NJ stores we miss: Your list from Ames to Zagara’s
The closing of all Toys R Us (and Babies R Us) stores has New Jersey a bit misty-eyed. When we asked what extinct stores are missed the most, our NJ faithful really came through, with over 200 answers! There was definitely a top three across the state, with Bradlees, Caldor and Two Guys racking up the most mentions.
Like the Wayne-based toy retailer, some bigger chains we remember had deep Garden State roots. Rickel was started by three brothers in Union, who owned three dozen more home improvement stores around NJ before shutting down in the late 90's. Another, Two Guys grew far beyond its brotherly start in Harrison, before an eventual end in the early 80's.
Two Guys also sparked some of the most detailed memories. Annette Klimerman wrote "My mom shopped and my dad took us to the arcade they had in the Union store. That was Saturday fun night when I was little." Joseph Hathaway also shared, "Two Guys on Rt. 18 was my favorite to go with my Dad. Little games and bowling machine in the back." And, Lisa Hacker Pepsin added, "Loved Two Guys! I was scared of the nun that sat in the entry way, though."
During routine shopping trips as kids, a snack element always made it extra sweet. Erika Kossmann Miner wrote "Alexander’s, used to get a hot dog with my mom, after shopping!" Others remembered hot pretzels at Bradlee's or eating lunch at Woolworth's. Dustin Javier wrote of Woolworth's at the Willingboro Plaza, "Spent many hours shopping there and at the snack bar with my Great Grandmother."
Mike Kowalczyk wrote of the Montgomery spot Scrumpy's, "I remember going there for cider & donuts on Saturdays!"
For others, the memories are anchored with items still going strong. Robert Lopez wrote he and his wife still have a dish set from Caldor's, "bought when they first moved in together" over 20 years ago.
Here's a full, (mostly) alphabetical list of Jersey stores that are gone but not forgotten:
-Beefsteak Charlie's (not familiar with this restaurant? Check out this old commercial)
-Best and Company
-Blockbuster Video (remember the old jingle 'Wow! What a difference!'?)
-Callahan’s (in Fort Lee)
-C H Martins
-Daffy Dan's (later just Daffy's)
-DE Jones [note: to keep Eddie's, Dan's and Harry's together, I flipped that one]
-Flea Markets on RT 1 and RT 18
-Franks Nursery and Crafts
-Hahne's (Hahne & Company, an NJ department store chain that was based in Newark)
-Kiddie City Toy Store
-Kids R Us
-Pearl arts and crafts
-Rickel Home Centers
-Steve and Barry’s
-Tops Appliance City
-Wall to Wall Sound
-Zagara's (A Marlton-based grocery chain that was beloved in the community)
You could really do a separate list of old mall stores we loved, including two of my old favorites, The Nature Company and Warner Brothers Studio Store. Hmmm, I smell a sequel!
Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee. A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.
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