That Mall is sick and that Store is dead!

May 9, 2013

Razing For Revival: Mercury Shopping District Reborn From Rubble (Daily Press, August 23, 1999)

Razing For Revival: Mercury Shopping District Reborn From Rubble

1960s Mercury Plaza And Langley Square To Get More-modern Look
August 23, 1999|By FRED TANNENBAUM Daily Press

HAMPTON — Danny Shackelford and Kelly Jones deftly inserted their fingers and tools to fix videocassette recorders at the Langley Square repair shop that they work in off Mercury Boulevard. Outside, an electric saw screeched as it bit into a metal frame.

A little more than two miles west, the Mercury Plaza parking lot was occupied by unlikely vehicles – wrecking machines, including an excavator and pavement shredder. They’ve turned one wing of the old mall into fine rubble.

Langley Square and Mercury Plaza are separate places with different owners but with a common thread: Both 1960s-vintage malls are getting significant upgrades, giving them new lives along Hampton’s retail corridor. City officials said the refurbished malls would bolster the boulevard shopping district.

The work at Langley is having an effect.

“Business has gotten better. People are looking at the mall because of the work and see our signs,” Shackelford said Thursday. He repairs electronics at the Audio-Video Lab at Langley Square. “They used to just drive by.”

Once completed, the two refurbished malls will have a “tremendous impact” on Hampton’s shopping areas. It’s necessary to renovate them to keep them viable, said Kathy Grook, Hampton’s retail- development manager.

“Those centers are critical to our retail tax base,” she said. “We feel it’s very important that these renovations take place.”

The city has a program ready to help mall owners renovate their properties, in part through low- interest loans. The program is awaiting financing.

This summer, Mercury Plaza’s owners razed a building along its west side once occupied by a Farm Fresh grocery and other small shops. The supermarket had been vacant since a fire in 1997. Only a dry cleaners is left standing. Fashion Care Cleaners’ lease extends to December 31, 2000.

Mercury Plaza is owned by Mall Properties Inc. of New York, the owner of Coliseum Mall. Mercury Plaza General Manager Raymond Tripp said the site was being cleared to make it more attractive to a new tenant. Waiting for Farm Fresh fire-insurance claims to be settled has delayed site improvements about two years.

Rebuilding the grocery after the fire would have been expensive. “We thought it was more suitable to tear it down,” Tripp said.

A new tenant is not been signed, but Mall Properties is negotiating with potential occupants, Tripp said.

Eventually, Mall Properties wants to upgrade the exteriors of all Mercury Plaza stores, including Burlington Coat Factory, Circuit City and Home Quarters.

The Burlington store once housed a small mall that Tripp said was thought to be one of the Peninsula’s first.

“That site is a viable retail site and a good location,” Tripp said. “Those are the original structures that have served those neighborhoods well. We would like to come back with a retailer to support the neighborhood that has supported us so long.”

In addition to the Farm Fresh, the demolished building housed a music store and a beauty-supply store.

“We’re eager to renovate it and bring it up to standards,” Tripp said.

Langley Square is getting a complete face lift. A Food Lion supermarket and Family Dollar discount store are scheduled to open this fall.

There, a wooden tunnel leads to Audio-Video Lab’s front door, where Shackelford and Jones worked surrounded by VCRs, televisions and stereo equipment. Holding a soldering iron one minute and a cotton swab the next, Shackelford worked to bring new life to the VCR on his workbench.

The business owned by Bob McLain has seen some tough years, so the recent renovations are welcome. The construction even is attracting more customers, Shackelford said.

The Audio-Video Lab isn’t the only business making a go of it before and during the renovations, which started earlier this year. Ling Nam Asian restaurant, Vito’s Pizza, Fertitta’s Grill, a hair salon, and a coin laundry also remain open.

The new canopy over the sidewalk almost hides the blue-and-red neon “open” signs in many of their windows. Pallets of drywall sit where shoppers someday will stroll.

The mall’s landlord, John Katsias of Virginia Beach, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Jones, the Audio-Video Lab technician, said he was looking forward to sharing the mall with new tenants such as Food Lion.

“It’ll be nice having somewhere else to go for lunch,” he said.

Fred Tannenbaum can be reached at 247-4787 or by e-mail at


Burlington was shut down and moved to Coliseum Mall in 2003, and effectively killed Coliseum Mall because nobody wants a Burlington in their mall.

After Coliseum Mall was torn down in 2007, Burlington moved back into this EXACT spot (in a new building:

Screen shot 2013-05-09 at 11.38.55 PM

The last time Google maps drove by this site was in 2007, so the new Burlington Coat Factory wasn’t open yet, and the building was just finished.

August 9, 2011

City of Hampton Property Database “photos”, circa late 90s.

I found these a couple of years ago here, but never did anything with them, until now. Keep in mind, these photos are poor quality, I assume because they were using early digital camera technology.


Newmarket South Shopping Center, mid to late 90s. Super Fresh / Farmer Jack had closed by then.


The old Miller & Rhoads building at Newmarket Fair, a few years before Verizon.


Big & Tall store in front of Riverdale Shopping Center, former Grandy’s chicken place. The store is now “Casual Male XL”


Das Weiner Works, its still a hot dog place, but I forgot what it is now. I read on Facebook the other day that someone rammed their Lexus into the place recently.

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Dennys, in front of Riverdale Shopping Center. Still open.


Paul’s Arts & Crafts. When they made the disastrous decision to move across Mercury to the old Service Merchandise building. The store was too big for its needs, and wound up moving to the old Langley Square shopping center, and its gone now.


This was the shopping center where Northampton Dance Studios was. The whole shopping center is like, guns and tattoos now. I had some of the worst experiences of my life at Northampton Dance studio.


