Store closings

This story on Snopes was in my feed reader this morning.

As usual, there’s a lot of misinformation in the E-mail to which Snopes is responding, but the Snopes site goes on to set the record straight from published news reports. Quite a number of stores have either already closed or will soon close hundreds of locations around the country, to wit:

  • Pier 1 will be closing an unspecified number of stores.
  • Ann Taylor plans to close 117 struggling stores by the end of 2011. (I once had a friend who worked at Ann Taylor. They were required to wear Ann Taylor apparel. So there went most of her paycheck.)
  • Pacific Sunwear (Pac-Sun) will be closing its d.e.m.o. line of stores by the end of 2008.
  • Wilsons Leather is closing all of its mall-based stores. Some of them will be revamped as a “Studio” concept featuring fashion accessories for women. Apparently, no more leather coats and jackets, though.
  • Zales plans to close about 100 stores.
  • Friedman’s plans to close an unspecified number of stores.
  • Pep Boys will be closing an unspecified number of stores.
  • Charming Shoppes plans to close at least 150 Catherine’s and Lane Bryant stores.

And then I think of all the stores that have already closed, some long ago, some not so long ago, including these that I really miss:

  • Parisian
  • Just for Feet
  • Rich’s
  • Pizitz
  • Blach’s
  • Yeilding’s
  • Loveman’s
  • Sons and Harwell (I really miss this one!)
  • McRae’s
  • Gayfers
  • Delchamps
  • Jitney Jungle (including the legendary Jitney 14)

And it’s not a store, but long live the memory of Eastwood Mall. It was the first enclosed mall in the Deep South, and the second in the Southeast after Charlotte, NC (yes, Atlanta, we beat you). They had a great theatre with rocking seats, a cool bowling alley, and many beautiful fountains, one of which I have personally jumped into (I was 16 at the time).

Sears and JC Penney are mere shadows of their former selves. So I guess before long Wal-Mart will be like GUM was in Moscow during the Soviet years. The store that has everything you need because it’s the only store there is. And, as is the case with Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery in Garrison Keillor’s mythical Lake Wobegon, if they don’t have it at Wal-Mart, you will just have to get along without it, because where else are you going to go?

BTW the land once occupied by Eastwood Mall is now — a Wal-Mart super center. Need I say more?

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About revjatb

I am a father of six who is trying to do his best! My interests are varied. I have one blog, KnowTea, that is primarily focused on liturgy and worship and another one, Bengtsson's Baking, that is about, well, baking! I hope you enjoy both of them, and if you have any questions, please contact me!
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17 Responses to Store closings

  1. Ed Eubanks says:

    It seems to me that Wal-Mart and Target are the “new” Sears and JC Penney. Yes, they’re replacing these (and other) department stores; but this is only sad/surprising to us because we don’t remember the stores that Sears, JC Penney, and others themselves replaced.

    You could probably argue that World Market is the new Pier One too; and haven’t Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Linens and Things essentially replaced some of the more upscale department stores like Rich’s? (I only remember ever shopping at Rich’s for towels, dishes, and cookware…)

    On the other hand– have you noticed that stores like Aldi and Trader Joe’s (both big, and growing, in larger metro areas) are giving the bigger grocery stores (think Kroger, Bi-Lo, Publix in the southeast, Schnuck’s in the mid-west, etc.) a serious run for their money? In the little town we live in, we have a Kroger and a new Super Wal-Mart; Kroger is hurting from the Wal-Mart already– and if I were a betting man I’d put money on the likelihood that an Aldi or Trader Joe’s could take the rest of their business in six months.

  2. RevJATB says:

    Ed,

    I just read an article–somewhere–the other day about Aldi and Trader Joe’s, which, although national chains (and in the case of Aldi, international, since it’s German), style themselves as smaller, “neighborhood” stores. And you’re right, they are very successful. I think maybe there is a bit of a pendulum swing going on. People are tired of “big box” stores and want a smaller environment and more personal attention.

