Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lowe's And Behold; Appeal For An Orange Derby Shopping Center


The aging process has not been true to the terminal Orange Derby Shopping Center.

Situated on (CT) Route 34, New Haven Avenue; en route to New Haven, located in a somewhat collapsed but hubristic "Connecticut's Smallest City" of Derby (the "downtown" is in the midst of some post-war torn look), just on the Orange line. The Shopping Center, which has been a long companion of the town, at least since the 1960's, has been withering away for decades and just recently became a near ghost town when plaza anchor Big K-Mart shut its Derby location down within the 2003 wave of closings within the state of Connecticut.


The Orange Derby Shopping Center is an active example of ill-adapted shift in the retail market over the ages which inevitably finds a victim - and frankly this one that has not adapted well with the times. The plaza, heavily marred with crackled, wavy, and uneven pavement certainly doesn't invite beyond it's heavy vacancy rates, seagulls (the unproclaimed bird of "the dead mall"), and a rest stop for truckers.

Having opened with Zayre; a discount department store who later folded under once rising rival Ames, not renewing it's placement in this location in the late 1980's. K-Mart, who most recently occupied the location left by Jordan Marsh, a department clothier, who opened shortly after the demise of Zayre closed all it's mostly mall-stationed anchor stores in 1996. K-Mart, according to a reader, found sanctuary after being displaced from a fallen Ansonia Mall in nearby Ansonia. After three-plus years of post-K; deteriorating, vandalism, and graffiti at the long-stationed shopping center, once neighbored by a Service Merchandise plaza in it's heyday will soon be completely demolished for yet another soulless, cookie-cutter retail cloner, Lowe's Home Improvement.


In the retail zodiac, 2007 is the year of the Lowe's.

Lowe's Home Improvement plans to occupy space currently and soon to be no longer held by the Orange Derby Shopping Center namesake. There are no plans if the future tenants will opt to remove the antique and characteristic road pylon which has been not only greeting those passing through Derby, but also a literal beacon for the residents who live behind and around the shopping center. There's good chance the sign will not be salvaged beyond Lowe's construction.


A once housed "Garden Shop" during the Big K years.

While stats continue to show Wal-Mart to be the top retailer, Lowe's has been creeping in more so in the top ten than it's competition around Connecticut. Lowe's has been quite well known, like its fellow rising retailers, for sweeping up many vacantly troubled retail sites and shopping center in the past few years, cleaning up much of the collapses of the end of the millennium which include many now long-gone retailers of the northeast like Caldor, Bradlees and even most recently Ames.

Entrances to one of the more unusual, non-original K-Mart stores.


A now rare design leftover variant from Zayre which included an overlaping, stucco facade and a gapped central where entrances are placed.

Just recently, The Caldor Rainbow has reported numerous new Lowe's stores coming this year on a few years vacant retail sites including one in Torrington on the site of the town's oldest plaza, Meriden; on the site of a four-plus year leftover from Ames. Stores have been popping up all over the place along with other rising retailers like the continually successful Wal-Mart, Target; who's continuing it's northeastern expansion, Kohl's and Home Depot to name some of the biggest players.


A mostly silent strip of shops hurt by the closure of major anchorage.

The New Haven Register reports the property owners are hoping for two more buildings in addition to Lowe's and their accompaning garden center. Upon Lowe's announcement, late 2006 and early this year, remaining tenants have slowly leaked out within the horizon of demolition plans. The future plaza does not plan to include the current or recently vacated tenants which include Fashion Bug, GNC, and a handful of smaller-owned shops and bakery; most of which have or are in agreement with the town's mayor for relocation plans elsewhere in town.

There's also no word on what might become of the two off-plaza restaurants; Burger King and nearby (old-school) Dunkin' Donuts; both of which seem likely to not be directly affected due to their remote locations across a somewhat dreary creek, far outside the central breaking grounds. The newly-revamped site sees a fast food restaurant, which will likely gauge
competition with Burger King .

Lowe's will undoubtably be getting to work very soon, after the hurdling wetlands negotiations are met so anyone who wants to see the plaza in it's last few months alive better get there soon.


The Caldor Rainbow must extend gratitude to one of our readers and New Haven area resident, Loki, who originally informed us about the plaza.

Make sure you check out the complete set on Yahoo! Photos to see more of Orange Derby Shopping Center; taken just yesterday March 12, 2007.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick,

Another great write up. Thanks for being so great by posting all those pics. A couple of questions:
a) where were those shelves being kept?
b) any shopping carts around?
c) there was a pic of a Big Lots next to a Staples. Do you know what that Big Lots had been previously?

