Sunday, April 29, 2012

Take Me Back To Holyoke Mall '82

Wood you like to take a ride on the Ingleside? Turn the time circuits on, we're going back to 1982!

Last month, The Caldor Rainbow has been out-of-the-blue obsessive about the Holyoke Mall's history in pictures, attempting to find whatever we could from the mall's roots to share with you. We searched the archives, sent inquiries to Pyramid's marketing division only to come against a concrete wall. Then we came across a fascinating postcard that came up on Card Cow, a vintage postcard thrift site that sells existing printed cards from days past or from when shopping mall postcards (and the like) were not quirky things to send your grandmoms. Sadly, the aforementioned $15 card was sold with only the stock scan available to view. 

The postcard, shot by Holyoke local Dan Overton, peaked our interest enough to contact the source for the original image. He was unavailable to respond to our request.

Recently, Flickr user KaizenVerdant directed us to an article on MassLive, the online side of The Springfield Republican, which caught our attention. The Holyoke Mall Facebook page at the behest of the marketing director Lisa L. Wray randomly posted a couple of buried treasures; a 1982 mall directory with accompanied concourse shot. Much like the postcard, the shot displays the garish basement-like "Cafe Square" complete with earthtoned fountain, brown slate flooring, multi-platform seating (and what looks to be a stage) complete with wood mania; planters, tables and benches everywhere! What an exciting place to be!

In case you despise Facebook, we posted both shots here for your enjoyment.

The Cafe Square was remodeled in the late 80's, only ten years after the opening the mall, the developers must've responded to sour reception or just the changing retail times. Guess the developers recognized it wasn't such a great idea after all though it takes a chunk of character out of the original mall. The $1 million remodel replaced the cramped cavern setting, pool-like fountain with "canals" and eight-screen movie plex and blew the entire thing open for more seating and a brighter, whiter Italian marble-floored openness and more retailers to fit into most of the old theater space like Macy's Close-Out, Filene's Basement and a indoor mini-golf course at one point. 

You can see the "current day" 2007 Cafe Square (though, not from the same angle) food chasm here because, really, on a Saturday night the place is dreadfully crowded.

Some years into the millennium, they just stopped referring to the food 'chasm' as the Cafe Square, a moniker given to Pyramid mall food courts, which really didn't show up on malls until the later 80s, Holyoke Mall's food and entertainment concept was among the early ones.

My history with Holyoke Mall only dates back to the early 90's and for the most part, the mall's 1979 wood craze hasn't changed so I never got to see this amazing iteration of the Cafe Square in its heyday. I know I'd totally hang out here on a weekday with a cup of coffee and a flared collar shirt. OK, maybe no flares of any kind.

It's all here; the enormous geodesic dome, wood-decor from top-to-bottom, gardens, a fountain and a busy, dark original Cafe Square food court!

One thing that plagues our curiosity in this three-fold directory is the absence of G. FOX in the full-color shot. Perhaps it was taken during construction of the store and was still hidden from the mall. If you just look horizon-level and up, you'd be hard-pressed to believe this shot was taken 30 years ago seeing as the mall hasn't changed too much from its original design.

Let's take a closer look, we find a lot of familiar shops of the time and even some of my favorites like York Steak House, a sauteed onions 'n steak chain found at most premiere malls in the 70's featuring medieval decor, cafeteria-style dining, and your option of JELLO cubes or pudding dessert choices. Service Merchandise (a two-level one!) which I never knew was an early anchor lasting all the way up until the chain's final days, American Eagle and The Gap in their earliest years, Holyoke Dental which is in the same place and in its own timewarp today, Friendly's who just closed their over 30-year restaurant location in the Cafe Square, The Ti Shop, who had a tiny store in Westfarms, Original Cookie (remember the BIG cookie?!) and so many more.

If you're interested, check out the Pyramid Group's nearby, immaculately preserved albeit sister 1978 Hampshire Mall has a brown-draped Cafe Square over in Hadley still kind of resembles the bygone browns of Holyoke's. Sadly, it too, has had its fountain dismantled but not entirely removed.

