That Mall is sick and that Store is dead!

April 18, 2022

“More Herb” (copied from my ‘history’ blog), 1986

Filed under: commercials,feud,fewd,newspaper clippings,what — Anita @ 12:09 pm

So when I made that 1986 Super Bowl commercials entry a few months back, I wanted to touch more on Herb, but needed the extra time to obsessively flip through old newspapers online. I did it.

When these cryptic ads began to pop up in papers in November of 1985, people named Herb who owned money to let’s say, mob bosses began to get weary.

Of course, the parodies and jokes began to roll out:

It is still too early to tell whether Herb is doing for Burger King what Shamu has done for Sea World. But one thing is sure — other chain restaurants are intent on stealing some of Herb’s thunder. Signs at Wendy’s and Ponderosa Steak House outlets in Central Florida proclaim that Herb is too busy eating in those places to appear at Burger King. Pizza Hut, in celebration of last week’s National Pizza Week and to promote its new delivery service in this market, distributed pizza boxes containing a flier that read: “Herb won’t be eating burgers this week either.” There has even been a sighting of a trailer sign in front of a local Presbyterian church with the message: “Man does not live by bread alone, Herb.” Perhaps to fend off the exploitation of its campaign by rivals, Burger King will finally unveil Herb this week. He will surface Tuesday morning on NBC’s Today show. 1

I had to re-read this article several times to understand it.

And of course, people stole the cardboard cutouts of Herb that were in every Burger King.

I wanted to find newspaper articles about people finding Herb in their town-after all, he visited every state and parts of Canada. That was harder than I thought it would be! Turns out, sometimes, the local paper din’t care or didn’t know that Herb had arrived, I guess. I mean, before Herb made his super bowl debut, articles began popping up wondering if people would even care once Herb showed his face.

Also, I wasn’t aware that Herb showed up on Today before the commercial. How dare he!

People in York, Pennsylvania seemed annoyed by the campaign:

Also, people who were named Herb (ok, maybe one or two people) were upset, which is really stupid:

Boy, you are 32 years old, you have bigger fish to fry than to be upset over a commercial. Also, don’t remind people about Herbert Hoover. He was a terrible president.

Then, there was a guy in Colorado who looked an awful lot like Herb:

Someone got mad that he wore glasses?

Suffolk News Herald, March 12, 1986

and of course, the boomer jokes.

Little kids did a program for old people where they parodied old commercials. A kid attempted to dress like Herb!

In Schuykill County, Pennsylvania, kids dressed like Herb for a contest! You’re right, Kelly, Herb is funny.

Herb even made a yearbook or two.

Alright, alright, so Herb hits the road!

(these aren’t in order)

Kansas – Levenworth

Maryland – Baltimore

Nevada – Reno

Arizona – Tempe

(also an interview with Herb! Jon Menick stays in character though the interview! Just a lil guy from Wisconsin!)

Mmm! Wisconsin couldn’t make their mind up whether they were proud or embarrassed by Herb:

(also, Wisconsin – Milwaukee)

Pennsylvania – unknown

Herb visited Gimbel’s department store in Pittsburgh.

He also showed up at an American Heart Association fundraiser while in Pennsylvania.??

Montana – Bozeman

Hawaii Hilo

North Carolina – Charlotte

Utah – West Valley City

Mississippi – Biloxi

This Herb sighting kind of bummed me out. The winner would go to the same Burger King six or seven times a day for two months. That’s redic.

Florida – Lake Worth

Ohio – [Grove City?]

Illinois – Chicago

(the Gary from the commercial! )

I thought, `Hey! That looks like Herb!’ ” said the 24-year-old Franklin Park bachelor. Like the rest of us, Sirotzke has been inundated lately with teasers about Madison Avenue’s ultimate nebbish, billed as the only American never to have set lips on a Whopper. “So I went up and asked him, and all this happened.” 2

Rhode Island – [Providence?]

