Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Zayre in Miami

Here are some nice circa-1970 photos featuring the Zayre and Grand Union stores that were located the corner of Dixie Highway (U.S. 1) and 136th Street in Pinecrest (Miami-Dade County), Florida. These photos and much of the background information that follows comes to us through the courtesy of Stuart Spector of Spector and Sons, a well-known general contracting firm that has built many significant buildings in the Miami area since 1925. Thanks, Stuart!

The store has a different appearance from the standard “Zayre look” of the time for a good reason – it was originally built in the very early 1960’s as a Consumers Mart of America (CMA) store, a membership store that operated along the lines of a Gemco or Fed-Mart back in the day, or a modern Costco or Sam’s Club. One of the most interesting aspects of the short-lived CMA chain was the fact that George Raft, the famous actor known for his gangster roles in Warner Bros. movies of the 1930’s and 40’s was CMA’s vice president of advertising and public relations. Raft was present at each new store opening, sometimes dragging his Hollywood buddies (for example, Jerry Lewis at the 1961 Torrance, California store opening) along.

When CMA went bankrupt in 1965, Zayre took over a number of their store locations, including three in Chicago (as previously mentioned) and three in Florida - South Dade County (the location pictured), north Dade County and Tampa. Spector and Sons, who had built all three Florida locations, took over the mortgages when CMA went bankrupt. They sold the North Dade and Tampa properties and still own the South Dade location.

Also of note is the Grand Union supermarket, which as can be seen underwent a slight facelifting between the time these photos were taken. Grand Union, a New Jersey-based chain, entered the Florida market in the mid-50’s and had 48 supermarkets (and 8 Grand Way stores, a Zayre competitor) there by 1968.

And check out the gas prices at the Zayre auto center!

After Zayre moved out, the building was damaged by Hurricane Andrew in the early 90’s and was later redeveloped by Spector and Sons as a Builders Square. It is now a Home Depot, and the former Zayre auto center is now a Bank of America branch.

Pat Richardson of the Charlotte Eats website, an excellent photo history of Charlotte NC area restaurants, sent me this link to a nice close-up photo of the Zayre store’s entrance from a bit earlier.


  1. Another great post--but I cannot stop staring at those gas prices! LOL

  2. cool B)

    I like vintage pics like this.

  3. i remember buying a lot of stuff at this Zayre (in 1984) for my dorm room at the U of Miami!! Great memories!!

  4. I thought the old US-1 Zayre used to be a Masters Department store. I have a vague memory of shopping in their record department when I was ten years old. If that wasn't the site of Masters, then does anyone know what was?

  5. These are some awesome photos, Dave. Why couldn't the CMA in Chicago have looked like that?

  6. Thanks for the great pictures. Finally, I have documentary proof that gas was around 30-40 cents a gallon in southern Florida around 1970.

  7. Kim - Thanks, and I agree, those prices are unreal!

    Mark - Thanks!

    Wish List - Glad to help bring them back, and thanks.

    Jeffers 66 - I've read that Masters had a couple of Miami stores, but I'm not sure of their addresses. It's interesting that Masters (a NY based chain) expanded to Florida when they had relatively few stores. Most Northeast chains waited until they had a bigger store base before moving south.

    Didi - That's a rhetorical question, right? :)

    RR Ryan - You're welcome, and they serve the same purpose for me!

  8. Masters also had a store in the Central Shopping Center, across the street from Flagler Dog Track. It later became a K-Mart.

    I'm pretty sure this Zayre store was Masters for a short time, probably after CMA and before converting to Zayre. I was there in 1966, when I was ten. (I bought "My Little Red Book" by Love from their record department.)


  9. I forgot to mention that the old Masters in the Central Shopping Center also became a Zayre store in the mid-60s, prior to K-Mart taking over. This Court of Appeals filing from 1970 gives some insight into how that store was run:


  10. Wow the fuel station looks dated for the era of the store, it definitely has an old school service station/garage look to it.
    I have never seen a Zayre with gas and auto service and I guess the only reason these Zayres had one was it was inherited from the CMA chain.

  11. Jeff - You're right about the Masters store at that location. I checked with Stuart Spector, whose family developed the shopping center, and he confirmed that Masters was there between CMA and Zayre. I had assumed that Zayre took the store over directly as they had done with some other CMA units.

    That's a very interesting article on the NLRB case against Zayre. It's a textbook example of how careful a business has to be when taking over an existing operation, that there may be prior agreements in place that have to be honored.

    Ken - They had gas stations in about a third of their stores. It does have a no-frills look, especially compared to the discount store portion, which has some style.

  12. this store appears to be the one that was not far from Homestead on us 1. If it is I worked their in 1973-74. Worked in 3 locations in Miami from 70-74 before leaving Zayre. anyone else work their during that time?