    Funny, I never thought of Rich’s for housewares. Sure, I knew we had a housewares dept. (I worked in the men’s dept. in college), but I never went up there! Rich’s was where I bought the lion’s share of my clothes when I was in college, even before I started working there and had the employee discount. The customer service was excellent (even before I started working there, at which point of course it got better).

    I remember in training they told us, “If a customer comes in and says, ‘This same shirt is on sale for $5.00 less than this at Parisian,’ give it to them.” Even if we knew full well that Parisian didn’t even carry that brand of shirts. The customer was always right. It built a ton of good will. And loyal customers.

    I guess you’re right about places like Linens & Things and (on the clothing side of things) Kohl’s replacing the department stores. But having to find everything yourself and take it up front to the check-out line just like you would at Lord Waldemart just isn’t the same as the “May I help you?” that you’d get as soon as you stepped on someone’s carpet at Rich’s, Parisian, or any of the other department stores I mentioned.

    Mark (who needs to stop lurking and start commenting again), didn’t you work in housewares at Macy’s?

  3. GuessWho says:

    John, you do know (sorry this is off-season) that THE Santa Claus was at, where else, the downtown Sears, don’t you? In a quiet spot near the department were they sold and drilled custom finger holes in the bowling balls (not in operation at the times Santa held court). And Pizitz had the best Christmas tree displays.

    So sad about Eastwood Mall. That should have been on the historical register or something. Were you apprehended by the guys who rode around in the electric carts for jumping in a fountain? Did Elbert Lingo give piano lessons there (at Opus II) or did you study at his home? Mrs. Ranelli taught there once a week.

  4. GuessWho says:

    And one just had to get a ginger bread man at the downtown Sears. Never mind that they were horrible, with such strong ginger that they would cause a sore throat.

  5. cancerman says:

    First off, Atlanta let you win. Second their really is nothing like Jitney Jungle, at least as far as the name goes.

    We went to Aldi’s last week. It was ok except for all the old ladies who couldn’t figure out how to bag their own groceries.

  6. RevJATB says:

    David, so if you washed down a Sears gingerbread man with a Buffalo Rock ginger ale, would your throat explode? I remember always getting helium balloons and caramel corn at Sears downtown.

    My piano lessons with Elbert were on Tuesday nights at 7:00 p.m. at his home, where he would sit next to me and chain-smoke while I played and say things like, “That looks like hell as a hand position.” He had some interesting art on the walls, as I recall. I don’t know if Elbert was teaching there while I was taking from him: I know he did later. He taught at the same place that Katie taught for a while too. Can’t remember if that was at Opus II or somewhere else.

    I remember at Christmas time that Pizitz downtown had that “Enchanted Forest” up on the top floor (which was the auditorium the rest of the year): a really cool Christmas walk-through with lots o’ animated scenes, and a talking Christmas tree at the end that scared the bejabbers out of me. I remember going to see Santa at Pizitz, and at Loveman’s I think. Mostly we went to Eastwood, where I was convinced the REAL Santa kept shop. I figured all the others were just Santa’s helpers.

    The lady at Opus II who sold me my piano was the mom of two friends of Paul and me: Jim and Alan Head. Jim is now an OB/GYN at Baptist Shelby, and Alan is a United Methodist minister.

    OH, back to Eastwood Mall, do you remember the Kitty Lawson Organ Studio in the mall that had a TV SHOW???? Probably on Channel 42: who else would have run such an awful thing? They just had people playing things like “The Alley Cat Song” on those organs with the built in rhythm machines and the one-finger chord things. Sitting out in the middle of the mall, playing the Alley Cat Song. And people sat at home and watched.

  7. GuessWho says:

    Buffalo Rock ginger ale and a Sears Gingerbread man would have dissolved your tonsils.

    Kitty Lawson. I think she had a sort of kiosk studio out in the middle of everything. Can’t remember if she sold the organs they played on (probably).