]

A giggly, glossy-faced fellow with thinning hair and horn-rimmed glasses, [Herb] hiked up his pant leg to proudly display his white socks, tweaked the winner’s cheeks, and invited him to reciprocate. When Ham obliged, Herb said, “I love you. Some of the people are . . .,” and he made a deadly face.
As he spoke, he took a black marker to sign a huge plastic banner. Meaning to write, “Herb was here,” he got confused and wrote, “Herb was Herb.” A Burger King employee pointed out the mistake. Herb giggled, then wrote, “You was you.”
The reporters paid more attention to Herb than the customers did. If nothing else, Herb knows his way around the press. He took one reporter aside and in conspiratorial tones, promised to tell the full story behind the story when the Herb shtick ends in March. 3

Wyoming – Laramie

(from Reddit user wyoming_1)

Idaho – Twin Falls

New Mexico – Albuquerque

Texas – El Paso

El Paso broke the mold by telling people herb would be in the area that day!

I’d love to find every single Herb appearance, but I’ve been at this for hours. I’m upset I couldn’t find Virginia! Oh, wait, I forgot one — Vermont (Brattleboro) . Vermont LOVED Herb the Nerd. They went behind the scenes with him in his Jon Menick clothes! He got a haircut! The article is too big so I linked to the jpg of the newspaper scan.

Another article that’s too big is this absolutely insane article from Florida where someone found Jon Menick’s parents and did a long interview with them, including baby pictures! (1, 2)

I wanted to know if the $1 million was given away! Yes! It was in Louisville, Kentucky at the still open Oxmoor Center Mall where Herb had visited a few months prior. A young man who worked at Sears won the million dollars.

Herb looks upset in that photo. Probably because it would be his last public appearance.

Before this, he appeared at Werestlemania II as a timekeeper along with Joan Rivers. All I can find is this gif. (source)

The Herb campaign was on many “worst of” 1986 lists. Along with Joan Rivers!

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  1. Reed, Julia. ‘Herb Again’. Orlando Sentinel , January 20, 1986.
  2. “Herb the Nerd Surfaces Auditor IDs Him, Wins $5,000 Prize.” Chicago Sun – Times, Jan 31, 1986.
  3. Johnson, Maria Miro. “Herb hands out $5,000, hams it up for press Cranston man claims reward for spotting actor.” Providence Journal, February 6. 1986.

March 5, 2022

The Sneaker Stadium / Just for Feet Post (1996-2000)

Filed under: dead chains,Hampton,Newport News,newspaper clippings,signs — Anita @ 12:17 am

Sneaker Stadium and Just for Feet’s entrance into the Hampton and Newport News marketplace is easily one of the most short lived of the short lived of the short lived. Short Short. I wanted to preface this short history with this article from 2000:

Yup, these stores opened in March and July of that year. Their closure was announced in November.

How did we get here? Let’s start with the opening of a new shoe retailer called Sneaker Stadium.

This photo comes from that property database photo entry I did years ago.

Sneaker Stadium (which was a brand new company, 18 months old) was announced as a tenant at the Riverdale Shopping Center in late 1996:

This article is sad to read, considering that three years later, Riverdale shopping center would be completely vacant on one whole side when Hills closed in 1997, the sneaker store closed in 2000, and Super Fresh/Farmer Jack’s closed in 1998. This whole side would stay abandoned for geez, nearly 15 years? Thankfully, Kroger, At Home and Conn’s moved in and the shopping center is alive again.

The store had a small basketball court and a track that wrapped around the store so you could try your shoes on before buying. Which is a little ick, but ok.

I can’t find any opening day ads, or an article about the store’s opening day, the next thing I found was the news that the chain was being bought by Just for Feet in November of 1998:

Buying Sneaker Stadium was a big mistake for Just for Feet, but more on that later. Their second biggest mistake happened just a few weeks after this article ran.

They ran the dumbest Super Bowl ad ever.

Now, there is a lot “they said” they said” about what went wrong with this ad. According to an article from Salon the time, Just for Feet spent $7 million on the premium ad time (during the 3rd quarter) and the ad agency for the commercial. CEO Harold Ruttenberg thought the company was going to run a wholesome, “fun” ad: “We’re a family type of retailer that caters to a family atmosphere,” he says. “We’ve got shoes we sell. We’ve got a public that we love. It’s a very dynamic atmosphere we have in our stores. Here was an opportunity to tell our story to the largest audience in the world.” 2

More from Harold:

First-time Super Bowl advertiser Just For Feet will use its third-quarter spot as a promotional vehicle, offering consumers a chance to win a Hummer if they can identify the secret message within the spot.

