The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Marc Levinson tells the history of A&P, from its beginning as a tea shop in New York to the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, the largest retailer in the world. Mom-and-pop grocery stores enlisted state and federal governments to stop price discounting, tax chain stores, and require manufacturers to sell to small businesses at the same prices granted to giant retailers. The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America is the story of  the company and how it changed how Americans shop and the foods we eat.


Marc Levinson

Comments [9]

David Zarko from Scranton, PA

Also enjoyed the interview. There was a fellow in Cupertino, CA named Arch Wilson who ran a corner general store when Cupertino was nothing but a crossroads. Through his habit of giving the local farmers credit between harvests he helped many, many families through the Great Depression. According to the stories (and I knew the family when I was young) all his debtors paid him back, eventually. And to this day he is a local hero (in memory). Regardless of efficiency, that kind of things does (justifiably, I think) make me misty-eyed.

Nov. 08 2011 01:27 PM
Mary from North White Plains from Westchester County

very interesting interview and want to read his book. I agree with the Comment from the Bronx whose Pop owned a small shop. My grandfather owned 2 grocery stores in North White Plains and Armonk from about 1930-1962. My grandfather was very proud Irishman and came to the US around 1925. His community was very supportive of his grocery store and he was VERY loyal and appreciative of his customers! He had to close his stores around 1962 BECAUSE of the big grocery chain stores, namely A&P and Grand Union. I wish we still had those 2 stores today. I am proud of my grandfather who came from Ireland with not a penny in his pocket and built two successful grocery stores. I don't think your guest author spoke enough about the great loss of small local businesses. My grandfather hired all local staff and was so proud of his butchers and produce men!

Nov. 08 2011 01:16 PM

I look forward to reading the book.

For those interested is such topics I'd like to recommend another book as well:

"More than they bargained for : the rise and fall of Korvettes" (1981)

by legendary NYC insider Isadore Barmash

Nov. 08 2011 12:57 PM
joe g from LI

my pop owned a store in the west bronx
from the late 40's to the mid 70's
and it was a part of the communty--
hired a few local people ( though it was mostly run by family )---your guest really does not understand the damage that has been done to our society by the dismantling
of community type businesses---it was a non food store but that's really the same---
now instead of having community owned businesses people are being funneled into min wage part time jobs in our depersonalized big box culture so we can all get the "best price" on our chinese products

Nov. 08 2011 12:50 PM
Josh Levine

Your guest is probably aware that the packaging and supply chain efficiencies for which A&P is being attributed in modernizing the American consumer market, are just now reaching much of the rest of the world. I think of China's, India's, Vietnam's etc. relatively high economic growth as mostly attributable to recently imported supply chain efficiencies.

(I lived in Hanoi during part of the 90s and wrote about such topics. In around 2000 I put together a website with a number of articles that some might find quite interesting!)

Nov. 08 2011 12:35 PM
Michael Vaccari

I heard that A&P and Stop and Shop were planning a merge. The new store will be called ... Stop & P.

Nov. 08 2011 12:32 PM
Steven from Brooklyn

Is it true that A&P historically did not hire blacks and would not open stores in black neighborhoods?

Nov. 08 2011 12:29 PM
The Truth from Becky

Pretty much grew up in A&P in Brooklyn, my grandmother born 1917 collected green stamps, so she shopped there regularly.

Nov. 08 2011 12:17 PM
Ed from Larchmont

My father worked for the A&P when he got back from the war and recuperated from a shrapnel injury, he worked there from 1950-1976 as a produce clerk. It was the leading chain store at the time.

Nov. 08 2011 08:11 AM

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