That Mall is sick and that Store is dead!

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.

May 31, 2014

River View Plaza, Norwalk, CT (1995)

Screen shot 2014-05-31 at 10.53.03 PM

I found this tonight while looking for something else on (sadly discontinued) Google Newspapers. This is from September 1, 1995.

Caldor Rainbow has more information about this place, and the futuristic looking itty bitty McDonalds inside.

March 18, 2014

Woodville Mall

Filed under: other malls,signs — Anita @ 10:49 pm


Wood Co. officials seek to close Woodville Mall – Toledo Blade. (2011)


I forgot that this was the mall that had this awesome logo. Look how 1988 that is.

This mall was shut down due to safety violations in 2011, and was finally torn down this year.

July 21, 2013

Azalea Mall Sign, Richmond, VA (NBC12)

Filed under: dead chains,other malls,signs — Anita @ 4:03 pm



Does anybody know if this sign is still up? I found this picture on the NBC12 site in an article from three years ago. Oh, to have one scrap of that Thalhimers sign. … is that a Thalhimers sign?


July 17, 2013

Bed Bath & Beyond (Unknown)

Filed under: Retail/Mall fan websites,signs — Anita @ 11:43 pm


Bed Bath & Beyond Unknown, originally uploaded by siteride.

This flickr user, Siteride has amazing mid 1990s photos of stores. I love them all.

April 6, 2013

Tide Mill Shopping Center (Hampton, VA)

Filed under: Hampton,signs — Anita @ 9:25 pm

Tide Mill Shopping Center (Hampton, VA)

About once a month, I visit my old teacher from about 17 years ago. One day when I was visitng him, he said that he had to leave soon to get a haircut. He mentioned that he was going to get a haircut at Red’s Barber Shop, and described the shopping center as, “hole in the wall”. Since I’ve been away from anywhere near Langley Air Force Base in Hampton in nearly ten years, I had totally forgotten about this old shopping center.

(Impossible Project B&W PX UV+)

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.

July 31, 2011

Amazing photo of old Hampton Coliseum sign, 1989

Filed under: dead stores,signs — Anita @ 8:47 pm

Screen Shot 2017-09-16 at 9.50.10 PMScreen Shot 2017-09-16 at 9.50.34 PM

Taken by Jim Anderson for the Warlocks aka Grateful Dead show at the Coliseum in 1989.

Please note:

The “good food 24 hr” sign that is a re purposed Waffle House sign, I believe this place is a Waffle House again.
The exxon that later became (uggh) Hooters.
You can see some of the flyover.

Please see the rest of his dead photos here.

October 4, 2010

New Belk Logo

Filed under: belk,signs,then & now — Anita @ 12:10 am

Oh dang that looks a lot better than what they’ve been using for the past billion years.



June 28, 2006

Becker Village Mall (Roanoke Rapids, NC–Dead Since 2002?)

Filed under: belk,dead stores,,J.C. Penney,other malls,signs — Anita @ 11:25 pm



So, last Monday my friend Gary & I drove out to Roanoke Rapids, NC to find different sodas and drinks. He told me when he was doing research on the city that there was a mall there; Becker Village Mall and it had a JC Penney and a Belk. I always like to visit new malls dead or alive so I was excited about this.

Becker Villiage Mall (dead since 2002?)

I knew things were going to be bad the minute we saw the sign. That is one oudated sign!

Becker Village Mall (dead since 2002?)

We walked in and Gary said, “” and I said, “I’m in love!!”.

There were only three, four people walking in the mall. One was a custodian.

Becker Villiage Mall (Roanoke Rapids, NC--Dead Since 2002?)

Upon doing research, we learned that this closed in 2002–when most of the mall packed up and moved out when KMart shut down.

Becker Villiage Mall

This place looks like it was here from day one.

Becker Villiage Mall (Roanoke Rapids, NC--Dead Since 2002?)

Gary took this picture from the bathroom hallway. My friend Sarah saw the pic on Flickr and said, “that’s a mall? weird. it looks like the science building at my school.” She also supplied the Becker photo.

JC Penney, Becker Villiage Mall. Roanoke Rapids, NC

I took a picture of the JC Penney as we were driving away.

So, this place only had six stores open:

JC Penney
Shoe Dept
Hibbett Sports
Hit Wear.

The mall was small and about the size of two drugstores. When we both came home, Gary did research on the mall. Apparently KMart closing in 2002 killed this place.


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