Robert Ingle opened the first Ingles supermarket in 1963 in Asheville, North Carolina. The company's headquarters are still located there; as of 2015, Ingles operates approximately 200 stores in six southeastern states and draws annual sales totaling almost four billion dollars.
In the early 1950s, Robert Ingle worked for his grandfather's grocery store located in Asheville, North Carolina; when it closed in 1956, Robert attended the University of Miami. From 1961 to 1963 Robert worked for the chain of Colonial Stores and saved his money until he could open his own store in 1963. Robert invested in rural communities and small towns that were underserved by larger grocery chains. He continued to implement this strategy throughout the South.
The first store was small and staffed by Ingle, his wife and a small workforce. In order to beat the competition that controlled 93 percent of the food sales in the area, Robert extended the store hours to include Sundays and holidays, cut prices, advertised specials, expanded the store and offered promotional items to entice customers. In 1987, the Nasdaq stock market listed the company for the first time.
Ingles offers its own Laura Lynn brand name products named after Robert's daughter Laura Lynn Ingle.