Sunday, February 3, 2008

The After Hours - Bradlees/Stop & Shop

One last look at Bradlees and Stop & Shop for now - here’s a night view from 1967 featuring Stop & Shop’s distinctive new logo, one the company would use into the 1980’s. The further refinement of the combo concept is nicely in evidence here. The difference in lighting styles between the discount store and the supermarket sections, described in detail in the article quoted in the previous post, can be clearly seen.

Stop & Shop would continue to grow through the seventies and eighties, and for nearly all of that period it remained under the leadership of the Rabb family. Sidney Rabb passed away in 1985, after leading the company for fifty years. Greatly respected by his peers, the Food Marketing Institute had previously named its highest honor the Sidney R. Rabb award, which is still awarded each year to “honor supermarket industry leaders for outstanding service to the community, consumers, and the industry”. After Rabb’s death, Stop & Shop was led by Rabb’s daughter, Carol Goldberg, who became president and chief operating officer, and her husband Avram Goldberg, who was named board chairman. Both Goldbergs had spent nearly 30 years working for the company by that time. In 1988, the company was America’s ninth largest supermarket chain with 114 Stop & Shops (in New England and upstate New York) and 171 Bradlees stores spread from Maine to North Carolina. Many Bradlees stores had opened in former Two Guys locations after that chain’s demise in 1982. Thirteen DC-area Memco stores were picked up from Lucky Stores, Inc. in 1982. The 18 southernmost Bradlees stores were purchased in 1985 from Jefferson Ward, a 44-store division of Montgomery Ward (which believe it or not was owned at the time by Mobil Oil Corporation) that was based in Miami.

Family control of Stop & Shop would come to an end in early 1988, spurred on by a hostile takeover attempt by the Dart Group, parent of now-defunct retail brands Trak Auto and Crown Books, among others. Dart was led by Herbert Haft and his son Robert, who would later become embroiled in an infamous family feud that lit up the business pages for a couple of years. To thwart the Hafts, Stop & Shop accepted a buyout offer from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a leveraged buyout firm specializing in retail turnaround. KKR would operate Stop & Shop for eight years, streamlining the company (including trimming back Bradlees), taking it public again, and ultimately selling their remaining interest to the current owners, Dutch-owned Royal Ahold group. Ahold has invested heavily in Stop & Shop, reentering and moving into a very strong position in the New York/New Jersey markets, and maintaining rank in its traditional New England trade areas.

Following the KKR buyout, the southern division of Bradlees, some 50-plus stores, was sold to Hechinger, a Washington DC based home center chain, who opened their own stores in some of the locations. The rest of the Bradlees organization was spun off as a separate company in 1992, coinciding with a stock offering of Stop & Shop from KKR around the same time.

While Stop & Shop has prospered, Bradlees, after years of struggling against competition that included Kmart (which in the mid-90’s rode a short-lived mini wave of success with their new Martha Stewart line) and the ever-stronger Wal-Mart, declared bankruptcy. Sadly, the last Bradlees stores ceased operations in early 2001.

Just for fun, below is another photo from Bradlees high-water mark, taken at the same time (1967) as the photo above. Like previous Korvettes and Two Guys photos shown here, the scene is rife with mannequins, something not commonly associated with discount stores today. To me it almost appears creepy, and brings to mind the famous “Twilight Zone” episode (entitled “The After Hours” ) in which a store’s mannequins all come to life after closing time. Yaaah!


  1. >and brings to mind the >famous “Twilight Zone” episode
    >(entitled “The After Hours” ) in >which a store’s mannequins all >come to life after closing time.

    Funny that you mentioned that episode of Twilight Zone, as that is exactly what came to mind when I saw this photo of the empty store with all the mannequins.

  2. I love that Bradlees logo alot! Now comes time for my questions. How did Mobil get into the discount store business? I don't know why I find that so intriguing.

    Also I loved the accompanying article you have here. I know that Trak Auto and Crown Books are long gone, but is the Dart Drug stores till around?

  3. Ronn - That was a great episode wasn't it? We try to catch it during the Sci-Fi channel's yearly New Years Day marathon.

    Didi - Mobil was looking for a way to diversify in the mid-70's, so they bought out Monkey Wards. It ended up being such a money pit that they sold it off to Wards top management about 10 years later.

    I dig the Bradlees logo as well. they actually changed the entire "Bradlees" name to that lettering style some years later.

    Dart Drug was sold out in the mid-80's. I don't think I ever shopped at a Trak Auto, but there were Crown stores all over Chicago. They were a great place to buy books cheap.

  4. I only remember Crown in passing. I am not sure I ever went there but I heard they were a good place to buy books cheap. Trak Auto I remember a little bit better not that they were that much better.

  5. And after Dart was sold, it was renamed and it's successor eventually declared bankruptcy and the stores were liquidated.

  6. The first photo,do you know where that was taken?It looks oddly familiar.Also it` real sad stores like this don`t exist anymore.All we got now is Walmart , Kmart,and Target.

  7. Anonymous - I'm not sure of the location, but it certainly resembles the Roslindale, Mass location featured on The Caldor Rainbow site a while back:

  8. Thanks for the info,I thought that was the location but wasn`t sure.I use to go shopping there with my mother when I young.Brings back a lot of memories.Thanks

  9. Dave, I know this comment is going to be added late, but I was watching a late 1970s film with Joe Pesci. Very low budget, not that good and looks as if it was filmed on the East Coast. There is a scene in the movie where there is a hit going on in the parking lot of a Stop & Shop. It's Pesci pre Raging Bull and Goodfellas so, of course, this is a gangster picture. I bring this up because you can clearly see the Stop and Shop logo which looks exactly like this, except with sort of a colon at the end. The dot is a red light while the second is a green light. Actually, it looks as if that scene is in a shopping center that is generically titled "MALL." There's other retail but the names are not clearly visible and there's a McDonald's as an outparcel. Just thought it was interesting and wanted to look up any photos with that cool 70s Stop and Shop logo. You can sort of see the inside of the store through the window. Very Fazios-esque to me.

  10. Didi - The "colon" was a stop and go signal. They simplified the logo by getting rid of the yellow light. Guess they "threw caution to the wind", heh heh. (Ugh.) :)

    The Stop & Shops were generally very sharp-looking stores, so the Fazio's comparison makes sense.

    Which Joe Pesci movie was it? Also, it seems like eons since he's acted in anything, don't you agree?

  11. Didi - The "colon" was a stop and go signal. They simplified the logo by getting rid of the yellow light. Guess they "threw caution to the wind", heh heh. (Ugh.) :)
    Is it lame of me to find that caution in the wind thing funny? LOL! I still laughed. I did realize afterwards that it was supposed to be a stop and go light after looking at it on the DVD again.

    The Stop & Shops were generally very sharp-looking stores, so the Fazio's comparison makes sense.
    I think it was remembering the Fazio's pics you have on here that made me think of the comparison.

    Which Joe Pesci movie was it? Also, it seems like eons since he's acted in anything, don't you agree

    It has been ages. He hasn't done much of anything since '98 except the SBC (Yahoo DSL? Not sure) ads a few years ago. IMDb lists the name of the film as The Death Collector but the DVD had the alternate title, Family Enforcer. LOL at the description that says that Pesci got noticed by Scorcese and DeNiro in this film and they wanted him for Raging Bull. However, the movie is so bad that it's hard to imagine Scorcese taking it seriously. Pesci got lucky if that's true. LOL!

    On a side note, I love My Cousin Vinny more. One of my favorite Pesci films.