That Mall is sick and that Store is dead!

April 12, 2008

Question: The Shortest-Lived Stores in Your Area

Filed under: dead chains,dead stores — Anita @ 8:39 pm

What do you think was the shortest lived [chain] store(s) in your area? A store that seemed to open and then close months or a year or two later?

My three off the top of my head would have to be:

  • Hills in Hampton, VA. Lasted from late 1995 to January of 1997. Still vacant, save for that one time the Salvation Army used it for a drop off place during the holidays.
  • Frank’s crafts and nursery also in Hampton, actually not even a mile away from Hills. I think this place was seriously only open for a few months in late 2000. It was across from Coliseum Mall. I think the building is now a skate shop and a Panera Bread.
  • FX electronics storein Virginia Beach, Hampton, and somewhere else probably. Apparently only lasted for a nanosecond in 1989.
  • Now I don’t know, since I was a little kid (around six) when the chain left the Hampton Roads area, but how long did Bradlees stay in Hampton?


  1. Incredible Universe went in and out in a blink of an eye in Northern California.

    Comment by Julie — April 12, 2008 @ 9:22 pm | Reply

  2. Julie:

    Here is an interesting site I found about Incredible Universe a few months ago:

    Comment by Anita — April 12, 2008 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks Anita, I loved that store even though it had a bit of a crazy cult vibe. Much better than Fry’s that took over most of the locations out here. (California)

    Comment by Julie — April 13, 2008 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

  4. FYI, there was a Bradlee’s in Portsmouth anchoring Tower Mall for as long as I can remember. The store lasted until the mall closed (or close to it, if I remember correctly).

    Comment by B — April 14, 2008 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

  5. I think every Bradlees left the Hampton Roads area at the same time in 1989, 1990-ish. Not much is online about Bradlees very brief stay in Hampton Roads. The only Bradlees experts in the area seem to only concentrate in the North, which does make sense.

    Comment by Anita — April 14, 2008 @ 7:31 pm | Reply

  6. Krispy Kreme came and went in less than a year here in Massachusetts. The Dedham, MA location is still sitting empty, the location in Medford is now a Kelly’s Roast Beef, and the one in the Prudential Center in Boston is now a Godiva Chocolates, I do believe. Not sure of the status of any other locations.

    Comment by DJ Panda — April 14, 2008 @ 9:22 pm | Reply

  7. Oh, excuse me…Krispy Kreme came and went in a little over a year and a half. My bad.

    Comment by DJ Panda — April 14, 2008 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

  8. It’s a restaurant instead of a store, but the benchmark for retail flameouts around here seems to be Boston Market. Between 1996 and 1998, it seemed like they were opening new restaurants all over the place around here, many of them in newly constructed buildings. Of course, this rapid growth proved unsustainable, and sent the company into chapter 11. Every single Boston Market in the area closed down practically overnight, and although the company survived (they got bought out of bankruptcy by McDonalds,) there isn’t a single Boston Market anywhere within 1,000 miles of the Seattle area now. One of my ongoing projects at my own Blog is to try to track down all of the former Boston Market locations and show what they got turned into.

    Although it hasn’t happened here yet, I understand that the same thing has happened with Krispy Kreme in a number of areas recently.

    Comment by Brian Lutz — April 15, 2008 @ 12:14 am | Reply

  9. As for Incredible Universe, the first one to open was actually up here in the Seattle area, as an anchor of the hyperbole-laden Supermall of the Great Northwest in Auburn WA (basically a glorified outlet mall.) I only ever went there once, but it seemed like an intersting (if overpriced) place. The former Incredible Universe store there is now a Sam’s Club (we did eventually get a Fry’s up here though, in Renton.)

    Comment by Brian Lutz — April 15, 2008 @ 12:20 am | Reply

  10. I forgot to put Krispy Kreme’s short venture into Newport News, VA (seriously, it was just a year — apparently the building wasn’t built correctly for drive-thru or something, it was the building on Jefferson Ave, where Chick A Fila is now).

    I also remember Boston Market being EVERYWHERE in the late 1990’s. The one across from Coliseum Mall survived, but the one on Warwick in Newport News didn’t.

    I was going to bring up Winn Dixie’s comeback to Hampton Roads in the late 1990’s (1997-2005) but that was a pretty “good” run.

