Hey My Backlog's Exactly 3 Years Now!

Oddly satisfying coincidence here- my schedule lines up so that this post, which will be my last for 2020, also happens to be the last of my 2017 photos. For it, we're going 100% Delaware- first, we're finishing off that adventure we started to the state last post, then we're going to be getting into some stuff from Delaware County PA. Not that it was intentional or anything. I just happen to frequent both places.

ACME, Claymont, DE
This location opened in 1967 and closed after their other location in town expanded in the 90's. It was split up between 6 smaller stores, most of which were closed by 2013 when Aaron's moved into the right side and redid the façade. They closed earlier this year, pre-pandemic.
The gap between Aaron's and the smaller tenants on the left was gutted out, exposing the original ceiling. The blue beams aren't from ACME, so unless somebody opened up and painted the ceiling in a narrow slice of store like this, there must have been a tenant that took up the whole store in between ACME and whenever it was split up.
Eckerd/Rite Aid, Claymont, DE
Eckerd opened here in 1967 and was later sold to Rite Aid. The façade was redone in 2013, but aside from that Rite Aid's kept investments here to a minimum. With Aaron's next door now closed, I'm wondering if they will be relocating to the larger space.
Arby's, Claymont, DE
It looks like a newer restaurant, but this actually opened in the 70's and was heavily remodeled circa 2010. 
Kinney Shoes/Goodwill, Claymont, DE
This is one of the few instances where a side view is better than a frontal. Goodwill boxed out Kinney's front awning, though it is still there. The back angle and diamond-shaped cutout from the brick at the top remain intact. Usually I'm not too interested in shoe or clothing stores, but Kinney's design was so distinct I get excited when I find intact examples.
McDonald's, Claymont, DE
The rare green mansard! McDonald's opened this location in the early 2000's. Unfortunately, it didn't keep the look long after I got the picture. They McBoxed it in 2018. Interestingly, they left the existing brick walls completely alone, but didn't use brick on the new parts to match.
Flying A/Getty, Claymont, DE
This station opened as a Flying A in the 50's, and was taken over by Getty not long after. They stopped selling gas in 2015, but kept the auto center open. Notice how the plaster under the canopy is looking a little rough- it collapsed soon after. The auto center is still open, but the area under the now semi-open-truss canopy is fenced off.
Gino's/Boston Market & A&P/SuperFresh/Food Lion, Claymont, DE
This center first opened in the 60's, featuring an A&P supermarket anchor and a Gino's Hamburgers in the parking lot. Gino's became a Boston Market in the 80's. A&P expanded and remodeled in the 70's, converted to SuperFresh in the 80's, and relocated to the location seen last post in the 90's. Food Lion opened in the space in 2011 after a major renovation, finally removing the metal A&P façade. They remodeled in 2019. This sits close to the PA border, and since Delaware cuts into Pennsylvania, this is actually their second northernmost store (after Mercersburg PA, which sits 0.037 degrees [2.5 miles] north... and several more degrees west of here)
Wawa, Claymont, DE
One of the few remaining old logo stores, Wawa's been operating here since the 80's. They recently opened a new location on the other side of I-95 from here which I thought would have replaced this, but that does not seem to have been the case.
Tri-State Mall, Claymont, DE
There haven't been too many changes since my last visit here, but it's good to check in every once in a while. Levitz Furniture is still abandoned, and in a little worse shape than last time.
Large portions of the roof were missing last time, but now you can actually see it from the outside.
It looks like somebody has been cleaning up the pieces of roof that fall, probably for liability reasons. If I were to bet, I don't think there's any practical shot at saving this building.
I'd say about a third of it has fallen in, considerably more than last time.
The Wendy's next door is still vacant but not looking nearly as bad.
The stairway from the lower strip mall to the upper enclosed mall is locked now. Burlington, the one remaining tenant up top, moved to the old Sports Authority in Wilmington in 2017.
For as dead as the upper mall is, the lower part was actually still fully occupied at the time of my visit.
Between the vestibule and the sun glare, it was hard to get a good view inside the old Burlington.
There is something interesting going on with the old Kmart though- New Hudson Facades, a local startup formed specifically to make the facades for New York's Hudson Yards towers, has repurposed it and the parking lot as a storage and logistics center for the pieces they make in their nearby Linwood PA facility. It looks like a temporary use since there is still a long-term plan to redevelop the mall, but it's still making good use of an otherwise vacant building in the meantime.