Launching its first national campaign via Saatchi & Saatchi, Rochester, N.Y., the large-format athletic shoe and apparel retailer will air what CEO Harold Ruttenberg described as a brand spot, but one in which viewers will be asked to find a hidden message. Fifteen-second teasers on both the NFC and AFC championship games will bid viewers watch and tape the Super Bowl spot to glean the message, then enter to win via an 800 number or JFF’s Web site. The 1,300th correct answer wins the Hummer, tying in with JFF’s longstanding “the 13th pair is free” frequency program. Another 100 callers or Web surfers with the correct answer get a free pair of shoes at JFF and 100,000 will get JFF T-shirts.

“It’s not something that will jump out at you, so people are probably going to have to tape it,” said Ruttenberg.

While reluctant to reveal specific creative details, Ruttenberg said the humorous ad takes place in Kenya and centers on a world champion long-distance runner, while showcasing JFF’s penchant for service and selection. The Hummer wilt make its debut as a brand icon for the chain. “We are trying to tell people that don’t know us yet that we are alive, that we are not just another big box store,” he said. 6

Well, it didn’t go this way.

I like this description of the ad, so I’m pasting it here 3:

The advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi stated that the ad was a humorous spoof on “how Just for Feet employees can be so passionate about their jobs that they sometimes do the wrong thing”. 4 Just For Feet wasn’t having it, so they sued Saatchi & Saatchi for the terrible commercial, and Fox for bumping the commercial to the fourth quarter of the game.

When I was in high school, I thought that Reebok had partnered with the rapper, DMX on some shoes.

I almost forgot to mention the most horrifying thing about this ad — their website was www.feet.com. I wonder how much they had to pay for that domain name back then, they were probably in a bidding war with a fetish site.

In July of 1999, another Just for Feet opened nearby in Newport News.

I was watching some Just for Feet commercials outside of the notorious Super Bowl ad, and there was something I noticed, follow along with me:

every single one of the shoes in their commercials are discontinued. Fashion conscious kids don’t want sneakers from last year, last season, whatever. Also, something I didn’t learn until the other night, the demand for sneakers were dwindling at the time. 5

Almost a year to the day of the announcement that Just for Feet was buying Sneaker Stadium, it was announced that the Hampton and Newport News stores would be closing along with 35 other stores.

There was ~drama~ during the store closing sale near the end of February of 2000. I mean, look at the meh shoes in those commercials.

via GIPHY

People were fighting over those.

…lots of Reeboks left.

Carla’s kid is 21 years old now. I wonder if his mom ever tells them the story of how she was 7 months pregnant, working at a shoe store that was going out of business. I love how the store selling popcorn was a sign for Kathi that the store wasn’t working out. I hope she finished college eventually.

A store in Florida never opened, despite cutting down a whole bunch of trees:

In 2002, it was announced that World Market would be opening at the Newport News location.

The location in Hampton stayed closed for way longer. It had a brief stint as a bedroom store sometime in 2007.

This is a photo I took of the back entrance in 2013 shortly after Planet Fitness moved in.

It was finally taken down when the shopping center had a renovation. This is from 2019.

  1. Pegler, Martin M. Lifestyle Stores. Glen Cove, NY : New York, NY: Architecture & Interior Design Library ; Distributor to the book trade in the United States and Canada, Rizzoli International Publications through St. Martin’s Press : Distributor to the art trade in the United States and Canada, PBC International, 1996. 128-129.
  2. Shalit, Ruth. “The Ad from Hell.” Salon, May 28, 1999. https://www.salon.com/1999/05/28/kenya/. // https://web.archive.org/web/20120130074404/https://www.salon.com/1999/05/28/kenya/
  3. Horowitz, Adam. The Dumbest Moments in Business History: Useless Products, Ruinous Deals, Clueless Bosses, and Other Signs of Unintelligent Life in the Workplace. New York: Portfolio, 2004. 88.
  4. Kanner, Bernice. The Super Bowl of Advertising: How the Commercials Won the Game. 1st ed. Princeton, N.J: Bloomberg Press, 2004. 130.
  5. Kaufman, Leslie. ‘Cooling Consumer Demand for Athletic Shoes Shrinks Nike’s Profit’. The New York Times, 9 February 2000, sec. Business. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/09/business/cooling-consumer-demand-for-athletic-shoes-shrinks-nike-s-profit.html.
  6. Lefton, Terry. “JFFeet Gets Crafty in Bowl Ad.” Brandweek, vol. 40, no. 2, Jan. 1999, p. 3.

