Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ghost of "Bradlees" Haunts Bristol

Ocean State Job Lot, a lone anchor to the locked-up Mall at Bristol Centre, whose awaiting fate with the big wrecking ball.

It probably won't take a grand deal of reasoning to compell all of you that Bristol is certainly, amongst other more notable things, the unparalleled spent Bradlees shopping cart capital in the state of Connecticut. Chances are pretty good that if you've shopped any of Bristol's plazas, you've been bound to see a crashed and/or neglected once-Bradlees department store-owned cart sometimes doning the barely-changed logo over the decades, often times blacked-out and lobotomized by future owners.

Those future owners, Ocean State Job Lot, known widely for "lobotomizing" shopping carts or painting, scratching, or placing cheap logos over the fallen retail store's carts to pass as their own, have struck yet again. Currently, two Ocean State Job Lot stores litter the city keeping these 1960's-era far-off retail specters alive with their junk store appeal; one by the long-troubled Bristol Centre Mall, which has been emblazed in battle to keep its lease this past year beyond the city's eniment domain and willingness to rid the city of the decrepit vacant mall, and the other, which mostly currently occupies the former Stop & Shop in Bristol Plaza whose lease is soon to expire. Pending a reprisal of lease hangs the company's fate in Bristol; a possible future to be soon rid of the fleabag retailer.

Just today, The Caldor Rainbow explored the central motherload territory; Ocean State Job Lot by the Mall at Bristol Centre.

A series of red-clad Bradlees carts from various eras including a reuniting with one Stop & Shop-owned diagonal-logo version we spotted behind Stop & Shop in early 2006.

Other stores who are known husks for containing older carts are low-offenders; Salvation Army Thrift Stores and Goodwill across the street who keep their premises orderly, keeping most antique carts stored in the backrooms used for overstock holsters. Just yesterday, I strolled into my local Salvo Thrift Store, which are fantastic holdings for old retail findings whether it be adopted former carts, products, or price stickers amongst other things.

Once a prominent discount department store market along Route 6 in Bristol with Caldor, which became home to Kmart, now Price Chopper Supermarket. Bradlees, once a proud affiliate of 1961-established Stop & Shop Companies, essentially Stop & Shop, Bradlees, and Medi-Mart; since sold off to Walgreens. Bradlees soon fell on hard times when the company divorced from the financially-stricken discounter in 1992, ending the Companies partnership. When Bradlees fell, and Stop & Shop continued to expand, the former site became a newer, larger Super Stop & Shop in the shadow of their once partnered history.

But those days of cancerous Chapter 11 discounters are long past, partially swallowed in a gaping hole that is Wal-Mart on the Bristol-Farmington border who built on a fresh site. Amongst it all, the ghost of Bradlees continues to haunt the city in nearly every shopping plaza along the 6 corridor with it's overstock of identity-morphed,
abandoned shopping carts.

A host of carts spotted in the rear of Big Lots! in the Bristol Farms plaza. The sea-green one belongs to active tenant Sears Hardware while the primarily metal one belonged to Wal-Mart.

Over the past year, I've been documenting various carts from discount retail history sighted in Bristol, and certainly to this day, there's no shortage of them littering the streets and plazas in various forms. You can see all of the known variants of Bradlees carts, most of which sighted in Bristol in my Shopping Cart Sightings of 2006.

A rare and equally bizarre "Wal-Mart Discount City" cart

An ordinary font found on the handle to this Bradlees cart.

A Bradlees cart seized by Target?!

Bradlees cart straps (illegally) recovered from the prongs of Job Lot captivity.

While Bradlees, almost as fond a memory as iconic rival Caldor, does jog the memory well whenever I walk into a Target (or hijacked by the must of Kmart) upon the smell of salty popcorn which once permiated the air at most Bradlees as the customer walked in. Ah, those days...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Malls of Connecticut ~The Best~

Westfarms; West Hartford owned by Taubman. The Center Court taken by Nicholas M. DiMaio, 2006.

We would like to invite all of our readers to view our Malls of Connecticut ~The Best~ photo album hosted by Facebook. You will be able to see a collection of special images from Connecticut's many unique shopping malls. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Horizons The Colors of Hash Browns

At this time, we'd like to inform our readers at The Caldor Rainbow of just a few things.