Greg

Lowes are popping up all over the place.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Appreciate the read as usual, Greg.

A) Shelves were being kept inside that small building which was Kmart's Garden Center. I wasn't able to see clear enough inside the entrance doors.

B) Did not find any shopping carts around. I must confess I didn't drive around back the building (generally don't like to drive in the back of many vacant buildings because of harmful debris for the tires and didn't really feel like going on foot.

C) Big Lots was recently part of a space held by Service Merchandise; and an old one which held onto the classic all-caps logo until the very end. I've got a picture of the label scar (http://www.amesfanclub.com/forum/viewthread.php?action=attachment&tid=9&pid=28561) which was on the side of the building. Kind of hard to make out but gives plenty of evidence. Loki, the reader who told me about the site also said that plaza was subdivided into Big Lots and Staples.

And yes, Lowe's seem to be inflating all over the place like blow-up clowns.

Marc said...

They're putting a Lowe's there? Damn. Talk about overkill. There's one in Orange already on the Boston Post Road.

Also it's amazing. 10 or 11 years ago TCI Cable added HGTV to the cable tv lineup and we always saw ads for Lowe's and we were like there are none around here. Now there's 9 in the state of Connecticut and counting your mentioning them of building stores in Torrington and Orange-Derby will make a total of 11.

Bobby said...

What do you know about the Ansonia Mall? I can't find diddly squat about it online.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Add another to the list, Marc. There will be a Lowe's in Milford on Old Gate Lane across Toys R Us on the site of the former Milford Jai-Alai which was recently demolished to suit yet another one and (Hilton, I presume) hotel chain.

About the Ansonia Mall, I know nothing about it other than what Loki told me; that it was a small enclosed mall anchored by Kmart and that it was demolished in the early 80s. Hopefully, she will ring in soon on any more details.

Judging by Google Maps/Satellite feature, the plaza is still desolate apart from the Big Y over there on 403 Main Street, where the mall was.

Marc said...

I had a brain fart about the one in Milford. I bought the New Haven Register the day I saw it in the headlines. Meanwhile Charlie, the Operations Manager of WXCT 990 in Southington predicts there will be a Lowe's in Southington in the near future.

Fox N Allen said...

The Jordan Marsh was originally a DM Read's branch. I used to shop there back in 1984/85 when I worked down the road in Woodbridge.

I can recall when the center area was thriving. Service Merchandise, Caldor, Read's and some supermarket begining with "K" based out of the valley. Klarides comes to mind, but it could be my NY/CT confusion.

I can't imagine the need for another big box home improvement center with both Lowe's and Home Depot not more then 10miles away.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Was there ever a Zayre here? Someone on the Ames Fan Club found an archived article which stated this was originally home to Zayre. Another poster identified this as an original building style for the chain as well.

Fox, you're usually on point with your dates; does this follow the same timeline as the former Read's over at Trumbull Shopping Park?

Fox N Allen said...

I don't ever remember seeing a Zayre in that plaza. There was that "K" supermarket on the left wing followed by a grouping of smaller stores and then the Read's/JM store in the 80's.

After the FDS takeover of Allied and the closing of the JM stores, the former Reads/JM location became a Big Kmart.

As for what the store that became BigLots was originally. I may wrong, but Child World comes to mind. For some reason I remember Caldor & Child World next to each other.

Anonymous said...

Nick,
Interesting site.

Zayre opened in 1974 and closed in 1976. Grand Union also opened in 1974 and closed in 1975.

I opened Holiday House in 1975 and sold the business in 2000 after a great 25 year run.

Mark Sicignano said...

I'm the son of "Anonymous" above that owned Holiday House. He just told me about this site.

I'm highly amused by the notion of a blog about malls in CT.

Anyway, As a kid, I have lots of memories of getting dragged to work with my parents and having a lot of free time walking around the stores at this mall. I remember Zayre's going out of business sale, and buying all sorts of fishing gear and a new fishing pole then.

I also have great memories of learning how to toss a Yo-Yo during one of the sidewalk sales when Larry Sayco performed. My Dad was the president of the association of merchants there and he was responsible for hiring some entertainment. We dressed like Larry and hung out with him for a fe days. What an awesome guy he was.

I also had the dreadful experience of having to dress up in a furry Smurf costume for one of these August sidewalk sales. You have no idea what heat and humidity can be like until you've spent an hour in one of these costumes. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I live near this plaza, and there WAS also a marshalls there, giving the plaza a slight hum of life, but it closed down too not to long ago.

wrhssaxensemble said...

