Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro NC

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Groceteria
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Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro NC

Post by Groceteria »

Made a road trip into the NC foothills yesterday and posted several photos on the site. Speculation about the stores pictured/discussed is invited:

http://www.groceteria.com/journal/2007/08.html#081307
krogerclerk
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Post by krogerclerk »

It's likely that the building you suspect as being a Piggly Wiggly was an old Kroger, Dixie Home/Winn-Dixie or Colonial, but the design is closer to an older Piggly Wiggly or Kroger. Colonial and Kroger were marginal in the region but the Triad Kroger locations and the Mount Airy Kroger locations were part of the Roanoke division prior to the creation of the Charlotte/Carolinas division in the mid-70's. Dixie Home and Colonials of the era tended to use yellow brick while Kroger, A&P, and Piggly Wiggly used red.

I haven't seen any barrel roofed A&P stores in other Carolina or Georgia cities, most pre-Centennial locations were a shoebox-style store, most were retrofitted to the Centennial design, or downtown storefronts. It could possibly be an early Lowe's foods as they had operated roughly 3-4 locations at one time in Wilkesboro/North Wilkesboro. The presently operate 3 North Wilkesboro stores and one Wilkesboro store. I'm not familiar with older Lowes, most first encounter with Lowe's was in Boone, NC as an 11-12 year old.
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Post by Groceteria »

krogerclerk wrote:I haven't seen any barrel roofed A&P stores in other Carolina or Georgia cities, most pre-Centennial locations were a shoebox-style store, most were retrofitted to the Centennial design, or downtown storefronts.
Actually, there were numerous examples in the Triad area of freestanding barrel-roof A&P stores that were never retrofitted, many of which are still standing relatively unaltered. Most of them were late 1940s/early 1950s replacements for older storefront locations nearby.

Most of them, however, did not have side entrances (off-center front entrances with separate "in" and "out" doors were the norm) which is perhaps a point against the Wilkesboro store having been an A&P.

Something about it just "feels" like one, though.
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Post by jimbobga »

I had thought that this was a Kroger, but after a trip this week to Bluefield, WV, I'm sure of it. There is an identical store on North Avenue in Bluefield that Kroger opened probably around 1958. The barrel roof is not visible from the side, but at the back where nothing has been added by later occupants, the barrel roof is still visible. This store replaced a store-front Kroger in the middle of the downtown retail area. The new store was located not on a main street, but pretty much in the middle of a residential area of four-square homes. Over the next few years, two blocks surrounding this area were a 50's version of "mixed-use," as a house would be torn down to be replaced by a modern last-fifties retail store with a few parking places in the front. These houses and store buildings still exist. The Kroger closed when Bluefield's first shopping center opened on Cumberland Road, and Kroger still operates there today.
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Post by krogerclerk »

A little research reveals the Wilkesboro greenhouse as being at 1408 Route 421 and open only from early 1983 to fall 1984. It is a 31000 sq. ft. greenhouse, the small prototype, most were 42000 to 45000 sq.ft and several 35000 sq. ft greenhouses were built. I'm attempting to learn if A&P immediately occupied the store after Kroger closed and why the store was short lived for Kroger. My guess is Kroger sold the store to A&P in the same transaction that several Baton Rouge, LA stores went to A&P. Kroger continued to operate in Hickory and the Triad, so the store is not part of a mass closing in North Carolina. It was part of the Mid-Atlantic KMA, from Roanoke, rather than the Carolinas KMA out of Charlotte. Lowe's Foods is the dominant grocer and was likely dominant then as well since Wilkesboro would the "home market" for the chain. A&P was beginning its "comeback" with the new SuperFresh, Sav-a-Center and FutureStore formats along with several acquisitions. Food Town/Food Lion was entering its big growth phase and Winn-Dixie was still a major player in the Carolinas.
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Post by Groceteria »

krogerclerk wrote:I'm attempting to learn if A&P immediately occupied the store after Kroger closed and why the store was short lived for Kroger. My guess is Kroger sold the store to A&P in the same transaction that several Baton Rouge, LA stores went to A&P.
The timing makes me wonder if that was also related to Kroger's acquisition of several of A&P's Family Mart stores in the Carolinas.
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Post by krogerclerk »