It's been a heavy week for your director (myself) which is why the updates have been scant lately. However, we've got some stories planned for next week. Because the weather has been just brutal over here in the Northeast, places I'd like to visit just aren't very practical right now in conjunction with other worldly obligations not involving The Caldor Rainbow.

You just can't hold a camera straight when just thirty seconds outdoors makes your legiments numb.

It has recently come to my attention that my readers are the ones who keep the facts straighter than I around here. Whenever doing research on whatever updates I come fourth with, my scope is generally scaled down to whatever I can find on the internet and or by memory - which is hardly enough. Lately, this hasn't been cutting it. So, as with my last post on The Crystal Mall, I will be editing the story a bit in the coming days as I see to have bungle some things. I'm asking all of you, and to even invite more people, to help me compile the most exact history on these malls and sites. Just post some comments, lend me an e-mail and we will credit you thus becoming part of the process.

Have you been to a Target store lately? I usually stop in once a week to see their fancy displays and see they've brought back the "Global Bazaar" concept from last year. Those unfamiliar can expect to see all kinds of worldly home furnishings from countries in the Southeastern parts of Asia, and Africa. The department, like year's past, is filled with all kinds of eye candy and other eccentricities I wish I had about a thousand bucks to blow it all on.

Their Valentine's Day 2007 set-up looks lovely this year as well... (Pictures taken from Keene, New Hampshire store).

Upon my recent trip through Massachusetts, I've noticed that Dunkin' Donuts franchisees have launched something new to their menus: Hash Browns. Many of the Connecticut stores haven't brought them to light yet, which might be a good thing. The shop at the corner of US-5 & MA-9 in Northampton, Mass., coupled with a Pride gas station (not a good combo; when you have coffee made with fresh grounds, it will inherent any scent in the area, including gasoline, as I've discovered recently) have been spotted with Hash Brown promo posters.

Now I've seen some oddities at some upstate Dunkin' shops; breakfast pizzas and flatbread sandwiches included. This is actually something the company is seriously trying to sandwich inbetween mimicking playbooks from Starbucks (and then tastelessly dissing them in their recent ad spots) and McDonald's in order to expand their clientele.

Hopefully, by the time they're done with the hometown test run, and sometime soon migrate to Connecticut, I will have left my job at my current Hash Brownless Dunkin' Donuts (which is also coupled with a gas station). To be frank, the entire place (gas premises included) now smells like a McDonald's in all its greasy, oily fried doom. And another little secret, most stores don't even have ovens apart from baking ovens used for bagels and muffins so it's likely they'll be shipped in pre-prepared from the master store (based on franchisee) or possibly made to "warm" up (or incubate until someone orders them). The new cookies concept, despite their $1.49/each toll are popular with people, maybe not so much if they realized eating one is comparable to two or three donuts (and yes, more than a "fancy"). I wonder how this will work out.

They're currently on test run in Massachusetts stores I'm told and they're only $.99; approximately a few pennies higher than a donut or bagel.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Crystal Mall; Waterford, Connecticut

The Crystal Mall opened in 1984 in Waterford, Connecticut, by brand-conscious mall management outfit, Simon Property Group; who around the millennium, began training shoppers to memorize their Simon brand a la Westfield.

Located off Interstate 95, CT Route 85, and just bordering the city of New London serving coastal regions of Connecticut with the changing regional indoor shopping mall trend which was sweeping in after a boom of smaller, indoor malls of the decade before it. In its time of conception, the two-level mall was a bright, new attraction easily trumping a few smaller enclosed malls around the area including the New London Mall, located a short exit away on 95 which has since become a "lifestyle" center, and the further away Norwichtown Mall, nestled in Norwich but plenty far north and holds near flatline status. Even back then, neither could quite compare to the increasing appeal for the regional Crystal Mall; who had no hard competitive edge for many miles.

