Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dead stores

Zayre's. LaBelle's. Frank's Nursery and Crafts. You can fill in the blanks with more names of dead chain stores--stores that once were a major part of your shopping life, especially in those lost days when Mom decided where and when the family shopped. It's funny to think of how many once-giant, imposing stores have slipped out of our lives, sometimes without us even noticing. I know when I drive past certain buildings, or empty lots, I can't help but remember the stores that used to be there. It's like seeing ghosts.

For me, there's a store in Roseville, Minn. that used to be a LaBelle's (discount retailer and jewelry store...I THINK?) and then became a Frank's Nursery and Crafts. Both had super-memorable theme songs. LaBelle's went "the best things happen at LaBelle's!" And all I can remember from Frank's song is them singing the entire name of the store, "Frrrrrank's Nur-ser-y and Crrrrrafts!" (Note: The commercial I found, embedded below, reminds me that the jingle also went "Beautiful things, begin at Frank's!")

According to Wikipedia, Frank's went bankrupt in 2004. I also found a blog entry about them (most of its photos seem to have expired --sorry) written by a Minnesotan who notes that it wasn't a Minnesota-only store, but had locations in 14 states. (Off-topic, but how much do I love a blog that discusses dumpy and dead stores in Minnesota? A whole lot much, that's how much. Unfortunately the blog seems to have been abandoned.) Anyway, Frank's was the craft and garden store that I knew before I'd ever heard of Michael's or JoAnn's or any of the others. I didn't really do a lot of crafts, but it's quite possible we got the yarn for my eighth-grade crocheting class there.

LaBelle's I think was located in the Roseville Frank's before Frank's. I remember it selling things kind of like a Penney's, only maybe with fewer clothes. It seems to me the jewelry counter was a big deal but I may be confusing my memories. I have even fuzzier memories of Zayres, which apparently became TJ Maxx. The most interesting thing about them was they bought a chain called Shopper's City, which becam Zayre's Shoppers City, and the most interesting thing about Shopper's City was that kids in Minnesota grade schools would challenge each other to say the store's name super fast over and over again...Shopper's City Shopper's City Shopper's Shi-- whoops!

Wickes Furniture is also apparently gone as of 2008 -- remember them? Later when I learned what wicker furniture was I always made the assumption that Wickes only carried wicker, which was not true. (Wickes commercial here.)

Musicland? ("We bring entertainment...to life!") Not any more you don't. And the sun has set on Suncoast Pictures.

Mervyn's, or Mervyn's of California as they were dorkily known for a while? Gone too.

Remember the jeans store County Seat? ("Redirect your feet into the County Seat!") I can't find full verification but they look gone as well.

What chains do you remember that are long gone, whether regional or national? (There's a giant list here if you want to see which childhood memories are gone, baby, gone. Man, I really miss St. Paul Book and Stationery...)


Laura said...

B. Dalton Bookseller. How much time did I kill in the B. Dalton Bookseller in the downtown Mankato Mall (RIP)? The last of them were liquidated in January.

Anonymous said...

We have a Shop City in NY and as kids would have the same challenge :)

Anonymous said...

Before Wal-Mart, there was Gibson's. I think they were probably a regional store (located mostly in the Southwest) but I don't know for sure. And who could ever forget the old five-and-dime stores with lunch counters like Woolworth's. Also, there was Western Auto variety stores (probably a Southwest only staple, as well).

Dawn said...

Two Guys, Caldor, The Cupboard, Consumers and Harmony Hut (hell most music stores are gone now) just to name a few. My husband and I were just discussing those wait in line steak houses that were so popular in the late 70's - Ponderosa, Rustler and York Steak House - and what killed them off. We decided it was those buffet style places.

Anonymous said...

I still have my Marshall Field's credit card in my wallet. I miss that store so much!

I have, however, never accosted the Macy's CEO about it.

Emily said...

My mother was the Director of a Preschool. My younger brother and I often had to go with her shopping for school supplies. She always went to St. Paul Book & Stationary. To this day my brother and I talk about how that store made us have to go to the bathroom, of the number 2 variety. We have no idea why but it worked like a charm on both of us. We do not miss that store one bit.

But oh how I miss Dayton's. Macy's just does not cut it compared to the glory that was Dayton's.

Anonymous said...

Re: Western Auto stores. They were in the Southeast, as well. My parents actually met in the small town Western Auto franchise store my uncle owned in the 70s.

Sylkozakur said...

GEMCO! the all in one store not had grocery, camping, fishing, clothes, books, records. Loved it. Oh, they also had grocery pick up. You shop and pay then get a ticket then you go to your car and pull around to the pick up window and they load your groceries in the car.

Most of the GEMCO's I remember became Targets in the 1980's.

Captivated said...

Montgomery Ward, Ben Franklin, Red Owl, and Snyder Drug.

Laurie said...

Korvettes, Bradlees, Gimbels, Bonwit Teller, Sterns, Altmans, Wallachs, Lubins, Kleins, Circut City, John Wanamaker, Alexanders, Consumers Distributers, Service Merchandise.....wow! That's just off the top of my head. Can't believe there are so many!

Lynn said...

Gold Circle, McCrory's, G. C. Murphy.

Anonymous said...

I looked at the Wikipedia list you linked to, and was shocked to see so many familiar names. It was depressing! What's kinda sad is how many local, family-owner department stores with just one or two locations have vanished, subsumed by the big-box chains. Growing up in the Wilmington/Philadelphia area in the '70s, we had John Wanamaker, Lit Brothers, Arthurs, Braunsteins, Pomeroys, Almart, Mitchells (the go-to place for hobbies and Boy/Girl Scout supplies), Strawbridge & Clothier, Clover (a discount version of Strawbridges), Gimbels, Mullins, Gaylords, Grants, Two Guys, Storms (shoes and accessories), Silo (electronics)... and those are just the ones that come to mind right off the bat. In many cases the stores went out of business years ago and remain vacant, like fossils in the suburban landscape. Boscov's is still around, but just barely hanging on.

Aging mall rats who want more depressing reading should check out http://www.deadmalls.com/, complete with a blog and Facebook updates.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Walmart, Target, Macy's for killing the little guys and many of their communities and jobs. Good job being greedy f'rs.

Anonymous said...

I remember that LaBelle's only had "floor models" for viewing. In order to get something you had to bring a ticket to the counter and they went in the back to get it, then put it in a holding bin for you to retrieve and then pay for it.

Anonymous said...

Build a burger remembers stores not on the list at Wikipedia...
Kokesh Sports
Carson Pierre Scott
Norwest Bank
Red Owl, Country Store
Standard Oil, Amoco
Wax Museum
Buster Brown shoes
The bird cage and fish pond at Southdale
All the little stores at Knollwood
Bally's Fitness
U.S. Swim and Fitness
am 1500, KSTP
U100 radio
99.5 fm WLOL...

Anonymous said...

Chammmmmpppiioooooonnnn Auto Stores! Wherever you live, wherever you drive...