TIMELINE: Humble beginnings of Ukrop's market

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Any good American success story involves humble beginnings.  Joseph Ukrop had his when he opened a tiny market on Hull Street in 1937.

Lured by the promise of fresh meats and Ivory soap, customers took notice of Ukrop's market.  Over the next 25 years, the 500 square foot market grew to over 10,000 square feet.  In 1960, Joe's son James joined the business, and a second store was opened three years later.

The 1970's saw more stores opening throughout Richmond.  In 1974, Jim Ukrop became the CEO of his father's growing company.

During the 1980's, Jim helped expand Ukrop's market share, and by 1986 it had become the market leader, surpassing Safeway.  A number of things set the chain apart from the competition: a large selection of prepared foods, an early embrace of customer loyalty cards, and door-to-door customer service were a few of Ukrop's signatures.

By 1994, Ukrop's had grown to 22 stores and continued to own the biggest piece of Richmond's grocery pie.

In the last few years, Ukrop's has struggled to maintain its position against tough competitors.  In 2009, Food Lion took over the top spot in Richmond area grocery sales.

Despite recent turmoil, Ukrop's has established a lasting legacy in Richmond.  The annual Christmas Parade and the popular Monument Avenue 10k both bear the Ukrop name.

Joseph Ukrop died in 2002, having watched his humble Hull Street market grow into a 27-store Richmond fixture.

Please feel free to add your memories of Ukrop's and what the store has meant to you. NBC12 may air some of the comments in later broadcasts.

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