Delchamps

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Delchamps
Industry Supermarket
Fate Acquired
Successors Jitney Jungle
Founded 1921 (1921)
Founders Alfred Frederick Delchamps
Defunct 1999 (1999)

Delchamps was a chain of supermarkets along the central Gulf Coast of the United States, headquartered in Mobile, Alabama.

The chain was founded by Alfred Frederick Delchamps in November 1921 at the corner of Lawrence and Canal streets in Mobile, which he operated along with his brother, Oliver. The chain was a fixture in the central Gulf Coast areas, with more than a hundred stores at its 1990s peak in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana.

In 1927, Delchamps opened its first warehouse at the intersection of Commerce and St. Anthony Streets in order for the company to carry higher quality merchandise and a larger variety of foods. The warehouse would be moved to a larger facility at the foot of Dauphin Street four years later, and a larger, more modern warehouse was built at the intersection of Water and Adams Streets. Additional warehouse space was utilized in the Happy Hills community north of Downtown Mobile and at the Alabama State Docks.

Delchamps opened its first supermarket at the intersection of St. Louis Street and Washington Avenue in 1928. This was the largest grocery store in Mobile and, moreover, the largest food store in Alabama. Three years later, in 1931, Delchamps would open its first out of state location in Pensacola, FL. A rival grocery chain, the Coleman Grocery Company, was acquired in 1937, making Delchamps the largest grocery chain in the city, with ten stores. In 1941, Delchamps opened its first store in Montgomery. In order to make future expansions possible, Delchamps incorporated in 1946. This incorporation allowed employees to own stock in the company as well.

In 1985, Delchamps unveiled its 42,057-square-foot (3,907.2 m2) Super Store supermarket concept. This format featured a bakery, delicatessen and salad bar in addition to conventional grocery store amenities. The Delchamps Super Stores operated on a 24 hour basis. The first Delchamps Super Store opened at the North Gate Shopping Center, now known as Dauphin Square, on Dauphin Street in west Mobile. Over the next decade, Delchamps Super Store supermarkets would be constructed, replacing outmoded Delchamps grocery stores in markets along the Gulf Coast.

In 1997, the chain was purchased by Jackson, Mississippi-based Jitney Jungle, itself a well-known brand name in its home state and neighboring Louisiana. A total of 114 Delchamps stores were purchased, with a handful being closed and another small group being re-branded as Jitney Jungle. However, the purchase and Jitney's takeover by an investment firm proved to be ill-advised, and by 1999 the combined chains went into bankruptcy. The next year some stores were sold off to competitor Winn-Dixie; most of those locations have since closed in the wake of that chain's own troubles and retrenchment toward its northern Florida base. Nineteen other locations were sold to Bruno's Supermarkets and converted to their brands. At least one location in Hoover, Alabama was later converted to Publix Super Markets.

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