What Is Harris Teeter and Who Actually Owns It?

For a lot of people, a grocery store is just a place to run into once a week to load up on bologna, baguettes, heavy creamer, and cat food. But for others, especially those that grew up around great regional grocers, the grocery store is an all-in-one place of necessities, comfort, friends, as well as a trip down memory lane. For many folks in the South Atlantic United States, that grocery store is Harris Teeter. What is Harris Teeter? Who owns Harris Teeter? Does Kroger own Harris Teeter? Slow your roll and pay attention because we’re about to answer all your questions and more (and yes, Kroger owns Harris Teeter! Stop asking!).

What is Harris Teeter?

Harris Teeter Supermarkets is a U.S. grocery store chain. Sometimes called Harris Teeter Neighborhood Food & Pharmacy, the chain is based in Mathews, a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina. Harris Teeter has around 258 locations throughout seven South Atlantic states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Delaware, and Maryland, as well as in Washington DC. Even with a limited number of locations, Harris Teeter has consistently ranked high in polls of the top American grocery stores. Customers love Harris Teeter for their amazing prepared food section, their huge wine selection, their cult-favorite store-brand ice cream, the generous discounts, and their local feel. Many Harris Teeter stores feature a “local” section, which may include items such as stone-ground grits, pecans, and other things you’d usually search for in a farmers market rather than a grocery store. Harris Teeter offers VIP parking for veterans and has a beloved mascot named Harry the Happy Dragon. Because everyone knows, dragons love shopping!

Who owns Harris Teeter? 

Harris Teeter is owned by The Kroger Company. Kroger purchased Harris Teeter in 2013 for $2.5 billion. (Hope they used a coupon.) The store was founded by two men: William Thomas Harris and Willis L. Teeter. In 1960, they merged their drugstore and grocery store and combined their names to form Willi’s. No wait, they formed Harris Teeter! Harris’s store was the first in North Carolina to let customers get their own groceries. Back in the day, you’d give your grocery list to the grocer and they’d go pick your stuff out. Hey, we should bring that back, actually. Harris’s store also stayed open a little late on Fridays to appeal to working people and was the first grocery store in North Carolina with air conditioning. Harris was not into drinking, so Harris Teeter stores were totally dry. When the founders finally sold their business in 1969 to The Ruddick Corporation, Harris Teeter began selling alcohol. The chain was also one of the first grocery stores to offer plastic bags along with paper, introducing them in 1992.

Harris Teeter remains a popular grocery store with a fairly large presence and a small local feel. I know that if I’m ever in North Carolina, I’m going to visit every Harris Teeter I can find! I just want the free cookies. Oh did I not mention the free cookies? Harry, that happy dragon mascot, gives away free sugar cookies. But you’re too late! I ate them all!

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.