Monday, August 31, 2015

Rock N Roll Style McDonald's

Welcome to one of a seemingly handful of McDonald's locations built in the '90s to mimic the classic style. This particular location is in Baldwinsville, NY which is about 15 minutes northwest of Syracuse. As a lot of McDonald's locations have been 'eyebrowed,' coming across this particular style can be quite tricky. In the entire Twin Tiers coverage area, this is only one of two that I have come across on. (There is also at least one in the Buffalo area and it is possible that there could be more of this style there.) 

I don't think this location is in any particular danger for a couple of reasons; one of which is below:

Despite being a style based on an older location, this McDonald's still has two drive-thru lanes like new 'eyebrow' locations do.
The other reason lies in the fact that McDonald's hasn't been doing all that well lately. The company announced a couple months back that 900 corporate owned stores would be closing and its profitability is one the lowest of the four national fast food chains. (Wendy's, Burger King, Arby's.) Even Sonic has surpassed McDonald's in profitability, and McDonald's has at least three times as many locations as Sonic. It's also kind of funny that the last time I've actually had a meal at McDonald's was well over a year ago. I stopped for breakfast at one on a travel recently, but I did not get a meal only a sandwich. (There's a difference!) 

I don't think 'eyebrow-ing' your locations was a good idea either, especially if you are removing some awesome vintage features to some locations. (Looking at you, Germantown, TN McDonald's) Although McDonald's is facing hardship, they still maintain a few unique locations so let's get back to the pictures.

With this being a rock and roll location, its obvious that Elvis would have a presence here. Got to love the musical decoration too.

Neon lighting ring.
Hello there, Mr. Speedy.

Awesome sight of Jukebox.
Jukebox donations being used to support the community.

Let's hope you don't have to make a 'Speedy' exit.
As we all know, the 'eyebrow' has taken a lot of McDonald's over. So, I've been doing my best to capture locations that still have the classic vibe to them. Some of these locations are more unique than others, so I won't stop and see the interior of all of them in the Twin Tiers coverage area. This was an obvious exception though. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Main Street Rite Aid

Welcome back to Allegany County, again! This time we visit a Rite Aid in Cuba (yes, the town's name is Cuba. I could go on a rant about how NY likes to copy country names and cities names from other countries as names for their towns, but I'll save you the trouble.) that was a former Eckerd location. What is unique about this location compared to other drug stores of this kind is that it actually is open along the town's Main Street. Especially in towns of this size, Rite Aid would typically just build a new store from the ground up. You would normally only see a store like this in cities. Cuba is not a city!

The windows have a blue tarp over them.
It's worth mentioning that this store is probably only around 5,000 sq.ft. The typical dollar store (e.g. Dollar General) is around 7,500 to 8,000. That actually makes this smaller than a dollar store if this is indeed at 5,000 sq. ft. The typical drug store is itself usually around 10,000 sq. ft.

A little step to lead you into the store.
Front checkout area. Rite Aid doesn't seem to use these. Any customer making purchases at the time I visited were made at the pharmacy desk in the back of the store.
The store's only selection of frozen food items and the obligatory beer takes a good portion of the display cases.

I assume that this checkerboard pattern is a remnant of Eckerd, but I'm not 100% certain on that. This sight would also would explain the blue tarp and no purchases being made at the front. They seem to be using the area as a mini-stockroom.
Mirror above the front checkouts.

Now for the actual aisles. The store only has five aisles in total and the contents of the aisles are as follows:

Aisle 1: Health
Aisle 2: Health
Aisle 3: Seasonal, Diapers, Cleaning and a limited selection of food
Aisle 4: Greeting Cards
Aisle 5: Stationary and Cosmetics
Obviously, with a much smaller footprint then typical Rite Aid, this store doesn't have everything you would find at a normal store. Notable things lacking are: a much larger food selection, toys and party supplies. Everything else is here, but likely shrunken is size.

Interesting to see a mirror set on a stool. 
Checkerboard tile stockroom.
The back of the store and pharmacy area. There is two chairs for customers waiting for their prescriptions.
Finally I leave you with a look at the doors at the front of the store as viewed from the inside:

One of the only reasons why this store probably still exists is because of it being an acquisition from Eckerd. Apparently this location does well enough for Rite Aid to continue operating it, despite being half the size of a normal location. I guess if it is profitable, you might as well keep it going. Either way, it is still a cool sight to see especially in this day and age where everything likes to be on the outskirts away from the downtown main street in small towns.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

An Arby's Stuck in the '60s

Literally, this Arby's located in the city of Jamestown hasn't seen a huge remodel in probably at least 20 years. There have been some behind the scenes improvements to this location, but overall it still retains its original look from 1969. I had the opportunity to return to this Arby's last Friday (August 14th) and was able to dig into a little more about this particular Arby's location. 

Cowboy Hat Sign
A newspaper article mentioned that the owners of this Arby's had thought about replacing this sign with a more modern one, but due to local support of wanting it still, the owners decided they will keep as long as possible.

Note the exposed brick. I feel that the brick adds character and it is a shame that most places don't build with it anymore.
Outdoor Restrooms
Let's step inside now.

All right, now its time for something new and special for my site. As I mentioned, I stopped by recently and was able to learn some history of this particular location. The following picture is one you will see here on the Twin Tiers Retail Blog before anywhere else. It has not been uploaded to Flickr yet.

If you are ever in Jamestown, NY, I highly recommend stopping by this location on Fluvanna Avenue. Not only it is a cool historical restaurant, but it is also filled with very awesome employees. They saw me taking pictures on my visit last year and were openly okay about it. They even told me to make sure I get a picture of  the old cowboy hat sign. The funny thing was that I didn't even buy anything on that visit! I knew I wanted to support this location from then on just because of that experience.

