Caldor; New Britain, Connecticut. Fall 1991.
If there's one thing we had hoped for following our appearance in the media recently, it's the expansion of scope The Caldor Rainbow reaches -- to all realms, specifically outside the internet. While the net has allowed us to grasp our audience and resources, many valuable readers may not be entirely accustomed or second-nature to the internet and all that lurks within. As with the passing of time, most of the best objects to unearth come in the form of physical rather than digital, before technology made it so easy to mass produce. These gems, with the help of this very technology, can now be preserved and showcased to the world.
That's when one of our newfound readers, Jim, contacted us. Jim, among many others who saw our print article sought us out and decided to share stories and memorabilia, some of which have participated on various topics here at The Caldor Rainbow.
Jim worked at the New Britain store for almost 15 years; from June 24, 1985 until the final, sorrowful day: March 15, 1999, which he describes as a day he will not forgot. Jim, enthused about Caldor, has taken many photos over the ages, now stowed away -- many of which of his late, great store and others around the state has sent us a sampling of these amazing photos of one such long-gone Caldor store in New Britain, Connecticut.
And who knows, seeing as this was the store I came to as a young'n, Jim and I probably met in passing at more than one time.
Caldor opened its New Britain location on Farmington Avenue in celebration of the 21st Anniversary; the 21st store on November 16, 1972. The bizarre, stucco-wall-to-wall 84,000 square foot bunker was well recognized as one of the most unusual looking retail complexes featuring well-known, geometric design traits: a "swept wing" or parallelogram-slanted facades over the triangular entrances as well as the unveiling of the eternal "rainbow" company emblem.
CALDOR; NEW BRITAIN, CONN., CIRCA LATE 1970's -- REVEALS AN ADDITIONAL ENTRANCE ON THE FAR-RIGHT WHICH WAS LATER SEALED DUE TO HIGH THEFT. Photo courtesy: New Britain Herald.
Today, it lives on as the site of Wal-Mart, a succeeding retailer who snatched up many former Caldor locations across the state.
NEW BRITAIN CALDOR ROAD SIGN, AND ONE WHICH STAYED THIS WAY UNTIL THE VERY END.Stores modeled after this one later opened in Southington and West Hartford-Elmwood among others in 1973. Sadly, the West Hartford-Elmwood store, which was the last one remaining, was celebrated with our recent Hartford Courant story, has since been dismantled, soon to become home to a Price-Rite supermarket.
Towards the end of the chain's life, slipping to financial quicksand, many stores built during the rapid expansion years of the 1970s never quite received their upgrades and renovations like other stores. In this case, the sad, neglected New Britain store was just one of a few in the central Connecticut region which doned the earthy rainbow-eras up until March 1999 -- complete with a cracked roadside sign and withering, falling shards of stucco.
And if that's not bad enough, Jim kept the giant "C" and "O" of the former building signage -- after they came crashing down. A sonic symbol of The End of Caldor.
We greatly appreciate Jim's photos: the title and road sign photos were both taken Fall 1991, from Jim's personal collection as the other, from The New Britain Herald is from the late 1970's, roughly a few years after the store opened. And my, look how the facade is already showing weathering damage, even worse by the 90's! Also notice how they changed the building-side lettering -- but not much else over the years.
Enjoy the photos, we hope to share more in the near future. In the meantime, go check out our premium Connecticut store locator.