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The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America Hardcover – August 30, 2011
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“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
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It is a road map to how to take a business to dizzying heights. It is a cornacopia of interesting facts--food prices for all Americans dramatically dropped bc of the innovations A&P brought to the food industry--especially as per distribution and production. Food was %50 of the American budget; now it is 8-10%? Thx A&P.
It is a tale of how Gov't interference is not a new thing with the current assault on Walmart. The Gov't went after A&P for pretty much the same reason it goes after Walmart. It was thought A&P hurt small stores--they actually grew in number until supermarkets dominated in the 50's.
THe book is a tale of how a company can go out of business if it does not innnovate, does not bring in new and fresh blood, begins to believe its own hype without focusing on challenges, etc.
If I had to criticize it--it can be repetitive on its theme's of gov't assault and company response to these assualts. It is a bit uneven. 90% of the book is the years 1859 to 1955. THe last 35 years of the company are really given short shriff. Some more detail is needed--such as--how did A&P morph into Super Fresh in the Mid-Atlantic area? etc. Hardly a word on the details of its break ups and morphings.
Good book, though. Highly recommend it. Enjoy!
Not once, or even twice, but four times in The Great A&P's history the company re-invented itself, transitioning from a small mail order coffee and tea company, to a grocer, to a discount grocer, producer and distributor, to a supermarket chain. Along the way becoming the biggest retailer in the entire world and the first company in history to have over $1 billion in sales.
All the things that WalMart is known for today - from rigorously controlling their supply chain and production costs, driving down margins in order to lower prices, to boost volume and thereby boosting sales. Loss leaders, and discount store brands - A&P did it before WalMart and other modern retailers.
This is A&Ps rise from a bit player in the New York Coffee and Tea import business to a nationwide grocery chain that revolutionized food production and distribution in the United States to their stumble and fall to a small regional chain.
You didn't know the importance of small grocery stores and their contribution to prosperity in America from 1770 to 1960? Of course you didn't! You never can know what you don't know. Yes! Read and learn, children, read and learn.
"The more things change, the more they stay the same."