I wouldn’t say developer Simon is as brand-centric as egomaniacal Westfield Group, who sees its objective to rebrand and disassociate much about older malls they either own or have acquired over the years for the sake of their icon (find me one person content calling a mall "Westfield..."). The two groups are certainly bordered by a fine line in presentation, attempting to revive aged or long-neglected centers and you‘ll see the resemblances at their other malls doning their names at even kiosk and corner. Currently, Simon owns just one property in Connecticut, and it so happens to be Crystal Mall which is also the smallest regional mall by square footage but also one with some distinct qualities in a sea of copycat shopping malls.

The central chandelier at Crystal Mall

While no certain or admitted history is currently available, there’s very little doubt its developers named their mall after the elegant Waterford Crystal name; based in Waterford... Ireland. Seeing its base in Waterford, Connecticut, it was more or less a shoe-in to connect the two and create more than just a name but doubling as a classy shopping center. To further this conclusion exactly, the mall actually features a much scaled down, and quite frankly, eccentrically placed chandelier in the smack central of the mall, where there could’ve easily been a center court designed to better display it. Why exactly does a median-level mall need a chandelier anyway?

Known Anchor History

Filenes; 1984-2006, subdivided into Christmas Tree Shops (Level 1) and Bed, Bath & Beyond (Level 2) to be completed in early 2008

Jordan Marsh; 1984-1996, became Macy’s 1996-presently
JCPenney; 1984-presently
Sears; 1984-presently

One of the more fully-functional Sears includes an Auto Center around the other side.

The Crystal Mall hasn’t done much more in past years to challenge most upper-echelon malls in the state, especially those with the glaze of malls like Westfarms, an iconic Connecticut Taubman Center located in Central Connecticut. Given it's cozy, somewhat isolated position along the coast, it really doesn't have to.

When Crystal Mall opened in 1984, primarily brown-and-gold shades draped the center from top to tiles, like most malls fading out of the darker-centric tones of the 70's. At around the tenth anniversary of the mall's life, it came to realization that a refreshing look would have to dawn through the dark corridors of the aging dungeon look of the center. Brighter trends of the mid-90's were clashing with with primarily outdated brown-atmospheres of yesteryear architecture turning the contrast up many notches to a sterlized, arctic wonderland of white.

At last, Crystal Mall would start to resemble its crystalline persona.
Now, everything’s white as snow as far as the eye can see enough to mistake it for Level-8 in The Legend of Zelda; except for it feeling anything like the dungeon it used to.

This is 2007, and where most malls across the state have updated their look or are planning (like Macerich-owned Danbury Fair Mall), expanded, and grew with the changing trends, Crystal Mall is steeped in insipid mediocrity by design and decor. As far as its basic array of shops (including a retro Radio Shack) and clientele, it probably won’t attract any different a crowd of most median-income malls across the state (or country for that matter), even that of a vastly improved The Shoppes at Buckland Hills, even those who've drastically upclassed its image (and name!) in the past years to compete not only with the changing trends of shoppers but also with rapid developments (like the outdoor mall; The Shops at Evergreen Walk) all around it.

An original Connecticut Filene's, with a truly distinct, geometrical skylight-facade, now vacant.

Simon is certainly capable to revitalizing aging centers; Florida Mall, built in 1986, is their quintessential portfolio. Those who’ve seen the Florida Mall turn a 180 in the early 2000s to its present look can see what’s over the horizon at a [Crystal] mall centered around its decade-old reworking.

Now a Crystal Mall wouldn’t be crystal enough without the theme intact it took a good ten years to get right. A roof-lined of skylights all along the middle keeps the center now from feeling dank; which also allow the mall to live up to a "crystalline", luminous sheen beyond its years, especially on those sunnier where the light casts down onto the center creating less of a indoor experience (especially in the Winter months). Despite this, and it's white-era, there's some aspects that hearken back to the mall's origins apart some aging white tiles like wood-trimmed railings and even some groovy sloped bars below them.

Yet, among the whited-out decor of the mid-1990's remodel, the mall is given a volumous appeal while holding close to an earlier era especially within most of its anchor stores; especially the rock face facade around the Filene's, the [scarred] brown-brick around the former Jordan Marsh, and the mirrored walls around JCPenney. While they've addressed most of the mall's aging looks, there are certainly those elements which hearken back but also give the mall it's character and origins not decimated by the banes of today's cheap, safer, less-experimental facades.

