Hudson Valley’s Favorite Now Defunct Department Stores
Oh, the department store. So many great memories of these once-thriving Hudson Valley businesses.
As a kid growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, the department store was the place to go for a wide range of consumer goods. Stores like Ames for me were important. Whether it was clothes shopping with mom when I was really young, to getting older and shopping on my own for the latest music or electronics.
I also ended up working at an Ames Store in Amenia, NY in my teenage years. I unloaded trucks in the early morning hours and would stock the shelves of the hardware department all day. I have a lot of fond memories of that job. Ames was a great department store, that eventually succumbed to the online world like so many others. Jamesway, Caldor and Bradlees were a few other gems.
There is actually a National Department Store Day celebrated annually in October, which according to National Day Calendar, is a day that urges us to consider how department store innovations have impacted shopping in our daily lives.
We asked the Hudson what their favorite now-defunct Hudson Valley department store was and have come up with a top 10 list.
Hudson Valley's Top 10 Favorite Now Defunct Department Stores
Filene's was a popular department store in shopping malls throughout New England and New York throughout the '80s and '90s, including the Hudson Valley area. By 2005, the Filene's name was retired with most stores converting to the Federated-owned Macy's nameplate. A great department store, I also remember when Filene's had a Ticketmaster, which made it very convenient to stop in and purchase concert tickets regularly.
For those growing up in the Newburgh/New Windsor area, and also in Middletown (there were two locations), Lloyd's was the Hudson Valley's first real superstore. You could get groceries, furniture, toys, appliances, housewares, jewelry, and the latest music. They even had a restaurant.
Read all about Lloyd's and its history here.
8. Montgomery Ward
Montgomery Ward was a world-pioneering mail-order business and later a leading department store chain that operated between 1872 and 2001. Nowadays, Montgomery Ward Inc. is a national online shopping retailer.
Lechmere was a Massachusetts-based chain of retail stores that closed in 1997. At the time of its closing, it had 27 stores including 20 in New England. The chain offered electronics, appliances and household goods. It also had locations throughout the New York area including in the Hudson Valley.
I'll always remember the location at the Poughkeepsie Galleria as I would go to check out their great record section for music and they also had a great electronics department filled with home stereo equipment.
Woolworth was a retail company and one of the pioneers of the five-and-dime store. It was among the most successful American and international five-and-dime businesses, setting trends and creating the modern retail model that stores follow worldwide today.
The first one opened in Utica, New York in 1879. There were many Woolworth stores throughout the Hudson Valley, and many area residents have fond memories of this great department store.
5. Service Merchandise
Service Merchandise was a retail chain of catalog showrooms carrying jewelry, toys, sporting goods and electronics. The company that first began as a five-and-dime store in 1934 was in existence for 68 years before ceasing operations in 2002. There were many Service Merchandise stores all over the Hudson Valley, and I'll always have fond memories of the store located in the old Dutchess Mall in Fishkill.
I'd love checking out the room with all the stereo equipment, and watching all the boxes of products, as they moved down the conveyor belt.
Bradlees was a discount department store chain based out of Braintree, Massachusetts that operated primarily in the Northeastern United States. A popular store with many locations around the Hudson Valley area, Bradlees sold various retail items in its stores, including clothing, jewelry, healthcare, beauty products, footwear, furniture, electronics, housewares, and bedding.
Bradlees operated over 105 stores in seven states across the Northeast, with close to 10,000 employees at its peak in 2000. Along with being a part of Stop & Shop from 1961 to 1992, the chain went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2000, with all of its stores eventually closing by March 2001.
Based in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Ames was an American chain of discount stores founded in 1958 with many Hudson Valley area locations. At its peak, Ames Department Stores Inc. operated 700 stores in 20 states, making it the fourth-largest discount retailer in the country. Despite the success, Ames was plagued by debt due to "acquisition decisions" and a slow decline in sales in the new global market. Two bankruptcy filings would eventually put an end to the chain.
The company went out of business, and all stores ceased operations by October 2022. Known for offering "Bargains by the Bagful", I have fond memories as a teenager working at the Ames store in Amenia, NY as well as the store in the Putnam Plaza in Carmel, NY (which was a Barkers prior). Mom used to work at this Ames location. I would also visit this location regularly when growing up in Lake Carmel, usually picking up the latest music on cassette.
Jamesway was a chain of discount department stores based out of Secaucus, New Jersey. It was founded in 1961 with a single store in Jamestown, NY and grew into a chain that operated 138 stores across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions at its peak. Despite its success, Jamesway faced significant losses during its last years in business.
The two bankruptcy filings that resulted from their losses eventually put an end to the chain in 1995. There were many Jamesway stores throughout the Hudson Valley area, with the location in the Shop Rite plaza in Carmel being one that I remember most fondly.
Taking the number 1 spot by an overwhelming margin is the much-missed Caldor department store chain. Caldor, founded in 1951 by husband and wife Carl and Dorothy Bennett, Caldor was referred to by many as the "Bloomingdale's of discounting". Caldor was a regional retail giant, with stores earning over $1 billion in sales by the time Mr. Bennett retired in 1985.
Despite the success, Caldor suffered from financial issues by the 1990s. The company was liquidated and all 145 stores were closed by May 1999. With many Hudson Valley area locations, I have fond memories of the location off Rt 6 in Mahopac. NY. Many rockers will remember Caldor for having a great record department with an extensive collection of music.