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Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 02 Sep 2018 13:32
by Andrew T.
Momentarily returning to the vicinity of what I once called home:

Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations, 1929-1960

What is there to say about Beckley? Well, it's one of the bigger cities of West Virginia (though with a population of less than 20000, it's hardly big). Its population peaked in 1980, three decades after the state as a whole. Its economy is far too dependent on dirty energy. It was once home to Beckley College, which changed its name twice and lost its accreditation in 2012. It's over-retailed relative to its size, with three shopping malls that competed side-by-side in the 1980s and 1990s. And, it offers a brief but compelling grocery history.

Kroger, A&P, and Piggly Wiggly operated in Beckley throughout the three-decade period covered in the spreadsheet. Kroger still operates there today, while A&P withdrew from the area in 1981. Mick or Mack made a brief appearance in Beckley (and other southern West Virginia towns and cities, including my hometown of 1000) in the 1940s, but they didn't last long. Acme Markets of Virginia entered the market in the 1950s, and remained there until the chain imploded in 2002. And really, that's it: As far as I know, Food Lion, Save-a-Lot, and Wal-Mart Supercenter are the only other big grocers that have stepped foot in Beckley during the last 60 years.

Putting the table together, though, was a challenge. A major address numbering change in 1940 is partly to blame. A newspaper article from the day explained how the new system worked:
The Beckley Register, 2/18/40 wrote:"Blocks would be numbered beginning at the Beckley Hotel with 100 and numbering in four directions to the city limits. Each street will designate a new block if the length of the block involved justifies space for an average number of houses."
As I mused in the "Unusual and unlocatable Kroger" thread, however, Beckley's name and number game didn't end in 1940. Meador Drive, a major thoroughfare, was renamed Valley Drive by the 1950s and then renamed Robert C. Byrd Drive in the 1990s. Current addresses on this street have four digits, with no correlation to 1950-1960s addresses. The end result of all of this: Nearly half of the addresses in the table are approximations!

Another one of Beckley's thoroughfares is named Eisenhower Drive. When I lived in the area, I assumed that it had been renamed in commemoration of Ike after 1969...but it turns out that the street had been named by 1948! And it was a newly-constructed bypass, so it never was called anything else.

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 03 Sep 2018 11:09
by BillyGr
Andrew T. wrote:
02 Sep 2018 13:32
Another one of Beckley's thoroughfares is named Eisenhower Drive. When I lived in the area, I assumed that it had been renamed in commemoration of Ike after 1969...but it turns out that the street had been named by 1948! And it was a newly-constructed bypass, so it never was called anything else.
I suppose that makes sense - probably due to his position during WWII (since this was built just after that time).

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 04 Sep 2018 21:43
by Groceteria
Thanks for this one. I've been planning to get up to Beckley and do the 1960-onward locations sometime soon as well!

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 07 Sep 2018 21:53
by Groceteria

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 07 Sep 2018 22:08
by Andrew T.
Groceteria wrote:
07 Sep 2018 21:53
Added to the site and mapped:

http://www.groceteria.com/place/us-west ... a/beckley/
Great! Southern West Virginia is effectively done.

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 07 Sep 2018 22:32
by Groceteria
Andrew T. wrote:
07 Sep 2018 22:08
Great! Southern West Virginia is effectively done.
I'll try to knock out Clarksburg and Fairmont soon. I have 1925-2017 on both.

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 18 Sep 2018 09:21
by rich
I'm a little surprised that Evans/Pennyfare never got this far. Perhaps it was too far South for their distribution. It probably was too far for Thorofare, although they were established well into WV by the mid 50s.

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 18 Aug 2019 14:35
by Groceteria
A quick stop on my way home from Detroit and Toledo has allowed me to update this list through 2010:

https://www.groceteria.com/place/us-wes ... a/beckley/

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 19 Aug 2019 12:59
by Steve Landry
You guys didn't find any Food Fairs in W.Virginia?

I am are there were some!

-)

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 19 Aug 2019 21:33
by Groceteria
Steve Landry wrote:
19 Aug 2019 12:59
You guys didn't find any Food Fairs in W.Virginia?
Sadly no, But I'll try to get you some when I update Miami...

