Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Destiny of Sports Authority in Syracuse

The Twin Tiers is not immune to the closings the so-called 'authority of sports' as the Destiny USA location is among the many closures. This particular location is (soon to be was) the only Sports Authority within the entire Twin Tiers coverage area. I recently had the opportunity to visit its liquidation, so here's some pictures:

Here's a picture from late 2014 when Sports Authority was alive and well. Sports Authority has both a mall and exterior entrance. The exterior entrance is located around the side of the building. (It was a former Ames.)
Mall's entrance.
Gearing up for a great closing....

The first of possibly many left behind shoe boxes. Not nearly as bad as the closing Melbourne, FL liquidation though!

Bicycle seem to be clearing out fast.

The store does have a path of sorts through some of the store while in other parts it does not.

The signs are already giving up.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Plaza to Mall to Commons in Camillus

Just like Shoppingtown, this mall actually started as a shopping center as well. Unlike Shoppingtown, it has returned to being a shopping center. Opening on the site of a former drive-in theater, the center opened in 1964 and was anchored by WT Grants, E.W. Edwards, Anderson Little, Witherills and an A&P supermarket. JCPenney would replace the Edwards store while Price Chopper, a second supermarket on the same property, took over WT Grants' space. Price Chopper would close in 1982 and be replaced by a Hills department store. This Hills never re-opened as Ames because Ames was an anchor for Fairmount Fair. (Detail on that mall turned plaza will be a featured in a future post.)

1981 saw a first portion of an enclosed mall to the complex open with a Kmart opening as an anchor on one end and a movie theater (opened as CinemaNational, converted to USA Cinemas, Loews and finally ending its run as a movie theater as Hoyts) on the other. The existing plaza remained a plaza during this time, but did eventually convert into a part of the mall in 1984. This resulted in P&C moving to the edge of the mall property opening alongside an Eckerd. The P&C and Eckerd buildings still stand today as a Tops supermarket and a Rite Aid respectively. Also, Witherills became Hess during this timeframe. Sears, having relocating from the nearby former Fairmount Fair, became a fifth anchor by having a store built at the mall at some point.
A 1995 satellite view of the layout of the mall with added anchor names and placements.
Just like with all the other malls in the area, Carousel Center (now Destiny USA) played a role in the decline of this mall. The 90s saw Kmart and other stores closing and JCPenney relocated to the Carousel Center. Sears was one of the last major stores to leave. Having already being a replacement to another store, this Sears store was not replaced. Chappel's replaced Hess in 1994 and Bon Ton would later replace Chappel's.

2003 satellite view of the complex.
2003 saw the entire mall complex, save for Bon Ton (which still operates a store on the site to this day), the P&C/Tops and the Eckerd/Rite Aid buildings. Half of  the former Kmart store building was torn down for a parking lot for Lowe's, while the other half remains as a bus parking garage for the school district next door. (The school district had also bought a part of the mall's land.) Denny's, although never connected to the mall remains as an outparcel near Bon Ton. By 2006, Walmart and Lowe's had replaced what was once the Camillus Mall.

2006 satellite view of the complex.
Former P&C now Tops.
Commons Sign
Former Eckerd now Rite Aid.

Half of the former Kmart building.
As of March 2016, this is also now the only remaining Bon Ton in the entire Syracuse and Rochester metro areas.
Wendy's is the newest addition to the complex having opened in September 2014.
2015 satellite view of the complex.
Information provided by Wikipedia. Satellite pictures courtesy of Google Earth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Twin Tiers' First Rural King

While doing some research (for future picture taking), I recently realized that Rural King has quietly made an entry into the state of Pennsylvania. Of the three locations now in the state, the newest of the bunch has recently opened/or is planning to open its first store in the Twin Tiers coverage area. This community is Clearfield. Please note this post will not contain any pictures, although pictures can be found via the article link.

Opening in a building that has sat empty since 2002 as a result of Kmart's bankruptcy, Rural King will be taking about 85,000 sq. ft. or so of the around 90,000 sq. ft. building. (As a '90s built Kmart location, most stores fall into that range of square footage. It is possible the store could have been up to 95,000 sq. ft.) 

What makes this interesting to me is also the fact that this is the furthest east Rural King has expanded. With only three stores in PA, and this one being in central PA. I expect more stores to open to try to fill the gap in between. The other two stores Rural King has opened in PA are in Butler and Connellsville.

