Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Joys of Zayreshopping

No joke, “Zayreshopping” was an actual word coined by the company in 1975, the year these photos were taken. In their own words – “Zayreshopping is what we call the phenomenon we see so frequently: entire families shopping together in one of our stores. What makes it possible is that we have gathered together in one convenient location a broad diversity of merchandise assortments, ranging from fashion apparel to quality hardware, and from records and tapes to fabrics and yarn”.

The reality for Zayre (and for many other discount chains whose name didn’t begin with a “K”) was bleak at the time, but a major image revamp for Zayre was in the works and would launch the following year. These photos do a good job of showing the colorful hodgepodge (with a couple of ghostly superimposed models tossed in for good measure) that was Zayre in the early seventies.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go Walmartshopping.


  1. Dave, I LOVE this site!! This brings back many memories of Shopping at Zayre. Does anyone remember the crazy sale they used to have? I remember my parents buying a 19' tv they didn't plan on buying because it was like a $100 in 1985! A great buy even then! Zayres record department was the best! They stocked records even record stores didn't. I remember finding this Supremes Lp there that I'd wanted & couldn't find anywhere (after Diana Ross was gone their records were not easy tro find)I remember being so happy to find it! I still miss Zayre!

  2. Ahh, to see the pictures of the interiors reminds me as a kid wandering around these 'family centers' waiting for my parents to finish shopping. The TV department reminds me of the Montgomery Ward TV department in the mid 1970's. When 'solid state' and 'tubeless, transistorized' televisions were the selling points. 'Stanley' brand hardware and the record departments! Also reminds me of the huge plexiglass cases that housed 8-track tapes in stores for 'anti-theft' with round holes for your arm to fit inside to look at the stack of tapes inside!! The checkered linoleum floors remind me of 'skipping' through the isles as a kid! The snack counters that were located in the front of most stores with popcorn, peanuts and candy. As the great Bob 'Texaco' Hope said many times "Thanks for the memories!"

  3. I love the colorful assortment of photos and the cool ones with ghostly images. Almost looks grand.

  4. Love the photos once again, Dave!

    As an avid collector of music (both on CD and vinyl) I especially loved the music department photo -- I barely remember the tail-end of the "LP era" (mostly steeply-discounted bargain bins) so the idea of a good-sized section of a department stole devoted entirely to brand-new LPs and 7"es is tantalizing, indeed!

    The last place I remember ever seeing a bin of LP markdowns in the early 1990s was Kmart, of course Zayre was long gone by that time (or "long" in the eyes of a 10-year-old kid, anyway!)

  5. Obviously Zayreshopping didn't have the ring of Krogering. LOL.

    Dwayne, I would guess the availability of the Supremes is one example of Zayre's urban appeal, though the group had a strong pop following. Stone Love and Up the Ladder to the Roof were two major post-Diana hits. But I imagine the white bread Supremes fans followed Diana's course in the 1970's.

    The photos look far more well stocked than I recall Zayre ever looking. My memories were of a store that was haphazardly stocked and in many ways the current conditions in the typical Kmart mirror those of Zayre.

    You ever wonder how today's discount store landscape might look if Zayre had been better managed? I think with Target and Walmart's emergence in the national scene in the early 90's, we may be recalling how Kmart disappeared in the mid 90's and pondering the future of Zayre.

  6. Dwayne - Thanks! Zayre was always running wild promotions, it seemed. $100 for a 19" tv in 1985 was a fantastic price. That type of tv was far less expensive a even couple of years ago before plasma tv's became the standard. Today they're a virtual giveaway - an $80 Wal-Mart or grocery store loss leader.

    Mr. Bluelight - You're welcome, and thanks again for sharing your memories as well! There are quite a number of stores where the experience was similar.

    Didi - I agree!

    Kendra - Glad you like them, and it definitely seems like a long time ago evem though I lived through it. Funny, I remember in 1982 or 3 when Sony introduced their first CD player (the CDP-101, cost over $700 for a basic, single-disc player) that the press predictions were that CD's would overtake vinyl in about 25 years. They were only off by about 22 years! Nice to see vinyl making a comeback of sorts, though.

    Ken - Great points, once again!
    These photos were much more ideal than real life, and the "in-stock" signage is a bit ironic. Maybe Zayre could have been a player for longer than they were, but they ultimately chose to put their eggs in the TJMaxx basket.

    I just recently bought the VH1 Supremes greatest hits CD and had forgotten all about "Stoned Love". It was a pretty decent song, but never received anywhere near the airplay that the Diana Ross-era songs did.

  7. This is fantastic, thanks for the memories. I was just recounting stories of shopping at Zayres. We used to buy goldfish (not the crackers), pet rocks, eyeglasses (I think?)for my brothers, toys, records, fabric/sewing patterns. They had a home furnishings dept with fake bedrooms containing shag carpeting and foil/fuzzy wallpaper. When you touched the wallpaper, it would give you a static shock. Fun for kids! Love the site.

  8. Striving Green - Thanks so much, and glad the timing worked out between these posts and your trip down memory lane! I remember those 'mocked up' rooms, with their shag carpet. My grandparents had it in their den during those years and the electric shocks we got hurt like heck! It's hilarious looking back on it now.

  9. what a great site. worked for the gary Indiana store in the early 70's.(.8000 east us 20) .. k-mart and a grocery store were in the same area..great place to work and shop..i was the dept manager for health and beauty aids, electronics, candy dept....great was our store manager..thanks again for the site