Waldbaum's was a supermarket chain with stores in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx; and in Nassau, Suffolk counties and Upstate New York. The chain also for a time operated stores in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Founded in 1904, Waldbaum's was one of seven "banner store chains" owned and operated by The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P), which acquired the chain from its founding family in 1986.
|Founded||1904Brooklyn, New Yorkin|
|Headquarters||2 Paragon Drive, |
|Parent||The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company|
Waldbaum's operated full-service traditional supermarkets with varying footprints and store models and its popular marquee in certain aisles along with good food and reliable service. At its peak in the 1980s, it was the 12th largest supermarket chain in the United States and had 140 stores throughout the New York metropolitan area. All Waldbaum's stores featured fresh meats and produce. 62 stores had bakeries and 36 offered pharmacy service. As with other A&P-branded stores, Waldbaum's offered in-house products under the America's Choice, America's Choice Kids, America's Choice Gold, Two-Forks Bakery, Green Way, Via Roma, Food Basics, Home Basics, Great Atlantic Seafood Market, Mid-Atlantic Country Farms, Woodson & James, Hartford Reserve, Food Emporium Trading Co., Preferred Pet and Live Better brands.
In 1904, two Austrian brothers, Sam and Wolf Waldbaum, opened a store in Brooklyn. Their nephew, Israel "Izzy" Waldbaum, came to America and joined the business. The three men ran the store, with Izzy taking over the grocery when his uncles retired. Izzy married Julia Leffel; they had three children. When Izzy died in 1948, his son Ira took over the then existing six stores in Brooklyn.
The company made history in 1938, when identical twin black brothers, Ernest and George Brown, who started working at one of the only two existing stores at the time as stockboys were promoted to checkout boys. "It was unheard of then for a colored checker to be in a white neighborhood," Ernest Brown said three decades later in an interview. Both Browns later became store managers and, eventually, Waldbaum executives (vice-president and assistant vice-president, respectively).
Following the death of his father, Ira Waldbaum left his studies at New York University to run the family business. By 1951, the company had opened its first supermarket in Flushing, Queens and net sales reached $55.2 million by 1960. In 1961, the company went public by selling shares of common stock.
A&P mismanaged Waldbaum's, investing little in these stores, resulting in the closing or sale of many Foodmart stores in the New England division. A&P then converted the remaining Waldbaum's Foodmart store into the Super Foodmart banner, and later, to A&P Super Foodmart (A&P's other New England division). The remaining forty-one Waldbaum's stores existed only in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and on Long Island. Many Waldbaum's are former A&P stores.
On August 13, 2010, A&P announced that it would close twenty-five stores as the parent of Waldbaum's began the implementation and execution phase of its comprehensive turnaround; these stores closed in October 2010, including stores in Centereach and Levittown, Long Island.
In February 2011, A&P announced thirty-two additional store closings, including three Long Island Waldbaum's: Farmingdale, Smithtown, and Valley Stream on April 15, 2011. In January 2012, A&P announced half a dozen additional closings on Long Island. The grocery chain said that six stores would close in Commack, West Babylon, East Islip, Lake Ronkonkoma, Huntington Station and Rockville Centre. The closures happened in March 2012, as Waldbaum's parent company, A&P, Inc. emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
On July 20, 2015, A&P filed for a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy, following years of financial loss and a struggle to compete with rival grocery chains. The company announced that 3 Waldbaum's stores in Carle Place, Riverhead, and Oceanside were set to close. Nineteen stores were sold to Stop & Shop and Key Food. Five store locations were purchased by Best Yet Market in November 2015,  and three locations to Wakefern Food Corporation, owner of the ShopRite Food chain.
At approximately 8:15 a.m. on August 2, 1978, a fire was reported at the store in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Workers who were in the store during renovations reported a fire near the compressor room. After several more calls, including a nearby pulled street box, several fire companies had been dispatched to the scene. As a result of the renovations, the fire was able to quickly spread to the mezzanine and cockloft areas. Per department policies at the time, firefighters were ordered to the roof to begin venting the building. After a determination made by the battalion chief on scene that day, a second alarm was ordered and the fire was declared as out of control. At 9:02 a.m., as firefighters were on the roof with fire showing in sections, a large portion suddenly collapsed, sending twelve firefighters into the fully involved building. In the end, six firefighters had died in the fire and over 30 injured.
Bankruptcy and closureEdit
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- Al-Muslim, Aisha (November 13, 2015). "Best Market to buy five more Waldbaum's, Pathmarks". Newsday. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
- Al-Muslim, Aisha (September 25, 2015). "ShopRite parent to buy three Long Island A&P stores". Newsday. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
- Kifner, John (August 3, 1978). "Six Firemen Killed As Roof Collapses At Brooklyn Blaze; Toll is Worst in Dozen Years". The New York Times. p. B17. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
- Spak, Steve. "The Waldbaum's Fire and Tragedy". Retrieved November 12, 2014.
- "All A&P Stores Now Closed; A&G Realty To Help Move Unsold Units". Food Trade News. January 2016. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
- Al-Muslim, Aisha (November 27, 2015). "The end of A&P: Employees, consumers wonder what the future holds". Newsday.