Monday, May 30, 2016

A Modern McDonald's Without the Eyebrow

Being a new McDonald's location, you would come to expect an obligatory eyebrow; but as you can see by the blog post's title, this location does not!

Not an eyebrow to be seen here. Now I like this style of design. Before moving into the interior, here's a closeup of the entrance and another view of the picnic tables.

Restrooms to the right of the ordering area.
Now for some interesting architecture designs:

3 styles of floor tile. The left area with the shoe is for the menu area. The center bit serves as a walking path; and the right is for the seating areas. 
Ceiling details.
Soda fountains.
Modern menu set-up.
I leave this post with a rather interesting sight:

Apparently ordering can get quite hectic since the orders may jump a hundred numbers or so at a time!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cortland's Dinky and Cozy JCPenney (Part 2)

As promised, today we have a look at one of the smaller JCPenney stores still in operation today. There was previously an even smaller store in Coudersport, PA at one time, but that store has closed. I wish I was into taking pictures back then as that store was small, but it still had three levels to it. The upper levels were small, yes, but it was still cool nonetheless. I was also a little kid at the time (so I was easily impressed I suppose) and going over to Coudersport was something my family did quite a bit because of this store. This was the only instance I can ever remember seeing Hot Wheels cars at a JCPenney store.

Unlike that store, which I had fond memories of, this store is just one level with some limits on what it offers due its size. Still it is unique to have a smaller store which can bring back memories for me personally. While we take a look at this Cortland, NY store, I will be doing a comparison to the small Coudersport store.

Under the awning.
Moving on to the interior....

View upon entering. Just like larger stores from this time, the jewerly counter is in the middle of the store along with a limited selection of fashion accessories. I'm fairly certain that Coudersport did not offer jewelry.
Taking a look at the view from the right side of the store. You can barely make out the entrance in the left center here to an online pickup center and restrooms area. So, if this location may not have a particular item your looking for due to its smaller size, you could still ship it to this store from an online purchase. The Coudersport store mentioned also had a similar system.
A look at that online services desk.
This store has a very limited selection of shoes. What you see here is pretty much all it has to offer. It was the same way at the Coudersport store.
From shoes, we move toward the back of the store.

The Fitting Rooms were undergoing some maintenance when I visited. The Coudersport store didn't even have a fitting room where this store has two.
Back left corner of the store has a limited selection for bedding and bathroom supplies. If Coudersport had a department for this area, it was small enough to the point where I didn't even notice it.
The pathway here is the width of paths throughout the entire store.
Look how small that jewerly counter is!
So that pretty much sums up the scene for this small, but otherwise busy JCPenney store. It is good to see that a smaller store can survive. What put the nail in the coffin for the Coudersport store was the lack of customers due to the whole Adelphia scandal.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sears' Shrinking to Make a Profit

Does making something smaller make it better, or in this case, more profitable? Apparently Sears thinks so. Rather than making the changes needed to attract customers, let's turn them away by not having the item they came looking for! 

We've first seen this method used for Kmart's electronics department. It's honestly a mixed bag at times because  not all stores shrunk their electronics. From my observations, it seems that mainly stores that don't have any other competition nearby kept the full assortment. Even then though, I was recently at a store with no competition from Walmart and it had shrunk it electronics. Sometimes you can't even make sense of the business decisions made by Sears Holdings!

Then comes the fact that many stores have either closed or they plan to shrink by up to 50% if they can attract another tenant thanks to Sears' REIT plan introduced last year.

I bring this topic up because I saw Sears' plans to make smaller stores based solely on appliances. Seems like a bright idea, right? I would agree if it weren't for the fact that small Sears stores already exist by means of Sears Hometown stores! The funny thing about Sears Holdings spun off the Hometown stores to get some extra cash. So the hometown stores are actually a different company now. So Sears' plan is to shrink and focus on appliances, they just made competition with their own name!

Don't get me wrong though, I applaud the idea of having smaller Sears stores. Sears is known primarily for outdoor equipment, tools, appliances and to lesser extent, electronics. I don't think of Sears when I want to buy new clothes! 

I've said for awhile know that it would be in their best interest to focus on making Sears stores smaller. Perhaps focus on Kmart, as Kmart has been the better performer of the two and maybe just simply add a mini-Sears within Kmart. In a way,  they kind of already have toyed with the idea right after they merged. Other than by adding appliances to a shrunken electronics department, It just seems that they kind of abandoned it nowadays though. Of course if they were to reintroduce this plan, don't just simply plop boxes on the floor and call it a day. Actually make the area presentable to customers.

Yeah, just had to get my two cents in about a dying retailer that I care about....

Monday, May 9, 2016

Cortlandville Mall to Crossings (Part 1)

Known for its apples, the city of Cortland, NY has more to offer than food, though I do have to admit that I always make a stop at the A&W in town....

