because its competition was weak. If A&P had had decent management, they could have found a way to deal with this, with a relatively weak Cub operation and Winn-Dixie as competitors, they should have been able to carve out a niche.