Mall geeks will be joyed to see Holyoke Mall's wood-paneled mania still sporting the three-level mall some 33 years later though the mall got an exterior earth-toned repaint a few years back and even ditched the 1995-added neons for hanging fixtures even more recently.

We have a bevy of photos of the Holyoke Mall, mostly from 2007 (before the exterior repaint and neon removal) on our Flickr page, most of which have been revamped or replaced with better quality edits from years past. 

Share your memories! And see more historic stuff from our archives here.

The first photo was provided by, the directory and photo provided by Holyoke Mall Facebook Page on behalf of the Pyramid Group.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

What Was Riverview Plaza?

A friend of mine recently stumbled on an oddball site known as The Manchester Mall on Main St. in Manchester, CT. It's not a mall, really. Instead, it was a limited indoor retail space that may have been more in the 60's. Still, the hand-painted sign around the back signifies a mall, though only a whisper of one and in the oppressive shadows of a nearby blight and overwhelming site. When anyone says "mall" they think of this. Not this. The word association with the word mall classically refers to a gaggle of retailers within a cluster of space whereas today's people associate it with megatons of indoor, climate-controlled retail space which has consumed generations' since the indoorization craze beginning in the 1970s.

Riverview Plaza in Norwalk doesn't even call itself a mall but it sure as green grass on a Spring day look(ed) like one. A road sign doning seagulls could only forecast its fate that one day of the official mascot of the dead mall will paint it white.
I've been sitting on these photos since 2007, around the time I wanted to do some investigating about this forgotten site, seemingly awaiting demolition. When I first stumbled on Riverview Plaza, I took a walk inside only to be greeted by three darkly-lit corridors of the T-shaped center where daylight once gleamed through now only to peak into void space, shadows within storefronts, grimy pits where plants once set and an occasional vagrant or legit clearanced patronage in the few lights it up here. Uninviting and creepy, no one wants to be here anymore aside the perception of unsavory activity and reports of "low lives" and as clear as the stank air, the days for this decrepit dump are (or were) numbered.

Most of the chain retailers Radio Shack and AutoZone were either basking in cheap leases or finishing them up and stayed outside the mall in the frontage strip part -- which had no part of the indoor portion.

All that really kept this place alive was, among a few fronts living out the rests of their leases was a 90's-throwback McDonald's Express, complete with the scriptish logo I associate with short-lived personal pizzas 90's children discuss in circles when reflecting upon youth.

Though I can't seem to gather anything on this place, it was likely a smaller community mall so very common in many towns long departed, likely built in the late 60's or early 70's and actually served a great deal of business in a high-traffic area up until the swing of the century when the traditional indoor mall was in trouble. Plenty of design elements recall earlier times white-washed over, you have to appreciate this place was much more fanciful of a classic smaller indoor mall of that time.

Today, Riverview Plaza is (mostly) gone. The renewal attempts to keep the riffraff away but not enough thanks to the nearby swells and smells of the damned and defeat at the nearby OTB -- I mean Winners off-track betting around the side. That office building behind it continues to hearken (in) back to its office/retail days with Riverview signage removed. Its developers have made an attempt turn this handsome space into a 'lifestyle' mixed use site with integrated living and retail space which actually completely block and occupy a greater part of the former parking lot.

Like putting a towel on a rotten milk spill, the plan to revitalize this area by developer Avalon may still be far off. Can't blame them really, the once blighted property passed many eyes on the US-1/7 area and that attempt to block it was errr -- successful. Seriously, go read the Google reviews on this place.

The McDonald's is seemingly still on the lease and on the signboard but we just couldn't find it. Recently, we went back to investigate to see if the indoor portion was still there only to find it had been mysteriously vanished.

The wonderful, now dead Siteride once had an impressive collection of photos from the living years of this mall during the mid-90s (including a sweet shot of the cramped Dunkin' Donuts interior) that have since purged along with that site and until someone unearths those, these are all we have. You can actually still see a lot of what's now gone on Google Streetview.

Here's to the new Riverview, where I might just see a body floating down it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

40-Year KFCs Closed In Old Saybrook and New London

The corner street fried-chicken fixture for almost 40 years sits vacantly, just down the road from the busy business epicenter of US-1 in Old Saybrook.

