TBT: Asheville, N.C. grocery stores, past + present

French Broad Food Co-Op

Where do you shop, Asheville? If there’s one thing we have in common, it might be that we all shop at the grocery store (S/o to all of my neighborhood grocery stores – I’ll see you later.). And believe it or not, the history of grocery stores in Asheville is filled with local lore and community connections. 

Shop ‘n’ go

These locally-grown groceries are still in operation.

Earth Fare, 66 Westgate Pkwy. + 1856 Hendersonville Rd. 

Shop here for: Organic produce, sustainably-sourced seafood + meat, bakery items, prepared foods, organic health + beauty

This regional chain has stores in the Southeast and Midwest.  began in 1975 + gets the honor of being Asheville’s first store specializing in health foods (the original store was called Dinner for the Earth and at one point operated where the Moog Factory is now). DYK: 140 ingredients are on Earth Fare’s “Boot List” – which means they’re not found in any of the products they carry. And, all stores use compostable carry-out containers, LED light bulbs, and reverse osmosis water for produce. In 2015, Supermarket News reported $239 million in revenue for the chain.

Update: After closing all of its stores in Feb. 2020, Earth Fare announced in March that it will reopen five stores in the Southeast under new ownership.

French Broad Food Co-op, 90 Biltmore Ave. 

Shop here for: Local goods, co-op savings, organics, bulk items (food + wellness), prepared foods 

You can become a part-owner in this co-op that pays a living wage to receive discounts + perks. They emphasize organic produce and sustainable, local options with a focus on the staples, which are kept affordable through their “basics program.” Becoming an owner is $250, payable over 10 years. 

Hopey & Co., 45 S. French Broad Ave.

Shop here for: Deeply discounted foods + goods, specialty items, beer + wine, prepared foods

Asheville’s own budget grocery carries the staples, plus items you never knew you needed (but totally do), like specialty sauces, quinoa chips, spice blends, jerky + more. They also have health + beauty items – at a deep savings. Bonus: Their deli serves up delicious food, and they recently opened a taproom in the space where they’re hosting open mic nights. Hopey’s first store, called BargainMax (later Amazing Savings) opened originally on Sweeten Creek Rd.

Vintage Ingles ad | West Asheville History Window

Ingles Markets, various locations

Shop here for: One-stop shopping – a wide selection of food, health + beauty, prepared foods, flowers, supplies for the home + more

The biggest supermarket started in Asheville was founded by Robert Ingle in 1963, and is headquartered in Black Mountain. Ingles currently operates over 200 stores in the Southeast and brings in close to $4 billion in annual sales. DYK: Robert Ingle worked in his grandfather’s grocery store growing up. Ingles also owns its own distribution + processing center, a milk processing + packaging plant, and gas stations located at many of its stores. 

West Village Market, 771 Haywood Rd. 

Shop here for: Organic + local goods, beer + wine, fermented foods, organic health + beauty, prepared foods

This neighborhood market stocks its small shop with carefully curated items ranging from staples, like fruits, veggies, milk + more to specialty and gift items with lots of local choices. And, for people who regularly spend over $100, there’s a frequent shopper discount program. Protip: Their new cafe space, Sunflower Diner, serves up breakfast, lunch + brunch items with lots of vegan options. 

…and one honorable mention

The Fresh Market, 944 Merrimon Ave. + 1378 Hendersonville Rd. 

Shop here for: Gourmet food, meat + seafood, prepared foods, staples

The Fresh Market actually started down the mountain in Greensboro, N.C. back in 1982. They currently operate 160 locations in 22 states. Specializing in all things gourmet and upscale (including a customer service-oriented shopping experience), their aesthetic is “old-world market.” Bonus: Coffee samples and prepared desserts always make us linger a little longer.

Blasts from the past

We asked you which grocery stores you remembered fondly from Asheville’s past. Though they’re no longer around, these stores were vital for their communitiessome even doubled as places to pay your bills + have lunch

Long-time local Conda Painter, who runs the West Asheville History Window in the Fortune Building (727 Haywood Rd.), invited us to come check out her incredible collection of ads + memorabilia from several area stores, including Ingles, the A&P, Friendly Grocery + May’s

Over the past two decades, she’s been collecting stories + pictures, and has shared her discoveries in talks around town, including Isis Music Hall and the West Asheville Library. Want to check out the History Window? You can wander by and see if it’s open or email Conda here.