They kept Kmart's interior intact, and even left the remaining decals on the doors. 
The only changes they appear to have made to the building itself was the addition of large garage doors on either side of the building. 
Eckerd/Rite Aid, Claymont, DE
Rite Aid sadly closed this location not long after my visit due to the proximity to a few larger and newer stores, but it kept Eckerd's 80's neon décor up until the very end. At the time of its closure, it may have been the last surviving example of the look. The few other unremodeled ex-Eckerds seem to all have their 2000's "Squiggles" décor.
The product signage appears to be original to the décor as well.
I had a few bad pictures in this set, but I figure they're still worth including. I did have a better one of the Pharmacy that I posted on Flickr the day of my visit.
Eckerd replaced some of the aisle markers more recently, but even the newer ones are a kinda rare find, as in most of the other unremodeled Eckerds, Rite Aid has put in their own aisle markers.
The food aisles didn't get any neon signage
Instead, they got blue stripes and product pictures. It's kinda reminiscent of an early version of the squiggles décor, with thick, straight stripes instead of thin squiggles. This end of the store also appears to still have the original aisle markers. 
The product imagery really helps date the décor. Getting rid of these would probably have modernized the store quite a bit, but I'm glad they didn't.
The store was pretty narrow. Between that and its age, I wasn't surprised to see them pull the plug on this one.
Home Depot, Claymont, DE
Home Depot opened as an expansion to the shopping center in 1999. Its addition alone more than doubled the size of the existing center, but in spite of that it isn't a terribly large location.
I noticed in the back rooms, one of the original mercury vapor lights survived (though it's not in use)! I vaguely remember when all their stores had that kind of lighting, but sometime in the 2000's they switched to fluorescents. 
Otherwise the store looks more or less like every other Home Depot inside.
Wawa, Chadds Ford, PA
Wawa opened up here in the mid-2000's. It was remodeled to current standards in mid-2017. Since it's a larger location and close to their headquarters, they tried something unusual- adding a pub so they could sell beer and wine. Some stores in other states sell beer, but as far as I'm aware, this is the only one in the chain that carries wine. They did try this in the 2000's at the larger one of their UPenn locations, but allegedly lost their license after getting caught selling to minors. More recently, they've opened two new locations in Philly with seating areas, making me wonder if they're anticipating expanding this concept in the future.
Bryn Mawr Trust, Paoli, PA
BMT opened here in the 80's, and underwent a massive remodel to this look in 2010. It received the current logo in 2016.
Saxby's/Verizon/Skinny Pizza, Paoli, PA
Like Quiznos, Saxby's coffee went on a massive tear of expansion in the mid 2000's and peaked at 51 locations nationwide before going bankrupt in 2009. Most locations, this included, closed during that time. They were bought out and their headquarters relocated from Denver to Philly. At that point, only a handful of stores in Philly, one in Georgia, one up in New England, and one in Georgetown remained open. In the past few years they've bounced back and opened a number of new ones, but all only in the nearby area. Sadly, they've taken a major hit during the lockdown- their website currently only lists 5 locations, compared to the 24 they had before. The good news is they don't look like they're giving up- last week they were in the news for doing a toy drive in south Philly, and I can only find one confirmed permanent closure (the Rittenhouse Square location). I'm holding out hope the rest are still just temporarily shut. Wow, that was a long sidetrack. So anyways, this became an independent coffee shop for a year or two after Saxby's bubble burst, before becoming a Verizon store. Verizon moved across the street a few years later, and it became a Skinny Pizza in 2017. They were another interesting chain- they were a company from NYC who started out selling frozen pizza in supermarkets. They opened their first 3 retail locations in 2014, and peaked in 2017 with eight locations (3 in NY, 2 in PA, 1 in CT, 1 in TX, and one in Saudi Arabia) open and another planned for Exton PA. That was the last time their website was updated. If Google Maps is right, currently they're down to two locations, both in NY. This one closed in 2018 and became Nom Nom, a local Japanese restaurant chain. This location didn't last long, but didn't go out of business either- Sushi Nami up the street from here was evicted from their building this year to make way for the Paoli Station expansion and bought this location so they wouldn't have to close.
Swiss Farms, Media, PA