Longtime owner Douglas J. Beach sold his withering but well-kept 'vintage' properties formerly housing nearly 40-year old Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Old Saybrook just last December as well as his other one in New London on Bank Street. Both cozier locations marked an impressive, 40-plus year stint on 735 Boston Post Rd. in Old Saybrook and 922 Bank St. in New London. These modestly small ones like Old Saybrook at 2,160 sq. ft. sits like a chicken on the corner of Lynde St., hoping for a new life or a revitalized lease in the fried chicken franchiser. 

Yes, I've always thought these 70's looking stores looked like perched chickens. Probably just me... 

Purchaser Village Plaza has claimed the Old Saybrook property, who bought the site in December 2010 has yet to make something of it.

New London opened in 1970 and Old Saybrook one year later, both locations remained time capsules to its respective era with a compact dining room (likely later expanded) and never having been fitted for drive-thrus, practically standard on fast food joints by the late 70's and 80's. No corporate polish or spacious parking, the sunburnt road sign mirrored the hip 'KFC' acronyming fad of 1990's against a wave of fresh white and red paint jobs over the years keeping the store looking ripe in the 2000's. 

Back in 2008, The Caldor Rainbow made pilgrimage to gather images of all the lingering KFCs in the CT/Mass./NY regions still hanging onto vestiges of 70s and 80s tones. We found a pretty impressive array including the age-old Old Saybrook, CT location upon which we were stricken with finger-lickin' grief to find it had been closed since late 2010 and later with New London having closed in June 2011. 2006-2008 was a period many of these locations were finally getting their remodels after decades of neglect.



Louisville, KY based Americana restaurant Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC (or KGC -- Colonel certainly would not approve of) went franchise in 1952 and started a wave across America with his signature blend of 11 herbs and spices and has become a cultural icon since. In recent years, KFC is a chain that has seen many store demolitions for newer shops, vacations ('vacate'tions as in moved to other sites), especially close to our region with franchise owner Jessie Lanier and the closing of all eight of his Springfield, MA area and two Connecticut stores.

We were saddened to find no local reports or even some history. Sure, it's 'just a chain' among a sea of them but behind everyone are stories, memories and a dedication to service. We especially liked seeing these stores modest in size hanging in there in an age of polyurethane seats and plastic facades without unique identities like they used to be.

There are now five(ish) known vacant KFCs in Connecticut; Old Saybrook, New London, Enfield (Hazard Ave.), a long-old timer on Enfield St. and Windsor Locks. The chain retains (a whopping) 41 locations in Connecticut, oddball fact, only three (Southington, Torrington and Bristol) still have buffets. 

See more pictures of both locations and the rest of our Kentucky Fried Chicken stores on Flickr. Actually, most of those shown are now closed.

EDIT (April 10, 2012): Story has been amended thanks to reader Greg, who informed us the New London location, also owned by Mr. Beach, is closed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Around Plainedge; circa 1976

Who doesn't love historic photos? Furthermore, who doesn't love historic photos of shopping centers? From the mid-70s? Jackpot! Luckilly, the Plainedge Public Library of working class town Plainedge, New York (Long Island) caters to the needs of those looking for popular restaurant and supermarket chains peppered in its "circa 1976" historic scanned photo album. Many of the submitted photos here are from Plainedge area towns Bethpage, Seaford, Massapequa and the like. If you live around there, maybe you can identify the landscape 36 years later. Here's some of the highlights...

Burger King / 4201 Hempstead Turnpike / Bethpage
Foodtown / 4035 Hempstead Turnpike / Bethpage

 Dunkin' Donuts, A&P (Plaza) /16 Hicksville Rd. / Seaford

 Waldbaum's Shopping Center / Hicksville Rd. & Jerusalem Ave. / Massapequa

Hardee's / 4115 Hempstead Turnpike / Bethpage

Hills Shopping Center / 1276 Hicksville Rd. / Seaford

Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips / 4273 Hempstead Turnpike / Bethpage

Most of these sites, like their chains, are gone today. I know Arthur Treacher's husk is on Washington St. here in Middletown, CT as a Subway while the Kawasaki dealership on Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield was likely a Hardee's. An unmistakable 70's Burger King with original lettering from the 60s-era of the chain before playscapes or drive-thrus eye-sored the frontage of the many tacky-blue roofed BK's of today. And oh, that classic shingled Dunkin' Donuts with that circular donut logo that only came to the attention of the chain upon its 60th anniversary is here before many of them decayed by the 90's.