If not for the colors of the interior, Crystal Mall might’ve just been inspiration for Danbury Fair Mall with the spiked tent-like skylights, warehouse-style ceilings, and a somewhat airy interior helped along by it's brighter sheen, and is an eerily alternate link to the past with a darker-shaded Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, New Hampshire (sans the step-downs), also owned by Simon.

A touch of neon lighting "Food Court" sign added sometime during the remodel and a mirror-facade JCPenney which hasn't changed since!

Compensating for its size, the mall follows a two-level standard and just a few things that make it a unique mall, certainly also a memorable one. Lately, the tenant set hasn't matched the vitality of a once booming center that appears to now seek steady improvement.

Crystal Mall once featured a few Boston-based department clothiers Filenes and Jordan Marsh -- not featured in any other mall at the time, which helped make the mall a more distinct shopping experience in '84, apart Westfarms.

This is the only Connecticut shopping mall to have featured an originally built Filene’s department store anchor, which were otherwise added later in the state when the G. Fox namesake became phased out as part of the 1993 Filene’s name enclosure. Unfortunately, the original husk was vacant up until late 2007 until a couple unusual-for-mall tenants Christmas Tree Shops and Bed, Bath & Beyond announced a subdivision, to be completed in 2008.

Filene's, which once bogged the mall with it's outtatime look and unfortunate vacancy stay original with an interior wooden brown-toned 1970's-styled facade which remains very true to art deco design on the outside as well. The vestibule is complete with the tones; globe lights, and a geometric skylight glass entrance. A few years before its closure, the store was slightly renovated, replacing the once, deteriorated wood-draped exterior.

Visible Jordan Marsh scarring against a stone-originated inner (as well as outer) entrance.

Jordan Marsh also opened with the mall, unlike any other during its time, which in 1996, became a home to Macy‘s when they sunk. While Jordan Marsh is but a memory, the interior helps live that legacy being richly evident of Jordan Marsh stores in the 1980’s with a host of 70’s basketball court faux-wood linoleum flooring, low-level ceilings and bizarre wood-framed department dividers. It’s a true relic and experience into the 70's-80's fade of decor, certainly one that hasn’t seen the brighter age of some of Macy’s newer looking acquisitions with vastly improved lighting and space.

The exterior is also an intruging design -- with a rich, rounded stone design which is sadly fallen victim to heavy deposits of time's weathering today.

A food court, which has been reworked over the years still serves most of the fast food types (Burger King, Sbarro, "Chinese" etc.), but also some designed with an athletic-centric mini-stairs idea I personally remember this mall for since my coming here as a young'n. All across both levels of the mall, the developers fancied the idea of including various steps and handicap accessible ramps alongside for a good amount of footage along the mall's interior. Instead of a flat layout like most malls, this one believes you should stay in shape while you browse the shops at Crystal Mall.

A fine idea then and now; especially for a growing obesity rate in America (or one which hopes you'll become hungrier and/or thirstier faster). At any rate, Crystal Mall might just contain the most manual staircases in any mall frequented in the state leaving any sense of automatics inside anchor stores or at either points of the mall.

Steps or ramps?

You might often be forced to use those manual-access stairs. That's right, the oddly placed "one-way" escalators on each side of the mall will have you walkin' or steppin'. Can't use the stairs by any chance? Need to get back downstairs? Either take the center's elevators (which happened to be under repairs when I last visited) or go around looking for a randomly-placed polarity escalator.

Surprisingly, there's no actual center court or fountain; typical indoor shopping mall centerpoints, even if the chandelier and neighboring cascading-waterfall staircase hint there maybe should've been one. Upon the ten-plus year old remodel, there's no more planters and seating areas are now scant. Should you want to, you'll have to "refuel" in the somewhat uneasy food court where you'll likely spend your time under some purple fluorescents. No time for relaxing, so eat or shop!

