Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Last Disco Ingles: Hendersonville, NC

Since the late 1990's, Ingles has been feverishly replacing their aging stock of stores. For a long time, they actually pretty much owned their markets since they were located in small towns otherwise void of any significant competition. Most other supermarkets in these towns were made up of locally-owned stores with higher prices and an extremely limited selection. Meanwhile, most big city chains snubbed these towns in favor of the higher margins found in the suburbs. Discount store competition was also no threat as Ingles often anchored shopping centers with the earlier and smaller Wal-Mart, Rose's, Lay's and Sky City (and possibly Kuhn's Big K) who were all at the time tiny, cramped stores with a very limited selection in grocery items.  Occassionally, they also anchored Kmart shopping centers as well, such as the case with two stores in Acworth, GA.


Ingles just south of downtown Hendersonville, NC in September 2009.

This all changed when Wal-Mart emerged as a retail superpower. Wal-Mart began replacing their old, tiny stores with their supercenters, and these new stores of course offered a grocery section that rivaled Ingles in both selection and price. At that point, Ingles could no longer rely on tiny stores that looked very dated by the mid-1990's. This is when Ingles took action. At this point, they closed weaker stores and markets while tearing down and rebuilding more successful ones.


Walking in the door, the overhang reminds me of a carnival.  The floor goes from this brown linoleum with raised circles to alternating white and green diagonal striped tile.

 

Left entrance and dairy section.  Cheese here describes the color of the whole section as much as what's underneath the sign.

The closure of the older Wal-Marts, however, actually played in the favor of Ingles.  The advantage Ingles had in locating in shopping centers with discount stores was that when they closed, they had an opportunity to purchase and tear down the old discount store nobody else wanted and build a new, larger store on that same footprint or in the same shopping center. Otherwise, they went and rebuilt on site, demolishing the existing store and replacing it with a larger modern store. The abandonment of many 80's models of Wal-Mart and the closure of Sky City left many ample opportunities to upgrade their stores in the framework of an existing shopping center, eliminating the cost of grading and building a whole new site.


"Best Meat in Town" was oddly not as prominent in this section.  Usually, this was put at a 45 degree angle repeating along the length of the wood overhang, but not in this case.


Of course, the "Green Grocer" made up for that with this very funky style repeating the words over and over.  It's so amazing this place was most likely built in the mid-80's in lieu of the 70's, which it looks like.  All the ones I knew of like it were built in 1984 and 85.

Of course, this conversion of Ingles to a more modern store format is not entirely completed. While most stores have either been reshaped or left behind, a few classic stores remain in operation. The best preserved specimen is the store at the intersection of US 25 and US 176 in Hendersonville, all pictured here. This store features all of the classic designs inside and out. I took this series of photos to let people see what these now rare stores looked like inside and out.


"Thank you for shopping at ingles".  No, thank you for preserving this cool freaking store long enough for me to get these photos.


The bakeries in the original stores were quite small.  In the background, a labelscar for "Wine" is visible.  Apparently they removed their wine department, but the Innsbruck store still featured a "Wine Cellar" until the last.

This store is ironically one of about 3-4 different Ingles stores in the town. In fact, a recently opened newer model is located only short distance down US 176, and a Harris Teeter is next door! I really wonder how this store makes it with so much market saturation, but I guess this is why this relic has held out so long is because it as more profitable to maintain an older store than to simply abandon it.  I wonder if the CVS has anything to do with it, because it is interesting they are still in that shopping center. A new Harris Teeter (correction on Kroger) under construction across the street replacing the existing next door may be the straw that broke the camel's back. The Hendersonville Ingles joins the now-closed Innsbruck Mall store as reflections of Ingles early days and the end of the first generation stores, but luckily a few are still around.


A look at the checkout area.  Track lights abound!


The word repetition continues into the small magazine and book area shown as "Reading Center".  I wanted a closer picture, but a store employee was standing where I was not able to do so, so you instead see it behind the checkout lines.




Now looking at the adjoining CVS, which I am reasonably assuming opened as Revco.  The small CVS sign to the right of the door suggests it covered up the famous Revco medicine jar logo.  Revco typically anchored Ingles shopping centers in the 80's.




