Mrs. B, is that you?

Bradlees truck in Copley Square

J. Patience was kind of amazed to see this truck puttering around Copley Square today. Sure, the red is a bit faded, but still.

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Bradlees

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Shhhss. Mrs. B. is buying....

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And

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nobody can buy like Mrs. B!

--gpm

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Red

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Red isn't faded... that's just an old logo from the 70s.

That tag line was used in the late 70s.

That trailer is just old.

But not surprising.. I saw a FINAST one a few weeks ago..

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FINAST

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What a blast from the past! It was the First National supermarket's store brand. It stood for FIrst NAtional STores. Only people over 40 or so will remember FINAST.

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Under 40...

But aware of FINAST because my grandfather was a meatcutter there for 35 years, and my dad and all my aunts and uncles worked there as teenagers. I don't think I ever set foot in one of the stores, though, I was in my early teens I think when they shut down. (I do remember shopping at Bradlees, Zares, Ames, Paperama, Service Merchandise, Leachmeres, and Purity Supreme, though.)

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Zayre

Not Zares.

Also, Lechmere, because it was named after the Square. Originally Lechmere Sales, all the prices ended in 88 cents, because the first store was at 88 First St.

Service Merchandise was originally a member club store, like BJ's.

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Service Merchandise was a

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Service Merchandise was a member club? I thought it was a catalog showroom... or am I thinking of something else?

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In its later days

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It had that weird system where you'd walk around with an order form and a pencil and then hand the form to a clerk to get your whatever.

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Lechmere Sales had a similar system

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for most items, including smaller appliances like cassette recorders and CB radios (when CB radio was at the height of popularity, Lechmere had a larger CB radio department than Radio Shack).

You would buy your item and the clerk would give you a slip. You would then go to the back of the store and hand the slip to another clerk, who would then get the item for you.

IIRC, the only items you could take "off the shelf" were record albums and, during the Christmas season, hobby items.

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kinda

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Pre-internet Amazon was more like Sears and the Sears catalog

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And I can't forget the dalmatians, Pat

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As a kid I associated Service Merchandise with the old prize round in Wheel of Fortune where, after you spent your prize money on fireplace andirons and golf bags, the remainder of your funds would be put "on a Service Merchandise gift certificate". I was damn surprised when we went down to the local SM to buy a video game and I discovered the showroom model worked the same as on TV.

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More

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Caldor!

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And

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Ann & Hope!

whoops - late - just saw Swirly's comment on the same below.

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S.S. Pierce

Where mom would go for stuff they didn't carry at the Stop & Shop, like what we do with Bread & Circus Whole Foods now.

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Mustn't forget

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Woolworth's, Mammoth Mart, King's, Almys...
Oddly, just the other day I was thinking of how many discount stores we used to have to choose from.

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What about Hoffmans

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I remember hours in that store with my siblings. Didn't they have one in Norwell?

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Mrs. B

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Omg and dont foeget Capitol Foods....oh the memories of Bradlees when my mom ised to go cash her welfare check....lol

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30

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We had a Finast in my neighborhood until the mid-90s; my sister's 30 and she remembers it.

It was Finast, then Edwards, then Stop and Shop.

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Huh

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I found a handcart from a store named Edward's in the basement of the house I bought. I'd been wondering what kind of store it might have come from.

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Ah yes - Bradlees

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Reminds me of the early 1980s when I was in the Transportation and Physical Distribution Management program at Northeastern (now long since discontinued). In my five years there, I took exactly ONE class that had to do with physical distribution.

As I began my screening for the co-op program, it soon became obvious why the school added the class in physical distribution to the curriculum. Because the coordinators (I had four separate ones between 1981 and 1985) would continually try to push me into accepting at least one co-op stint with the Stop and Shop/Bradlees distribution center in Readville.

Now, I had absolutely NO interest in pursuing physical distribution as a career, so I managed to steer totally clear of those co-op jobs. And, based on discussions with friends who took such assignments, I got the impression that it was a horrible place to work - even for a short time.

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I miss Bradlees

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I miss Woolworths too. Everything is upscale now and upscale equals boring. There was always something interesting to find in a nook or cranny of Bradlees or Woolworths or Zayre.

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Need to go to less upscale parts of town

For instance, there are a couple of Latino stores on the south side of Broadway in East Somerville that are full of nooks and crannies and obscure goods. Also, check out the dollar-store chains.

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Yes!

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We have a few of these here in Chelsea. BD's Discount, is the biggest. And it's also a chain (which started here in Chelsea too).