December 18, 2021

445. Noise Magazine, December/January, 1999

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anita @ 8:30 pm

[so I had to watermark everything because people on the TikTok love to lift magazine pages from people’s websites — aaand I accidentally put my etsy shop a couple of times, way2go, dummy]

Noise was a magazine given out by JCPenney in the late 90s. I can’t remember if I got it in the mail because my mom subscribed to the JCPenney catalog, or I picked it up in the juniors department in JCPenney — which probably not because I was a fat kid and couldn’t shop in the juniors department. We moved from my Childhood home in the Summer of 2000, and that’s when I stopped seeing it.

We all know just by looking at this that this is def. just a youth-ed up JCPenney catalog. I mean, there’s a article about … lamps.

Man, i think that “is there any downsides…” question kind of forecasted things, didn’t it?

Here’s some ugly late 90s jeans. Don’t bring these back, kids.

… like I said.

Everything back in ’99 came in a tin, including this two pack of Arizona brand underwear. I remember seeing fleece jackets sold in paint cans at Peebles around this time. Stila used to sell collections in paint cans around this time too.

Anybody else remember these bracelets? I don’t think the bracelet I got from Marshall’s junior year of high school gave me any powers. Powers to fail math, maybe.

~the future~

Official outfit of every jerk boy in high school circa 1999.

Remember this soap was a thing? Soap with other soap shapes inside? There was a gift shop near me 20 years ago that had giant blocks of these. One looked and smelled like German chocolate cake!

Please help me with this. Is the magazine suggesting that the Backstreet Boys use these products?

Soon, I’m going to devote a post to ridiculous gift suggestions magazines gave us. What kid has $245.

Why would you give a present to the creepy guy in your math class. Come on, now.

Here, have a phone that will fall apart after a month.

Man, the rolling backpack kids. Or, if you were in community college like I was, the rolling suitcase adults.

We dressed like this for school.

Utility vests were a dark time in fashion.

“‘hit him, you sissy!’, yelled the bear.”

Here we go everybody, it’s the lamp advertisement/article I mentioned in the beginning.

Believe me, I know from experience, your mom isn’t going to let you hang plastic bottles from your ceiling.

I remember those translucent flower candleholders being everywhere!

I always associate those Silver Tab jeans with the late 90s and the late 90s only.


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November 23, 2021

Woolco Closes (and what came next) (1982)

Filed under: dead chains,dead stores,Hampton,Roses,then & now — Anita @ 9:20 pm

This time of year, I’m always reminded of discount department stores that we no longer have. The department store variety is getting smaller and smaller here in the United States, especially with Kmart pooting out its final stores slowly but surely. To me, Target still has the soul of those old stores.

One discounter that failed spectacularly in the early 1980s was Woolco, a subsidiary of the smaller discount store, Woolworth. About 19 years after the company began, it announced in September of 1982 that it was shutting down:

They were losing so much money, that in the first six months of 1983, Woolco lost $20 million. 1 The chain had become too big, too fast. 7 Woolco had been in trouble for quite some time, but kept opening stores — up until the very end. 2  In Boutte, Louisiana, a store opened on September 29th — three days after the announcement that Woolco was going out of business:

[I had to pay $3 for that article, hope you like it]

Nearly 25,000 people lost their jobs in the closing. At one store the employees found out via reporters calling:

Some Woolco employes learned that the stores would close from reporters calling to question their bosses. A woman at a store in Burke, who answered the telephone for Woolco store manager F. Moreau, began crying.
“Thanks for making my day,” she told a reporter. “Thanks a lot.” Moreau said he had not had a chance to inform his staff before the phone calls began. “I just found out myself,” he said. 6

There was one glimmer of hope that the stores would stay open. Sheik Mohammed al Fassi was interested in making an offer for the troubled chain, citing that he wanted to save the workers’ jobs. 3  Days later, lawyers for the Sheik said that they had convinced al Fassi to not buy the chain: 

With that consideration gone, the going out of business sales began on November 22nd, and of course like with any going of business sale, there was complaints that Woolco had raised prices before the sale. 5

In early 1983, Woolco locations were winding down business. This report from a store in Alexandria, Virginia: 