Monday, August 10, 2015


I know this old news, but I still am going to make a post about the stupidness of companies' increased interested in establishing REIT for their previously owned corporate properties, especially if you are a company that is struggling financially.

Unless you don't pay attention to retail news, you would have likely heard of the new trend of companies establishing a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) for their stores. If you ask me, this whole REIT plan is a way to really establish increased trouble for the companies involved. Sears Holdings is the obvious company this post is about, but there are more and more companies at least expressing interest in doing the same. Bon Ton followed Sears example, but unlike Sears, only put a handful of their stores on a REIT. 

Sears Holdings has put many of their previously corporate owned stores as a part of their 'Strategic Growth.' Sure, Sears gains some profit now, but in the long run, all these stores that were previously owned by corporate are now being leased. Now Sears is adding even more burden to itself by having to pay lease on buildings it previously did not. Obviously, this leads to the conclusion that these stores, my local Kmart store included, are more likely to close. I hate saying this as a fan of Kmart, but I can see my local store closing in the future since it is on the REIT.

In the Twin Tiers Blog coverage area, the following Sears Holdings locations are a part of the Strategic Growth property list:

Clay, NY (Great Northern Mall)
Johnson City, NY (Oakdale Mall)
Rochester, NY (Mall at Greece Ridge)
Victor, NY (Eastview Mall)

Olean, NY (my local store)

All the properties listed above are Type II properties, an explanation is below:

Type 1: Sears Holdings can be kicked out for other uses at a moment's notice. (A liquidation sale still occurs.)

Type 2: Sears Holdings remains in AT LEAST half of the building if another party were to express interest in opening a store/restaurant on said site. This also includes any attached or detached auto centers. (The exception to this half rule is if the Kmart or Sears store on site closes.)

Type 3: Sears Holdings no longer operates at all.

Type 4: Land Lease. Strategic Growth does not own the land on which the property is located

To see if your local Kmart or Sears is affected, here's a document about Strategic Growth. Properties included in the REIT plan can be found by scrolling to page 75 of the document or clicking the link for properties.

I do know Bon Ton has established a real estate investment trust, but I could not find any list for stores included, so can not tell if you any are affected in the Twin Tiers coverage area.

Like I said at the beginning of the post, I realize this is old news. But, it does affect the Twin Tiers coverage area, so I thought a post about REIT would still be a good idea. Hopefully my local store doesn't close, but if it ever does, you can be sure that I'll be there to take pictures. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Dead Bradford Mall

NOTE: This post has been updated and is now complete.
As promised, here's a little post on the Bradford Mall's history (that I am aware of) and some future plans as well. Just like most other malls were meant to be, this mall was McKean county's shopping detestation in its heyday. Its original anchors were JCPenney and Woolworths. Other notable tenants included JO-ANN and CVS, as well as a bank. KB Toys possibly had a store here at one time, but I couldn't find any evidence suggesting it was other than talking with my parents/older friends.

As time moved on, JCPenney would end up closing first. What is odd in this situation is that they didn't really have any competition unless you count local clothing stores. They moved to a JCPenney catalog center on Kendall Ave (now Enterprise uses the space) before ultimately leaving Bradford forever. I can only assume that the nearby city of Olean, NY (about 15 miles away from Bradford across the state line) received its JCPenney location because of this one closing. Bradford did suffer from a major loss in population. Rather ironically, JCPenney has moved three times total if they did indeed replace the Bradford store with Olean.

Eventually Jamesway moved into the old JCPenney's space until the chain was bought out by Ames. The space did become Ames until it closed when the chain went bankrupt. Now about a quarter of the space is being used by Tractor Supply while Carolina Furniture uses the back half of the store as a warehouse for furniture assembly. According to the local newspaper, Carolina Furniture is interested in opening a showroom in the remaining quarter of the store. If this indeed does occur, then the former Ames would be completely filled. 

Former JCPenney, Jamesway and Ames. Now used by Tractor Supply and Carolina Furniture.
Former Ames interior. Note how clean it is. This is a good suggestion that Carolina furniture may open a showroom here.
Let's take a look at the mall itself. The mall is a classic T shape. I have limited pictures of the mall since it is closed to the public. However, you can still see remains of it through Big Lots, Label Shopper and obviously the former entrance.
Mall entrance. Verizon is one of the newest tenants here.
Former mall corridor as viewed from Big Lots' former mall entrance.
Here's a look at the former mall entrance for Big Lots.
Looking at Big Lots from Label Shopper.
Looking at Label Shopper (former CVS) from Big Lots.
Now for the future of the mall. As already stated, things are actually looking pretty decent for this mall with ?Dunham's opening and the furniture store looking to open as well. Although the back portion of the mall isn't being used, the side facing East Main Street is. Everything with the exception of one or two storefronts is now filled. Here's a look at the more plaza like Bradford Mall:

Dollar Tree actually opened after the mall went dead. It opened around the same time that Walmart across the street did. I found it interesting that Dollar Tree didn't open in the plaza on the hill by Walmart like a lot of the other former mall stores did and instead built their new location in the dead mall.
Formerly Woolworths
Label Shopper was a former CVS

It is worth noting that I didn't really take a picture of the health services center that is the newest thing to occupy a space. The reason I did this is because it isn't retail. Taco Bell and Sheetz have both announced plans to open on or near the Bradford Mall property in the near future. I'll be sure to take pictures of both once they are open and operational, possibly a picture or two during their construction.
Former JCPenney Auto & Firestone Auto. Currently being used as a beer distributor and ice cream parlor. Rumor would suggest that Sheetz may tear this down and build a store here.
Future Taco Bell in the parking lot of the Bradford Mall. The current owners also want to add a road to the stoplight for Walmart as seen in this picture allowing for better traffic access.