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There is a sweet piece in Advertising Age entitled "An Ode to A&P" in which the writer, Judann Pollack, waxes rhapsodic about the yet-again bankrupt supermarket chain that seems on the verge of selling off or closing all its stores and becoming a kind of historical footnote.

Here's how she frames the piece:

"Not a lot of people get misty-eyed when a company goes into bankruptcy, but it happened to me when it became apparent that A&P will truly go away once and for all.

"To many people, the A&P brand today probably signifies high prices and middle-of-the-road quality, but it wasn't always that way. In my childhood it was the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. and it wasn't just another grocery store.

"Just hearing the name conjures up visions of that distinctive steeple-top building and the smell of Eight O'Clock coffee being ground at the checkout stands. There was no custom bakery -- bread and rolls came courtesy of Jane Parker. Our carts were filled with canned goods from Ann Page. On Saturdays, I'd eagerly pick up the latest installment of Nancy Drew at A&P. And when we left, if I was lucky, I'd get to paste the Plaid Stamps in our book.

"For me, A&P was more than just a place to pick up something for dinner; it put dinner on my family's table. My father began working there in 1942 and remained for nearly half a century and he ran the meat department, which was a pretty decent gig in the '70s..."

You can read the entire story here.
KC's View:
Of course, part of A&P's problem was that those meat departments probably hadn't changed a whole hell of a lot since the seventies, and her dad may have felt right at home. (By the way, my dad used to like going to the local A&P. I'm convinced that this was largely because it seemed familiar to him. He's in his late eighties...)

I know it seems hard-hearted of me, but I think it is important to remember that A&P is not a victim in the sense that it had nothing to do with its own demise.

Pollack writes at one point that "in the end, there just wasn't enough brand loyalty to sustain A&P against the likes of Walmart on the low end and Whole Foods on the high end. Maybe I'm the only one, but I'm sad to see an institution that had been around since 1860 become one for the marketing history books." But if A&P did not have enough brand loyalty to sustain it, the reason is that it didn't do a whole hell of a lot to engender brand loyalty.

In the end, to borrow Pollack's phrase, both Walmart and Whole Foods will find themselves marginalized and without sufficient brand loyalty to sustain themselves if they don't continue to change and evolve to meet both the changing needs and desires of consumers and the changing face of the competition.

It would pretty to think that there is enough room in our world to support even business dinosaurs that have little or no relevance to the customers they are supposed to be serving. But there isn't. The only dinosaurs are survive are the ones that are genetically engineered to do so ... engineered to evolve and change and adapt to modern surroundings.

I feel bad for the good folks who work and worked at A&P, because they're may be losing their jobs and the security of continued employment by a company upon which many depended, often for years.

But they weren't victimized. They were betrayed by leaders who did not lead, and managers who never took off their blinders ... all of whom will end up in the same hall of shame occupied by people like the guys at Kodak who did not embrace digital photography because it would've killed their film business.