Lou Corsaro took these last two pics for me back in 2007 of the sign and front of the store.  At the time, I did not think I would make it back before the store was gone.  Luckily, it held on a little longer for me!  Mr. Ingle, please do not change this store!

23 comments:

  1. It's ugly, even for a store of that vintage, but it's at least interesting. Quite a find.

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  2. This post mentions a couple of things I miss...Revco and the Disco Ingles.

    We had two of the DIs near Furman -- one was on Poinsett Highway about a mile north of Pleasantdale, and the other was in Travelers Rest on 25 about a mile north of the 25-276 junction.

    The one on Poinsett sadly closed when a newer store at Cherrydale opened up, but the one in TR stayed on for quite a bit longer. The store was a carbon copy of the one pictured here, except that the drugstore was an Eckerd rather than a CVS (which was free-standing across the street). My most infamous memory of this store was when I heard "Squeezebox" by The Who being piped in as Muzak. (Shudder!)

    The TR Ingles did not have a direct replacement. I think the opening of a Sprawl-Mart a couple of miles north had a great deal to do with this. Indeed, after closing the marquee invited customers to visit the stores at Cherrydale (8 miles south) or in Marietta (8 miles north). The only other grocery stores in TR at the time were a Bi-Lo and a now-closed Winn-Dixie.

    JT, I noticed that you mentioned a Kroger being built in Hendersonville. Very interesting...are they making a push into western NC? They pretty much have -0- influence in SC north of Columbia and NC west of Winston. Really, that has to be one of the larger gaps in their geography. All I know is that they used to have stores in the upstate SC and around Charlotte until the mid-80s -- could they be slowly coming back?

    Man, this store is AWESOME!

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  3. On the last, that was actually a major factual error on my part. I had assumed the new grocery store was a Kroger, and I found out instead it was a replacement Harris Teeter. I made the corrections in the blog. I have to wonder actually why Kroger and especially Publix (think Florida transplants) are neither in Asheville area. Of course, don't think I want either one either.

    As to Revco, you will be very pleased that soon I will be publishing a pic of a Revco in Blairsville that was taken in late 1984. It is today a Family Dollar and was renovated with a stucco facade. I was doing newspaper scanning looking for Sky City material and found a pic while I was looking of pics/ads of the original Ingles/Sky City shopping center. No luck on pics of Sky City, though :(

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    1. Publix has plans to build in Hendersonville, very close to this Ingles and Fresh Market. Many choices in Hville!

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  4. Steve, that is actually a pretty typical prototype of Ingles. All the ones I remember of that vintage looked just like that. I really miss them, actually. The modern Ingles are so cold and antiseptic inside by comparison. I wouldn't mind them bringing back some real color to their stores, and I really wish they had not renovated their more vintage stores inside. The mini-Ingles in Franklin was renovated a few years back, and I hated not seeing it in its original incarnation.

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  5. I agree that the disco Ingles were more interesting and colorful than what followed, and they were actually better done than a lot of the supermarkets of the era, but they are still a little hard to look at.

    I'm assuming that there was a light grid under the disco rainbow soffit in the front that got removed? The lighting placement looks like it was probably meant for utility under a fancier cover.

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  6. The thing with this decor package is it was used until around 1986. This results in the stores seeming older than they really are, coupled with Ingles not having stores with a large footprint prior to 1986. At the same time, this results in their being the classic post-war American supermarket prototype without being as generic as say an old Ford Fairmont in appearance.

    Ingles likely intended for the store with fuel to be its replacement, but kept the store open due to Harris-Teeter's proximity,as it with the Asheville H-T, are the only two in Western NC.

    One thing about the newer H-T prototypes, the exterior design is interchangeable with Kroger's design, which facilitaded the conversion of the Atlanta area H-T's to Kroger a few years back after they exited the market. I'm somewhat surprised that H-T is replacing the Hendersonville location, maybe Ingles is waiting for the opportunity to replace the store with the new Harris-Teeter a few years down the road rather than close up altogether.

