Giant Open Air
Giant Open Air Market was a Norfolk, Virginia based supermarket chain. Its trademark stores were open 24 hours, and the entrance was framed with a giant arch. The arch over the store was massive and rose to over 30 feet, anchored in concrete.
The first location was located at the foot of the Campostella Bridge in Norfolk Virginia's Berkley neighborhood. The market opened in 1939 was operated by business partners Wendall P.Rosso & V. J. Mastraco. Later, a store was erected on the site in 1952.
The chain grew to include 26 full line grocery stores and 43 "Tinee Giant" convenience stores. The stores were known for the vastness of the variety in the selections. The international line of groceries that they carried attracted national press at the time. Giant Open Air Markets would carry exotics like Chocolate Covered Ants from Japan, Pickled Eel, English Teas, Greek and French cheeses and Russian caviar as well as a huge array of Latin American foods. The sign over the front door read "Finest Foods of the World", reflecting their diverse selections.
Giant Open Air's flagship store was store number four, located in the Ward's Corner section of Norfolk. The 150,000+ square foot Giant Open Air Market also included a large restaurant. There were banquet rooms upstairs that could host a thousand guests plus a huge balcony with a fountain. As a 24 hour store (only closed on Christmas Day) the "front door" was an "Air Curtain" with no real doors. A huge blower pushed air down as customers entered and a steel grate below captured the air and recycled it. The grate was always full of loose coins that were cleaned out once a year and donated to charity. The location was also known for massive decorations, such as was a 20' fall "waterfall" of ice in the seafood department. The stores had large bakeries that produced fresh bakery 24 hours a day. Other accommodations for shoppers was a large portico to have their groceries loaded into their cars out of the rain, and 24 hour laundromat. The "House of Flowers" floral department was one of the top ten FTD stores in the country at its time.
In 1986, it merged with Farm Fresh, another Hampton Roads grocery chain, and the name disappeared, though the giant arch still remains on the logo. The Tinee Giant convenience store chain, still has some locations in Hampton Roads. In 1999, the wholesaler Supervalu purchased the company.
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