K-Mart, Sears to enter the Graveyard Of Department Stores?

It looks grim for K-Mart and Sears. The two retail giants have fallen on hard times and some rather poor management decisions have forced their hand and now 120 stores nationwide will close.

It seems unthinkable to me that an institution such as Sears could go under. Then I begin to think about the last time I was actually in a Sears store and I can’t remember.

That led me to a little search around the Internets and with a lot of help from Wikipedia I discovered lots of old, now defunct department stores. Kind of a trip to the Graveyard Of Department Stores.

was an American chain of discount stores based in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, USA. The company was founded in 1958 with a store in Southbridge, Massachusetts, and at its peak operated 700 stores in 20 states, including the Northeast, Upper South, Midwest and the District of Columbia, making it the fourth largest discount retailer in the United States.

Despite its successes, in its later years, Ames was plagued by debt and a slow decline in sales. This resulted in two bankruptcy filings that ultimately put an end to the chain. The company, despite expanding into other markets and taking over many closed stores that had been abandoned by competitors, went out of business in 2002.

The Globe Store eventually moved to Scranton where it would gain local fame. The Scranton Globe Store was the former Cleland, Simpson & Taylor building on Wyoming Avenue.

The new Globe Store in Scranton was one of the only stores of its kind in the city. It had sometimes been compared to the stores of New York City with its large display windows, enormous selection with all of the latest fashions, and its restaurant, the Charlmont (later converted to cafeteria style restaurant).

ED NOTE: I ate often in the Charlmont when “Lumpy” the stingy GM of Rock 107 was buying.

The store prospered until the opening of the nearby Viewmont Mall in the 1960s. Business was drawn to the new suburban mall and downtown business began to decline. In the 1960s the Globe was purchased by Wanamaker’s but quickly became an independent store again in the 1970s when Wanamaker’s experienced financial difficulty, that chain eventually closing in 1986. In 1987, the Mall at Steamtown was proposed to help revitalize the shopping district. Demolition of dilapidated buildings started October 1991 but this was too late for the Globe. The Mall at Steamtown opened to the public October 23, 1993 with the Globe as one of the anchor stores (connected to the new mall by pedestrian bridge).The Globe couldn’t last though and closed its doors April 1994, laying off 400 workers, after PNC Bank seized the store’s assets. The former Globe building was converted to office space and is occupied by Diversified Information Technologies. The pedestrian bridge was closed off from the Globe and turned into the furniture department of Boscov’s, one of the other anchors of the mall. The bridge has since become a Steve and Barry’s sportswear store. Following Steve and Barry’s bankruptcy and subsequent liquidation, the area is now the furniture closeout department of Boscov’s.

J.M. Fields was a discount department store chain based in Salem, Massachusetts. Fields expanded rapidly in the early 1960s from a regional New England enterprise, opening stores along the entire Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Florida. Food Fair Corporation purchased the growing J.M. Fields business in 1961, and in 1965 the Fields home office was moved from Boston to Food Fair corporate headquarters in Philadelphia.

Jamesway was a chain of discount department stores based in Secaucus, New Jersey. It was founded in 1961 with a store in Jamestown, New York, and at its peak operated 138 stores in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions.

Despite its successes, Jamesway faced significant losses during its last years in business. This resulted in two bankruptcy filings which ultimately put an end to the chain in 1995.

F&R Lazarus & Company — commonly known as Lazarus — was a regional department store retail chain operating primarily in the U.S. Midwest, and based in Columbus, Ohio. For over 150 years, Lazarus was influential in the American retail industry, particularly during the early 20th century as a founding partner in Federated Department Stores, and continued until the nameplate was retired on March 6, 2005 in favor of Macy’s.

Hills Department Store
was a Canton, Massachusetts, based discount department store chain. It was founded in 1957 in Youngstown, Ohio, and existed until 1999 when it was acquired by Ames. Most stores were located in Ohio, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, though the company had made a push into other economies in the 1980s. It pushed further south and had several stores in Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama and west into Michigan.

was a department store chain based in Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania in the United States. The company started in 1897 with one store, originally known as Hess Brothers, and had grown to nearly 80 stores at its peak in the late 1980s. The chain’s stores were eventually closed or sold off in a series of deals in the early to mid 1990s.

The F. W. Woolworth Company (often referred to as Woolworth’s or Woolworth, or even Woolsworth) was a retail company that was one of the original American five-and-dime stores. The first successful Woolworth store was opened on July 18, 1879 by Frank Winfield Woolworth in Lancaster, Pennsylvania as “Woolworth’s Great Five Cent Store”. Soon, Frank brought his brother, Charles Sumner Woolworth, whom everyone called Sum, into the business. With $127.50 Frank opened a second “Woolworth’s Great Five Cent Store” in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania which was then managed by Sum. Sum worked with Frank at the Augsbury and Moore dry goods store in Watertown, New York and had also managed a Augsbury and Moore store in Morristown, New York. Business in Harrisburg flourished, and soon the landlord wanted to raise the rent. Rather than pay more in rent, Frank and Sum moved the store to York, Pennsylvania then to Scranton, Pennsylvania, a city which Sum quickly loved. Frank had tested a small line of ten-cent items at his Lancaster store. So when the Scranton store opened, the sign read “5¢ & 10¢ WOOLWORTH BRO’S STORE” thus becoming the first five-and-ten-cent (dime) store in the world at 125 Penn Ave. While Frank traveled a lot to expand the business, Sum perfected the merchandising formula in Scranton. He based his operations in the Pennsylvania coal town and remained in Scranton during his decades as Chairman of F. W. Woolworth. Despite growing to be one of the largest retail chains in the world through most of the 20th century, increased competition led to its decline beginning in the 1980s. The chain went out of business in July 1997, when the company decided to focus on the Foot Locker division and renamed itself Venator Group. By 2001, the company focused exclusively on the sporting goods market, changing its name to the present Foot Locker Inc.

W. T. Grant or Grants was a United States-based chain of mass-merchandise stores founded by William Thomas Grant that operated from 1906 until 1976. The stores were generally of the variety store format located in downtowns.

Zayre was a chain of discount stores that operated in the Northeastern, Southern and Midwestern United States from 1956 to 1990. The company’s headquarters was in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Fowler, Dick & Walker, The Boston Store
–Not gone but now known as “Boscov’s”

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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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