Naked plastic hangers dangled in long rows like windblown cornstalks stripped of their grain in what used to be the women’s department of the Woolco store on Route 1 south of Alexandria.Coathangers were about all that was left Saturday and they were for sale: seven for $1.The piles of ice skates looked interesting until you tried to match up a pair the same size and style. Oil filters for Subarus or some such car, a rats’ nest of radiator hoses and a very nice selection of auto registration holders struggled for attention in the automotive department. Mis-mixed paint, mis-matched shoes, misanthropic clerks–some choice.The security guards were superfluous. What remained of a $1 million plus inventory was barely enough to put on a good garage sale. Like suburbanites willing to take any offer so long as they don’t have to haul the stuff back to the basement, Woolco workers were pleading for someone to buy what was left. 2

There were two Woolco stores in the area I grew up in, in Williamsburg and Hampton, Virginia. 

I don’t know much about the Williamsburg location, other that it became a Roses a few months after Woolco closed. The Roses shut down in 2002 because its lease wasn’t renewed. I wonder if it was because they wanted that shopping center to become more “high end” like everything else was getting in Williamsburg around this time. 

Six years later, I would come to this building when it was a Marshalls, and I wondered why the entire building wasn’t used. Seriously, one side of the building looked abandoned.  I took this picture way back then. Turns out that was the Garden Center for that Roses. The nearly 50 year old building was later torn down in 2019 when Marshalls moved into a new building.

Now, the one in Hampton, that one I know. Obviously, not as a Woolco, because they shut down about three months before I was born. The store was a fixture of the new Todd Center, opening on November 3, 1971. 

A little over a year after Woolco closed, the building became a Bradlees store — after initially denying that the store was opening a location in Hampton. 8



(I love how that kid’s stupid “Go for it!” shirt got a mention)

By the beginning of 1989, Bradlees was gone after only five years. A tiny blip in retail history time. 

In October of 1989, a flashy new locally-based electronics store, FX opened in the old Bradlees store. 

You know, nobody needed a motorized walkway in an electronics store. 

The shopping center finally got it right on November 4, 1991 when we got Big Lots. Big lots opened in the corner, and later Office Max opened in the other half of the old Woolco/Bradlees.  I miss it when Big Lots had crazy stuff. I remember as a kid going in there and seeing Barbie dolls from Korea, notebooks with Kelly Bundy on the cover, tang juice boxes. 

  1. “Woolworth Will Close All Woolco Stores.” Daily Press, September 25, 1982.
  2. Knight, Jerry. “Woolco, Memco Closings Show Lack of Class.” Washington Post, January 17, 1983. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/business/1983/01/17/woolco-memco-closings-show-lack-of-class/8ed29aea-fcb3-4f92-ae0e-1134eb7686c6/.
  3. “Woolco Awaits Sheik.” Daily Press, September 28, 1982.
  4. “Saudi Sheik Won’t Acquire Woolco Chain.” Tallahassee Democrat , October 5, 1982.
  5. “Md. Seeks Ban On Woolco Sale Price Increases.” Washington Post. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1982/12/28/md-seeks-ban-on-woolco-sale-price-increases/8a5f719e-4db2-4a4c-a1bc-47faaa1480b9/.
  6. Brown, Warren, and Thomas Lippman. “Woolworth Will Shut Down All 336 Woolco Discount Stores.” Washington Post, September 25, 1982. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1982/09/25/woolworth-will-shut-down-all-336-woolco-discount-stores/45da5b4c-9570-46b0-9a02-023bb1f89a63/.
  7. Oklahoman.com. “Woolco’s Quit-Business Sale Drawing Crowds in 40 States,” November 23, 1982. https://oklahoman.com/article/2004020/woolcos-quit-business-sale-drawing-crowds-in-40-states/.
  8. “Bradlee’s Won’t Open Stores on Peninsula” Daily Press, January 4, 1983. 

March 13, 2021

Three purposed plans for MacArthur Center (Norfolk, VA)

Filed under: deadmalls — Anita @ 9:39 pm

Keep in mind, these are just “we’re thinking about it” plans. I didn’t even realize that the place was becoming a dead mall until Nordstrom moved out a year and a half ago.

https://archive.is/oyG6K — I don’t like the misleading title that it may hit the wrecking ball. I really think that idea will be the absolute last resort. The one that seems the most feasible (to me!) would be the offices on the first floor/stores on the second floor.

https://archive.is/7znRi — this article is from wvec, the local station in Norfolk.