There's about 7 pages worth of great sepia-tinged views into the past. If you like banks, gas stations, diners and popular establishments, take a look. We hope to unearth more of these gems and encourage more libraries to make their digital collections available to everyone.We simply ask you do not reproduce these photos on any sites a la Flickr.

We've got some more news from The Island coming.

Caldor Rainbow Returns

Steely Dan took almost 20 years to come back with Two Against Nature. Supertramp lost the high-pitched guy and still came back. Sure, they haven't put out an album in almost ten years but I digress.

After two years of hiatus, The Caldor Rainbow will return. 

In our absence, the world has continued to spin. Thus, many of our reports that made up our foundation have been left to hang in the balance to lack of updates and on those reports and, of course, spam. But before we delve into new reports, we must assure you that we are remodeling our focus. 

Not too much, though or else we'd lose sight of The Caldor Rainbow.

For a few months now, I've been debating what to do with The Caldor Rainbow with regard to not only my readers but presence we have across the internet. I've even accepted the site as a past time pleasure, a bygone project since neglected, indefinitely abandoned leaving it to have its stamp on the internet for those looking for tidbits of info on defunct retailers no other friend sites offer. But after years of shuffling, it's been decided The Caldor Rainbow will live on officially now to exist as a dual entity; here on Blogspot and on Flickr

On our Flickr page, we have over 5,000 exclusive pictures, many of which not shared on the website or in our reports. Since June 2007, following the demise of Yahoo! Photos, we've chosen Flickr (and not just because they gave us 4 months free) as a host to reach as many people as possible that share a passion of retail and photography. We've made plenty of friends and allies along the way. Flickr allows our reach to millions and expedites our update process without the package of a researched update thus enabling more expedited updates for our readers.

As for the Blogspot side, updates will continue within the mold of our traditional focus but ultimately our most valued updates are our readers' input and submissions. Without you, we would have never seen the New Britain Caldor that inspired this blog to be where it is today. Our vastly researched Connecticut Store Locators on the big three keeps the former presence of these fallen retailers as a testament to their legacy.

Tracking The Retail Rainbows has been our goal since September 2006, as one would imagine a lot has changed almost 6 years later. Our beloved dead retail triad Caldor, Bradlees and Ames former locations are all but dried up, reported on or have been forgotten in the black hole of time. Actually, there are some still around, even if one of Connecticut's last reminders of Bradlees will be gone by Summer (or so the city of Manchester hopes). That story and more in the next few months...

So let's get some things out of the way first with a few lightning updates!

That rare Super Stop & Shop we reported on two Marches ago has been, like almost all existing Super Stop & Shops, has been remodeled and is no longer "Super". We were very lucky to capture what we did in the last months as a richly-preserved late 80's store. That dinosaur Kmart in Watertown, CT is still timewarped, a now 24-year old Toys 'R' Us in upstate New York is still preserved, the Crystal Mall has been renovated after 16 years, and the (Westfield) Trumbull mall now has carpets. We lost many more retailers we didn't think like Borders and Bernie's but Walmart and TARGET still comprise our current discount retail rivalry. Triple trump retailers Kmart, Sears and JCPenney (recently rebranding, again) is still around so, really, all's right with the world.

Before you declare us Milforded, we encourage email submissions and questions to

Above all, thank you to all my readers for putting up with the silence. We hope you still stick with us even through the blackout. The rainbow is here to shine its earthtones once again.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Timewarped Stop & Shop Remains In West Springfield

Check those expiration dates! Roll that cart back down that aisle! Way back...

