Food Fair in Atlanta?

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Groceteria
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Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by Groceteria »

While doing some research on Atlanta, I dug up some Food fair connections that weren't supported by my address research and was just wondering if anyone could shed some light. This article states that a Food Fair location opened at 3625 Peachtree Road in Atlanta in 1956. My research shows that this was a Colonial store in 1960.

Also the Wikipedia article on Cobb Center Mall states that Cobb Center was built by Food Fair's parent company and opened in 1963.

So what was the deal with Food Fair in Atlanta? Did they try (and quickly fail) at opening stores and then turn to real estate instead? Or am I missing something in my address research?
Ephrata1966
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by Ephrata1966 »

This might not help, but remember Food Fair had a very strong presence from Maine to Florida for many years. The Florida Pantry Prides even outlived the rest of the chain. So Georgia wouldn't have been a big stretch. To this day you can find 50's ex-Food Fair stores with tower signs and ex-J.M. Fields stores with their trademark "arches" far outside the Philadelphia area in both directions. And it amazes me how A&P was the dominant grocer in New Orleans well into the 2000s, even when their next closest store was a Super Fresh in Washington DC! Acme, A&P, Food Fair, and Penn Fruit all had slightly different expansion strategies but all competed for real estate and market share in Philadelphia. What I don't understand is why Food Fair and not A&P had #2 market share here (after Acme). And Acme was like David competing against A&P and Food Fair which were both like Goliath. Basically Acme and A&P have made "peace" by assigning Philadelphia as Acme's main turf, and New York as that of A&P.
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by Groceteria »

I know it wouldn't have been a stretch for them to expand to Atlanta, and it's apparent that they did in fact do so.

But my big question, again, is whether the operation ever amounted to anything or lasted for any significant period of time since there's not really evidence of anything other than one store that may have been open for 2-3 years and then a shopping center investment several years later. City directories from the period don't show any Food Fair locations in 1960 so if any opened, they apparently closed very quickly.
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by Ephrata1966 »

Well I can tell you that Food Fair seemed to hit a "depression" or "dark ages" period starting around that time. Union/labor issues were what caused the trouble. Their growth in the early-mid 50's was very rapid. They were ahead of Acme and A&P as far as growth was concerned. But around 1960 they considered "merging" with much smaller rival Penn Fruit (that never happened until 1975 when Penn Fruit went bankrupt). 1964 was a very nasty year for Food Fair. The growth of Acme A Frames (peaked roof) and A&P Centennials didn't help matters. But Food Fair bought a small chain called Pantry Pride. They loved that name and finally began building new stores with it and converting older ones in the late 60's and early 70's.
Steve Landry
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by Steve Landry »

Hi David,

Not surprised by your find either. I believe that also was the period they bought Fox Markets in California and Nevada.

The presence in Georgia was more than 2 or 3 years because I worked for the company in 1968 and heard mention of stores in Georgia (Atlanta and other areas).

There are other examples of this type of find in other parts of the country (very odd). I do remember hearing of far off locations when I was a kid working for them.

As I have mentioned before, Food Fair and its many holdings were and continue to be an enigma. So little substantive data!!

To this day, I will bump into another diversified division that I never heard of. Amazing and frustrating!!!

FYI ephrata: Food Fair bought Best Markets and liked the name of their private label, "Pantry Pride"...........thus came the Pantry Pride concept and division.

:-)
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Steve Landry
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by Steve Landry »

I forgot to mention:

One of the reasons Food Fair history or their presence in far off markets is difficult to pin down is that often they existed without much press or under different corporate umbrellas (run by friends or relatives of the family). Their "history" in an area was sometimes inconsistent and or short lived (sometimes there were resurrections too).

Frustrating!
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by krogerclerk »

Valdosta, Brunswick and Waycross has Pantry Pride locations until the early or mid-80's, these were fringe stores of the Florida division and closed roughly the same time as the North and Central Florida Pantry Prides. The Valdosta store was in a shopping center with Sears and Woolworths that is now part of the Valdosta State University campus, but still standing.

I knew of Food Fair's venture into Cobb Center, which was anchored by Rich's, Colonial, Davis House, W.T. Grant, a theater and a drug store. It Colonial originated as Food Fair, it was that for only a couple of years. That the Peachtree Road address is also a Colonial would indicate that the stores were sold to Colonial when Food Fair exited Atlanta.

Food Fair had some type of gentleman's agreement with Bruno's which kept Food Fair out of Alabama while Bruno's launched Food World and Food Fare as discount formats.

What I've often wondered is if Food Fair made attempts to acquired Colonial and Bruno's during this era and instead developed a working relationship over time.
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by Groceteria »

Thanks all. I hoped the subject would inspire Steve to chime in :)

I also ran across another article that suggested Food Fair's entry into Atlanta came with the purchase of a small chain with stores in Marietta and (I think) Dalton, both of which are outside my study area since they were not fully covered in the Atlanta Suburban city directories.

I looked back at my notes and saw that I did in fact have "Food Fair" with a question mark noted at the Peachtree Road address in 1956 but I had determined since there were no other Food fair stores mentioned that year or ever again that it had probably been a one-off, unaffiliated store (there were lots of those, even some whole chains, using the name). Apparently I was wrong on that. But it suggests they did use the Food Fair name, at least on that one store on Peachtree.

I'll do some more thorough research when I can get down there again.
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by krogerclerk »

The only Marietta-based chain I know of that was in Dalton was Dunaway Drugs, which was the drug store in Cobb Center Mall. Dunaway was acquired by Eckerd in the early 90's.

No Dalton city directory shows Food Fair in that time period. Big Star/Colonial and Piggly Wiggly/Kroger were in downtown Dalton. Home Stores and Jitney Jungle were also downtown. Colonial relocated to Bry-Man's Plaza in the early 60's along with Winn-Dixie. Big Apple had large free-standing store built nearby that resembled the Atlanta Big Apple's of the same vintage, and would be the only candidate for being a former Food Fair. Kroger opened in the late 60's in Dalton Shopping Center after a few years absence from the closing of the downtown store. Gibson's(Cleveland, TN based franchise of the Texas chain) had a supercenter style discount store/supermarket that would be closest to Fields in size and format.

Beyond this Dalton was filled with independents which have an established history here. At least 3 were members of the Food King franchise and most of the remaining were served by the Chattanooga based Dixie Savings stores.
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by nysw3636 »

Groceteria wrote:I also ran across another article that suggested Food Fair's entry into Atlanta came with the purchase of a small chain with stores in Marietta and (I think) Dalton, both of which are outside my study area since they were not fully covered in the Atlanta Suburban city directories.
While doing my own research on Food Fair, I found the following info. Food Fair purchased 4 Kirk's Super Markets in late July of 1956. Locations were 1 in Manrietta, 1 in Dalton, and 2 in Chattanooga, TN. The 2 stores in Chattanooga were the first for Food Fair in Tennessee.
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by krogerclerk »

Here's a piece regarding Chattanooga based Kirk's Supermarkets

http://chattanoogan.com/2010/1/22/16733 ... rkets.aspx
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by terryinokc »

There also was a Pantry Pride in JMFields plaza in Augusta also....it lasted until the very early 1980's. It had the open entrance between JM Fields and Pantry Pride....guess that was pretty common.
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Re: Food Fair in Atlanta?

Post by nysw3636 »

The Marietta store (formerly Kirk's Super Market) was located at 1914 Roswell Street.
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