I’m so old I remember these stores… sigh…

Ben Franklin stores had a little bit of everything, and were fairly cheap stores, seen mostly in the rural South, as far as I can remember. In many small towns, they were the original ‘anchor’ stores in the first strip malls.

A&P was, back in the day, the largest grocery store chain in the world. And every small town had at least one of these, if not two or three, depending on the size of the town. I do remember that they had good meat and the produce was local and fresh. They also had their own brands of canned goods.

Now days… You get Walmart…. Sigh…


TBT… — 30 Comments

  1. A&P – Piggly Wiggly – Gibsons. All store names that have come and gone, in our locale at least. I can’t recall Ben Franklin though.
    The last of the real oldtimers was Globe Shopping City – now deceased at least three years.

    That last one had groceries that were put in baskets and rolled to sidewalk on roller conveyer belts to be loaded at curb side by store employees. Back when self service wasn’t nearly as common.

  2. Hey jrg: There is still a Gibson’s in Kerrville TX. They have a huge sporting goods section.

    My grandma worked in a Ben Franklin in Oklahoma, and there was one down the street in Longview when I was in college at LeTourneau. My wife would take the kids there to teach them how to keep their hands to themselves.

  3. Kreskies was the equivalent in the north. Acme was the big food chain by us.

    I don’t remember anything like the People of A&P though.

    • It was Kresgies – and it’s still around, sort-of.
      It grew up and changed it’s name to K-Mart.

  4. Piggly Wiggly is still around, per wikipedia.

  5. We had a Ben Franklin in my hometown in Mid-Michigan, and there are still some open, even in the Upper Peninsula. I remember buying cheap squirt guns there back in the 80s.

    No Piggly Wiggly though. Meijer isn’t nearly as much fun to say.

  6. In Smallville, MO, we had a Ben Franklin in one block, and a Western Auto in the next. I spent many hours walking through those places, back in grade school (mid-1960’s) with my limited funds, and always found things I both wanted and could afford. And in the late ’70s, bought a couple sets of tires from Western Auto.

  7. A&P Memories, Walking in and smelling the fresh ground “8 O’Clock” coffee. Second memory, living in base housing across street from Navy Hospital in Philly, Wife needed me to run to the store on a Sunday afternoon when Eagles were playing so I went the back way. Turned into “shortcut and about half block up saw a Black Cadillac about a block long, NY tag JOEY B. Did I mention this was when various folks of Sicilian heritage were “discussing” the new opportunities in Atlantic City? Yeah I turned around and went by way of Pittsburgh!

  8. Don’t forget Gambles. My first high school part time job was at Safeway. A grandson currently works at Ingels doing the same job.

  9. There was also Woolworth. They were neighborhood stores with an eye toward the community. As you say, it’s been eclipsed by Walmart.

    • And Western Auto, can’t forget them either. Ace Hardware is still around, but a shadow of its former self Most of the Mom & Pop hardware stores are shuttered, cheap Chinese tools from Loews / Home Depot and the flea market decimated them.

    • As a kid/young teen I loved Woolworth. Ours had a great selection of models!!! We also had a Woolco, which was Woorworth’s attempt to take on K-Mart. Speaking of which, K-mart had a good model selection back in the day, too. Our town had a grocery store called Liberals. I don’t know if it was a chain or just a local store. Anyone else heard of them?

  10. Jeff Daniels played his song about why I went to Nashville. I went to Tennessee and I can spell it however I want to. I can’t remember without looking it up but we went to a place, Hermitage, Piggly Wiggly, etc where we got the chance to stomp through the first one of that name.

    I remember laughing as I said the name when we moved from Newport to Huntsivlle, AL. My girlfriend was not amused.

  11. He-ah in the Southeast we still have Publix, where shopping is a pleasure. Clean stores, clean staff, good store brands. They’ve been around for quite a while, and look to be going strong.

    After the 4 hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004, the chain mandated emergency generators at all their stores, on their dime (well, some .gov money may have been involved.)

    I shop at Wallyworld to save money. I shop at Publix for quality and an enjoyable experience.

    Ben Franklin’s has been taken over by Dollar Tree. Not a good replacement, unfortunately.

  12. The Ben Franklin in Ketchikan, Alaska closed as recently as 2001. We still have an A&P (although it means Alaskan and Proud).

  13. All- Thanks for the comments, and yes, we had a Woolworth and Western Auto. We used to desert race on Western Auto tires because they were CHEAP! $29.00 a tire for their off road tires!

    Posted from my iPhone.

  14. I remember Kresge’s 5 &10, before they made the name and fame change to K-Mart.

    Coffeypot, my grandmother had an old coffee tin that I kinda remember, with that name on it. Must have dated from the’20s; now long gone.

    George brings back some memories from the lead-in the that first casino in A.C. You never messed with or approached a dark-colored Cadillac unless told to, by a man with no neck and an odd nickname. The joke was they held 12, six in the seats and another six in the trunk.

  15. Hey Old NFO;

    Don’t forget the “A&P” Green stamps…My mom used to collect the stamps to fill up the books to get “free Stuff”. There are still Piggly Wiggly running around here and there…

  16. The first home we owned, in Smallville, NC, there was an A&P 4 blocks up the street from us. Place was always packed. Clean and well ran, it stayed packed right up until they closed it.

    Never was in a Ben Franklin, but saw a couple in other small towns.

    The things I miss the most are the small, family owned/operated “curb markets”. You could get nearly anything there, though the prices would be a bit higher. Always fresh, local produce in season. Every neighborhood had a couple.

    I’m unconvinced that progress actually is.

  17. CP- It did.

    PK- That I didn’t know…

    Bob- Ah yes, green stamps. What a PITA.

    Free- Good point, and yes the A&Ps were always clean!

  18. still had a Ben Franklins in Chesaning Michigan up through the late 90’s

  19. Rick- Never heard of Red and White, but sounds similar

    Eric- Wow, didn’t know that!

    Aesop- Yep, in Newport, AR.

  20. We had a Woolworth with it’s lunch counter in the nearest town to the back of beyond.

  21. In East Tennessee, we had Emery 5 & dime stores (we called it the dime store), as well as a couple of locally owned dime stores. Grocery stores were Kroger (with Top Value stamps) and White Stores (Green Stamps). Kroger is still thriving and White Store became Food City. My Mom still has the camp stove and Coleman’s cooler they got with those stamps.

  22. I remember the Ben Franklin in my hometown having a very good lunch counter and soda fountain. And lots of little ‘tin toys’ to look at while Mom shopped!

    We also had “Jewel Tea” grocery stores, soon combined with the Osco Drug Stores.

  23. In the 60’s and 70’s my grandfather owned a Red & White grocery here in Oklahoma, they had a big warehouse in OKC. Also, in the late 70’s my dad ran the pharmacy for the Humpty Dumpty in Shawnee OK. It was located next door to the TG&Y.