As something of a sub-anchor, the mall also contains a Massachusetts-based Tweeter Etc., which has reportedly faced downsizing over the years in favor for a "Mall" entrance beside it. While not the trend or scale of amateurish Best Buy and Circuit City, Tweeter Etc. traffics in mainly top-of-the-line hi-fi home theater and consumer goods with an all-around wider selection in that arena than its younger-aimed counterparts but not quite to the dimension of Bernie's.

The last "retro" Radio Shack left in the state, which refuses to update its signage.

As the Simon-template webpage shows, and a keen observation from one of our readers, they've abandoned once "street-style" signs which once directed shoppers as they hung over tenants. Upon the white remodel, the brown-gold original octogonal vertical-striped "C" logo from the original mall has also been retired. Apart the colors, Crystal Mall is still preserved in its original mold as well as not having had too many anchor changes over the years and, of course, has yet to expand.

The Caldor Rainbow visited the mall on a very chilly New England weekday morning in January 2007 but have returned since January 2008, so we hope you enjoy our year-old (particularly exterior) shots. If you want to get an idea of what Crystal Mall looked like before the remodel, check out some of our photos from a bizarro Crystal Mall: Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, New Hampshire, taken January 2008.

Very special thanks to David "Fox N Allen" Cuozzo, who submitted this Christmas shopping bag featuring the vintage logo from a personal collection. Retail Memories Coast To Coast has an incredible amount of shopping bags from retail history.

UPDATE: June 26, 2007. A "vintage" picture of Crystal Mall; circa 1980's. You can see Radio Shack on the far right end as well as The Gap on the lower level. They may have only painted the slats but they kept that chandelier! And check out those floor tiles! Submission by Joseph Rifkin.

Here's a bonus gallery of shots taken at Crystal Mall, some not pictured here, as part of my Flickr. While the mall has a written no camera policy, that of course didn't stop us apart the mall's lack of patrols!

This page has been edited due to appearent inaccuracies and additional information gathered. Would you like to report any others? E-Mail me
at XISMZERO@yahoo.com or submit a comment.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hawley Lane Mall; Trumbull, Connecticut

Before the dawn of the smaller enclosed mall era of the late 60's-early 70's, Trumbull was already host to a wealth of shopping centers surrounding it. Most were built in the 1960s with you have now, Westfield-owned regional shopping malls; Connecticut Post and Trumbull. Both were once humble shopping centers a decade before the indoor mall became the commonplace shopping trend. The palette of the consumer knew what it wanted; essential-discounter shops to serve Trumbull's nearby suburbs as well as travellers.

Hawley Lane Mall opened in 1971 anchored with Caldor; a [beloved] department discounter which once dominated the Northeast this side of Wal-Mart and Waldbaum’s; a supermarket comparable to the notoriety of Stop & Shop today. The original line-up served the area with essentialist chains and shops you wouldn’t come to find over at the malls, which in 1971, served a different purpose than it does today. Like the early days before overblown malls, Hawley Lane gave shoppers’ the convenience local residents and travellers what they wanted; the ability to shop with ease within reasonable price range.

Located close to the junction of CT-8 and just off CT-15 (The Merritt Parkway), just minutes from major Interstate 95, Hawley Lane Mall already began with the position to attract a great deal of travellers apart from its local, suburban target.

By 1982, Sage-Allen; Hartford-originated clothing store, was added to the mall's upper-level to boost offerings in attempt to challenge a larger, recently expanded Trumbull Shopping Park and its May Company-owned G. Fox which established itself in 1979. Once a fully commissioned office-space atop the mall's shops, there was a new demographic fusing with changing times, poising Sage-Allen to enter Hawley Lane Mall.

Sage-Allen, which didn't quite equal the scale of G. Fox, fit snugly at Hawley Lane Mall and helped put a higher-echelon balance as well as adapt to the changing trends of shoppers; no longer was a trip to the mall a fancy evening on the town but a common hang-out which blended agendas. In doing so, Hawley Lane took a minor jab at Trumbull’s upscale offerings, but didn‘t have the volume or primary objective to compete with a rising regional mall such as Trumbull. When G. Fox purged under the Filene’s uniformed banner,
Sage-Allen and all its stores closed for good. After a few years of silence, Steinbach’s took placement... but not for too long.