One of the more interesting things found in this central New York city is this dinky JCPenney store which is a part of the Cortland Crossings plaza.1 The plaza was at one time a small mall with Grants (now Kmart) and Chappels as anchors.2 

Built by Pyramid Malls out of Syracuse in the late '60s or early '70s, this mall eventually fell victim to the newer Syracuse malls and especially the nearby Shops at Ithaca Mall. Ironically, Pyramid also built most, but not all, of the competition to this mall.

Please note that as of late 2015, Tractor Supply is no longer a part of this plaza. It relocated to a freestanding store further south on NY 13. Marshalls has replaced Tractor Supply at this plaza as seen below.
In the mall days, this was a Sears catalog store.
Originally Price Chopper, then a Lowbal's supermarket. Tractor Supply (at the time the picture was taken) and is now currently a Marshalls store as seen via the Google Maps view below:
Picture Credit to Google Maps.
The now Marshalls and attached plaza was not attached to the mall.

Former Chappels and Bon Ton.
Picture credit to Google Maps.
The former Grants is now a Kmart location. We'll take a closer look at this particular Kmart location in a future Kmart spotlight post.
The mall's original entrance has been turned into a Radioshack, which I do believe is still in operation today. Although I did not know this at the time, I've learned that the Radioshack has mall's old doors intact and carries the mall's 70s decor on its walls. I'll have to return to take a look as long as this Radioshack is still open.

1. The dinky JCPenney store, which relocated from a downtown store, will be the focus of part 2.

2. Bon Ton briefly had a location in Cortland as a result of buying out Chappels. Apparently it only lasted a few months before closing. Price Chopper would eventually return to the same shopping center by taking over the former Chappels/Bon Ton space when the mall became a plaza in the 1990s.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Future Retail Gateway to Olean

Imagine my surprise to learn of brand new additional stores and restaurants are soon to begin as part of the future Olean gateway shopping complex. I honestly had no idea about this plan until this morning! Although no retail-based companies have committed to the project that I'm aware of, I was pleasantly surprised to have learned about this new development, pun intended. 

The land that is soon to be developed was previously an AGWAY chemical plant. State and city officials along with the help of others, have spent nearly the last ten years cleaning up the once abandoned site. The site (highlighted in the yellow circle) is actually in a prime location by having almost immediate access to I-86 as you can see below.

Credit to Google Earth for satellite view of the site.
The site planned to be built in phases with a hotel and some smaller retail building first on the east side of the property. Although I would love to see Target open up here, the big box space reserved is much to small for their standards.

Development plans courtesy of Loopnet
I'll be watching to see what happens here in the future! I leave you with a picture of what it looks like currently:

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Kmart #4434

As we look at another Erie area Kmart location, I'd like to make mention that I'm surprised Erie has not seen one of its three stores announced for closure. Sears Holdings seems to dropping the hammer on having multiple locations in same name town.1 Either way, closures will continue as I recently read an article saying that Sears Holdings would need close around another 300 stores to return to profitability. If those closures were to be only Kmart stores, that would leave only around 500 stores.

Anyway back to the topic of this post, which is about currently operating Kmart #4434 in Harborcreek.

Store #4434 opened its doors in 1969 to serve the east side of Erie.
As a '60s-built location, Kmart Foods was present here at one point. Kmart Foods was an early attempt to capture a supermarket next door to the actual store. Many of these would later become  separate supermarket chain, like Weis or other chains depending on where the building stood in the country. Sometimes Kmart absorbed the space to make a larger store or other chains, like Big  Lots here, would come in and take over the space.

Full exterior view of the store as seen from US 20 (Buffalo Rd)

Now for the interior:

You can't hide from me, former cafe.
Looks like the restrooms sign was replaced at some point.

The one 'T' doesn't seem to fit....
An open door to a closed portrait studio.

This layout in the corner is unique to this location, unless of course another store which I haven't been to has it. Cheektowaga, NY comes close, but not nearly the same.

Center Actionway
Random appliances in the back. Wouldn't be surprised to return to this store and find them taking over electronics like most stores do that now.

Wide Pantry Aisle
Back of the Store

This store's garden shop is rather small.

A nice little find.

The low-hanging pharmacy sign really grabs your attention or you might be able to grab it.

Harborcreek Kmart Customer Services

ICEE Machine
For some people these arrows lead to an escape; others use it just for exiting.

Rating: 7 out of 10. Although it is a pretty average Kmart, it seems to get good business. For that reason the score is bumped to be above average.

In Danger of Closing? I would assume that this store in particular probably does the least amount of business out of three Erie locations. This store still does good amount of traffic though, so its hard to say.
If it came down to being absolutely necessary, I personally would guess that this would be the Erie store that would close. That doesn't mean anything however.

1. Unless of course that town is actually a major city such as Chicago or Miami, but even then some closures have been happening. I'm referring to a smaller sized city such as Erie, Zanesville, OH or Poughkeepsie, NY which both had multiple Kmart stores until recently.