Drive-thru dairy Swiss Farms started out in the 60's and quickly grew to 10 stores by 1972. It maintained that number for a decades, neither opening nor closing any locations. Then, in the 2000's, they tried expanding. They opened two new ones in Delco (where all of the original locations were), two in Chester County, and another in New Jersey. One of the Chester County ones and the NJ location failed quickly. The other Chesco location held on for a while, but became wholesale only in 2016 and closed altogether a couple years later. Interestingly, it reopened last year as a full-line location. The store pictured here was one of the originals and opened in 1969. I was shocked when it closed in 2019- it is the first, and so far only, Delco location or original location to close.

CVS, Drexel Hill, PA
CVS opened this location in 2015 on the site of an old Honda dealership. Honda had relocated the year before to a former GM dealership in Springfield, giving them a much larger lot. This site's barely big enough to hold a CVS, let alone a car dealership.
Food Fair/PLCB, Drexel Hill, PA
This building was originally home to a Food Fair, which opened in 1951. I'm not sure it made it to the Pantry Pride days, but seeing how they went under in the 80's and this space was subdivided circa 1990 I wouldn't rule out the possibility. Most of the space became local chain restaurant JB Dawson's, and the back part of the building became a State liquor store. Dawson's closed in 2012, and the space was quickly taken over by Chickie & Pete's, another local chain.
Evans/Thrift Drug/Eckerd/Tuesday Morning, Drexel Hill, PA
This opened in 1951 as Evans Drug, a small pharmacy chain Thrift Drug bought out in the 90's. It was swallowed up by Eckerd in 1997, but closed prior to the Rite Aid buyout. Tuesday Morning opened in the space in 2010, and got the new logo when the center remodeled in 2017. I'm pleased to report this location survived their bankruptcy despite locations in this area taking a heavy hit.
Return to the Springfield Walmart
Last time I visited this store, it had just remodeled to the Cheap Impact décor. I happened to catch it right after another remodel again, this time to the Black 2.0 look. The middle part of the façade was repainted from brown to blue, but the rest of it kept its original colors to fit the rest of the shopping center. With the record I currently have with this store, I'm guessing it will have the Airport décor by my next visit.
They didn't peel up the floor tile here! With the amount of changes they've made to this old Klein's building over the years, maybe they've decided it's better to keep the floor scars covered up.
Walmart doesn't like to recycle buildings very often, especially multistory department stores like this. They have the ground level, Burlington and Jo-Ann split the basement, and a Planet fitness sits on top. 
My favorite thing about the Black décor were the new spotlights they added to produce. They look sharp and really brighten the place up.
Otherwise, I really don't see much difference between Cheap Impact and Black aside from the change in color scheme. Perhaps that's why they were able to remodel this store so quickly.
While this store isn't a Supercenter, it does come equipped with a full grocery store. Because of the building constraints, it's on the smaller end for a Walmart of this era.
My usual Walmart, the 2003-built Exton location, isn't a Supercenter either and might actually be bigger than this, but it doesn't have any of these grocery service departments. I think this stands to show how Walmart's business model has changed over the years.

For this week, I'm leaving you with a catchy song from Foreigner that's been stuck in my head all week.
Happy New Years! Let's hope 2021 is a little less weird.


Comments

  1. Love the vintage Eckerd décor photos! Glad you got that place documented. I'm especially a fan of the totally outdated product imagery. That stuff is awesome.

    It's neat to learn about Saxby's and Skinny Pizza, too. And Happy New Year!

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    1. Thank you! I was so excited to find that.

      They are interesting chains, I'm especially curious to see what happens with Saxby's post-corona.
      Thanks! You too! :)

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  2. I enjoy seeing the old Eckerd decor when it pops up from time to time. While just seeing the 2000's "Squiggle" stuff is fun, the neon is an especially rare treat! Glad you got some pictures of that before the store closed!

    Actually, all the Florida Wawas sell wine in addition to beer too. Wawa's wine offerings are much smaller than the beer selection (which has a big walk-in cooler in the back corner), but it's there.

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    1. Thank you! I believe we still have two squiggle stores left in the area, but they're hard to find too.

      That's interesting! Gas stations selling wine is such a far-out concept to me here, haha.

