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The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, better known as A&P, was an American chain of grocery stores that operated from 1859 to 2015. From 1915 through 1975, A&P was the largest grocery retailer in the United States (and, until 1965, the largest U.S. retailer of any kind).
|Formerly||Gilman & Company (1859–1869)|
|Founded||February 17, 1859; 164 years ago (1859-02-17) in New York City, New York, United States|
George Huntington Hartford
|Fate||Chapter 11 bankruptcy|
Number of locations
|15000 at peak (1930)|
296 at liquidation (2015)
Number of employees
|Website||aptea.com at the Wayback Machine (archived October 17, 2015)|
A&P was considered an American icon that, according to The Wall Street Journal, "was as well known as McDonald's or Google is today". At its peak in the 1940s, A&P captured 10% of total US grocery spending. Known for innovation, A&P improved consumer's nutritional habits by making available a vast assortment of food products at much lower costs. Until 1982, A&P also was a large food manufacturer.
A&P was founded in 1859 as "Gilman & Company" by George Gilman, who opened a small chain of retail tea and coffee stores in New York City, and then expanded to a national mail order business. The firm grew to 70 stores by 1878; by 1900, it operated almost 200 stores. A&P grew dramatically by introducing the economy store concept in 1912, growing to 1,600 stores by 1915. After World War I, it added stores that offered meat and produce, while expanding manufacturing.
In 1930, A&P, by then the world's largest retailer, reached $2.9 billion in sales ($50.8 billion today) with 15000 stores. In 1936, it adopted the self-serve supermarket concept and opened 4,000 larger stores (while phasing out many of its smaller units) by 1950. After two bankruptcies, A&P finally closed the last of its doors in 2015.