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Shuttered Doors

Updated on March 4, 2013

In a world filled with WalMarts and Home Depots, let's exlpore times when America had more than one place to shop.


Founded in Massachusetts in 1956 by Stanley H. and Sumner A. Felberg, Zayre opened as a clothing, linen and other soft lines store. The name comes from a Jewish phrase “Zehr gut” meaning “very good.” (How they wound up spelling it “Zayre” is a good question.) As the store moved into the 60s, it continued to grow in store numbers and added other lines of goods including toys, sporting goods, records, books, and so on. Everything was going just fine, including the acquisition of the store “Hit or Miss” and introducing a chain called BJ’s Wholesale Club, until the mid-80s hit. With cluttered aisles, sloppy stores, lousy technology and poor pricing, by 1988 the chain had an operating loss of $69 million. It was sold to the Ames Department Stores, Inc. and by 1990, all Zayre stores were either closed or converted to Ames stores (which are also things of the past.)

Rickel Home Centers

The Rickel brothers, Al, Mort and Bob, opened their first store in 1953 in Union, New Jersey. They had acquired a warehouse full of plumbing parts and opened it to the public to sell the supplies at retail prices in addition to offering advice on fixing toilets, sinks, drains and other plumbing fixtures. It grew to include other home needs like heating and electrical supplies, hardware, tools and paints, leading to the slogan “Rickel Helps You Do It Better.” In 1969, with the chain growing in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, it was sold to the supermarket chain Supermarkets General Corp. As it grew, however, by 1990, its debt amounted to over $1.6 billion. On top of that, a home improvement chain based in Atlanta, Ga called “Home Depot” began opening stores in the New York/New Jersey area. The mounting debt and the increased competition sealed the chain’s fate, closing the last Rickel store in 1998.


Another demised department store, the first Clover store opened in 1971 in Cherry Hill, NJ. Basing the style on Target stores, selling clothes, linens, shoes, stationary and more, Strawbridge & Clothier named the store after their store sale days called Clover Days. A few early stores included a grocery store, but these were later phased out. In 1978, Clover stores became the center of Clover Squares, mini-malls that included regional stores and a food court. May Department Stores, parent company of Macy’s, bought the Strawbridge & Clothier’s company and three Clover sites. Kimco Realty Corp bought the remaining Clover stores. As usually happens on buy-outs, jobs are lost and businesses close. The last Clover shut its doors in 1996.


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    • JeremyBentham profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Missouri

      Small world. I worked at one in PA from 86 to 93. Got out just as it was starting to go downhill.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 

      6 years ago from The Garden State

      My first job was in the lumber yard at a Rickel store in New Jersey, back in the mid '80s. I was sixteen years old and got a lot of splinters. Haha.


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