Monday, February 09, 2009

Agawam Ames Becomes Dave's Pet And Soda City

It's been a while since we've discussed Ames.

Yes, Ames, the late green (once red)-clad discounter that ended its decades' run succeeding the troubled Framingham, Mass.-based Zayre chain to which it gobbled up in the late 80s met the same cancer as rival northeast discounters Caldor and Bradlees by the millennial swing. After a story published back in 2007 (to which The Courant used as a footnote on a story on the chain) about the remaining locations still vacant in Connecticut, six years after the chain folded, sites are eventually becoming swept up by future tenants here and abroad.

Connecticut is currently host to roughly three intact former, vacant Ames locations in SEYMOUR, EAST HARTFORD* and DAYVILLE. The chain, formerly headquarted in Rocky Hill, Conn. (still vacant, by the way) entered Connecticut in July 1983 with its first two stores in DAYVILLE and NAUGATUCK. By year's end, the store had accumulated to six total stores all over the state.

In March 2006, we took our first voyage to the former Ames in AGAWAM, MASS. along Springfield Street. The small town of Agawam, which is well-known for its adjacency to the West Springfield-hosted The Big E as well as its border to Connecticut, at one time, contained two Ames stores. The original store was located along Suffield Street, now home to a weekend-only independently operated flea market, relocated into a former Zayre up the [Springfield] street by the late 1980's.

Upon that first jaunt, we didn't leave empty handed. A genuine artifact was secured; a "receiving sign" was apprehended after minutes of painstakingly brisk temperatures, prying the sign off the vacant building with a penny and a dime. Our triumphant testimony was reported on The Ames Fan Club forums on March 22, 2006.
"Went to the Agawam, Massachusetts store this morning and did an updated photo shoot. I found this store to be quite fascinating from your galleries and took quite a bit of the building which still lies vacant. I saw a receiving sign and after a first failed attempt, I went back and got a penny, then a dime to unscrew the rusty screws from off the wall. Five minutes later full of thwanking metal sounds and achy hands and now it's mine."
The store, which had been vacant for almost a decade outskirts a diseased, ghost-town plaza had finally found a successor. Local entrepreneur Dave's Pet and Soda City (like chicken and waffles) moved into the former husk, which is historically sound as a genuine, largely intact Zayre store model from the 1960's.

Following renovations by Dave's, the store no longer retains its exterior roots.


But, thanks to a robust photo set by Chris Fontaine, founder of The Ames Fan Club, we can see various unchanged traits evident within the building. Patrons are now welcome to shop at Dave's after many long years of looking through the glass as a vacated Ames.

Zayre stores came in a few main variants during the 60's and 70's; one such was a "winged facade" look. When the store became home to Ames, a few adjustments were made including the shrouding of the frontal large glass window panes which showcased the store's glorious innards (and rows upon rows of buzzing fluorescent) from the streets.

You can see a slew of amazing, vintage full-color shots of Zayre over on Pleasant Family Shopping to get an idea of what Zayre was like in its heydays (before the dilapidation ages of its elder life).

For more photos of the metamorphosis of the Agawam locations, swing by The Ames Fan Club were you can see my own collection as well as others including Chris's.

Dave's Pet and Soda City has three other stores in Hadley, Northampton and Springfield.

*EAST HARTFORD store has vacant entrance, no more signage but evident window decals. Space has been subdivided into Petsmart (left) and TJ Maxx.


Anonymous said...

Pretty awesome stuff in that photo gallery. It was cool to see how Dave's changed some things and left other things alone. You should have asked for one of the Ames carts! It doesn't seem they are using them, seeing that they are in a back room and behind the store, rotting away.

Megan McGory Gleason said...

The entire building where the Dayville Ames is now empty since the closing of the Beit Bros. next door this past summer. The small adjacent building which housed a Carvel and a thrift store is also vacant, sign of the times but not good if some developer comes along with an interest in the site, especially now that Killingly Commons (with Target, Michaels, etc) is open across the highway.

The only Zayre location I remember is the one in Norwich, which is now ShopRite. It's undergone quite a few facelifts since 1988 but maybe there's still some trace of Zayre to be found. Doubtful...

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Panda: When I went there in 2006, there were carts all over the property including red ones.

Megan: Dayville is one store I have not visited yet though I will likely take a trip out there soon. Dayville and Seymour are the two sites that seem to be impossible to fill.

Anonymous said...

Hey Nicholas! I wish I had nabbed some sort of artifact from the Ames that was once in Medford, MA. So many opportunities missed. I remember gazing through the window at the store, and all the stuff that was left behind. All the times I could have gone to the back of the store...all the stuff I could have nabbed...wasted time. I mean, the Ames isn't even there anymore. For some stupid reason, Stop and Shop moved out of their old Super Stop and Shop building, knocked down the old Ames building and built a new REGULAR Stop and Shop in it's place. No "Super".

greg8370 said...


If you go to Dayville, ring the recieving door bell; you can still hear it ring inside as of a year ago.

Anonymous said...

East Hartford was cut up for Petsmart, but TJ Maxx is the same size it always was when Ames was operating.

Tim Kisper said...

This is by the Big E? No way man, one time we got stoned after the Big E and I think we climbed up on the roof of this place and started throwing stuff off. That was a groovin' time. Sigh, I haven't been arrested in ages, 'cept for the DWIs last year. Hey, Panda guy this is a bitchin' site, brings back all sorts of memories. some not too good.

florists said...

Pretty awesome stuff in that photo gallery. It was cool to see how Dave's changed some things and left other things alone. You should have asked for one of the Ames carts! It doesn't seem they are using them, seeing that they are in a back room and behind the store, rotting away.

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Anonymous said...

Can't believe that the Springfield St. Ames building still has the Ames sign on it! I've lived out of state for over 11 years and it was empty like that when I left!