    Elbert and Mrs. R. were going to play the “Theme from Apartment” once for the B’ham Pno. Teachers’ Forum a la Ferrante & Teicher (not their usual repertoire, why on earth that??). One of his students and I got to also play on the program, mostly because THEY needed page turners! We all were invited to a big rehearsal at his house, which was rather interesting!

  8. David Gilleran says:

    Eastwood Mall brings back the drive to Birmingham in Oct. of 1971 on Friday afternoon after school let out. We had dinner at Morrisons and then went on to the high school football game.
    Good times many years ago.

  9. RevJATB says:

    If it was 1971 and it was Eastwood, it was probably Barber’s Cafeteria (owned by Barber’s Dairy of Birmingham). Barber’s operated two cafeterias in Eastwood Mall–one on each end of the mall. Sometime in the 70s they sold their cafeterias to Britling (another Birmingham original–we used to go to the Britling Cafeteria downtown from time to time). Britling then sold one of those cafeterias to Pioneer (yet another Birmingham original) and eventually closed the Britling cafeteria. The Pioneer in Eastwood continued in business for a long time, even as the mall itself declined.

    The first Morrison’s I remember in B’ham was at Century Plaza, which is across the street from Eastwood, but I don’t think Century opened until 1975 or 1976.

    Welcome to the blog, David G.! Of course, for all I know you could have been lurking for a long time but just now decided to comment. šŸ™‚

  10. David Gilleran says:

    John, it was in Eastwood I must have had the two mixed up. Looking back the first Morrison’s I dined in was in 1972 in Tuscaloosa on the way to Explo 72. If you have to ask what Explo 72 was then you are young.

  11. RevJATB says:

    I’m trying to remember what I must have been doing in the summer of ’72. I’m sure it involved going to VBS at at least three different churches and consuming lots o’ Kool-Pops.

    I distinctly remember the summer of ’73. That was the summer that I was bummed every morning because the Watergate hearings preempted Captain Kangaroo.

  12. David Gilleran says:

    Explo 72 was a mass evangelism/training event put on by Campus Crusade. We stayed at North Texas State (as it was known back then) and bused into the Cotton Bowl each evening. One of our teachers at NTS was a little known pastor named John MacArthur.

  13. GuessWho says:

    Watergate preempted after-school programming, too (“Gilligan’s,” “Munsters,” “Adams Family,” or “Brady Bunch”–one or all of those, if I recall). To this day, I don’t really like green felt covering tables.

    There was a Britling in Mountain Brook Village (next to Western Supermarket, or Western took the spot when Britling closed–can’t remember which). The cafeteria was popular with all the little old ladies who wore white gloves covered in costume jewelry rings and bracelets ( looked like episcopal gauntlets that would have made Pope John XXIII proud).

  14. RevJATB says:

    David (A., or Cook): I think it was next to Western, because there was still a cafeteria over there when we were at SU. I remember VocalLeague sang there one day at lunch for a bunch of blue haired people. Maybe it was a Rotary meeting or something? Of course it was not Britling by then. Can’t remember the name. It wasn’t the Copper Kettle: that was over at Brookwood in the same strip as Jos. A. Bank (actually before Jos. A. Bank was there).

  15. Christina G says:

    I came across this blog while searching for anything I could possibly find about Elbert Lingo. When I first began taking lessons from him, he was teaching at Forbes. (I was just heartbroken when they had to close!) He later taught out of his home. I distinctly remember his chain-smoking throughout my lesson and how, toward the end of my years with him, his health had declined to the point that he was have to teach while lying down in his chaise next to the piano. What a musical genius he was! Of course, I didn’t appreciate his genius until I became a teacher myself. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

  16. RevJATB says:

    Christina, Elbert was incredible. I only wish I had taken from him longer.

  17. Laura Newton Young says:

    I was one of those kids playing Alley Cat on the organ at Kitty Lawson’s Organ Salon. The greatest part of my childhood was spent at Eastwood mall playing the organ……Those were the days!

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