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  7. I wonder how H-T is doing in Asheville. I am really pretty surprised at how Ingles has a near stranglehold on the Asheville market. The replacement Ingles at Innsbruck even has a Starbucks! Do you suppose Ingles is going to take over the old Harris-Teeter location or what? All I know is that I do not want to see this store go. I love the classic design and the strong childhood associations. I know it's antiquated, but IMHO the design has come full circle and is actually trendy again. I think Ingles made a mistake renovating those stores with that chalky decor they have now with tacky 80's-style neon.

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  8. Not a disco Ingle's at all...but somebody quickly needs to get to Barnesville, Georgia, to get a picture of the side-by-side Ingle's before the older one gets bulldozed. I drove through Barnesville on US 34l on October 10. Ingle's has had an uncolorful, late 90's-era store there for about twelve years; now, a larger store that almost looks identical has been built so close to the older store that they look like they share an adjoining wall. The signage was still in place. This would make an interesting comparison and, since I only live 35 minutes from there, may I'm the one who needs to go take the picture. Somebody needs to convince me.

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  9. I'm pretty far from Barnesville now...I'm in fact barely in Georgia at this point, so you would be better to get that pic than me. I do wish I would get a lot more contributions from areas down south b/c i'm in the hills. It seems that those late 90's stores, more sparse to start with, are an endangered species.

    I am going to soon post some pics of an Ingles I found that took over a recently-built Winn-Dixie. All these other grocery stores in areas I've never lived get tons of exposure...it's time one I grew up with gets some coverage.

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  10. Store is still standing, Harris Teeter has moved across the street, Rite Aid and Walgreens has openeded brand new stores in close proximity and the Pizza Hut is now closed.

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  11. just an fyi, that store is still standing, and will be until the cvs doesn't have the option to renew the lease. I was there one day and asked one of the mangers about it. They have plans of tearing it down though, as soon as the lease on cvs is up. There is an asheville area rumor that Bob Ingle was friends with the owner of publix, and that is why there aren't any in this area, and ingles thrives here for one main reason, it is local. There is not a single store more than a few hours drive from their warehouse in black mountain, nc. People in the asheville area are all about the local economy.

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  12. There is a Ingles that looks like this one at the intersection of NC 107 and NC 116 in Sylva. The difference is that the Sylva Ingles has been renovated and the outside is drab stucco and brick. There is a CVS/Pharmacy attached to it on the left side. The CVS is getting a new building next door, so the Ingles may be expanded into the CVS space and renovated. It doesn't look as cool as the Ingles you posted about did, so nobody would miss it or even think twice about it being changed.

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  13. Stopped by this store on my way out of Asheville this morning. So glad I got to see it while it is still open. It seems so tiny, but reminded me so much of the Ingles I remember from my childhood (Pearman Dairy Road, Anderson SC).

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    1. Ingle's plans on a new store on the site of the former Pearman Dairy Road store across from Westside High School. Plans have existed for four years, but nothing has progressed yet.

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  14. When I was in daycare my mom helped out getting the lunch and snack foods for t and sometimes I would go with her. I remember parking on the left side of the building and pushing buggies of milk out. I was day care aged from 85-87 so I know this one was open then.

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  15. Ingle's is looking to replace this sore with a 77,427 square foot store on the same site. The rebuild will feature a pharmacy and eight-pump fueling center.

    http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20130327/NEWS/130329828

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  16. Ingle's will replace its Spartanburg Highway store with a 77,427 square feet store onsite.

    http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20130327/NEWS/130329828

    The new store will feature a fueling center and drive through pharmacy.

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  17. There was also one in SC in Simpsonville that was torn down a few years ago after being abandoned when a replacement opened and thanks for uncovering the other half of my mystery store attached to that Ingles

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  18. There is one in Moonville too with a what looks like a pharmacy type store

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  19. Here is an article from the Hendersonville Times-News from Monday, 14 July 1980 of Ingle's Markets store #77 opening on Wednesday, 16 July 1980: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1665&dat=19800714&id=l-0eAAAAIBAJ&sjid=eyQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5397,1289402

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  20. I heard in Dec. 2015 that the last Disco Ingle's in Hendersonville is closing being replaced by a new store

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  21. There are plans for this Hendersonville Ingles to be razed and replaced by a modern large Ingles. This 1/4 square mile area will then include 4 nice supermarkets: Ingles, Publix, Harris Teeter and Fresh Market.

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