Even though I’m of a young age, I’ve still seen a lot of stores that have come and gone. (And, having lived near a mall for a very, very long while, I remember them pretty well.) Here, in terms of importance or just plain interest, are my top 5 favorite defunct chain stores:
5. Caldor, 1951-1999
There used to be a Caldor by me – it’s now a Target – and I remember two things about it: first, I got a John Burkett Starting Lineup (which, to my surprise, ended in 2001 – The Man continues to take my childhood away from me) figure there (that’s IIRC, it might have come from KB Toys), and second, I got my hand cut by a broken mug there. I also remember the big “CALDOR” sign on the facade with its always kinda weird font, and how as a kid I called it “Cow Doors” instead of its actual name.
4. Circuit City, 1949-2009
Circuit City was kinda cool. The price guarantee they had (where they’d match the price, plus 10% beyond that) was pretty great, but over-expansion was their real downfall. The flagship at Union Square was also nice, though the building’s rent, I’d assume, was pretty damn exorbitant (there’s a Duane Reade on part of the property now). Now the local Circuit City just sits there next to an also-closed car mechanic, slowly rotting away.
3. (Nobody Beats) the Wiz, 1977-2003
The Wiz used to sponsor the DynaMets Dash (now known as the Mr. Met Dash) for kids to run the bases at Shea. I must have run the bases of Shea at least a dozen times, probably more, and I got a veritable crapload of DynaMets Dash t-shirts. Other than that, neither I nor my family did a heck of a lot of shopping at the Wiz, though we did get a cool Walkman in the early part of the last decade, that had weather band and TV audio (well, until the analog-digital change) that came in handy during the Blackout of 2003.
Oh, and great ads.
2. Crazy Eddie, 1979-1988
But probably the most influential store was…
1. Tower Records, 1960-2006
If you needed to get a CD you couldn’t get at Sam Goody (or Circuit City), or, an album you couldn’t get on iTunes, later on, you went to Tower Records. (Or Virgin Megastore, but that’s still open in other countries, and, anyway, who’s counting?) Tower was the home for music for the longest time – and while it still exists in some form online, the biggest thing then and now are/were the brick and mortar stores.