George Huntington Hartford
American mayor
George Huntington Hartford
George Huntington Hartford headed The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company from 1878 to 1917. During this period, A&P created the concept of the chain grocery store and expanded into the country's largest retailer. He joined the firm as a clerk in 1861 and quickly assumed managerial responsibilities.
Biography
George Huntington Hartford's personal information overview.
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'The Great A&P': Revolutionizing Modern Retail - NPR
Google News - over 5 years
But in 1912, brothers John and George Hartford opened an all-new "no frills" Economy Store, revolutionizing the way we buy our food. Author Marc Levinson talks to NPR's Renee Montagne about what made the burgeoning chain so successful
Article Link:
Google News article
Greene: Simple Notions - Vermont Public Radio
Google News - over 5 years
Many of the great retail magnates started out as peddlers: Richard Sears of Sears Roebuck catalogues, and George Hartford of A&P markets, and Alfred Fuller, who started the Fuller Brush Company. Salesmen were joined on the road by traveling federal
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Google News article
Fort Ann clinches share of Adirondack League title (May 13 roundup) - Glens Falls Post-Star
Google News - almost 6 years
With two games remaining in the regular season, Fort Ann has a two-game lead in the loss column on Lake George, Hartford and Salem. The Cardinals (9-0, 13-0) have head-to-head wins over each of those teams. Because of the abbreviated schedule this year
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Google News article
John D. Ehrgott Dead; Ex-chairman of A.&P.
NYTimes - about 35 years
John D. Ehrgott, who spent 49 years with the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company and retired in 1966 as chairman, died Friday at his home in Denville, N.J. He was 86 years old. Mr. Ehrgott had worked directly under John and George Hartford, sons of the founder of the company, George Huntington Hartford. Mr. Ehrgott, a native of Denville, joined
Article Link:
NYTimes article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of George Huntington Hartford
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1917
    Age 83
    Hartford died in 1917, aged 84, and was interred at Rosedale Cemetery, in Orange, New Jersey.
    More Details Hide Details Hartford’s estate was worth $125 million. The press respected that he was a private man, and there were few obituaries about him. "To immortalize outstanding American merchants", Joseph Kennedy in 1953 commissioned a bronze bust of George Huntington Hartford, four times life size along with 7 other men, which would come to be known as the Merchandise Mart Hall of Fame in Chicago. By 1930, A&P operated approximately 16,000 stores and became the first retailer to report combined revenue of US$1 billion. The Time magazine published on November 13, 1950 had both George and John Hartford on its front cover. Time wrote that "the familiar red-front A & P store is the real melting pot of the community, patronized by the boss's wife and the baker's daughter, the priest and the policeman. To foreigners A & P's vast supermarkets are among the wonders of the age; to the US middle class, they are one of the direct roads to solvency. 'Going to the A & P' is almost an American tribal rite." Time magazine also wrote in 1950 that "Of every dollar the U.S. spends on food, about 10¢ is passed over A & P counters—a massive yearly total of $2.9 billion. Next to General Motors, the A&P sells more goods than any other company in the world." The New York Times in an editorial on September 7, 2011 wrote that George Huntington Hartford's 2 sons John and George Hartford "were among the 20th century’s most accomplished and visionary businessmen."
    George Hartford Sr. died in 1917 and left his estate to a one generation trust equally divided among his five children.
    More Details Hide Details The Trust was administered by his sons George and John who exercised control over the company's stock. As a result, the company's leadership remained constant until the two brothers died in the 1950s. Bronze busts honoring Hartford and seven other merchants stand between the Chicago River and the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. In 1953, the busts were commissioned by the owner of the building, Joseph Kennedy, the father of President John F. Kennedy. George Hartford revolutionized retailing. A&P reduced prices and made profit by heavy advertising and promotion. The company was one of the first marketers to use brand names when it started selling tea under the Thea Nectar label. Gilman and Hartford purchased damaged tea that cost relatively little and mixed it to create a black tea with a green tea taste that was considered by the public a specialty tea. In turn A&P was then able to sell Thea Nectar for less than the competitor’s special tea. For customers who could not reach one of their stores, the company provided “tea clubs,” where groups of people – either as a social group or as a business – could have tea shipped to them from the A&P for a third of the price. The tea clubs proved immensely popular, eliciting orders from Vermont to Wisconsin. The company also offered incentives to its customers, such as premiums. Based on the amount of products purchased, the customer received a gift from the A&P. Eventually, these premiums became based on stamps that were collected with each purchase and could be turned in for anything from lithographs to glassware.
  • 1912
    Age 78
    The younger Hartford moved aggressively to expand the company and by 1912, A&P operated 400 stores.
    More Details Hide Details Food prices were a political issue in that year's presidential race and a few chains experimented with a low cost no frills format. After long debate, the elder Hartford and his first son, George agreed to John's proposal to experiment with a low cost economy store. Capitalized at only $3,000 including its initial inventory, the store operated with only a manager and eliminated fancy fixtures and premiums. The company quickly expanded the concept and by 1915 the chain operated 1600 stores.