I haven’t been to the mall since December of 2019. I noticed that the Dillards there sells vintage used Louis Vuitton purses. That’s interesting.

/edit, 4/6/2021/

There was a false post on a real estate site this weekend stating that the mall was up for sale. It’s not for sale.

December 9, 2020

424. Black Friday though the years (Hampton/Newport News, VA), part 2, 1990-1999 (crosspost from my “history” blog)

A reminder of the movers and shakers and failures of the retail landscape of Hampton and Newport News back then: 

Coliseum Mall

Newmarket North / Newmarket Fair Mall 

Patrick Henry Mal

Bart is the star of 1990′s coverage. My mom loved Everything’s a $1.00 back then. It felt like we were at the Newmarket location every weekend when I was in the first grade. I found a copy of the Simpsons Christmas book there. K&K Toys was an unfortunate name for a store. 

Oh boy, this is the beginning of the end of Newmarket Fair Mall (formerly known as Newmarket North). They had just finished 10 months of remodeling, just to have several stores leave after their leases expired, and one of the anchor stores, Miller & Rhoads closed the year before. This is the final time in Daily Press history that Newmarket Fair Mall is mentioned in Black Friday coverage. 

1991

The Fisher-Price Game table! With the commercial where the boys played games on the table all day and half the night! 

This was the first year that Kmart decided to be redic. and stay open on Thanksgiving. My mom and I were there that day! This was the thanksgiving that my dad was out to sea, and mom decided that we would just eat at Piccadilly Cafeteria at Coliseum Mall that day and hit KMart later to pick up Home Alone on VHS. 

Note that Newmarket Fair wasn’t mentioned! 

President Bush bought some Reeboks and slime for the grandkids. 

1992

1992′s coverage was sparse. Rollerblade dolls were hot. 

1993

Roses got a shout out. This was right before they turned into a dump. Still a dump in 2020! Newmarket Fair which was one foot in the grave at this point, only receiving a quick Sears mention. Above is a Proffitt’s ad from 1996 that shows what the Cracker Jack sale was all about. Proffitt’s didn’t last long at Coliseum, closed in 1997 and then Dillard’s moved in. 

1994

This was the first year my paper went to WalMart, which is strange considering WalMart opened around 1991 in Hampton. Took them three years to get there. Maybe the Newport News location was new in 1994. There was a $139 VCR on sale at WalMart if you got there at six am. 

The Cracker Jack promo was back at Proffitt’s. I forgot that they had two separate stores in Coliseum Mall, because they took over the old Children’s Palace and Hess’s store. So if you needed women’s clothes and men’s clothes, you had to go clear across the mall for the men’s clothes.  

Our Super KMart got a mention too. 

1995 

1995 feels like the first year that the discount stores beat the malls in popularity on Black Friday.  Hills, which had just opened in Hampton was the the star in 1995. By January of 1997, they were toast. The store stayed vacant from 1997-2017 when an At Home store finally moved in. 

My mom and I actually went to Coliseum Mall on Black Friday that year. The first time I had ever been to the stores that day. I don’t remember it being that crazy.

1995 was also the last year someone said they were excited to go to Montgomery Ward. 

1996

Aw, weeks before Hills closed, and months after we got our first Target. Brenda forgot her shoes! Jeanie got her Tickle Me Elmo! Internet greetings at Patrick Henry Mall! People fought over a dinky gift bag at Target!: 

1997

Daily Press didn’t have the 1997 newspaper.

I saved this paper when I was 15! I’m surprised Montgomery Ward carried Furby. 

1999

Barely any mall coverage in 1999, mostly focusing on stores like Toys R Us and the guy who hoarded all those monitors at CompUSA. Check out Carol and her walkie talkie! 

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December 7, 2020

424. Black Friday though the years (Hampton/Newport News, VA), part 1, 1980-1989 [crosspost]

(cross post from my “history” blog)

I know everything is going wrong right now, and I know, priorities, but sometimes I really just miss going to the store. I didn’t do Black Friday in person this year, due to the obvious. I only went grocery shopping for my mom on Black Friday this year. 

