Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Supermarket archaeology.

Yesterday I posted a picture of a *blecch!* back-to-school sale in one of our Hudson Valley Dollar Tree stores. Dollar Tree stores pop up in new developments, old strip malls, any old place. Here's one I was driving past the other day:

Any American of a certain age recognizes that structure immediately, and knows exactly what should be on the peaked brick face in front:

That, or one of A&P's many other logos.

A&P supermarkets had distinctive roofs, whether in town or country. You'd recognize them anywhere...

Excelsior Springs!

Norwood, NJ!

Active one back in the day

Various chain restaurants have similar uniformity of construction, which sometimes persists long after the restaurant closes. The peerless Not Fooling Anybody site maintains a photo library of Hojos, A&Ws, Pizza Huts, and so on that have survived as other businesses but kept the original architecture. No one has made a comprehensive list of old A&Ps, although Groceteria has quite a few.

A&P was sort of the Walmart of its day; at its peak there were 15,709 stores in the U.S., much more common than the ubiquitous Carnegie libraries (a mere 1,689). Now A&P is the Ozymandius of this day, a destroyed giant whose collapse was amazing.

Sadly, tales of bad heirs, poor business judgment, blindness to competition, and inability to adapt to changing times are as ubiquitous as A&Ps at their peak. It's a pity; we were a solid A&P family for decades, and we've all had to move on, in sorrow.

But apparently those old stores were really well built, weren't they?

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