  • 1907
    Age 73
    In 1907 or 1908, George Hartford Sr. divided management responsibilities among his sons with George Jr. controlling finance and John directing sales and operations.
    More Details Hide Details The two ran the company as a team for over 40 years.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1888
    Age 54
    The burning issue during the period was temperance and in 1888, the Mayor shut down saloons operating illegally on Sunday.
    More Details Hide Details That action generated substantial opposition within the Democratic Party and in 1890 Hartford was defeated. About 1880, A&P started selling sugar in its stores and continued aggressive growth.
  • FORTIES
  • 1878
    Age 44
    Mr. Hartford stepped into the battle by asserting that in 1878, Gilman give him half of the company in an unwritten partnership agreement.
    More Details Hide Details Evidence provided to the court established that Hartford received half of A&P's profits since 1878 and that all of the company's leases were in his name. The heirs realized that without Hartford, the firm would quickly become unprofitable. Therefore, they agreed to a settlement where the company was incorporated at $2.1 million. Under this agreement, the Gilman heirs received $1.25 million in preferred shares paying 6% per year while Hartford received $700,000 in common stock and the remainder of the preferred shares. This gave Hartford control of all of the voting stock. Over the years, Hartford was also able to repurchase the preferred shares from the Gilman heirs. At the end of the litigation, A&P only ranked fifth nationally and the Hartfords moved aggressively to rebuild the enterprise. The chain opened one store every three weeks and expanded the wagon routes to over 5000.
    While he was known to be a private person, Hartford was elected Mayor of Orange, New Jersey in 1878 and served for 12 years.
    More Details Hide Details Hartford retired from the active management of the business about 1907 or 1908 and turned the firm over to two of his sons, George Ludlum Hartford (1864 - 1957) and John Augustine Hartford (1872 - 1951). He continued as an advisor while they expanded the firm, becoming the country's largest retailer by 1915.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1866
    Age 32
    After his promotion to cashier in 1866, Hartford moved his family to Orange, New Jersey where they had three additional children; Edward Vassallo Hartford (1870 - 1922), John Augustine Hartford (1872 - 1951) and Marie Louise Hartford (1875 - 1927). When the incumbent Mayor decided not to seek reelection in 1878, the local Democratic organization experienced difficulties finding a candidate and ultimately asked George Hartford.
    More Details Hide Details As a Catholic, Hartford was acceptable to the large Irish and German immigrant communities, and as a businessman, he appealed to many Republicans. Mayor Hartford was a progressive, building schools, installing electric lighting and starting a municipal water system.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1861
    Age 27
    In July 1861, George married Marie Josephine Ludlum of Goshen, New York.
    More Details Hide Details They had two children: Maria Josephine Hartford (1862 - 1941) and George Ludlum Hartford (1864 - 1957) while in Brooklyn.
    While John Hartford quickly left the firm, George joined Gilman as a clerk by 1861; he later was promoted to bookkeeper, then cashier in 1866.
    More Details Hide Details Gilman was a master at promotion and the business quickly expanded by advertising low prices. In addition to the stores in New York, Gilman also built a nationwide mail order business. During this period, Hartford's role continued to grow and in 1871 he was responsible for expanding A&P to Chicago after the great fire. A&P's first store outside New York City was opened within days after the disaster. By 1875, A&P had stores in 16 cities. Three years later, Gilman retired and left the active management of the firm to Hartford. By then, the firm operated 70 lavishly-equipped stores and a mail order business with combined annual sales of $1 million.
    Shortly after the census, John moved to New York City where he is listed n the city directory with George Gilman in the tea importing business that ultimately became A&P. There is no known record of George Hartford in New York prior to 1861.
    More Details Hide Details
    By 1861, he lived in Brooklyn, New York where he married Marie Josephine Ludlum (1837 - 1925).
    More Details Hide Details They had three sons and two daughters.
    He joined the firm as a clerk in 1861 and quickly assumed managerial responsibilities.
    More Details Hide Details When A&P's founder, George Gilman retired in 1878, Hartford entered into a partnership agreement and ran the company until the founder's death in 1901. In the settlement of Gilman's estate, Hartford acquired control of the company and ultimately purchased the interests of Gilman's heirs. George Hartford was born on a farm in Augusta, Maine and started his retail career at age 18 in Boston.
  • 1860
    Age 26
    By 1860, the Hartford brothers returned to Augusta, Maine where John was listed in the census as a merchant and George as a box maker.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1859
    Age 25
    However, the 1859 St. Louis, Missouri directory lists George and his brother John Hartford as employees of Gilman's leather tanning firm which was based in New York but had an office in St. Louis.
    More Details Hide Details
    The company founding myth is that George Hartford and George Gilman started A&P in New York City in 1859.
    More Details Hide Details
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1833
    Born
    Born in 1833.
    More Details Hide Details
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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