Monday, March 10, 2008

Caldor; New Britain: Summer 1990


Here's another gem for all of you to enjoy: a genuine color photograph of the Caldor in New Britain, Connecticut along Farmington Avenue from July (or August) 1990, according to Jim who sent this one in.

It comes with a caption as well, which he wrote up himself, describing the scene: "Caldors having a clearance on clothing items in the middle of July. It lasted a week."

Doesn't it look wonderful? People shopping on the front sidewalk for discounted clothing on those circular racks we all know under a lusterless sky -- but not without the infinite earthly shower of the rainbow up above -- like a black cat floating in blue sky! Apparently, the store wasn't entirely concerned about the merchandise enough to keep it indoors, away from thieves, and possibly a storm (imagine today's retailers doing this!).

Now in full, vivid color, you can see just how much weathering detriment plagued the stucco-frenzied building aside the once classy looking, environmentally unfriendly tin can automobiles your moms and pops drove!

This comes direct from our contact and former longtime Caldor employee Jim, who supplied us with a few other photos, two of which were his own, from his personal collection. If you haven't seen the others, do so.

Jim will continue to search for more, so stay tuned!

18 comments:

Anita said...

I like the typed up description the most.

I wish there was somebody else online who took retail photos during the early 90's. That's my favorite era to look at pictures of since that's where my research centers around.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Jim's description does convey a sense of first-hand glum, doesn't it?

The early 1990s is an interesting focus for retail as I see it also a crossroad of old clashing with new trends (browns are finally out, in with brighter colors). It would seem the glory days of many old malls and shopping centers were still caught up in decades old looks even by this time even venturing into the middle 90s -- some receiving their upgrades shortly around, slightly after or perhaps later on (or never in some regards).

I'd say by the 1990's, the community mall was beginning to come to realization of spent usage. Many of them were showing signs of neglect with many of them not having finally been axed for another decade.

Mark said...

Nice picture even better in color, BTW from the way they designed the logo it's not only a simple rainbow above the name, it's also a big giant C, took me a while to realize it, shows how clever graphic designers can be at their best. I also can't get enough of that rainbow being a bit cut off at the top really cool.

If I remember correctl wasn't Connecticut in a recession in the early 1990s? This would probably keep budget tight and probably why many retail areas didn't get a chance to update or build new stores. Also probably the reason why old malls like the Naugatuck Valley Mall were still around till around late 1996/early 1997. (heck Westfarms didn't get an update until 1997) It's fascinating how updating seemed to slow down to almost a halt due to a tight economy.

This picture also illustrates the 'old school' way of discount department stores were which consisted of interesting visuals on the outside store front to lure consumers in and also interesting and unique (yet not very glitzy) interiors inside to keep them shopping and keep interest besides the products and low prices. You see my guess was back then discounters weren't that concerned with looks that much (heck, Star's interior wasn't that much to right about, it was pretty much barren), and were more concerned with attracting consumers which were the middle class, and less of the wealthier class, which probably shopped at the more upscale department stores. The discount part of the retail spectrum didn't start going for the cleaner look (a.k.a. mainly the white wall with red stripe look) until around like 1992, yes probably that look was implemented at some stores in 1990, but I'm pretty sure it didn't go wide spread until like 2 years later. Today it's pretty much a different ballgame since many discount stores are going for going for the upscale look now.

Mark said...

Darn it I mistyped something.


Nice picture even better in color, BTW from the way they designed the logo it's not only a simple rainbow above the name, it's also a big giant C, took me a while to realize it, shows how clever graphic designers can be at their best. I also can't get enough of that rainbow being a bit cut off at the top really cool.

If I remember correctly wasn't Connecticut in a recession in the early 1990s? This would probably keep budget tight and probably why many retail areas didn't get a chance to update or build new stores. Also probably the reason why old malls like the Naugatuck Valley Mall were still around till around late 1996/early 1997. (heck Westfarms didn't get an update until 1997) It's fascinating how updating seemed to slow down to almost a halt due to a tight economy.

This picture also illustrates the 'old school' way of discount department stores were which consisted of interesting visuals on the outside store front to lure consumers in and also interesting and unique (yet not very glitzy) interiors inside to keep them shopping and keep interest besides the products and low prices. You see my guess was back then discounters weren't that concerned with looks that much (heck, Star's interior wasn't that much to write home about, it was pretty much barren), and were more concerned with attracting consumers which were the middle class, and less of the wealthier class, which probably shopped at the more upscale department stores. The discount part of the retail spectrum didn't start going for the shiny, bright cleaner look (a.k.a. mainly the white wall with red stripe look) until around like 1992, yes probably that look was implemented at some stores in 1990, but I'm pretty sure it didn't go wide spread until like 2 years later. Today it's pretty much a different ballgame since many discount stores are going for going for the upscale look now.

Mark said...

What a time capsule.

BTW I finally found an aerial photo (thanks to MSN live) of the Wallingford Star's store at it's exact location today now home of On Track Karting. It seems that they changed a few things unfortunately, like the front overhang and the signage, and it looks like they painted or boarded over the windows oh well at least the basic structure is intact.

take a look:

http://maps.live.com/#JnE9eXAuOTg1K24lNDAyK2NvbG9ueStyb2FkK3dhbGxpbmdmb3JkJTJjK2N0KyU3ZXNzdC4wJTdlcGcuMSZiYj00MS45NzU4MjcyNjEwMjU3JTdlLTcxLjY4MDI5Nzg1MTU2MjUlN2U0MC4xNzg4NzMzMTQzNDclN2UtNzQuOTIxMjY0NjQ4NDM3NQ==

also it looks like from what I've read that the store was untouched until 2006, so if theres a picture of the store from 2005 or earlier it might have the original stuff on it,darn.

So far the internet hasn't given me any luck. Looks like I'll have to hit the microfilms to find the really old images.

Mark said...

Here's a satellite photo of it from 1991, apparently, unlike Torrington's Star's store it didn't have an overhang, if you look closely you tell what looks to be signage on top of the building.

This really makes me regret not taking any photos of the building,sigh.

Mark said...

oops I forgot.

here you go.

http://www.picuru.com/cqs1205411213j.png.html

Patrick Thibodeau said...

I remember this Caldors well; it was a great place to pick up everday items.

I was never crazy about the modern design; the sharp angles didn't work for me.

Thanks for the post

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