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 19 Aug 2019 22:50
by Andrew T.
The only place in West Virginia I can imagine Food Fair existing is the tip of the eastern panhandle, which has always been its own island completely isolated from the state as a whole. I almost moved there once. Almost...

Anyway, the Beckley updates are fantastic! It's good to have one more city down for the count with comprehensive chronological coverage. And of course, more data means more surprises...

1732 Harper Road is very interesting because it was an A&P store that closed during A&P's 1981 withdrawal from southern West Virginia, then had its site reoccupied by Kroger! Kroger initially reoccupied the actual A&P building, since it was built in the 1970s and would have still been modern in the 1980s. Unfortunately, it no longer stands: According to Historic Aerials, the store was demolished and rebuilt with a new footprint at some point between 1996 and 2007. But one artifact of the past still exists on the site: A Kroger cube sign, in place since the original 1980s conversion.

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Another Kroger surprise: According to the table, this store at Beckley Crossing (seen here during my 2013 WV trip) was originally a Food 4 Less store. It'd be fun to fantasize about Kroger inheriting the store via Yucaipa and the Fred Meyer merger (Yeah, right! Fred Meyer in WV! Ha!), but it's much more likely that this was a franchised store that passed into Kroger's hands via a one-off acquisition.

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I imagine that this older Superstore at Raleigh Mall (that opened in July 1974, by the way) closed when the ex-Food 4 Less Kroger opened: After all, the two sites are less than a mile apart! Yet, both addresses are listed as Kroger in 2000...most likely a directory publisher's oversight.

I've been travelling through Beckley since the early 1990s, and I wish I could offer some personal memories and anecdotes to clear the air on these locations. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention to Kroger stores in Beckley in the early 1990s...

Piggly Wiggly operated in Beckley and Bluefield from the 1920s to the 1960s, and I assumed the brand died out in WV after that...so I'm surprised to see that PW make a fleeting reappearance in Beckley in 1985. Piggly Wiggly has been making a comeback in West Virginia lately due to an epidemic of Foodland franchises switching distributors, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the brand reappear in Beckley for a third time.

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 20 Aug 2019 12:34
by Steve Landry
Intersting!

I am almost certain there were Food Fairs (and eventually Pantry Prides in W.Virginia).

Also, I believe there might have been some short lived discount department stores there as well.

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 20 Aug 2019 16:50
by BillyGr
Andrew T. wrote:
19 Aug 2019 22:50
I imagine that this older Superstore at Raleigh Mall (that opened in July 1974, by the way) closed when the ex-Food 4 Less Kroger opened: After all, the two sites are less than a mile apart! Yet, both addresses are listed as Kroger in 2000...most likely a directory publisher's oversight.
Might it not depend on when the closings/openings were? For instance, if the new store opened in June (and the old one closed then), it would make sense to list both, since both would in fact be open that year, just at different points of the year?

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 21 Aug 2019 13:35
by Groceteria
BillyGr wrote:
20 Aug 2019 16:50
Might it not depend on when the closings/openings were? For instance, if the new store opened in June (and the old one closed then), it would make sense to list both, since both would in fact be open that year, just at different points of the year?
The city directories are really only concerned with facilitating contact with currently open locations, not with documentation of old ones, so it's more likely that (a) there was some overlap and both were open at the time of the canvas or (b) as Andrew T suggests, there was a mistake/oversight.

Re: Beckley, WV chain grocery/supermarket locations

Posted: 21 Aug 2019 14:23
by Andrew T.
Groceteria wrote:
21 Aug 2019 13:35
The city directories are really only concerned with facilitating contact with currently open locations, not with documentation of old ones, so it's more likely that (a) there was some overlap and both were open at the time of the canvas or (b) as Andrew T suggests, there was a mistake/oversight.
I take the classified listings in post-1990s directories with massive grains of salt...the publishers just seemed to get sloppy during that era. Vernon directories are particularly bad for this; either omitting stores outright, listing them under the wrong name (e.g., "Sobeys" instead of "Price Chopper"), or listing outdated information.

Big Lots stopped using the Cooper Black wordmark by the end of the 1990s (they switched to this wordmark for a short time, then to the current logo), so the Kroger superstore upthread had to have closed and been repurposed before the year 2000.