I didn't connect with Kroger moving into several former Family Marts with this store, but the timing is about right. Ft. Jackson, Columbia is the only ex-A&P Family Mart turned Kroger that I've had the opportunity to visit, which I assumed replaced the greenhouse Kroger futher out on Garners Ferry which went to BiLo. I know there were some wild machinations in the Carolinas between Kroger and BiLo, particularly in Charlotte. A&P was struggling to keep its presence in the Carolinas and Kroger was struggling to grow its presence. Several Kroger locations were shortlived, Anderson had two to open in 1983, closing one in 1986, and the other in 1988, both going to BiLo. Southern Pines opened near the end of the Charlotte division run in 1987, and survived until 1990 when it was sold to Winn-Dixie. Wison, NC is a more recent example and I believe a fromer Hannaford location. And of course there was the Charlotte BiLo to Kroger swapout, only to be a Kroger to BiLo swap a little over a year later. 1984 was a year which Kroger completed closing its Pittsburgh/Cleveland operations, exiting Baton Rouge, closing Southern Texas stores in Corpus Christi and Brownsville, reducing its Detroit presence, including the sale of several stores to Kessel's, and about 40 scattered stores in regions it continued to operate.
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Re: Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro NC

Post by carolinatraveler »

Having been through Wilkes County on several recent occasions, I've had a chance to pin down addresses for the two buildings in question. Actually, there is only one building in question, since the site at 211 4th Street is displaying a sign on the side that reads Thrift Super Market. Tracing it as far back as the mid-1950s when the address first appears, the listing at this location is for Thrift Super Market. It would appear that it was built for that purpose and remained so until relatively recent times. As for the Wilkesboro location, it appears that Smithey's Department Stores, founded in Wilkesboro and operator of full line general merchandise stores throughout the Western Piedmont area, moved the grocery department of their operation to this location, also in the mid-1950s.
I have copies of listings in each city directory back to 1939, and Wilkesboro/North Wilkesboro seems to be an anomoly in NC towns in that chain stores were virtually unheard of there until relatively modern times. The first listing I have for any chain store is a Dixie Home location at 926 B Street, in the heart of downtown in the 1948 directory. There is no listing for either Dixie or Home in 1939, and we now know that Carolina Stores, the usual lead in for Dixie Home in this area, did not have a store in North Wilkesboro.
Lowes Food was founded here in 1954, in a store at 1201 2nd St, and opened three stores in the area in relatively short order. Winston-Salem based Food Fair appears first in the 1959 directory 906 A Street; and by that time a new Winn-Dixie had opened at 902 D St. Also in 1959 Food Town, yes, that Food Town, opened a store briefly in Mid-Town Plaza. Within a couple of years they sold it to Lowes, in an agreement that kept Food Town out of the WIlkesboro area until the 1980s.
The first listing for an A&P is for the centinnial store shown in David's photo - and it first appears in the 1964 directory. I find this unusual, as A&P was everywhere in NC, but from looking through old newspapers I cannot find listings for either A&P or Penders in the late 20s-early 30s, heyday of those chains expansion.
From the 1950s forward, Lowes dominates these scene. By the early 1970s Winn-Dixie closed their downtown store, only to open a larger, more modern store just west of town that would survive until the bankruptcy.
I copied the directories as late as 1984. No listing for Kroger ever appears, so the Wilkes Mall store dates from after that time. Makes sense, as I believe that complex opened in 1984. I remember the store in the 1990s as a SuperFresh, probably part of the Charlotte A&P region, as the downtown A&P had been gone since the mid-1970s.
One at a time I am going through western North Carolina towns trying to document this information, and am planning a larger article on Dixie Home, similar to my Colonial Stores article elsewhere on this web site. As more information is available, I will post it accordingly.

Wayne Henderson
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Re: Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro NC

Post by carolinatraveler »

One correction to my most recent post about chain stores in North Wilkesboro. In my previous searches I simply did not go back far enough. It seems that A&P did operate there briefly in the mid-1920s, closing their store in June 1926. Carolina Stores opened the following week in the same building, and operated until September 1930, one of a group of five Carolina Stores that were closed just prior to their receivership filing in January 1931. One random ad puts A&P back in the area in the 1930s, but they operated stores on short term leases and apparently this store did not last long, either.

Must have been a rough town for outside chain stores....


Wayne Henderson
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