8 defunct grocery chains you remember

Before chains like Walmart, Publix, Winn-Dixie and Whole Foods dominated the grocery business, these names once anchored shopping centers and street corners throughout our cities.

Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company

An A&P in Pluckemin, New Jersey before its 2013 closure. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P) was founded in New York City by George Gilman in 1859. Orginally called Gilman & Company, the company was renamed A&P in 1869. By 1930, A&P was the world’s largest retailer with $2.9 billion in sales and 16,000 store locations. Until 1965, it was the largest U.S. retailer of any kind, being just iconic as Walmart, McDonald’s or Google today.

A&P’s Southeastern Headquarters was based in Jacksonville, Florida where its operations also included an industry bakery and Eight O’Clock Coffee roasting plant. A&P’s decline began after the end of World War II when it failed to keep pace with the competition. Despite a brief comeback in the early 2000s, the company ceased operations for good in 2015 after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010 and 2015.

Kash n’ Karry Food Stores, Inc.

In 1922, Italian immigrant Salvatore Greco opened a small storefront with his wife in their Tampa, Florida home. In 1947, the family opened the Big Barn store in nearby Plant City. Then a small chain, in 1962 the name was changed to Kash n’ Karry, under the concept that shoppers would bring “cash” and “carry” out their own groceries.

Through a series of buyouts and acquisitions, the chain expanded before falling into bankruptcy in 1994 and being acquired by North Carolina-based Food Lion in 1996 for $341 million. With declining revenue, Kash n’ Karry closed most of its stores and the few left were rebranded as sweetbay Supermarkets by the end of 2007. Unable to compete with Walmart and Publix, the 105 unit chain closed 33 of its stores in 2013 before being acquired by Jacksonville-based Southeastern Grocers. After the acquisition of Sweetbay, Southeastern either closed or rebranded the remaining Sweetbay locations as Winn-Dixie.