Friday, February 22, 2008

The WEO Revolution

I remember in school a kid named Randy Few wandering through the halls alternating between whistling and humming to himself and shouting at the top of his lungs, "W-E-O!"

This strange WEO shouting thing had something to do with A & P grocery stores, and over the years, memories of "W-E-O" have kept on rising through the haunted mists of my daily consciousness. Finally, today, I found a telling article from Time dated June 03, 1974, "Winning with WEO." Here's the first paragraph. Note the colorful parlance of the day:

"Weeeoooo!" For competitors of the giant A. & P. food chain, that cry has become as unwelcome as a Comanche war whoop in the Old West. A contraction of the slogan "Where Economy Originates," it has become a symbol of A. & P.'s relentless drive since 1972 to lure back disaffected customers and boost sales by paring prices. In the process the company has lost millions and left many experts wondering if the campaign was an act of corporate suicide. A. & P.'s rivals -- Kroger, Grand Union, Bohack and most of the rest -- suffered bloodbaths trying to keep their prices competitive in what became a war of the supermarkets. Now there are signs that the battle is over and that A. & P. has won -- at least temporarily. . .

Since the WEO revolution, in fact, A. & P. has crumpled to almost nothing. Once it was the biggest retailer in the USA; now there are fewer than 500 stores left. Sad but true. The writing was on the wall by the mid-70s. Already on February 03, 1975, Time had another article on A. & P. -- "Bye, Bye, WEO."

Farewell, revolution. Let us never forget: W-E-O!


Johnny Yen said...

Remember A & P's "Price and Pride" ad campaign in the mid or late seventies? To guys, representing "Price" and "Pride" appeared; they copped to "Pride" having taken a back seat to "Price."

Another long-gone grocery retailer was National Tea. My mother was a cashier in a couple of National Tea stores when I was a kid.

Anonymous said...

I think there was an A&P on Joy Rd and Beech. I faintly recall. Or maybe it was Telegraph & W Chicago. Hmmm.