Well looks like the dollar store is gone now and to my surprise when I drove by yesteday the old K mart is now completely gone as well... All that remains is the side stores area and even those are gutted, ripped apart and the fixtures for sale

Anonymous said...

Such a shame to see a K-mart crumble at the hands of lowe's, but it's a good thing that they still decided to breathe new life into the plaza.

Oh, and there IS a Wal*Mart not to far, actually down the street, from the former k-mart location >:(

Anonymous said...

There definitely was a Klarides supermarket in the plaza (a family owned "chain" with another location in Seymour). I grew up going there, and later worked at the one in Seymour. The Klarides later moved to the old Shop Rite location (now still an Adams IGA??) which was next to a Caldor, which is now a Walmart. Geez.

As far as the Ansonia Mall, I would love for someone to give more details on that. I grew up going there but I only have sketchy memories of it, and I think the "bigger" stores were gone before my earliest memories of it (other than Kmart). I remember a Rite Aid, Hallmark, video store and a pet store. During the hey day, there was actually a Cabbage Patch Kids store! Oh and you can't forget Italian Pavilion which had really good pizza and later moved into Valley Bowl after the mall was closed. I can't remember what else was there, there was a grocery store I think, and a lot of cheesy stores as the mall declined and then closed. Then they ripped it down and put in a Big Y.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely right on the Lowe's in Southington. Building it right next to 84, along with a Target and a few other stores. Should be a traffic nightmare what with all the interchange improvements, not to mention the nearby Hartford Insurance complex which will share the entrance with the shopping center. As for Orange Derby, went to the Big Lots next door, and the plaza is GONE save for the Webster Bank on the periphery.

Joe said...

Here's a little more history of the Valley malls as I recall it:

The Ansonia Mall was actually torn down in the late 90's. I worked there at Radio Shack from 1992-1993. Talk about a dead mall. The first memories I have of going there were when I was a child of 4 and my mom took me to the Grant's department store that was the predecessor to KMart at that location. There was also a FINAST supermarket (which changed to Edwards'TLC briefly before its demise, a Graf-Wadman record store, a Rite-aid, a GNC, and a few others. It was an enclosed strip mall that seemed to turn into a gathering place for all the old folks who inhabited Ansonia and Derby in its later days. The aforementioned Italian Pavilion was a favorite hangout of my (late) father's, where you could get a slice for 75 cents and it tasted good. I remember watching the Clarence Thomas hearings and the OJ trial there on my breaks from Radio Shack.

As for the Orange-Derby shopping center, it was indeed a Zayre in the mid-seventies, then a Read's, Jordan Marsh, and then after a long vacancy, a K-mart, then nothing. I remember Holiday house, Payless Shoes, Radio Shack, OTB (my grandfather was a janitor there), Klarides supermarket, Marshalls, and a pizza place (San Remo Pizza, I think)

Oh, and to tie all this up neatly, this plaza is about 1/8 of a mile down the street from an old Caldor, which is now a Wal-Mart.

Anonymous said...

marc wrote: "They're putting a Lowe's there? Damn. Talk about overkill. There's one in Orange already on the Boston Post Road"

that one is on the far side of orange, practically in west haven. the three nearest home improvement stores to us in Ansonia/Derby (as far as I know) are Home Depot (Derby), Home Depot (Orange), and Home Depot (Stratford) - at least until the Milford Lowe's opened. I'm glad they are using this space, I am glad they are tearing up the parking lot, and more so glad it is competition for Home Depot.

Don't know what they can put in there for a restaurant - the big three (the aforementioned BK, McDs, and Wendy's) are all already well within a mile of the site. Sure could use some competetion for Wal-Mart there, though. Interesting blog you got here.

Lance Yudkin said...

My Grandfather Harold Yudkin originally owned the land where the Orange Derby shopping center was and where the current Loews is being built. He also owned 250 acres above the shopping center where we built over 200 homes for the residents of the town of Derby. I was recently back in the Derby, CT area and was very sad to see the old Derby Orange shopping center down. I hope that they keep the old sign up for the residents of Derby. I guess everything changes and real estate modernizes itself. This was a great write up. Thank you for all of the memories!

Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell, the Hilton will be open by the winter at the site of the Milford Lowe's, as well as a bank and a Ruby Tuesday's. With the corporate-owned Bennigan's across the street closed and for rent and only Gipper's across the street, there is a need for a decent, family restaurant.

Tracey said...

