Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Harris Teeter that time forgot: Danville, Virginia












Yes, believe it or not, these photos were taken in 2009. Talk about a throwback! The Harris Teeter store in the former mill town of Danville, Virginia (about 40 minutes north of Greensboro, NC) looks like it has not been updated since the early 1990s at best. This store is an anomaly in itself, being the only Harris Teeter store in southside Virginia. The front of the store still sports the old Harris Teeter logo, something rarely found these days. The question is: does Harris Teeter really want to keep this store open? If Harris Teeter really wanted to stay in Danville in the long term, it would seem that they would have updated the store by now. It is in a demographically depressed area of Virginia, that has the highest unemployment numbers in the state. Perhaps it's only fitting that the Harris Teeter that time forgot be in the town that time forgot.

Update: As of March 2010, this store has closed.

19 comments:

Steven Swain said...

That store started out as a Food World (Big Bear) back in the 1960s or '70s and the HT remodel in the 1980s was the only one it got that I'm aware of. The department locations are identical to where they were as Food World.

The crazy part about this place is that much nicer stores all around this store (other HTs, Hannaford, Kroger, Winn-Dixie) have closed but this one remains. All I can figure on this one is that it must be profitable and easy to service from HT warehouses on the way to Charlottesville and DC, but not making enough money to justify a remodel or update.

Ken said...

Danville was the odd Virginia Harris-Teeter that was not part of the Kroger/H-T swap that transferred the Harris-Teeters in Southwest Virginia to Kroger and the Krogers in the Triad of North Carolina to Harris-Teeter. Danville, along with Reidsville and Eden, North Carolina have increasingly become part of the Triad market since the 1980's as the textile jobs disappeared.

Kroger soldiered on until 2003 or so, and then closed their last Danville store. Winn-Dixie left around the same time, leaving Food Lion and Piggly Wiggly as the traditional grocery chain competition. The lack of Kroger, Hannaford, and a relatively nice Winn-Dixie Marketplace likely sent business to this store, helping it counter the Wal-Mart SuperCenter.

I like to see older stores with the interiors intact, even though sometimes the interior may be a bit tired. Hopefully the region will return to prosperity as the Triad grows, and maybe Harris-Teeter will survive long enough to relocate and/or Lowe's expands to Danville.

Steven Swain said...

This store outlasted Kroger not once, but twice! Kroger left Danville in the mid 1980s when they were not able to come to agreement with the United Food Workers on a labor contract. There were two older stores and one brand new Krgoer Greenhouse that closed because of this.

A few years later Kroger re-opened a '60s era store about a half-mile mile east of this one, eventually relocating to a former Hannaford across from Piedmont Mall about a mile north of this store. That is the store that closed in 2003 or so that is now an Ashley Furniture Superstore.

Billy said...

I love it! It kind of reminds me what the Harris Teeter at Greensboro's Golden Gate shopping center looked like when I was a kid. Maybe I should make my way up to Danville one day.

Anonymous said...

I've been at Harris Teeter in Danville since '07. I haven't heard much of updates anyways since the lease to the building runs out in the April - May 2010 period. As far as relocations or anything of that nature, no one is saying anything. Everyone acts like no one knows. I enjoy working there, but the secrecy is killing me. Plus, concerned customers asking about the store closing are rising gradually. That's a little summary of what's going on there. Only thing that was said was a lease end date, but that's about it as far as the location goes.

Steven Swain said...

I don't recall any stores being in that shopping center other than Harris Teeter and a couple of outparcels. I doubt it'll survive when the lease runs out.

Luray va accommodations said...

These are the pictures of the very famous super-stores in the North Carolina and the Virginia states and all are very spacious with every kind of product are available and at the cheaper prices as well.

Anonymous said...

(February 15th, 2010) I'm sorry to say that our Harris Teeter here in Danville is closing sometime in March. I am heartbroken, since I have been shopping there for a long time.

Grocerying said...

Sad to hear that, it was only a matter of time though. Thank you for the update.

Steven Swain said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the entire shopping center doesn't get torn down now. It's pretty run-down and it's in a floodplain. Not many retailers are looking for a location like that.

Anonymous said...

No later than March 30th. Be prepared to see lighter stock on the shelves.

Anonymous said...

Why can't Danville have Harris Teeter that we have to drive to Greensboro, NC to buy groceries and HT has more various groceries than Food Lion or Walmart or Kroger? we would like to mover and live near Callands where we send our retirement with our daughter and her family incliding our grandson. What a shame Danville does not have HT.

Anonymous said...

what I mean is spend (not send) our retirement with our daughter and her family and move (not mover). Also HT has many organic groceries and healthy groceries just almost like Earthfare and Fresh Market (these stores are located in Greensboro). Both Danville and Martinsville should have HT stores right now. If either city will not have HT, then we will not move or force us to drive to Greensboro for HT only

Anonymous said...

The City of Danville's Economic Development Office has a survey available at its website, http://www.discoverdanville.com/index.aspx?NID=226 where one can answer questions and comment about their wishes for a local specialty food grocery. From what I'm reading the demand for natural/organic groceries will continue to grow in the next few years. I think the city is aware that many residents travel to Greensboro/Raleigh/Chapel Hill to buy groceries they can not find in Danville. I regret Harris Teeter's decision. If the city can show a potential grocery that there is a market here, I believe it will succeed. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained"!

Anonymous said...

If anyone finds an old harris teeter that still has ceiling fans installed in it, please contact me:
christianmc123@gmail.com
I'm on a quest to find out the make and model of the ceiling fans that were put in most harris teeter stores in the early-mid 1980s. I believe them to be Envirofans but I'm not sure.

Sky City said...

Thanks for posting these photos. Since I am new to Harris Teeter, it's nice to see a window into the past of what Harris Teeter was like before they started upscaling in the 90's.

Anonymous said...

Am I correct that this H-T was open due to an odd lease?

Maybe my head is cloudy (it's been years), but I seem to remember that the Danville H-T was supposed to close much earlier than 2010. However, the way the lease was written made it cost prohibitive to close, so H-T kept it open until the lease ran out?

Mr. Swain is 100% right about the location. I would love to know how that shopping center ever got constructed. I guess zoning wasn't what it is today, and they allowed people to build right on flood plains. I seem to remember this shopping center flooding at least 4 times in my lifetime (and I'm only 36).

Thomas Cardwell said...

4/7/2014
My Hometown store.
I remember in late '70s my mother working there when it was Food World. The store manager was Danny Norman who went on to be district manager in Greensboro area (including Reidsville, Danville, South Hill). I heard rumors that before Danny retired in early 90s he signed another lease in 1990 to keep his first store open. Don't think the HT brass was to happy about that.
My family still lives in Danville and my uncle asks if HT will come back. Doubtful, there is an old HT just like this in Albemarle NC that did get a 90's facelift and was closing in 2010 but the town (and old money customers) came in to save it, guess they asked the landlord not to lock HT into a long term lease which are normally 20-30 years. Unlike Danville, Ablemarle was making barely 1% profit where Danville was losing 1-2% and the Danville store was in the flood zone of the Dan River.

My uncle called the locals in Danville "too cheap" to shop at HT pointing to how the Wal-Mart is one of the busiest/largest in VA/Nation.

If US29 is finally upgraded to I-785 and a lot of people want to live in southside VA and commute, maybe one day an new upscale housing development and a HT may return.

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