Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

All right, so this one might be a little obvious- a photo showing a “Happy New Year” sign for a New Year’s Day post, but I like it a lot. This photo, a 1985 original snapshot, depicts the tri-faced tower sign for the Macomb Mall in Roseville, Michigan, a northeast suburb of Detroit, an area where cool shopping center signs were the order of the day, it seems. When the photo was taken, the sign (and the mall) was already 21 years old, but believe it or not it still stands today, just one year shy of Macomb Mall’s golden anniversary.

There have been a few changes over the years, naturally. Crowley, Milner and Company (background of the photo), a proud department store presence in the Detroit area since 1909, prospered in the shadow of its much larger department store competitor J.L. Hudson Company for decades. Things grew tough by the 1990’s however, and despite valiant efforts to reinvent itself and to introduce new formats, Crowley’s closed its doors in 1999, selling out to Columbus-based Schottenstein Stores, owners of Value City. The Macomb Mall store, along with two other locations, was reopened under the name of “Crowley’s Value City.”  These were closed in 2008.

In 1985, a MainStreet store (division of Federated Department Stores) was opened, later becoming a Kohl’s in 1988, amid the wild selloff of Federated assets that followed in the wake of the Campeau takeover that year.

The script-signed Sears store was magnificent. Built at the peak of the company’s power, it’s an enduring reminder of that great institution’s glory days.  

Regarding the tower sign, this was actually the second of this design to be installed in the area – in 1962, two years prior to Macomb Mall’s opening, its developer Schostak Brothers & Company opened Livonia Mall, northwest of Detroit, with the same two anchors – Sears and Crowley’s.  Livonia Mall was torn down in 2009 and a new shopping center, Livonia Marketplace, occupies the site.

A third area center, Troy’s Oakland Mall, was developed by a different company yet sported signs that were very similar to the Livonia and Macomb signs, with a just a few differences. Once again, Sears was the main anchor (opened in 1965, it preceded the rest of the mall by a couple of years), but this time it was Crowley’s competitor Hudson’s supplying the local department store flavor. Hudson’s was later converted to Marshall Field’s and is now (cue the rimshot) a Macy’s. The signage that exists there now is, shall we say, less than inspired.

At any rate, thanks for joining me as we begin a new year of Pleasant Family Shopping. I hope you’ll stick around as we continue to explore the great architecture, the good, bad and just plain crazy business decisions, the strange coincidences and the tender moments of America’s retail past.

Oh, and please…drive with care!