Thursday, March 12, 2015

Out of Business...My favorite retail shops of yesteryear

Have you ever loved an establishment so much that you considered yourself a loyal customer by choice? Not establishments like Wal-Mart or Target, those type of places draw loyalty through necessity just because they are one stop sources for everyday needs. I'm talking about placed you will go out of your way to get and pay more because you enjoy the atmosphere and the place in general. Get the picture?

Now just imagine, you invest your energy, praise, money and time to show your appreciation for these places and one day, they close up and are gone forever. This seems to be a regular occurance for me. I've mentioned in previous entries how I have been saddened by the closure of Sharper Image, record stores as well as music superstores.
Most of the stores I remember my parents regularly shopped in are no longer in business. The ones that I particularly loved for the fact that my sister and I could play with toys or entertain ourselves while my parents shopped were Gaylords, TG&Y, K&B, Montgomery Wards and Zayres. Revco was usually the pharmacy my mom would go when I was sick, she'd always let me pick out a coloring book and a fresh pack of crayons to go along with the bottle of cheratussin and a jar of Vicks Vapor Rub.

Over the past 10 years, it would seem with every visit to a shopping mall, I notice a new going out of business sale or empty storefronts that was once a home to a booming business. I really didn't have much exposure to going out of business sales when I was a kid, other than the closing of TG&Y and Woolco stores.

Throughout my life, I've watched many a retail giant rise and fall. So here's shoutouts to those that have met their demise which I loved for one reason or another.

