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Harris Teeter is a chain of supermarkets based in Matthews, North Carolinamarker, just outside Charlottemarker. , the chain operates 194 stores in eight Southern states: North Carolinamarker, South Carolinamarker, Virginiamarker, Georgiamarker, Tennesseemarker, Floridamarker, Marylandmarker, Delawaremarker, and the District of Columbiamarker.Harris Teeter is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Charlotte-based Ruddick Corporation ( ). The current president of Harris Teeter is Fred J. Morganthall II. Supermarket News ranked Harris Teeter No. 40 in the 2007 "Top 75 North American Food Retailers" based on 2006 fiscal year sales of $2.92 billion. Based on 2005 revenue, Harris Teeter is the ninety-third largest retailer in the United Statesmarker.

History

Harris Teeter traces its origins to two pioneering entrepreneurs in Depression-era Charlotte. W.T. Harris opened his first supermarket, known as the "Harris Super Market", in 1936 in downtown Charlotte, but soon moved to another location in a now historical section of stores on Central Avenue. It was primarily a dry goods store because frozen foods and refrigeration did not become common until World War II. The first Harris Supermarket was built and opened a block away on Central Avenue. To the family and then employees, it was known as Store #1. Today this store, now Harris Teeter store #201, is still in operation.

Harris' store was the first in North Carolinamarker to allow customers to select their own groceries off shelves. Before this time, customers handed a shopping list to a clerk, who then selected the groceries for the customers. The store was also open until 9:00 p.m. on Fridays, at a time when most grocery stores closed their doors at 5:00. This was done to appeal to working families and to capture their grocery shopping after they were paid on Fridays. Later, the Harris Super Market was the first grocery store in Charlotte to add air conditioning.

Harris also ran his own dairy farm and sold products from his dairy in his stores. For his wife, LaVerne, the dairy products carried the brand name of Vernedale Farms. Harris pioneered the first dairy co-op among local dairy farmers. After running the co-op for several years, he negotiated its sale to Pet Dairy.

Harris Supermarkets began primarily as a family business. Most of Harris's brothers and sisters were employees, and brothers and brothers-in-law were store managers. His sister, Sarah, ran the accounting department and his wife's sister was Harris's personal secretary. His son, Donald Thomas Harris, began working for the company at 8 years old by sweeping floors. Donald suggested that Harris Teeter should carry more than just food products, and recommended the introduction of health and beauty aids, school supplies, bakeware, kitchen tools, and seasonal items (such as coolers in the summer). His father liked the idea and told Don that he should create and run that division of the company, which he did until his retirement in 1995. He was the last member of the family that worked for the company.

Harris was instrumental in the permanent placement of kindergarten in the North Carolina public school system, and supported the effort to turn Charlotte College into what is known today as the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He was a lifelong trustee for Wingate College, which began as a two year Baptist community college and transformed into the Wingate University.

Meanwhile, Willis L. Teeter and his brother Paul opened their first "Teeter's Food Mart" in Mooresvillemarker, north of Charlotte, in 1939. Teeter's store implemented many of the innovations pioneered by Harris at his store, and both stores were successful in fairly short order.

Eventually, the two chains contained 15 total stores by the late 1950s, and in 1958 the companies began sharing storage and buying procedures. The merger of Harris Super Markets and Teeter's Food Marts became official on February 1, 1960; the first store to open under the new banner of Harris Teeter Supermarkets was in Kannapolismarker.

New ownership and expansion

Harris Teeter was purchased in 1969 by holding company Ruddick Corporation of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Harris Teeter's 1980 purchase of the Hunter Farms dairy in High Point, North Carolinamarker enabled the company to substantially reduce dairy costs; today, all Harris Teeter-brand and Hunter Farms-brand dairy products come from the Hunter dairy. Hunter also provides dairy products to companies and organizations not associated with Harris Teeter, including convenience stores, schools, Lowe's Foods private label ice creams and the Wendy's frosty.

In 1984, Harris Teeter purchased several Food World stores in and around Greensboromarker, also acquiring a warehouse in the western part of Greensboro as part of the purchase. This marked the first foray of the company outside of its Charlotte base, and also began a demographic shift still in process today. Before this point, the company was a grocer in the vein of Piggly Wiggly, where a mix of rural and urban stores made up the company in general. Past this point, Harris Teeter began to focus more on higher-income urban sites. This trend continued with HT's 1988 purchase of Big Star Supermarkets, giving it a foothold in the Raleighmarker-Durhammarker market.