(Woolco, 1980 or 1981) 

So beginning with the parade on Thanksgiving, I hopped on ProQuest and began looking at my local newspapers for their Black Friday coverage in the 80s and 90s. 

I’ll try and set up the retail landscape of the area to the best of my ability and using my retail blog for assistance. Here’s all my information about Newmarket North / Newmarket Fair Mall. It started dying in 1989 when local retailer Miller & Rhoads shut down. By 1994 it was pretty much toast other than Sears, and around 1997, the former anchor stores were renovated into offices. Now the mall is all offices, except for the empty Sears which closed in 2018 and was one of the last locations in the state, and the Piccadilly cafeteria. 

Coliseum Mall was the mall in the area until about 2003? when Burlington Coat Factory moved in at the old Montgomery Wards, and Dillards moved out. After that, things went downhill fast, and by 2007 the mall was town down, and was rebuilt into an open air shopping area with apartments and a big Target and a rebuilt JCPenney. 

1980

Shopping was “fast and furious” at Newmarket by 11am. The stores opened at … 8am. Toys R Us and Lionel Playworld were new to the area. 

1981

This is the only photo I’ve seen of this JCPenney location that was almost across the street from Newmarket North Mall, at the Newmarket South Shopping Center. I was surprised that it was still open in 1981, considering that Coliseum Mall had a giant JCPenney just a five minute drive away. 

1982

Five people had to direct traffic at Coliseum Mall! 

Unfortunately, ProQuest did not have the 1983 paper. Which I’m so mad about because I was born in 1983. 

1984

Back when there was traffic on Mercury Blvd. Also, can’t you imagine a giant six kid family coming out of that giant van in the parking lot?

1985

1985′s coverage was half-rear ended. It’s truly bizarre to me to picture Newmarket North being busy. By the time my first real memories begin in 1988, 1989, I never remembered the mall being “busy”. 

1986

Okay, so I had no clue that Sears was still selling real fur coats in their stores in 1986. I didn’t think Sears old fur coats all, even in the catalogs at this point. Miller & Rhoads had an on site fur vault at their Newmarket location. I wonder why those ladies weren’t picketing that.

1987

How could I forget 1987?! That was the year that the next town over, Newport News got their own mall: Patrick Henry Mall. Although in the beginning things seemed awfully slow according to this article.

Check out the Fisher Price vacuum cleaner a couple is buying at the Children’s Palace toy store at Coliseum Mall. I had one of those! 

1988

As I said earlier, my earliest memories begin in 1988, 1989. My parents did NOT go to Coliseum Mall back then, citing that it was always so crowded. So I have no memories of that mall until the mid 90s.

Nintendo Computer Games

1989

Wendy just wanted the 106 fm Wild Money Man. 

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September 10, 2020

I just wanted to archive the Travis Scott [Cactus Jack] x McDonalds collection.

Filed under: fewd,McDonalds — Anita @ 9:01 am

May 10, 2020

Escalator Accident at Newmarket North Mall, May 8, 1989

Filed under: newmarket fair mall — Anita @ 12:09 pm

I’m absolutely terrified of escalators. I don’t like the “up” escalator, because you’re going high up in the air, under no control of your own, you worry about falling over the side, even if you know you’re far too big to fall over the side. The “down” one scares me even more, seeing those all those little teeth on the edge of the stairs, ready to stab your body if you stumble while getting on the step. I know, I still have the scar on my knee from when I stumbled getting on a stair at the old Sears at the old Newmarket Fair Mall in ‘99.

Speaking of Newmarket, this is where this entry started. During this quarantine, I’ve been working on reviving this website. I have access to Proquest from the Newport News Library, so I’ve been getting newspaper articles about my two dead malls in the town I grew up in. I found one article about Newmarket that made me incredibly sad, realizing that I had walked by the site where a girl was killed because she was playing on an escalator so many times growing up.

(more…)

May 6, 2020

Thalhimers Coliseum Mall location grand opening, 10-17-1977

Filed under: "coliseum mall",dead chains — Anita @ 12:38 am

thalhimers announcement at Coliseum Mall, 1 12 1977

Announcement, 1/12/1977

Thalhimers Grand Opening, 10-17-1977, Coliseum Mall, Hampton, VA

They got it 💯!

thalhimeres grand opening 7 10-18-1977

Hold up, they had tarantulas? You could buy a dog at Thalhimers?

Giant ads under the cut:

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