I was already planning to eventually visit Clearfield at some point, but now it appears that I have another place to visit in addition to the Clearfield Mall.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

All Alone A&W Drive-In

For what its worth, A&W is almost non existent in some places now that is no longer a part of the YUM! Brands business. In the entire Twin Tiers coverage area, there is only 7 locations that I'm aware of and this is the only stand alone A&W of those 7 that still uses a drive-in service. This particular A&W however is probably the best just because of the fact that it has that vintage charm to it. The only other chain to do a drive-in is Sonic, which is now starting to creep into the Twin Tiers coverage area in the more populated cities.
Vintage goodness.
Side of the building.

As you can see in the background, you can also play a round of mini golf at this A&W.
Anyone up for an outdoor picnic?
Let's move on into the retro diner experience.

As this place has always been busy when I visit, I've been only able to capture a few pictures on the inside. I do want to mention that when ordering from a table on the inside, you must place a phone call to the kitchen. You'll see an example of a phone in the lower left of the picture below:

What time is it? Neon time!
A trip to A&W wouldn't be complete without having some root beer, so here's a picture of the mug it comes in:

It's sad to know that this chain that at one time did rather well has now fallen into only a handful of locations. It is even rarer to find a stand alone A&W drive-in. At least one still remains in the Twin Tiers coverage area!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Kmart #4726

Today we dive into another Kmart. This store, just like the Olean location, is also a '90s location. There are a few differences between it and the Olean store, the biggest the layout being reversed. There are other differences which will be discussed later in the post. Serving the city of Jamestown and the Lakewood community which it lies closer too, this store seems to be doing all right. Its only special feature is a pharmacy. It once had space for a cafe, but that area has since been walled off, literally. 

Closeup of the entrance. Note this store has the 'Big K' sign up where Olean does not.
Both the Olean and Lakewood stores were built as stores intending to eventually become supercenters if word came. Olean would have a harder time however as there really isn't much room to expand. Lakewood however does:

Kmart building on the right.  Wegmans on the left. I previously did a post on this particular Wegmans location back in December 2015. Wegmans is likely the reason why this Kmart never expanded.
Moving into the store itself we will start with the entryway, former 1-hr photo and cafe area. Followed by the customer services and former portrait studio areas.

Good reuse of an older tagline found on endcaps.
The old 1-hr photo seems to serve as excess space for whatever. On one occasion it was used as a 'camping corner' while on another visit it had more clothing for sale.

There is also this wavy blue line in here for some reason. Best guess is that it had something to do with the 1-hr photo lab.
Most locations would place customer services in this space next to what would be the cafe, but this store does not. It instead has customer services in the area it would be if this store was a supercenter. (As will be seen later)
It was interesting to see that this store also used to have curtains blocking customer access into the former cafe itself, but now instead has actually put up a wall. Most stores keep the curtains. Obviously the wall is better, but it looks kind of tacky.

Previously at the Lakewood Kmart
Peeking through the curtains in the past.
The current use.
At least it isn't a curtain wall!
I find this to be a little tacky.
A look from the former cafe out to the rest of the store.
As mentioned before, the customer service desk is located in the position it would need to be at if this store were to be a supercenter. The old Olan Mills portrait studio is also located in the correct space as well.

The doorway to the portrait studio was located to the left of the recycling machines.
Portrait Studio Peek

The checker tile is also a supercenter indication.
Looking at the left side of the store. Layaway is toward to the background on the left here.


You'll notice the little hangers on the wall here. Apparently these were used to hold up signs for brand names depending upon which department was below.  Kind of similar to what the garden shop (see next picture below) of this location does, without the green stripe. These signs would also be on a white background.

 Quite a few ''90s price scanner signs are still 'hanging' around at this store.

The following three pictures are taken from three separate visits showing the change of Kmart's electronics department.

Original layout
Half of electronics is now appliances.
A look at the store's front actionway.
I conclude the pictures with two more interesting things that were found at this store:

This store uses a different style of price-tags then what I'm used to seeing.
Rating: 6 out of 10. Despite being well stocked and kept clean, this particular Kmart is not the busiest of stores. It seems to be holding on, so it must get enough business to survive.

In Danger of Closing?: In my opinion, this one is a toss up. If you recall, this store was one of 100 stores that mysteriously vanished off of Kmart's state locator. I personally wondered if that list was a hint at possible store closures. At this point in time, a few of those stores which were on that list have closed or announced closures, but not in the Twin Tiers coverage area. I imagine this store barely manages to hang on at times.