Friday, October 2, 2009

Ingles at Innsbruck Mall

While not the first Ingles, the Ingles at Innsbruck Mall is one of the very first of the stores in the chain featuring elements now rarely found in modern Ingles stores.  It dates to an era when supermarkets as a whole were much smaller with more limited selections, vibrant colors and ease of convenience compared to todays much larger stores that are close in size to the 1980's Wal-Mart stores that they so often replaced.  Ingles these days has quite a huge market and completely dominates grocery retailing in Asheville. This is why a few classic treasures have been allowed to remain, and this one was nothing short of a gem.

This photo I took in late 2005.  The store looked in remarkably good repair at that point.  The mall attached to it had an exterior renovation around that time as well.

Ingles states that their very first store opened in Asheville in 1963, which according to a poster "Ken" in my previous blog actually opened in Biltmore Village.  I am placing the opening of Innsbruck Mall about 1965, so this seems about right to me. Looking at the store inside and out, this leads me to wonder if this store was ever renovated once at any time in its history. While their design was never really updated much for 20 years after it first opened, this one was distinct in how incredibly tiny it was. I've seen a few other mini-Ingles left in operation, including one in Franklin, but this one had all the retro goodies inside and out.

Yes, it's cramped, but it looks so cozy and tacky and old fashioned like they looked when I was a child.  I really miss that.


You can tell its old when frozen foods are found on a side wall instead of the center of the store.  I kind of like that actually.

No special pattern or design here.  Just plain font and colors mark the Green Grocer and Wine Cellar.  I have not seen anything like this on the newer stores.  I don't even remember it in the later "disco" stores.  You can see these areas better on my photos of the store closed, but without all the lights and charm.

It was sad to see this store go. When I photographed it, the new free-standing store next door was nearing completion. That is why I took these photos. Unfortunately, my camera back then was not as good and I found it difficult to discretely photograph much of the store. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy seeing these pics of one of the last operational classic-era supermarkets.

Here is a look down a random center aisle towards the check out area.  Those overhead signs are very, very old.  In the stores built like in the mid-80's, they never updated those unless the store was rebuilt and expanded.


  1. I was in the "baby Ingles" in Franklin, NC, this summer and picked up an anniversary cup with a hologram on it showing the original Ingles store morphing into one of teh current store designs. The picture of the original store is much larger than the one on Ingles' website, and what makes me think that the Innsbruck Mall store was not the first in the chain is that a] the logo on the original store is just plain block letters with no stylization; 2]the original store was more than likely built for another grocer prior to becoming an Ingles since it basically has no style involved with it at all, and 3] there were other Ingles just like the Innsbruck store as far away as Newnan and Riverdale, Georgia [both now closed, but not replaced].

    I'm wondering if, because of the unusual way the store adjoins the mall if Ingles wasn't added on to the mall after the mall opened, or - perhaps more likely - that the mall was added on to Ingles.

    The Innsbruck store would always serve as our convenience store during our stays in Asheville, and we have been in there many times. On our last visit to the store, the new store was about halfway finished. The cashier said that the main reason that the store was being moved was because it was located on a rather desolate side of the mall, and that it had become a gathering area for "certain types of ladies." Oddly enough, we noticed about four provocatively-dressed women in the parking lot, so there is probably something to the story. She proceeded to say that business had always been good at the store because it was the only grocery store in that area of Asheville.

  2. In a conversation with a friend of mine who spent most of his life in Asheville, the Ingle's was added to Innsbruck Mall after the mall opened. That explains the Ingle's entrance from the mall. It's as thought there were a set of triple doors into the mall, and Ingle's built their store so that the front wall hit between the first and second sets of door, thereby creating an entrance from the mall. If Ingle's had been built along with the mall, they would have probably had a much more pronounced entrance.

  3. I can kick myself for never going in the Franklin mini-Ingles, but at least its still open. I made it a priority to go in the old Centennial A&P in downtown Franklin because of the newer Ingles and BiLo along US 64 bypass and the Winn-Dixie on US 441 South, I knew its days were numbered. Especially after the pre-Centennial downtown McCayesville, GA A&P shuttered due to flooding by the Toccoa/Ocoee River in 1992, which was incidentally a Charlotte division A&P rather than Atlanta.