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  3. Those are great Eckerd images! It's too bad that Rite Aid closed, but at least you got some pictures of it while it was still open. Thanks for that. It's been so long since I've seen a 1980s Eckerd, probably the last one I saw was in person at one of our area Eckerd stores before they were sold to CVS in ~2004, that I had forgotten what they actually look like on the inside. Things are starting to come back to me after seeing those neon-like lights though!

    Speaking of Eckerd, CVS, and 2004, we had a small Honda dealership near me which relocated to a much bigger location many years ago. Eckerd decided to build a new store on that land where the old Honda dealership was. This store was being built when Eckerd sold their stores in this area to CVS. Since CVS already had a fairly new store just down the road a bit, they never actually moved into that Eckerd that was being built. The building served as a gym for a while, but that also closed. Here in 2020, it was converted into a small shopping center. Rather shockingly, Walgreens moved from a normal Walgreens location across the intersection into a downsized, sub-divided part of the Eckerd/CVS building. They're only using about a 1/3rd of the Eckerd and it's just a pharmacy store (though they are using the drive-thru built for Eckerd).

    So, yeah, we do have a Honda-CVS connection here in Houston, but only in a very odd way since it never was a CVS! Some early Honda dealers were quite small since they only sold about 3 models (Accord, Civic, and Preleude). Since Hondas sold very quickly back in the ~1980s, often for prices above MSRP, there wasn't a need for a big lot to store unsold cars. These days, Honda dealerships aren't much different from dealerships from other brands, but things were a bit different many years ago.

    A couple months back, I made a comment to a fellow retail enthusiast saying that it's pretty rare for anyone to photograph Home Depot/Lowe's stores and Sam's Club/Costco type stores even though those types of stores are still quite successful in an era of B&M retail failure. Of course, some people may not have memberships to Sam's/Costco to photograph them, but we figured these types of stores aren't popular to photograph because they're rather cookie cutter and they're pretty ugly warehouse type stores (granted, many modern supermarkets and discount stores look just about the same way...unfortunately, IMO). Thus, the photos from inside a Home Depot are rather unusual!

    I wasn't aware about the lights at Home Depot, that's a good observation. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but if you ever go to a really old Home Depot, like one from the 1980s, the metal beams in the ceiling are coated in a white texture spray. I'm not sure why they did that, but my guess is that since warehouse stores were not common back then, they tried to cover up some aspects of the warehouseness of the place. It didn't really work, metal beams look like metal beams whether they are spray coated or not, lol. I suppose this is why Home Depot stopped doing that in the 1990s. Also, the texture kind of looks like caked on dust, lol.

    Home Depots from the 1980s are a bit hard to find these days, of course, but we do have an old ex-Home Depot from the 1980s here in my part of Houston that has been a Burlington for about the last 25 years. Home Depot moved to a bigger location in about 1993, but then that location was relocated itself about 10 years later (the murder of a clerk at the store probably didn't help the reputation of that 1993 Home Depot store).

    Anyway, the Burlington still has the original 1980s Home Depot ceiling texture. I'll include some photos of it below if you want to see it. Hopefully you can make it out:

    https://goo.gl/maps/SMAf6vETDfn3nyKb8
    https://goo.gl/maps/e5PB7u2sLr6ZtEkz8

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad I could help jog your memory. I know I shopped at Eckerd on occasion before they were sold, but really didn't have many memories of it.

      It's interesting that Walgreens only took 1/3 of the building. We have an Eckerd around here that was under construction when Rite Aid bought them that has the standard Eckerd exterior, but is a completely normal 2007 Rite Aid on the inside.

      Glad you enjoyed the Home Depot ones! I usually don't photograph them as much since most of their stores are identical inside, but there were a few interesting things about this one. I believe that texture spray is meant to insulate the beams if there's ever a fire so they won't melt and collapse the roof. I'm not sure why they would have stopped, it seemed like a good idea. Home Depot really didn't show up in my area until the mid-90's so we don't have any like that. They did replace a couple of the earlier ones, like King of Prussia and Cherry Hill. KOP's a Walmart now and the old Cherry Hill one has been subdivided.

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    2. That's some good information about coating the metal beams to protect the structure in case there is a fire. Yeah, it is odd that they stopped coating them because that does seem like a good reason to coat them.

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