    Comment by Anita — April 15, 2008 @ 8:20 am | Reply

  11. Anyone remember the Cinnabun shops that were in virtually every mall in Hampton Roads and suddenly vanished (late 90’s)?? They still exist everywhere but here, and I can only imagine why…

    ..and back to Bradlee’s I believe they left Tower mall in the mid 90’s… I remember the going out of business sale they had.

    Honorable mention: HESS. Chesapeake Square mall opened with one where the current Ladies Dillard’s is now and Tower mall had one as well (near the middle of the mall (in between Ward’s and Bradlee’s.)

    Comment by B — April 15, 2008 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

  12. well a couple of stores that i can remember in the richmond market that floped, luskins that tried to go toe to toe with circuit city & died.

    Comment by kris-alyx devereux — April 16, 2008 @ 2:50 am | Reply

  13. Luskins was in Hampton from the (I’m guessing now) late 1980’s to 1997.

    Cinnabon was a Coliseum Mall classic in the 1990’s. By 2002 it was gone — one of the first places to leave the food court. Everyone else followed then.

    Yup, Hess’s didn’t stay long at all in the Hampton Roads malls. Just a placeholder between Rice’s Nachman’s and Dillards in most of the malls here. Oh, the Patrick Henry Hess’s info on Wikipedia was TOALLY wrong. I deleted it.

    Comment by Anita — April 16, 2008 @ 9:27 pm | Reply

  14. A few flameouts I can think of:

    — The fastest I ever saw a store go out of business was at Northlake Mall in Charlotte, where the Casual Corner opened in summer 2005 and closed by Christmas.

    — An honorable mention goes to the Rack N Sack / Drug Emporium combo in Roanoke. That may have lasted six to eight months next to Valley View Mall.

    — Hess’s was in Christiansburg, Va. from 1988 until maybe 1992.

    — Proffit’s was in Richmond for maybe three years tops before selling out to Dillard’s.

    — When Belk bought Leggett in 1997, the stores in Richmond and Tidewater lasted about a year. They went to Dillard’s too.

    — Incredible Universe lasted about a year in Charlotte, Lechmere lasted about that long in Raleigh/Durham.

    — Bradlees opened and closed in North Carolina is less than three years in the late ’80s.

    — HomePlace lasted maybe a year in my area before merging with Waccamaw, and the combined Waccamaw’s HomePlace went belly up almost as quickly.

    __ Eckerd lasted about five years in western Virgina before dying a quick death.

    …and that’s just off the top of my head.

    Comment by Steven Swain — April 17, 2008 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

  15. Rack N’ Sak didn’t last long in Hampton, it was once Food Carnival, then Rack n’ sack then vacant to this day. All in the early 90’s.

    Oh yeah, Proffits. Lasted from 1993, 1994 to 1997 at Coliseum Mall.

    Comment by Anita — April 17, 2008 @ 9:06 pm | Reply

  16. I’m hardly surprised to see Krispy Kreme had a short stay in many areas they expanded to in the late 90s/early 2000s, considering that the company both overexpanded too quickly, and (I believe, if my memory’s correct) had financial problems.

    In the last 2-3 years alone in the Chicago area, they closed about half of their locations(albeit they still have several remaining). Circuit City also had a few stores in the Chicago area that only lasted for a few years, then shut down in the early or mid-2000s without any warning(albeit they seem to be again on the track of opening new stores).

    Guess I’d give an honorable mention to Cub Foods(grocery store chain), since they did the same thing as CC did(expand pretty rapidly within a few years), although they had a slightly longer run(a la whoever mentioned Winn Dixie’s brief run in the Hampton Roads), as most of their stores opened in the late 90s, and closed in the mid-2000s. Most of their former locations are now locations of rival independent grocery store chains, such as an Indiana grocery chain(Strack and Van Til) that opened their first Chicago store in an ex-Cub Foods location.

    Comment by Allan M. — April 19, 2008 @ 3:57 pm | Reply

    • The only reason Cub Foods closed in the Chicagoland area had nothing to do with competition. They were doing well for Supervalu. They decided to acquire Jewel & Jewell with in-store Osco stores (freestanding Osco stores were sold to CVS), and they decided to voluntarily sell off the Cub Foods stores in Chicagoland, in order to be allowed to acquire Jewel. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been allowed to acquire Jewel, due to having too much marketshare in the supermarket business. 2 former Cub Foods became Strack & Van Til & 5 other locations became sister store Ultra Foods (a former competitor to Cub Foods in Chicagoland).

