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The Boom: In 1912, the first A&P Economy Store opened.The brainchild of John Hartford, this format relied on severe cost-cutting, standardization of layout, and the elimination of credit accounts and delivery.Economy stores were small and often located on a secondary street rather than in a more expensive Main Street location.

In 1929, Hartford’s sound economic policies allowed the chain to weather the stock market relatively unscathed.

The 1930s, however, were difficult years, as profit margins declined and price became the primary determinant of food purchases.

The first King Kullen and Big Bear stores, widely regarded as the genesis of the supermarket area, were located in A&P’s home turf of New York and New Jersey.

Some carried the bare minimum of produce items, and most operated with one or two employees.

The format was wildly successful, and the chain had grown from 585 stores in 1913 to more than 4500 stores by 1920, and to over 15,000 stores all over the east coast and Midwest by 1930.

In the early 1930ss, the first California stores were opened, adding some credibility to the company name.During the 1920s, meat markets and more produce offerings were added to larger and less spartan stores, the result of an increasingly affluent clientele.The Early Years: In 1859, George Huntington Hartford and George Gilman entered the mail-order tea business from a storefront and warehouse at 31 Vesey Street in New York City.The Great American Tea Company grew steadily over the next decade and was renamed The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company in 1870.Hartford’s sons, John and George, came into the family business in the 1880s, the same decade that the company begain marketing its first private label brands, including Eight O’Clock Coffee.By the turn of the century, there were over 20 stores in the chain.

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