    The "disco" Ingles that was added on to an A&P centennial anchored center further out Tunnel Road has been replaced by one of Ingles new generation stores. I wonder if Ingles opened while A&P was still in operation or if they opened to fill the void from the closing of A&P.

    Winn-Dixie and Harris-Teeter are the most recent chains to shutter Asheville stores. The A&P's appear to have closed in the late 70's or early 80's at the latest, despite A&P soldiering on in Brevard, Franklin, Sylva, Bryson City and Murphy until the Charlotte division closed in 1997-98. Sadly Andrews centennial A&P was shuttered in the mid-70's when it was barely a decade old and Ingles arrrived co-anchored with Sky City about 2 years later. Colonial appears to have exited the region before reviving the Big Star banner, not totally surprising since Bob Ingles left Colonial's ranks to start his namesake chain in his hometown.

    Ingles early its its founding had a strong relationship with MDI of Hickory as the chains distributors, which Harrs-Teeter, Food Lion/FoodTown and Lowes Foods all did in the same time frame. Today Lowes Foods and MDI are subsidiaries of Alex Lee while Ingles uses MDI as a secondary supplier to its own warehouse and Food Lion and Harris-Teeter are completely self distributing. Ingles and Lowes have little market overlap as a result, I assume a "gentleman's agreement" exist limiting the amount of geographic overlap among the two, which target the same mid-tier demographic.

  4. Nothing to do with Ingle's, or Asheville, for that matter...except proximity. In reference to Ken's comments...great reading! The only addition I can make it the mid-fifties A&P location in Tryon, which is at the bottom of the Blue Ridge escarpment just south of Hendersonville. This location in US 176 south of Tryon stayed open until the end of the Charlotte division, as well.

  5. Ken if you are still out there.I'm Ashley B.Carter from Asheville NC and I have some questions for you and all you out there about A&P in Western NC aka Charlotte Division later Branded Division #43-Carolina Division Headed out of Raleigh NC
    I trying to figure out when did the Brevard store close?? Also what year did A&P leave Hendersonville?? The Asheville stores all got caught up in a crazy 1970's new store opens new store closes a fire destories one but is rebuilt only to be closed two years later. Lots of late 70's shifting. A face lift, a new store, expansion of another would normally give a sign of a Solid Dug in market. But A&P shuts its doors in Asheville in 1979. It really is mind boggling when you see A&P go head to head for the next 20 years with all the same Peers all around the Carolinas and Georgia in similar markets but just not in Asheville. Now I do know that the A&P in Brevard closed before the 1999 Southeast Group (aka Atlanta)pull out. All the Carolina existing stores got it at the same time also. I can say to all that may read this and have some more info for me the Brevard store I know closed before 1994. Hendersonville don't know would like too. The McCayesville Ga. Location Slips me and I will have to look into it more thanks for the heads up on the 1992 Flood Ken.

  6. Hey, I think that the first Ingles was in Biltmore. It is refered to as Ingles #1 to all us old time Ingles bag-boys from back in the day. Of course this store has been long closed.

  7. Hi I am Stephen from Asheville. The technical original ingles store first opened in 1922 by Mr. Elmer Ingle. He was the father of Robert P. Ingle, better known as "Bob".

    That store later closed. Then Bob founded the Ingles company. Many dont realize there was a store before Bob was in the picture. He worked for his father as a child. Then in 1963 opened the first Ingles market.

    in 1982 Ingle purchased the milk processing plant MilkCo.

    1987 the company went public on the Nasdaq exchange

    just a bit of info

  8. With all respect Stephen from Asheville. I am Ashley Carter from Asheville. Technically speaking Elmer Ingles Store was not the first "Ingles". For many many a year Bob Ingles Completely side lined the old store his Dad had run,For many reasons. Number one it become a unseccessful business model and was not moderized/updated and they closed. #2 Elmer Ingle Grocer was and/or is a completely seperate Company by all legal standards & gone years before Ingles Markets Inc. started in 1963
    #3 The last reason Elmers store can not be labaled Ingles #1 is because when "Bob" started his supermarket chain in 1963 he wanted to be new modern and big and by advertising his dad's past grocery venture things might not have ever panned out for Ingles as we know them.
    Its funny now but these days Ingles Markets Inc. advertise trying to use Elmer Ingles Past Grocery expericence as a Marketing tool. I surly would do the same if it were me also. BUT notice Ingles never says hey look at us doing it in 1922!! Its because they can't it is two seperate businesses.