      As for stores that were short-lived in Chicagoland include Ames (twice). Ames bought the Zayre chain in 1989, and all stores that remained open slowly were renamed Ames up until March 1990, and filed bankruptcy a month after all remaining stores were renamed Ames. They closed that same year. 10 years later, they bought 7 Goldblatts locations, and opened 6 more from scratch, and filed bankruptcy again in August 2001, and was gone from Chicagoland by January 2002, and announced that they were liquidating 8 months later. Ironically, 2 stores in Chicagoland (including the 87th street & I-94 – Dan Ryan Expressway location) were locations they were at before from the Zayre buyout.

      Goldblatts 3rd attempt at going back into business failed. They reopened many former locations that were originally Goldblatts. I wanna say they opened back up in April 2002, and closed a year later.

      Linens ‘n Things didn’t last locally to me. They were only open at the most, 2 years, and their only location has been vacant many months now.

      Dominicks didn’t last either. In 1997, Dominicks decided to eliminate their Omni Superstore chain, and focus solely on Dominicks. Their store across the street from Strack & Van Til in Schererville Indiana took business away from Stracks under the Omni name for one main reason; Stracks at the time closed their stores on Sundays, and Stracks lost business. When Omni became Dominicks in 1997, Domincks lost business due to high prices, and closed their store in January 1999. The next day, Dominicks reopened in Hammond Indiana, and closed 8-9 months later. The former Hammond store is now Food 4 Less (Kroger’s discount store) & their former Schererville store is now Strack & Van Til. Strack & Van Til outgrew their old location across the street, which originally was Mays Family Center in the 60’s & 70’s, and Strack & Van Til moved into the old Mays store sometime after Mays closed in 1982. Strack & Van Til was originally next door to the old Mays store in the 60’s & 70’s

      Comment by David — September 20, 2009 @ 1:09 am | Reply

  17. I got yet another one. Hannaford very short visit to Hampton Roads in the late 1990’s. I think they were pretty much just in Va. Beach and Newport News, I could be wrong though. They only lasted like 9 months I guess. But then Food Lion bought Hannaford, and there was already too many Food Lions, so they were all shut down I think. This is just what I’ve heard.

    We had a Roses in the Willow Oaks section of Hampton only stay open for a year and a half from 1993-1994. A brand-new building, and they closed it down, and kept dumps open like the one in Newmarket Plaza. No wonder Roses is a freakin’ dollar and carpet store now.

    Comment by Anita — April 20, 2008 @ 11:28 am | Reply

  18. There was a really short-lived supermarket chain in Richmond called simply “The Grocery Store”. One of the things they’re remembered for is that one of the actors who appeared in their commercials was a high school principal in his day job.

    Comment by TV's Grady — April 20, 2008 @ 11:49 am | Reply

  19. Oooooo yet another. I’m pretty much talking to my self now.

    Blockbuster Music, Blockbuster Video’s short lived music venture. The “Tracks” music store at Todd Center in Hampton was turned into one of these in 1994, 1995. A couple of years later it became a Wherehouse Music, and then a FYE when Coliseum Mall was torn down.

    Comment by Anita — April 21, 2008 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

  20. @Comment 17. DeHaize/Food Lion bought Hannaford (boo, hiss) yet sold Hannaford to Kroger. Hannaford had wonderful, clean stores with courteous staff. When Kroger took over the stores went down hill. The one near us in Portsmouth (High Street) is nasty. Kroger also closed a former Hannaford on VA Beach Blvd at Independence and now it’s a vacant lot. Heck, the old HQ building is still there!!!

    I loathe Food Lion to this very day for killing Hannaford. Even though it’s the closest grocery I refuse to shop there. At least we’re getting a Harris Teeter in northern Suffolk!

    Comment by KP — April 22, 2008 @ 12:12 pm | Reply

  21. Well, Delhaize still owns and runs Hannaford, they just had to divest themselves of the Virginia and North Carolina locations due to FTC concerns. In Richmond, they sold the Hannaford locations to Kroger. The Kroger near me was originally Safeway’s last new Richmond store, then “The Grocery Store”, then Hannaford, finally Kroger. Hannaford came into the Richmond market by buying some of Farm Fresh’s stores.

    My nomination is Kroger’s first foray into Richmond in the 1980’s with the Welcome format. Was gone in less than six months, became a Rack ‘N Sack, then some other things, including “The Grocery Store”.

    “The Grocery Store”, as was Rack ‘N Sack and Food Carnival, was a Farm Fresh operation.