Did anybody really, seriously take ballroom dancing out of here?


Does anybody remember Bargain City USA, that junk store?

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Still here.


My sister used to buy all her stained glass supplies at Goodmans.


This is the most recent pic I have from that website. I think this was before the DAV bought the building next door as well.




This is the itsy bitsy Farm Fresh in Phoebus. I never liked that Farm Fresh logo.


Back when WalMart was still red, white and grey.


Gosh, how many times has this place changed hands? Tracks, Blockbuster Music, and now its an FYE.


This shopping center next to Coliseum Mall/Peninsula Town Center got a renovation within the past few years.


This was when the shopping center where the AMC 24 is when it was first built in 1998, and Winn-Dixie was trying to get back into Hampton Roads. Winn Dixie was all but gone from Hampton by 2005, and now a Farm Fresh is here.


Sneaker Stadium, was Just For Feet here before or after Sneaker Stadium? Remember it would have a track around the store so you could try your new shoes out?


Farmer Jack, 1998 or early 1999. This building was torn down earlier this year:

Super Fresh/Farmer Jack, Hampton, VA, demolished 2011


When Super Fresh was torn down at Newmarket South.


The old Leggett building at Newmarket Fair Mall. It’s been redone within the past ten years or so:

Northrop Gruman (former Leggetts at the former Newmarket Fair Mall)


This McDonalds near the Hampton Coliseum is still open, but how colorful it is in this photo.



Aren’t there stores now next to TJ Maxx?


Always fascinated by the shape of the Kinder Care building. When I was little I always wondered why I wasn’t in Kinder Care.

March 2, 2009

1992 or 1993 Central Fidelity Commercial

Filed under: commercials,dead chains,Farm Fresh — Anita @ 3:09 pm

This is from when mom taped Troop Beverly Hills for me one night in January of 1992, I think.

Check out all the old Farm Freshes in the Central Fidelity Commercial! Now no Farm Freshes have banks…right? I know the bank in the Smithfield location closed down a few years back.

Also notice the other local ads. Is elephantsgalore still open? The only results I found were vague city search pages. However, it looks like The Paneling Factory is still open.

March 26, 2008

Farm Fresh Grand Opening in Franklin

Filed under: dead stores,Farm Fresh,franklin,store profiles — Anita @ 9:57 pm

So, the Farm Fresh FINALLY opened today. Two years in the making.

Farm Fresh (October, 2007)

{photo I took in October of last year}

I was planning on being there right when they opened at 8 a.m., but I pulled up…NO parking spots. Line around the outside of the store. I honestly didn’t think people out here would take this opening that seriously. I was wrong!

So I came back at 9 a.m. — another bad time. People were just standing around waiting for the five $100 gift card drawings. I walked around, mainly around the beverage aisles, since I love the fact that Farm Fresh has a vast array of beverages. I took some iPhone photos:

Farm Fresh Grand Opening 1

Look at all that Honest tea!

The “Vitamin Water” cooler has … Life Water in it though. fail.

Farm Fresh Grand Opening 2

They had Nantucket Nectars half and half!!! I’ve never had that before! I’ve only heard about it in Babysitters Club books!

Look at all that Inkos tea too.

I’m surprised Enviga is still being made.

Farm Fresh Grand Opening 4

oooo Big Cranberry Nantucket Nectars and Jolt. Sorry that picture didn’t come out right. I took it in a hurry.

Farm Fresh Grand Opening 5

I was standing in LINE. HERE. I was in line for an hour. The line didn’t even more until the final 20 minutes I was in line. This was next to the makeup, and the lady in front of me started to play with this pump of glitter gel and she got it all over her hands. Farm Freshes aisle descriptions are always odd. Like the first three signs make sense, you know a general description of what is on the line, and then the last line is totally way too much detail — in this case, Vagasil.

You can see Starbucks in the distance. Ok, so after being in line for an hour, I went to Starbucks, where there was only one woman ahead of me. Boy, the baristas need more training. The “handlers” from other Farm Freshes had to help them with everything. You would’ve thought they would’ve handled this last week.

Which brings me to my second visit to Farm Fresh later on this day, at around 4 p.m. MUCH quieter than it was this morning. Like a normal day in a grocery store. I had more time to explore around the store. I found this!

Farm Fresh Grand Opening 6

This little guy used to be on the farm fresh logo back in the day when I was a little kid. I still remember vividly a jar of Peanut Butter we bought when I was like four, with a drawing of him on the label.

//edit, August 8, 2008//

Here is a blog entry about the making of one of these guys

So like I said, I went back to Starbucks after class and workstudy, because I wanted something to drink on my long drive home (50 minutes). They totally forgot about my order. One of the handlers had to make me my drink. I don’t think this Starbucks is going to be so great. We’ll see.

So like the article under the cut says, this store has NO plastic bags. I think this is a good idea because I used to be a bagger at The Fresh Market and I hated bagging in plastic, it was always so messy. I hate it when we go to Wal Mart and we have to put all our stuff in my Xterra, and its flopping around everywhere because its bagged in plastic. The store was giving away reusable grocery bags this morning, I got one. I don’t know how the general public is going to deal with no plastic bags. These paper bags are different than the usual ones Farm Fresh has, no handles, no logo.

Other than the iffy service at Starbucks, I can’t wait to shop in this store on a regular basis. It feels so nice to have a um, nice store in Franklin–and it was before I graduated. I always thought that Farm Fresh wasn’t going to open until after I graduated.

Tidewater News article:


March 22, 2008

Farm Fresh Grand Opening ad (Franklin)

Filed under: dead stores,Farm Fresh,franklin,newspaper clippings — Anita @ 6:14 pm

Farm Fresh Grand Opening

Blog at