With a recently expanded Trumbull Shopping Park in 1979, and Connecticut Post Mall (formerly known as Milford Mall) in 1981 relatively close, Hawley Lane did alright before both slowly began to explode into regional shopping malls with various expansions, which advanced beyond Hawley Lane's smaller "strip-indoor mall" demographic.

But the story of Hawley Lane Mall is a good one not heard enough; like so few smaller indoor malls hanging on today, they hit rock bottom before a miraculous rebound.

It all slowly poured on when the clouds moved in over Hawley Lane in the late 90’s, when Connecticut Post Mall (formerly Milford Mall) over in Milford, anchored it’s own, larger Caldor apart its own rival Stop & Shop supermarket anchor coupled with a much more diverse level of shops. There was a clear competitive angle here by Connecticut Post owners, hoping to one-up its property over Hawley Lane. While the trend of regional shopping malls didn't exactly kill this smaller one as, shoppers who were looking for thrills weren't going to spend an evening at Hawley Lane Mall over the other big ones in the area. Ever too quickly, Hawley Lane was struck with end times.

Seeing new management in 1996, New York-based National Realty Development Corp., went ahead to revamp an aging mall from a neglectant former owner with an $8 million renovation plan, hoping to regain some vitality lost over the decades.

Then, to no fault of its new adopters, a wave of defeat swept the mall attacking all three anchors; Caldor shuttered from years long Chapter 11 in 1999, along with Steinbach‘s, followed by Waldbaum’s.

By the end of 1999, Hawley Lane Mall as we knew it, was an anchorless, vacant, dead mall.

Kohl’s, who purchased a bulk of Caldor leases when they went out, positioned itself inside the former discount department store quickly after Caldor fell in 2000. But the discount clothier, which was quickly taking shape in the Northeast following the demise of Caldor couldn't keep the mall fully-functioning alone which furthered in Hawley Lane's empirical troubles.

Suddenly, most of the smaller shops along the mall’s short corridor began to flee without the help of a magnetic assorted anchor history of a Caldor or a constant flow of traffic garnered by Waldbaum's. McDonalds, once housed inside, saw the liability of the mall’s cancerous-sticken vacancy causing it to leave in 2002 in favor of a brand-new, free-standing restaurant located just outparcel the mall grounds.

A good five-plus years with heaping anchor and tenant gaps at Hawley Lane Mall gave it’s owners some time to regroup, and rebound in challenging times.

Then by 2005, the sun came shining through. A rebirth; Hawley Lane was to live again with four new star anchor stores giving host to a new face of retail to the long-dead setting.

A slew of stores, serving to all demographics, signed on to revive the falling apart mall. HomeGoods, a TJ Maxx-style home furnishing-centric discount store, occupied space left by Waldbaum's. Best Buy announced opening a store upper level the mall within the next year, which was the former home to Steinbach's. A deal with Target was struck to build, like most of their stores, in its own property, in the rear of the mall. After a series of zoning and taxpayer battles, Target was given the green light to begin construction while all the other stores were in the process of moving in.

Meet "Gordy", the gentleman emerging from a personnel-only corridor in the left of this shot; known as the friendly mall maintenance inquisitor.

The set-up of the Hawley Lane Mall is relatively simple, no-frills; a typical compact staple-shaped, single corridor with anchors Kohl's (former Caldor) on the far left end while HomeGoods (former Waldbaum's) occupying the opposing end. Each anchor contains its own "mall entrance"; essentially a proximate corridor beside the store, as well as exterior entrance to fulfill the lifestyle element; not asking patrons to even set foot in the indoor portions.

After the renovation, Hawley Lane Mall received a contemporary lavish; a mainly sterilized white-coated interior, carpeted flooring, complete with ceiling-hanging Main Street-esque signage over each parcel, as well as a (Kohl's-esque) block-facade, glass-encased elevator shaft giving access to Best Buy (former Steinbach's) and the remaining office space. Usual asthetics and amenities; planters and wooden benches are set up throughout the mall in idle areas (so you stay, just not too long!). Presumably, not too much has changed from the original set-up, and if you look closely, you'll see some suspected older elements including a rectangular Caldor label scar on the side of Kohl's (not pictured here).