    Got to give some sort of credit to Home Depot. The one near me was built, opened for less than six months, then was closed and demolished because it was built on substandard fill (fly ash, of all things). They rebuilt it on the same spot with an identical store.

    Comment by Dave — April 28, 2008 @ 6:43 pm | Reply

  22. I think Winn Dixie was around in Hampton just for a nanosecond when I was a little kid in the 1980’s, until it came back in 1997. I could be wrong though.

    Comment by Anita — April 28, 2008 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

  23. Speaking of #19’s post, there was also one Blockbuster Music location in a nearby suburb of Chicago that used to exist, then later became a Wherehouse Music location. Not surprisingly(and considering that the parent company, FYE, has in recent years been closing so many stores left and right), it’s been gone for several years, and a CVS took its location as of last year.

    Comment by Allan M. — May 2, 2008 @ 11:55 am | Reply

  24. Addendum to that post: That Blockbuster Music/Wherehouse location was never converted to an FYE, unlike other store locations they owned of other chains(i.e. Coconuts) that were converted into FYE stores.

    Just remembered another one: Waccamaw used to exist in the Chicago area, along with Phar-Mor. Both chains I believe(if I’m remembering correctly) went bankrupt many years ago, and I believe many, if not most, of Waccamaw’s former locations are now Bed Bath and Beyond locations.

    Comment by Allan M. — May 2, 2008 @ 12:00 pm | Reply

  25. Steven Swain: Apparently, Casual Corner closed all its stores in late 2005, thus the rapid closure.

    Comment by Raymie — May 13, 2008 @ 10:20 pm | Reply

  26. Krispy Kreme expanded big, then the franchisee went bankrupt. One lone store was able to reopen with a different franchisee just last week.

    Comment by Raymie — May 17, 2008 @ 9:43 pm | Reply

  27. Ames only lasted for about one year in Michigan, primarily in the form of converted Zayres. I know my town (Oscoda) was supposed to get an Ames in 1990 (the same year Zayre was acquired), but it never opened and is still a vacant lot. We didn’t have Hills very long, either; sometime between 1989 and 1991. Many of them had previously been Yankee->Zody’s->3D->Tradeway. One store in Saginaw has gone Yankee->Zody’s->3D->Tradeway->Hills->Kmart.

    We also had a couple Taco Times in Detroit for just a few months in 2004 or 2005, at Fairlane Town Center and Twelve Oaks Mall. Both became Taco Bell.

    Long after Taco John’s closed all their Michigan locations in 1993ish, they re-entered with one location outside Benton Harbor (ironically, a former Taco Bell Express) which only lasted about a year.

    Surprised nobody mentioned Kenny Rogers Roasters yet. They came in the early 1990s and were gone before the end of the decade. Most of the ones in Michigan were ex-Hardee’s.

    Comment by Bobby — October 5, 2008 @ 12:26 pm | Reply

  28. Goody’s (the clothing store) recently left the Elizabeth City, NC area after roughly a year and a half.

    KB Toys has gone in and out of the area with bewildering regularity. Both of those were part of Southgate Mall, a fairly sick mall “if you want to call it a mall”.

    Comment by Jacob — May 18, 2009 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  29. An Office Depot was opened here in Bullhead City, AZ in September of 2008 (in plain sight of an Office Max), closed shortly after Christmas the same year.

    Comment by John M. — September 15, 2009 @ 11:09 am | Reply

  30. Office Depot. Lasted three months (teaches them for putting it within eyesight of an Office Max).

    Comment by John Mortensen — April 17, 2011 @ 7:07 am | Reply

  31. I got a winner– Steve & Barry’s in Newport News was planning on opening up a store in the long-abandoned Pharmor building at Newport Crossing. Well, the chain went under during this expansion and the store never even opened even though the sign was already changed! I am kinda sad though– i loved S&B! It was funny and sad explaining to a friend who still lived in the area that this store would never open.

    Comment by anoldkatt — December 8, 2011 @ 1:45 am | Reply

    • Hah! Tied! The exact same thing happened at the Glen Lea SC at Laburnum Ave and Mechanicsville Tpk in Richmond. In this case, it was a long-abandoned Colonial/Big Star/Winn-Dixie grocery store location.

      Comment by Dave — December 15, 2011 @ 5:01 pm | Reply

  32. The FX in Virginia Beach became “Bills Flea Market”… until some fire destroyed it about three-ish years ago. Now they’re building a Walmart there.

    Comment by BootLoop2Dope — March 7, 2014 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

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