  1. BC Moore's-My sister and I enjoyed this store because of the fact that it was the ONLY store in our small town that carried name brands like Levi's, Nike and Reebok.
  2. Big B-A chain drugstore with an AMAZING selection of candy and seasonal items. ;-)
  3. Bombay Company-I LOVED their selection of Nutcrackers during the holidays.
  4. Borders Books, Music & Cafe-I worked here for a while, LOVED the selection over all other book & music stores.
  5. Bugle Boy-The clothes were the epitome of late 80's/early 90's fashion...baggy and yet they were reasonably priced.
  6. Camelot-This was a small record store with a good selection of music with a few imports mixed in. Pretty much every FYE, looks like an updated Camelot. 
  7. Chess King-Cool clothes for the moment, nothing you'd want to be seen in 6 months later though. This was FAD clothing at it's finest.
  8. Circuit City-Best Buy's adaption to the market put Circuit City out of business. They were what Best Buy aspired to be and once it became an equal, Circuit City just couldn't keep up.
  9. Coconuts-I LOVED the location in Greenwich Village because I found my copy of the original London cast recording of Starlight Express on cassette tape for $8.99 rather than $40 up at Colony Music.
  10. Colony Music-They had it all, records, tapes, CDs, karaoke, posters, showcards, sheet music and it was featured in Can't Stop The Music starring the Village People!!!!
  11. County Seat-I wasn't really a fan of this place, I did shop here a few times though.
  12. Eckerd Drugs-I loved this place, then Rite-Aid bought them out...I loved Rite-Aid until they started snatching out the items I loved the most and began to creep their prices up to match CVS and Walgreens.
  13. Dejaiz-Much like Chess King...FAD clothes...very late 80s/early 90s.
  14. Delchamps-Brightly lit grocery store...they had a "by the pound" salad bar that one could easily spend $11 without realizing.
  15. D.H. Holmes-Ours was taken over by Dillards but while D.H. Holmes was in business, it had a very upscale feel...seems weird to say but when I was a kid, I thought THIS is what it felt like shopping in Paris or New York City.
  16. Drug Emporium-Open 24 Hours...I LOVED this place because this is where the drag queens stole their makeup from as well as they had all kinds of crap you'd never buy unless you were bored and wandered in at 3am. A bulk of my Disney movies on VHS came from here, they jumped street dates by a week.
  17. Footlight Records-Pretty much, this was your GO-TO store for showtunes and show related music from the US and overseas. Their CD's averaged around 35% less than Colony Music's prices.
  18. Gayfers-Much like D.H. Holmes, this was one of a few upscale establishments in the Mobile & Pensacola area.
  19. Gaylords-I don't remember much about these stores other than they had a good selection of toys and most of the locations around me became Zayre stores.
  20. HMV-The location in Atlanta was tucked away in the section of Lenox Square Mall that no one really wandered into. I'd shopped here a few times but mainly  for their selection of imported dance CDs and singles.
  21. International Records-This store was located in Peachtree Center and had limited hours. No pop/rock music...The selection ranged from bluegrass, world music, showtunes to it's main staple classical & opera. I LOVED this store. My only complaint was their showtunes selection was limited to domestic recordings only.
  22. Just For Feet-They had the greatest sales, perks and coupons...need I say more?
  23. K&B Drugs-PURPLE NEON and ice cream!!!
  24. Kay Bee Toys-Chirping mechanical toys in a display out front pulled you into their stores...they had the greatest selection of Atari 2600 games ever!!!
  25. Linens N Things-CRAMPED compared to Bed Bath and Beyond but if something wasn't one sale at BB&B at the time, it would be at LNT.
  26. Lionel Playworld-This is too easy...They WERE what Toys R Us wanted to be and eventually became.
  27. MARS Music-They had EVERYTHING I ever wanted under one roof. They had a HUGE microphone room.
  28. McDuff-To be honest, I hated this store but I did get a great deal on a portable Panasonic cassette player with headphones there.
  29. McRae's-This was a competitor of Gayfers and D.H. Holmes but at a different mall...To me, it was like shopping at a place that was a step down from those two.
  30. Media Play-Much like Borders & Tower Records, this was a one stop shop with additional departments...They had a musical instrument section, a department dedicated to CD storage as well as telephones and small electronics. They also had USED cds and DVDs.
  31. Merry Go Round-Same company as Dejaiz, pretty much the same sort of concept...why bother having several locations with different names in the same mall?
  32. Montgomery Wards-THIS was the store to shop for that one stop experience of buying housewares like blenders and kitchen stuff, clothing and electronics such as stereos and televisions. Once they closed, Sears sort of morphed into what Wards seemed to be towards the last 10 years.
  33. Musicland-This was a run of the mill mall location record store, nothing special. If you bought top of the charts selections, you got a good deal...not so much on older selections unless they were in the cutout or clearance section.
  34. Peaches-This was the small town version of Tower Records. When I moved back to Mobile, from New York in 1993, Peaches was the closest to Tower...or so I thought.
  35. Pharmor-Meds and cheap video rentals...why pay more?
  36. Record Bar-Yet another run of the mill record store. Record Bar offered the best selection of 12" singles in comparison to all the other mall record stores...I remember THIS is where I got my 12" single of Madonna's True Blue, Murray Head's One Night In Bangkok and Irene Cara's Flashdance What A Feeling.
  37. Revco-Meds, Candy, Coloring Books and neon lights that stretched around the store.
  38. Richs-Macy's in Atlanta pretty much moved their modern concept out of Atlanta and merged into the Richs stores. Shopping at Macy's now is like shopping at a Richs then.
  39. Sam Goody-see musicland...except I loved shopping in the glow of pink neon.
  40. Scotty's-Everywhere you went in these stores, you smelled sawdust...they had amazing deals on Panasonic batteries.
  41. Service Merchandise-Your stuff came out from the back on a conveyer belt...why wouldn't a kid love that?
  42. Sharper Image-Gadgets you didn't need but you definitely wanted.
  43. Steve and Barry-Cheap clothing for men and women...all priced at just under 9 bucks...I still have a few shirts and a pair of shoes from here.
  44. Suncoast Video-Everything you could buy here, you could get at Walmart but it was cool to say you got it at Suncoast.
  45. Sunray-This was a dirty little grocery store that my mom shopped at maybe 4 times before they closed in Mobile...after that we were Delchamps and Food World shoppers.
  46. TG&Y-Toys, Yarn, Records, Motor Oil, Hamsters and a snack bar!!!!
  47. Tower Records-Anything you wanted from a record was here...unless it was an obscure import showtune CD...unless you were shopping at the location in NYC in the village.
  48. Turtles-Much like Sam Goody and Musicland but without the fun lighting.
  49. Warner Brothers Store-Cartoon characters and WONDER WOMAN shirts and toys!!!!
  50. The Wiz-Nobody Beats The Wiz...I'm not sure if they are gone but you've not lived until you bought an off brand Somy Walkman from a greasy Italian that smells like pizza and matzo ball soup. 
  51. Woolco-It was like a Woolworth mated with K-mart....I can still smell the odor of rubber coming from the shoe department.
  52. Woolworth-The closest to these awesome little one stop shop for all your everyday needs that we have now would be a Fred's Super Dollar. Except Fred's doesn't have a yarn section
  53. Zayres-Zayres was like Target before Target became like K-Mart. Upscale discount department store would be the word for Zayres.

And a whole lot more....

Some of the currents on their way out through a downward spiral seem to be K-mart, JC Penny, Radio Shack and Sears.

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