I grew up in shelton then moved to ansonia in 1984 and I used to go to the ansonia mall almost every day because I lived less than a block away. when I was like 5 my parents took me there because they used to have a movie theater there in the late 70s, in the 80s they had Kmart,riteaid,radio shack, a record store(which then went out of business and became something else then a dollar store) we had had the stand in the middle of the store that sold candy,novelties,jewelry,etc, they had a pet store at one time,a laundromat,a clothing store called pinky's, a new york deli(I think it was),it had a store before big y,of course the italian pavillion,another movie store at the opposite end of kmart, then another record store, it had a flower shop and a place where they cut hair and pierced ears,they had a bank in therem the card store, a shoe store,2 other clothing stores(one of which was owned by a guy from india I think it was he wore a turban)also a store who sometimes had women in the windows that looked like mannequins(cant remember the name),we also had a friendly's restaurant in the mall too.the ansonia mall didnt keep the smaller stores around too long and kmart used to have a big fountain in front of the stores doors that actually worked.they had one of those photobooths outside in the parking lot. I remember when the mall would have carnivals in their parking lot and have the circus bring animals and they would be inside the mall in cages like panthers,lions,etc.I practically lived at the mall as it was the only thing to do in that area at that time.

Tracey said...

what ever hapened to all the stores that were in the stop and shop plaza? up the road from where caldor and klarides resided? I remember there at one time was a OBT racetrack betting place at the mall where klarides was.then there was the old pop shoppe that was in the stop and shop plaza I think(hey I was only like 10 at the time) too many stores and memories.

K_Duff said...

I was born in ansonia Ct in 1973 and lived on 13 Franklin Street until about age 9-10. I remember all the retailers mentioned in the blog as well as the replies and I have so many visuals going through my mind right now. It sort of breaks my heart that so much has changed, especially that the ansonia Mall is gone. I spent a lot of time there with my mom in early childhood. We shopped at Finast. I remmber there was a beauty shop near the entrance and you could always smell the perms. I remember a Piccadily Pub as well. I don't think that one has been mentioned yet. We ate many lunches at Italian Pavillion and at Friendly's and also inside Kmart in the Kmart restaurant. I met Santa Claus in that mall when I was a little girl. I bought Christmas cards and advent Calenders at that Hallmark store. I remember a Tobacco shop as well. My dad would sometimes come with us and he would get a paper and sit down somewhere and read while mom and I would shop. There was a Men's shop at the end near the Kmart. My mom told me a story about when I was a baby she was strolling me through the Rite aid and when she got home she found a tube of jock itch ointment in my stroller I had pulled off of a shelf, but was too young to know. Good thing I didn't eat it. I remember getting lost in Kmart when I was little and then finding my mom and once I lost a wallet with my money in it in the toy department. It was never found. I remember choosing clothing, hats and umbrellas in the kids clothing department. I remember walking home, over the bridge and stopping at Pilgrim BBQ for spare ribs on the way home. I also remember the bakery on Main St and how it smelled. I've never been to a bakery since then that smelled so good.

As for the Derby Orange Shopping Center, we occasionally went to Caldor or Service Merchandise. I remember playing with the Texas Instruments Speak and spells and calculators there and when Intelevision video game system came out! We also bought tennis raquets and tennis balls there. Wasn';t there a Wendy's near there too? Loved the pop shoppe and bringing the empty bottles back!

This is just the beginning of all the great memories I have. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

sigh--- I also miss the old Bradlees/Woolworth/Stop and shop complex. So many fond memories of time spent with my mom.

Tracey said...

I remember the places K Duff mentioned also but forgot about them until he/she mentioned them. I miss those place but I no longer live in ct so I dont know half of what isnt there anymore.

Anonymous said...

I remember going to the ansonia mall early in the morning with my best friend and having a 99 cents breakfast at Kmart and hanging out all day going threw the stores and nobody kicking us out.Late 70s and 80s were great years.

Anonymous said...

I remember going to the ansonia mall early in the morning with my best friend and having a 99 cents breakfast at Kmart and hanging out all day going threw the stores and nobody kicking us out.Late 70s and 80s were great years.

Anonymous said...

I went to the ansonia mall almost every weekend to hang out.The big store used to be called Grants before Kmart.then my wife used to work for Value foods that was after Finest they were only there for a short time.The owner used to say valley people only shop here for the specials.On a sat. night the mall was a great place to go.

Anonymous said...

The reason that Lowe's seems to be popping up all over the place like Wal-Marts is because Wal-Mart owns Lowes (notice that same red, white, and blue in the signage?) Wal-mart associate computer training is partially combined with Lowes (Lowe's logos can be seen on the WM Associate training modules). A member of my family is a WM associate.

joemango said...

The Orange Derby sign is gone. oh well. Progress, or something like that.

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