The Caldor Rainbow has uncovered a true gem of chain supermarket-dom somewhat rare, even around these parts, an old-school Stop & Shop. Along the stretching retail hub in West Springfield, Mass., a timewarped interior Stop & Shop with plenty of long-bygone signage you might not have seen in decades still exists.

But for how much longer?

W. SPRINGFIELD, MA -- Stop & Shop, just one of 11 in a 10-mile blast radius, at Riverdale Shops plaza along Riverdale Street is an endangered species among the entirety of stores in the leading Northeast supermarket chain, Stop & Shop. In just the last year or so, the vital and somewhat aggressive remodeling campaign sought to transform many of the falling behind 25+ year "Super Stop & Shop"-era stores into newly-faced, in-and-out and color-schemed with "fruit basket" logo stores, we caught our first glimpse of in mid-2008.

Like mega-retailer Walmart, the chain followed a similar campaign, rapidly overhauling many of its stores that flood the Northeast market as the dominant, prominent supermarketeer. In 2010, finding a "Super Stop & Shop" is endangered. Finding one with signage from the mid-80's is, well, near impossible.

Twas an ordinary lunch run on a gray afternoon. Approaching the entrance, immediately visible from the parking lot was a maroon awning with a retro "Pharmacy" sign, sending a flash back to the 80's and early 90's-era of the chain's funkier signage. Upon entering the store, furthering into time's abyss, we witnessed architectural marvel all around us; spots of wood paneling, brown-tinted and paneled shelving and endcaps but shockers abound: the retro signage -- almost all of it. I further looked for a video rental store...

"The Bake Shop", complete with exuberantly grinning bakery man all still in-tact, complete with a putrid, yet lovely outdated, earthtoned Caldor Rainbow-style motif all over the rims of the walls. Zigzag "Creamery" signs, "Butcher Shop" and "Frozen Foods" all sent me back just a little.

Looking around for a nearby USA Today, I had to rest assure I didn't just step into a wormhole, sending me back to 1986. "Great Scott!"

Know of any Stop & Shop's that have missed a few eras of remodel? Please let us know as we find more and fight atrocious spammers attempting to hijack the often vacant Caldor Rainbow.

Here's to my readers, reporting safely in the present: March 23, 2010.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Krispy Kreme Klosed

At 1440 Boston Post Road in Milford, the red-glazed neon once signaling freshly-made glazed donuts right off the conveyor belt lights no more.

Driving up and down the ever-bustling US-1, Boston Post Road in Milford, many will now have to chose Starbucks or perhaps for their donut fix, the newly-built Dunkin' Donuts across from the juggernaut Connecticut Post Mall. Once a beacon to one's afternoon sugar attack, the state's final free-standing Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (not "Donuts!") has finally closed.

Yes, finally. And quite frankly, I'm surprised its taken this long.

If the 1-800-Junk truck didn't scare customers away for the past year and a half, the wild sugary values and aggressive critics found in Krispy Kreme's delicious glazed doughnuts might have. Or perhaps it was the grizzly murder locals remember taking place here when it was KFC back in 1999...

Slowly dwindling from the Milford store included merchandise, a play area for kids, specialty drinks and other menu items to even plastic cups for iced beverages, Krispy Kreme tightened its belt with a firm squeeze over the last couple years of its life enough to splatter the jelly all over the walls. On a typical afternoon, one would be eerily greeted by a hollow presence in the store's lobby. Yeah, don't scare the staffers...

The location which opened to much, much fanfare in 2002 along with sister shop in Newington closed quietly in late 2009 though the Caldor Rainbow has discovered this upon passing in late January (yes, where have we been...). Forthcoming "drive-in" service restaurant (that's correct, no dining room!), Sonic is been among the rumored to open in its place -- as well as make for the first site in Connecticut. We'll surely expect blistery Winters and limited warmth in the fertile months are among the culprits for Sonic's future troubles in the Northeast and not high-caloric and sugar scares which were those largely (pardon the pun) responsible for Krispy Kreme's league of disappearing acts.

Krispy Kreme, who has closed up many stores over the last few years has no more than a handful of remaining locations along the eastern seaboard including a lone surviving Connecticut location inside Mohegan Sun Casino.

