The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America

By Marc Levinson
(Hill and Wang, Hardcover, 9780809095438, 384pp.)

Publication Date: August 30, 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Audio Cassette, Compact Disc, Compact Disc, MP3 CD

Shop Local
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.

Go


Description

One of The Wall Street Journal's Best Non fiction Books of 2011.  From modest beginnings as a tea shop in New York, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company became the largest retailer in the world. It was a juggernaut, the first retailer to sell $1 billion in goods, the owner of nearly sixteen thousand stores and dozens of factories and warehouses. But its explosive growth made it a mortal threat to hundreds of thousands of mom-and-pop grocery stores. Main Street fought back tooth and nail, enlisting the state and federal governments to stop price discounting, tax chain stores, and require manufacturers to sell to mom and pop at the same prices granted to giant retailers. In a remarkable court case, the federal government pressed criminal charges against the Great A&P for selling food too cheaply—and won.  The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America is the story of a stunningly successful company that forever changed how Americans shop and what Americans eat. It is a brilliant business history, the story of how George and John Hartford took over their father’s business and reshaped it again and again, turning it into a vertically integrated behemoth that paved the way for every big-box retailer to come. George demanded a rock-solid balance sheet; John was the marketer-entrepreneur who led A&P through seven decades of rapid changes. Together, they built the modern consumer economy by turning the archaic retail industry into a highly efficient system for distributing food at low cost.




About the Author

Marc Levinson has a gift for discovering business history stories that cut to the heart of how industries are transformed. He did so brilliantly with the award-winning The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, which was short-listed for the 2006 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.




NPR
Tuesday, Aug 23, 2011

The A&P changed the way Americans do their grocery shopping, but it did so at a cost � thousands of mom-and-pop corner stores closed as the chain grew. Economic historian Marc Levinson chronicles the rise and fall of the grocery giant in The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America. More at NPR.org

NPR Audio Player Requires Flash Upgrade: Please upgrade your plug-in to view this content.

NPR
Tuesday, Aug 23, 2011

Long before there was Walmart, there was The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co., a giant retailer that used its scale to bring down prices while earning the scorn of independent retailers. Author Marc Levinson looks at the company's lasting impact on the way we buy food. More at NPR.org

NPR Audio Player Requires Flash Upgrade: Please upgrade your plug-in to view this content.




Praise For The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America

Praise for The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America “Mr. Levinson has written an absorbing history of one company’s amazing rise—and what such success means in a nation with conflicting ideals about big business. It is more than a rich business history; it is a mirror to our own conflicting wants and visions of who and what we should be.” —The New York Times “Mr. Levinson writes engagingly, and he exhibits no overt political brief. Anyone with a common-sense grasp of business practices will find the author's points clearly and fairly presented.” —The Wall Street Journal “Levinson, who has burrowed deep in the archives, makes this story clear and compelling—and shows why A&P was both a boon to consumers and, in the words of an FDR-era federal prosecutor, ‘a gigantic blood sucker.’ Shades of Walmart?” —The Atlantic “[A] book about a by-gone era that I enjoyed was The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America by Marc Levinson. It is about the rise and fall of the A&P grocery chain, once the largest retailer in the world, with 15,000 stores, and renowned for its high quality and low prices . . . But this is more than an economic story. It is a human story about a family that dedicated itself to making its business the best it could be—and how the death of the last member of that family was followed by A&P’s decline into oblivion.” —Thomas Sowell, Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy, Hoover Institution “[A] superb business study and an entertaining read.” —The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

 

“The fleeting nature of success in business—even for companies that revolutionized their sectors—is among the many useful lessons of this book. A&P’s legacy is apparent every time we set food in a modern grocery store, even if the company itself long ago fell victim to many of the forces it unleashed.” —The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)

“Levinson makes it read like a novel . . . A great study of responding to the need to adapt to market and economic pressures to survive.” —Booklist

“This is the kind of masterful business narrative that explains both the past and the present in an illuminating new light. Marc Levinson’s highly insightful story of A&P—and its opponents—is essential reading for all those who seek to understand the love-hate relationship Americans have with the oversized consumer economy of our own day.” —Nelson Lichtenstein, author of The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business

“What a splendid book! The rise and fall of A&P provides a rare window into the American experience—not just the creation of the world's largest retailer but the transformation of a nation dominated by small shops and local merchants into one of massive chains, well-known brands, and aggressive discounters. The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America shows that even the largest corporate goliaths are not immune to the insistent forces of competition and change. No one could have told this riveting tale better than Levinson—a historian, journalist, and economist—whose crisp and compelling writing makes the narrative’s rich detail always run smoothly.” —Robert J. Samuelson, columnist for Newsweek and The Washington Post


Praise for The Box

“A classic tale of trial and error, and of creative destruction.” —Virginia Postrel, The New York Times

“A marvelous read for anyone who cares about how the interconnected world economy came to be.” —Neil Irwin, Washington Post

Indie Bookstore Finder

Indie Bestsellers

Confessions of a Self-Help Writer
Benjamin Dehaven
Lagniappe Publishing
Annihilation
Jeff VanderMeer
FSG Originals
The Martian
Andy Weir
Crown
Benediction
Kent Haruf
Vintage

Make Your Own Wishlist








More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.

For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org

Update Profile