A&P in Louisiana outside New Orleans

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Moderator: Groceteria

Post Reply
wnetmacman
Senior Member
Posts: 324
Joined: 06 Nov 2005 23:48

A&P in Louisiana outside New Orleans

Post by wnetmacman » 15 Sep 2012 23:12

Prior to A&P's recent (2007) departure from New Orleans, they operated stores throughout the state of Louisiana. I know this is going to kind of spill past 1980, but I'm trying to figure out the pattern.

In the 1970's for sure, A&P was all over the entire state. There were several stores in Shreveport, Lafayette, Alexandria and other places. I know Shreveport for sure, because there are still several Centennial stores left standing in both Shreveport and Bossier City that are now other things (Shreveport's Mansfield Road store is now a Big Lots, but was expanded before A&P left based on the interior elements remaining). Alexandria also had at least two stores prior to this as well.

I know that during the 1970's the company had a massive meltdown that caused them to pretty much abandon everything west of the Mississippi and major parts of the midwest. What I don't know is this: when did they leave areas of Louisiana outside of New Orleans.

I have this much info: As late as 1995, the company operated stores in Natchitoches, Winnfield, Alexandria and Hodge (which is between Winnfield and Ruston). All of these stores were small, basic supermarkets. Winnfield and Hodge didn't even have delis. But when did they get rid of stores in Shreveport and Lafayette? There is still a Centennial standing in a shopping center on Cameron St. in Lafayette that also had, until earlier this year, an Eckerd/CVS store that did a healthy business even without the supermarket. I also know that the A&P store had been closed for many, many years, because when I moved here in 2000, the store had been cut in half and had recently had a Dollar General move out of it, which had, from my understanding, been there for some time. There was also a Centennial in Lafayette's Oil Center that is now a massive doctor's office which has been remodeled extensively and is barely recognizable. The center that it was in at one time had a Woolworth or a Morgan and Lindsey, and several smaller stores, but has been a medical 'shopping' center for over 20 years now. And New Iberia also had a Centennial, which was expanded before A&P's departure, and may still have the original A&P decor package.

Any information would be helpful. I know that A&P largely left Baton Rouge by 1999 save for two stores, both of which closed in the mid 2000's. And only three stores were still branded A&P at the 2007 departure. All of the stores I named above were still A&P when they were closed, so they left much earlier.

Part of my question here is that to get to Alexandria and points north, you have to pass through Lafayette. And if they didn't have stores in Lafayette, why skip over an area to serve old stores?
Scott Greer

dooneyt63
Full Member
Posts: 93
Joined: 07 Nov 2005 20:16

Re: A&P in Louisiana outside New Orleans

Post by dooneyt63 » 16 Sep 2012 18:18

A&P's pattern of geographical distribution, especially following the 1970's meltdown era, really
became random. Well into the late 1990's, the stores (almost all relics from the 1950's and
1960's) scattered around rural Louisiana and Alabama remained open as did some in Northwest
Florida. The company had abandoned most of Florida in the 1970's with only a few stores and
the Family Mart operation left by the 1980's. But...there were always the anomalies of
location like the Pensacola stores run first by the New Orleans Division then by the Atlanta
Division during the final meltdown. I remember going in a rural A&P by then labeled A&P
Sav-a-Center on U.S. 80 near Tallulah, LA, as late as the mid-1990's. It was a tiny,
antiquated Centennial with no deli or bakery. In Alabama, Mobile lasted into the 1990's but
was shuttered before the company gave up on tiny stores in Auburn, Evergreen, and
Opelika which were among the last outposts to close. Evergreen alone lasted til the final
dissolution of the Atlanta Division. Even while operating scattered locations in neighboring
LA & AL, Mississippi was shuttered except for the Gulf Coast with all stores long gone except
for the coast ones that went to Rouses with the New Orleans stores. No rhyme nor reason...
and seems like a distribution and logistical nightmare. My thought has always been that these
remote stores in fairly small places must have been very profitable.

The long, painful withdrawal of A&P from the South was bittersweet. Newer, national chains and aggressive, progressive regionals like Publix have made shopping in the South easier and
much more cosmopolitan; however, most Southerners have a fond spot for A&P as it was the
first national grocer to heavily invest in the South. Kroger had some early outposts but was
never as entrenched. The Centennials built all over the South are remarkably intact, albeit as
other businesses. A number remain as independents or Sav-a-Lot type operations.

Ephrata1966
Senior Member
Posts: 549
Joined: 29 Nov 2008 13:45

Re: A&P in Louisiana outside New Orleans

Post by Ephrata1966 » 27 Sep 2012 17:16

dooneyt63 wrote: Newer, national chains and aggressive, progressive regionals like Publix have made shopping in the South easier and
much more cosmopolitan; however, most Southerners have a fond spot for A&P as it was the
first national grocer to heavily invest in the South.
Interesting. I guess A&P paved the way for Kroger, Safeway, and Albertsons to follow. Anyway, I heard a strange story about the Mafia being in charge of trash collection for A&P or something, and Louisiana was the only Southern state involved. Perhaps New Orleans was the only place in Louisiana where this was happening?

pseudo3d
Senior Member
Posts: 295
Joined: 24 Sep 2012 00:04

Re: A&P in Louisiana outside New Orleans

Post by pseudo3d » 09 Sep 2015 09:47

I remembered that A&P did buy some of the huge Schwegmann/Real Superstore stores to be rebranded as Sav-a-Center, but I didn't know that they had much smaller ones too. I wonder why the New Orleans area turned out to be one of the last holdouts of A&P outside of New England.

wnetmacman
Senior Member
Posts: 324
Joined: 06 Nov 2005 23:48

Re: A&P in Louisiana outside New Orleans

Post by wnetmacman » 09 Sep 2015 15:11

pseudo3d wrote:I remembered that A&P did buy some of the huge Schwegmann/Real Superstore stores to be rebranded as Sav-a-Center, but I didn't know that they had much smaller ones too. I wonder why the New Orleans area turned out to be one of the last holdouts of A&P outside of New England.
It's pretty simple: profits keep stores open.

During the time A&P stayed in New Orleans, they were the undisputed chain leader. Nobody beat them except Schwegmann. When they imploded, they cherry-picked the stores they wanted, and let Schwegmann close the ones they didn't. It was by design. When Albertsons did the same thing there, the same thing happened. Not all the Albertsons stores became S-A-C.

When they put themselves up for sale in 2007, Rouses took the good stores, and discarded a few themselves. There was a store in New Orleans East on Read Blvd. that had been Schwegmann, then S-A-C, but was never reopened after Katrina. It still sits empty. The largest Schwegmann on Old Gentilly Road didn't make it out of Schwegmann's hands. But some of the stores are still Rouses.
Scott Greer

Post Reply