Another shop on The Berlin Turnpike closed in early 2006, caused once, albeit short-lived crippling traffic concerns along the mighty 5/15 stretch in Newington. Today, the troubled blue-accented site sits vacant after being used briefly by a since-vacated, widely-shuttered Citibank branch.

Once a treat for being on this end of the state is no more. My last trip here was in early October and even though I regularly patronized the typically ghost-town Milford Krispy Kreme for many years now, the closure is deeply saddening.

Here's some of our archival photos to remember the tale of Krispy Kreme in Milford and its brief stint in the Northeast.

View more of our photos of Krispy Kreme and more on Flickr.

n an editorial note, I deeply apologize for the lack of maintenance and atrocious levels of spam that have collected on pages at The Caldor Rainbow over many months of our inactivity. I'm working to delete what I can since Blogger hasn't any simple, bulk deletion or effective captcha against such terrorists. Some pages' comments sections have been overrun and, in some instances, hijacked by surmountable levels of Japanese spammers.

Monday, September 07, 2009

New Britain Walmart Closure And Aftermath

Well, that's all folks!

That's pretty much what the Bentonville, AK-based juggernaut big box retailer Walmart said to its entire staff and patrons of the nearly ten-year Farmington Ave., New Britain location on August 31st, 2009. Citing many reasons other than the company line of "economic reasons," others are speculative, some phoned-in from local residents and even a turned-down request for store expansion, the New Britain location which opened in 2001, shortly after a 27-year, dilapidated swept-rockface 70's 'rainbow' Caldor had gone belly up with the entire chain, had shut it doors for good.

Two days after the closure...

The parking lot now largely barren, a rich dark green scar where the white-clad sign once displayed in front of a scene with the least amount of cars ever seen for 3PM on a Tuesday. Two New Britain Police cruisers in the fire lane, presumably surveying the area. Kids released from nearby school walk past the now vacated Walmart along Farmington Avenue. One asks me 'is it closed?', another 'is it going to be Kmart?' -- only one of those I was sure of.

Uncertain of the fate of 655 Farmington Ave., the store posters awareness on the cart-only entrance of six other locations within the 15 mile radius of the newly dark storefront.

This makes only two closed Walmart stores in Connecticut -- both in New Britain.

There's something about the city of New Britain and its unlucky history with Walmart. The first Walmart opened on the corner of Slater and Hillhurst Roads in 1997 on the site of a recently departed Price Club (and before that, a long-time Stop & Shop-Bradlees plaza). Shortly after the closure of Caldor, Walmart shuttered the Slater Road location, moving to the Farmington Ave. location shortly after the demolition of Caldor in 2001.

With the late, beloved Northeast discounter Caldor spent, it always seem to come back to that earthtoned rainbow we can't get enough of. Back in November 1972, Caldor had celebrated its 21st Anniversary by opening a rather unique concept store with a enormous earthtoned rainbow company emblem apart a memorable angular facade that haunted its own architectural flaws all the way up until its 1999 closure. Here's a bit we wrote back on January 6, 2008...
On November 2, 1972, the Caldor Corporation crafted what's referred to as the "swept wing" facade look on its proud 21st Anniversary, 21st chainwide store on Farmington Avenue in New Britain. The company then unveiled the ever-reminiscent rainbow-motif to go along with the angled facade look spawning an experimental and certainly distinct look for the ever-popular department retail chain.
One of our readers shared a slew of old pictures from his personal collection from 655 Farmington Avenue's Caldor days just as I remember them (rainbow and all). In case you missed it, he still has some prime memorabilia from the building -- namely the "C" and "O" plexiglas letters.

Walmart has been on a remodeling frenzy lately.

A sprawl if you will, all throughout the country with many stores in our fair Connecticut getting 11 out of the 34 with the new look. Reflective of their massive ad campaign that began last year, the company sought to combat negative media reflections of the chain corporate and otherwise -- the otherwise otherwise being that their stores were always so darned messy, the root of all of America's evil. We don't share this view, knowing my own bias for rival discounter, Target.

The Caldor Rainbow does not know what will happen to this site. Once a prime piece of real estate, we believe that this will likely not stay vacant for long.