The Once Beloved Grocery Stores That Have Gone Belly-Up

Some beloved grocery stores that met untimely fates include A&P, Jitney Jingle, and Food Fair.

By Jennifer Hollohan | Published

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Everyone has their favorite grocery store – the one they will drive a little further to shop at. The choices now seem immutable, like they have always been open and always will be. But in reality, there were multiple big-name grocery stores whose customers were sorely disappointed when news of their closing hit. 

Let’s stroll into the past to discover some of the once-famous, now-defunct grocery stores. First up on the list is Jitney Jungle, established in 1919. The Jackson, Mississippi chain was well-known for its slogan, “Save a Nickel on a Quarter.”

It was a staple across the southern United States, with roughly 100 locations in Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Arkansas. Unfortunately, the chain had financial troubles hit by the mid-1990s. And in 2000, Winn-Dixie acquired it. 

Another long-time household name was A&P, or Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. The tea company got its start in the 1800s. However, it shifted focus in 1912, when it opened its first grocery store. 

According to to Eat This, Not That!, “With its revolutionary business model, offering customers a wide variety of food products at lower costs, it quickly became the hottest and largest grocery store chain in the United States.” And that is no exaggeration. The chain had over 16,000 storefronts in its heyday.

But a series of disastrous financial hits resulted in two bankruptcy filings. By 2015, the era of A&P officially came to an end. However, it was not the only long-time grocery store that closed its doors around that time.

In 2013, Grand Union shut down after an epic rise in the grocery world. Unfortunately, its attempts to take on grocery store giants like Aldi didn’t pan out. C&S Whole Grocers acquired Grand Union and officially phased out the well-known name.

Other grocery store favorites that lasted into the 2000s include Fresh & Easy and Dominick’s. The former was short-lived. It started in California and grew into Nevada and Arizona.

Even though there were over 200 locations, the chain just wasn’t as big of a hit as parent company Tesco anticipated. So its run ended in 2015. And two years prior, Dominick’s shuttered its doors after almost 100 years.

That grocery store was a hit in Chicago, so its loss was sad news for windy city residents. But they were not the only grocery store to get its start in the city. National Tea Company (NATCO) first opened its doors in 1899.

NATCO underwent countless changes in the ensuing decades. Eventually, they experienced two mergers. And the last one, by A&P, spelled bad news for the popular chain.

Then there was Alpha-Beta, whose claim to fame was that it alphabetized the grocery aisles. The chain lasted nearly 80 years and survived multiple changes before it finally disappeared in 1995. At least it lasted longer than Food Fair, a chain from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

Food Fair made a name for itself in the 1940s. It went through multiple acquisitions and name changes and once was among the top 5 grocery stores in the United States. However, that glory did not last too long, since during the 1990s, the company officially dissolved.