But the Chelsea store is several buildings combined so lots of nooks and crannies. Lots of cheap stuff to buy. Some of it is decent, some of it is just imported garbage. But still fun to go in and see what they have (and support a local business while you are at it)

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Ann and Hope

Another bargain spot.

Can always go to Ocean State Job Lot for your random items needs.

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It was better at Fretter. And

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It was better at Fretter. And Caldor, and Lechmere, and Ames, and Somerville Lumber. Tweeter, anyone? Zayre?

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Tweeter! Got my forst real

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Tweeter! Got my forst real steroe there way back in the turntable days.

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Bradlees

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I learned to drive in a Bradlees parking lot - since they were closed on Sundays.

The joys of my first driving - a 1979 stick shift VW Rabbit. Maroon with tan interior. Loved my mom's car!

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I thought trucks like that

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I thought trucks like that had governors to keep them from getting up to 88 mph (to say nothing of 88 being exceedingly improbable on Huntington Ave).

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Maybe

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It used the Mass Ave underpass to get up to speed?

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But where is the kiddie ride?!

Cause that's all I can remember about Bradlees! But yes, I vaguely remember Ames too, Woolworth's (did they also sell fish and hamsters and such there, or is that a lingering childhood hallucination? I have this weird association of Woolworth's with goldfish), and even Somerville Lumber, as someone else mentioned. And Purity, with the Baybank ATM next to it...

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I don't know about hamsters.

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I don't know about hamsters.

I do remember the Woolworth's in the next town over from where I grew up. It was primarily a ground-floor store, but had an open, wide staircase to a few retail aisles in the front half of the basement. That was where they had birdseed, fish food, I'm pretty sure sold cages & tanks, probably sold the fish & parakeets (really can't remember). So, hamsters wouldn't be surprising.

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Most, but not all, Woolworths stores

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had a pet department that sold hamsters and goldfish. I can still recall that "icky" smell of hamster cage chips.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Woolworths was also the exclusive seller of AHM HO trains and structures. In the Boston area, Ann and Hope broke that monopoly starting about 1974, as they also sold AHM (at lower prices than Woolworths) between Thanksgiving and New Years.

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Monkeys

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I vaguely recall that the pet department in Raymonds on Washington Street in downtown Boston (not yet christened Downtown Crossing) actually had MONKEYS. This would have been circa 1970 that I saw it, not long before they closed. I'm almost certain of it. Now that my memory is opened up to this, I think some Woolworths had monkeys too for a short time. We would go "look at the monkeys". Can anyone else confirm this?

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Sounds plausible

Since it turns out I'm not crazy for remembering fish and hamsters, you're probably not crazy for remembering monkeys.

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Yes, there were monkeys

My father has told me about this, but he stated it was just one single monkey. He doesn't remember its name, but he recalls it being something unoriginal, like "Skippy." He said that his mother used to feed the monkey sour pickles and then cackle in delight at the puckered faces it would make.

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Had forgotten about the birds

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But now I also recall hearing that unmistakable chirping when in a Woolworths. In stores that had them, the pet department was always right next to the toy department.

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Turtles, too

Baby ones. You were supposed to be able to feed them on hamburger or the turtle food that Woolworth's sold, but the one I bought wouldn't eat either thing, and died.

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Hingham

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Hingham scored big in the 70s and 80s; we had a shopping center with Bradlees, Building 19, and Hoffmans. That was my priveleged upbringing.

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Retro Burlington has pics and ads for many of these stores

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Retro Burlington, a nostalgia website that just dropped this week, has photos of many of these stores and related ads from the local newspapers (Bradlees, Mammoth Mart, Almy's, etc). It was the project of former Eagle Tribune reporter and Burlington native Robert Fahey, and while it is Burlington-area specific, it's probably pretty relevant throughout the Boston area.

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Yes, it does

They say it's "just Burlington" now.

Kohl's would like you to think it's a discount store, but I'm not convinced. When stuff is on clearance, or there's a big sale, there are some good deals, but their regular prices aren't great.

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I wouldn't put Christmas Tree Shops

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in the category of a true discount department store, as most of the merchandise is too specialized and erratic. Ocean State Job Lot - perhaps. But only if you're willing to overlook the fact that the general quality of the merchandise there is far lower than what used to be available at an Ann and Hope, Bradlees, Zayres, etc.

And Job Lot clearly doesn't have the same "feel" as any of those 1960s to 1970s department stores. I'd say Job Lot reminds me more of the original Building 19 stores, where I always felt I needed a tetanus shot after shopping there.

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More Merchandise

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I wouldn't put Marshall's in the same category with Woolworths, Zayre, Bradlees, etc. Those stores had a far wider variety of merchandise.

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