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 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.


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. //
  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.
  6. Lefton, Terry. “JFFeet Gets Crafty in Bowl Ad.” Brandweek, vol. 40, no. 2, Jan. 1999, p. 3.

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. 


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′s coverage was sparse. Rollerblade dolls were hot. 


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. 


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 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. 


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!: 


Daily Press didn’t have the 1997 newspaper.

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


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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′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”. 


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.


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! 


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


Wendy just wanted the 106 fm Wild Money Man. 

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September 5, 2015

“Newmarket Theatre ’65 time capsule to be opened” (Daily Press, 9/5/2015)

Filed under: dead stores,Hampton,newmarket fair mall,newspaper clippings — Anita @ 10:57 pm

Newmarket Theater '65 time capsule to be opened.


April 26, 2015

Linton Promenade (FL) opening article, August 7, 1985

Filed under: newspaper clippings — Anita @ 4:50 pm

Linton Promenade Boca Raton News, August 7, 1985

Linton Promenade Boca Raton News, August 7, 1985

I found this newspaper article last night, after using the newspaper for this entry over at my history blog. I tried googling info about this mall, but nothing was found. I assume through the years, offices absorbed the mall.

February 14, 2015


Filed under: newmarket fair mall,newspaper clippings — Anita @ 12:14 am

Copyright Chicago Tribune Co. Dec 19, 1990

December 14, 2014

Mohawk Mall ad, December 3, 1986

Filed under: Christmas,,newspaper clippings,other malls — Anita @ 8:03 pm

Screen shot 2014-12-14 at 8.01.10 PM


Mohawk was one of the first malls mentioned on about 10+ years ago.


At page 48, there is a salespaper for the mall:


December 13, 2014

The Pittsburgh Press, December 1, 1991

Filed under: Christmas,dead chains,drugstores,newspaper clippings — Anita @ 12:08 am

Here is the entire paper. The ads start around page 130-ish. 

I’m going to have some Christmas Cookies from Trader Joes while the images upload.
Trader Joes pfeffernüsse cookies
I used to think these were called "sing a long" lights

When I was little, I thought these were called Sing a Long Lights, and when you plugged them in, tinny sounding xmas music would emit from them.

Brooks Pharmacy, December 1, 1991 (pittsburgh press)

Look at all the exclamation perfume. I finally bought some last weekend at WalMart, they had the small bottles for $3.

xmas with the Turtles (Ames, December 1, 1991)

Xmas with the Turtles at Ames.

Woolworth, December 1, 1991 Pittsburgh Press

This woolworth paper was specifically for mall locations in the area. Hence, the nicer merchandise, like the NES, SNES, and Game Boy. Pretty sure my Woolworth in Hampton, VA never had merchandise this nice. I do remember them selling Rollerblades at my location.

Revco used to be all about the nutcrackers (12/1/1991)

Revco used to be all about the nutcrackers.

VCR Plus (12/1/1991

Did the VCR Plus really work? It seems so much easier and cheaper back then to learn how to use the timer record function.

August 10, 2014

Wal-Mart Moonlight Madness (August 10, 1990)

Filed under: newspaper clippings — Anita @ 7:54 pm

Walmart Moonlight Madness Sale, 1990

such deals



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