#MustSees in her collection – the original delivery bike + sign from May’s Market, photos from May’s and Friendly’s Grocery, and old newspaper ads for specials at area stores.

The West Asheville History Window, with materials from May’s Market + Friendly Grocery

And here are a few more places you remember fondly…

K&C was on Charlotte St. back in the ‘50s!” – Robert M.

Manley’s grocery store on Charlotte Street. I remember going there with my dad in the 50’s and 60’s. He liked their butcher section.” – Karen E. 

Vintage A&P Ad | West Asheville History Window

“I remember going to the A and P on Biltmore Avenue when I was a little girl. That would have been in the early 1960’s. It was located where that dental office is near the Minnie Jones Clinic. Also I remember going to the Winn-Dixie. That was when I was primary school age. It was on South Tunnel Road where that Fifth Season Gardening Center is. Another grocery store I went to as a child was Ingles on Hendersonville Road, I believe it was their second store. I remember it had big windows that had an odd slant to them. There was a Town House Bakery store on Biltmore Avenue I remember getting cakes, pastries and pies from and my parents would put them in the freezer. And the Sunbeam Bread place on Swannanoa River Road, where Lowe’s is now, we would get bread and put it in the freezer.” – Salyna M.

A&P on Pack Square in the 1930s early 40s my parents shopped for weekly groceries.” – Peggy P. 

Winn-Dixie | Photo courtesy of You Know You’re From Asheville If… / Clara B.

Winn-Dixie | Photo courtesy of You Know You’re From Asheville If… / Clara B.

“Before Winn-Dixie became ‘Winn-Dixie’, it was called ‘Dixie Home Stores.’ In the late 40s-early 50s, was one next to Lord’s Drug Store on Merrimon Avenue. Later they changed the name and built a store down the hill on Merrimon in front of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church (was my church). I still have a couple of things Mama bought from Dixie Home that, until just recently, had the labels on them. I’d love to see some pics of that store – and of Lord’s too – from that time.” – Barbara H. 

Roy Trantham’s grocery store in Biltmore.” – Steve L. 

“What about May’s Market on Haywood Road in West Asheville? Best butcher and family owned.” – Diane S.

A&P was at the location where Greenlife is now – Greenlife took that spot before being bought by Whole Foods. Don’t forget the short-lived Katuah Market experiment in Biltmore. Bi-Lo was big back in the day but now all but gone…” – Jason Sandford, Ashvegas

Natural was another natural foods store in the late 80’s-90’s. It was on Merrimon in what became a pool hall/game arcade…Playworld? There’s also the original Co-op, which was down in the Chesterfield Mill with the Muffin Man Bakery and Mountain Foods, long before the fire. There was Kim’s Oriental on Merrimon, and the Ingles on Charlotte that burned down and was never replaced. Hopey and Co. was Amazin’ Savings; before that, it was Bargain Max.” – Kimberly F.

Miller’s Grocery | Photo courtesy of You Know You’re From Asheville If… / Frank Douglas

Miller’s Grocery in Haw Creek on Beverly Rd next to Miller’s Hardware, then changed to East Asheville Hardware.” – Donald F.

“Sorrell’s, Pierce’s, Huntsinger’s, and Cauble’s in Oakley. Pierce’s and Sorrell’s buildings still there at 554 and 562 Fairview road and Oakley Food Center across from Oakley school was Huntsinger’s.” – Steve W. 

Montford Grocery, 3 Brothers Restaurant + the Montford Ave. Pharmacy & Soda Shoppe | Photo courtesy of You Know You’re From Asheville If… / James R. Robinson

“There was Montford Grocery where my parents shopped in the 50’s-60’s before the big chains came in. There was Montford Drug Store at the end of the building.” – Ronda H. 

Colonial Store on Haywood rd in West Asheville, Friendly Grocery on Haywood rd” – Michael R. 

Giezentanners on Merrimon” – Kathleen H.