Known Anchor History
Caldor; 1971-1999, became Kohl’s; 2000-present
Waldbaum’s; 1971-1999, became HomeGoods; 2005-present
Sage-Allen; 1982-1993, became Steinbach’s; 1997-1999, became Best Buy; 2006-present
Target; 2005-present

Suddenly, smaller stores that would suit the atmosphere of the mall flocked in. Quizno’s took over the former McDonald’s, Joyce Leslie; a largely children’s clothier opened the former, long-running Hawley Lane Shoes, which was once a lifeline in the dead mall surviving up until the pivotal turnaround. Older shops, who usually occupy strip malls are still here and seeing more customers; Payless Shoe Source and Dress Barn near Kohl‘s.

As part of the renovation, existing retail were granted ceiling-level signage via a "Main Street" appeal.

While Hawley Lane Mall and its ordinary big-box offerings might not draw those who aren’t local to come here, there’s plenty reason to proclaim it a noteworthy, different and/or more unique place for a few reasons. A revival effort is foremost something most mall management firms only dream of and another thing not seen often happened right here. While the mall itself was never to the magnitude of Farmington Valley Mall or even Naugatuck Valley Mall in size or scale, Hawley Lane Mall is indeed a smaller enclosed mall who survived in a dying breed, whose also adapted to the sweeping "lifestyle" component from the booming era; if a very compact one at that, without losing the original indoor model.

The efforts have paid off for this quaint mall. The most unique Target store in the state is here; complete with its own parking garage! There’s also a bizarre “mall entrance”-style Dunkin’ Donuts, which features a little hallway leading into the mall's Kohl's corridor, as well as the unusual “upper-level” where Best Buy is accessible. It gets even more bizarre; the mall suggests patrons walk through Best Buy, which feels awkwardly frowned upon to use the store as a thruway to get to Target.

Since Hawley Lane Mall was once built on an incline, an upper-level, had to be built in order for another anchor, once Sage-Allen, to connect to the mall. Unless management was to build a separate mall entrance, it couldn’t ask it’s customers to trail alongside the building, in a blow to convenience, just to acess Target who serves as an outparcel.

As for Target itself, who has constructed a unique, larger store housed with its own parking garage, elevators can access the front of the store so customers won’t, again, have to trail alongside the building to gain access to the store’s only traditional frontal entrance. The unfortunate, disjointed layout of the mall wasn’t addressed in the revival plan, most likely seeing grandiose expendatures falling into more of an “indoor-strip mall” hybrid as opposed to a smaller, enclosed mall but nonetheless, empirically, falls into being just that.

In many ways, Hawley Lane Mall could be what's halting the expansion progress of nearby giant and Westfield-owned Trumbull, who’s currently seeking a challenged Target anchor, which also newly anchors another Westfield center in Milford. The effort to add a Target was once fought here, and is currently being shot down by the town to add another shortly down the way. Possibities of adding Best Buy also fall under the same precinct.

Success resulted because of a host of key reasons: there was no bombastic effort to de-enclose it; like many are finding trendy today, and no overblown cosmetic efforts resulting in financial waste. Apart from the developers working with what they had, the mall also luckilly fell on being in an opportunistic, under-served area where its current tenants speak for the demands of shoppers of a wide demographic.

My first encounter with Hawley Lane Mall was back in Summer 2006, when the mall was a pit stop, unbeknownst to me, and also finishing up exterior fa├žade renovations. I actually went inside the mall for the first time just last month, seeing that it’s really a quaint atmosphere and one no longer neglected.

The Caldor Rainbow would also like to thank, who’s real name we never caught but I call “Gordy”; a mall maintenance worker who caught us and riddled with questions as I took these very pictures seen here. Gordy eventually, after offering a copy of my driver’s license for leverage, saw it alright for us to take pictures as long as I wasn’t a pesky competitor, divulging all kinds of trade secrets to the world. As far as that gloomy-eyed lady running the Asian nail place, or the perplexed elderly woman who crossed our path, thanks to you too! Who knows, maybe he thought I was on the payroll for Westfield…