Ashcraft retired in 1986, and Edward Dunn took over as president of Harris Teeter in that year. On Dunn's watch, Harris Teeter began expansion outside North Carolina. The first expanded stores were in northern South Carolina, near Charlotte; later expansions led the company to Myrtle Beachmarker, Charlestonmarker, and the Hampton Roadsmarker region of Virginia. The "Very Important Customer" program, popularly known as VIC, was introduced late in Dunn's tenure. This program was one of the first widespread loyalty card programs now popular throughout American grocery stores. The VIC program advertised "giveaways" such as turkeys for Thanksgiving, beach apparel for the summer, and gift cards to Harris Teeter stores.

Harris Teeter today

States with Harris Teeter stores
Fred Morganthall became president of Harris Teeter upon Dunn's 1997 retirement, and he has overseen further expansion of the supermarket into such markets as Nashville, Tennesseemarker; Jacksonville, Floridamarker; and Washington, D.C.marker At one time, Harris Teeter had expanded into Atlantamarker with 15 stores and had plans to further expand, but these plans were only partially fulfilled, and the chain pulled out of the market altogether in 2001. Most of the former Harris Teeter stores in Atlanta were bought by Kroger.

Harris Teeter continues its shift into high-income urban areas to this day; most new stores opened in Morganthall's tenure conform to this pattern. Stores such as the original Harris Super Market, located near uptown Charlotte, remain grandfathered into the current system.

Recently, Harris Teeter has attempted to differentiate itself from its competitors by providing exceptional customer service and newly "branded" departments. The first department to be "branded" was the meat department, which in June 2002 began offering "Harris Teeter Rancher" beef. This was followed by the introductions of the Farmers' Market (produce department, October 2003), the Fisherman's Market (seafood department, April 2004), and the Fresh Foods Market (deli/bakery, January 2005). Gourmet imported items are sold under the "H.T. Traders" brand.

Harris Teeter stores are separated into 3 regions and 15 districts. The Northern Region, based in Fairfax, Virginiamarker, encompasses all stores in Virginia (except Danville), Maryland, Delaware, and the northern coastal area of North Carolina. The Central Region, based in Raleigh, encompasses stores from Greensboro to Wilmington, as well as Danville, VA and Albemarle, NC. The Southern Region, based in Charlotte, contains stores in southwestern North Carolina including Charlotte and Winston-Salem, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

The official mascot of Harris Teeter is "Harry the Happy Dragon". Its slogan is "Your Neighborhood Food Market", although the older slogan "The Best Is What We're All About" still appears frequently in stores. A new advertising campaign, debuted in late 2004, features the slogan "My Harris Teeter", currently in use as a jingle.

, Harris Teeter has over 18,000 employees, and is the largest supermarket chain in North Carolina (Food Lion being number two).


Expansion to the Outer Banksmarker of North Carolina has already begun with stores in Corollamarker (May 2006), Kill Devil Hillsmarker (July 2006), and Morehead City (February 2009). The first store in Maryland opened in Darnestownmarker on October 31, 2006; the second opened in May 2008 in Columbiamarker's Village of Kings Contrivance, replacing the closed Safeway.

With Harris Teeter's further expansion into the upscale markets, many of their older stores in lower income neighborhoods or small towns are being shut down as a result. A demographic change or increased competition with stores like Wal-Mart Supercenter could be to blame for decrease in sales at these stores. One of Harris Teeter's oldest stores at Eastland Mall in Charlotte closed on June 22, 2006.

Harris Teeter now only operates one store in Florida. The Jacksonville, Floridamarker, Madarin area store closed in 2004. October 3, 2006 brought the closing of its Ponte Vedra Beach location leaving only one location left, the Amelia Island store.

The chain's largest store and new flagship location opened in Greensboro's The Shops at Friendly Center on November 8, 2006, and it encompasses .

Photos

File:Apex Harris Teeter.JPG|A store in Apexmarker, NCmarkerFile:2008-11-10 Harris Teeter in Chapel Hill.jpg|A store in Chapel Hillmarker, NCmarkerFile:Harristeetersc.JPG|A store in Charlottemarker, NCmarkerFile:Tajmateeter.jpg|Flagship store in Charlottemarker, NCmarkerFile:Harris Teeter Entrance.JPG|An entrance of a store in Apexmarker, NCmarkerFile:Harris Teeter Deli.JPG|Deli area of a store in Apexmarker, NCmarker

References

  1. 2007 Top 75 North American Food Retailers, Supermarket News, Last accessed April 13, 2008.
  2. Top 100 Retailers: The Nation's Retail Power Players (PDF), Stores, July 2006.
  3. Harris Teeter closes Ponte Vedra market, The Florida Times-Union, October 4, 2006.
  4. New stores at Shops open soon, News & Record, September 23, 2006.


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