The Kids Are Alright

2001 shot of the Mall at Chestnut Hill in Newton, Massachusetts

My love for all things retail goes back as far as I can remember, to when I was a kid. Much of my love of vintage mall accoutrements extends to fond memories of being a kid, going to those big, exciting malls packed with great stuff. Just being out in the world, in what were then the biggest and most exciting places around, seemed great.

Those of us who felt this way (and from what I’ve experienced, amongst retail history geeks, it’s common) are not part of a dying breed. Check out what was posted today on Universal Hub:

The other day, Greta and I had just ended an expedition to one of Dedham’s many fine Big Box Retail Outlets when she tripped and scraped her knee. Ow, ow, ow! I helped her hobble over to the car, and as we drove home, of course she cried and yelled about how much it hurt, poor thing. But she’s one of these kids that, once she gets on a roll, she just can’t stop, so soon she was complaining about everything else that was bothering her:

I’m hungry! I’m thirsty! Why’d they have to close Filene’s, anyway? Why does Macy’s buy all the good stores and close them down?

Um, what? She’s upset about Filene’s closing? What?

That’s right, even the children of the 2000s are caught up in retail nostalgia. But it gets even better–if you read the comments, others weigh in by reminiscing on such long-forgotten mall wonders as penny fountains and conversation pits, and people pine over long-departed chains like Almacs and Ann & Hope.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, they’re talking about Newton’s Mall at Chestnut Hill, which we’ve covered ’round here before.

Author: Caldor

Jason Damas is a search engine marketing analyst and consultant, and a freelance journalist. Jason graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a minor in Music Industry. He has regularly contributed to The Boston Globe,, Amplifier Magazine, All Music Guide, and 168 Magazine. In addition, he was a manager for a record store for over two years. Currently, he focuses on helping companies optimize their web sites to maximize search engine visibility, and is responsible for website conversion analysis, which aims to improve conversion rates by making e-commerce websites more user-friendly. He lives in suburban Boston.

5 thoughts on “The Kids Are Alright”

  1. Upset that Filene’s is gone? Me? yeah but it’s not as half of upsetting of when G.Fox ceased it’s operations in Connecticut.

    It signalled the beginning of the end of major Connecticut-based retail businesses.

    The names D&L,NU-Stars,Sage-Allen come to mind.

  2. What was NU-Stars? Sounds more like a talent show than a department store.

  3. LOL you have to admit it is a funny name but what NU-Stars was, was a Connecticut based discount department store, a semi-warehouse style store that was probably founded in the 60’s during the discount department store craze.

    It was also called Star’s Department Store by some. It had locations in West Hartford,Wallingford,and Torrington. (note these are the only locations I know of there may have been more)It’s format was basically this imagine a large sized store with a high ceiling that hasn’t been renovated since the 60’s(complete with large circular air-ducts and large gaudy neon signage ). Now imagine this store PACKED with merchandise to the max. store shelves EVERYWHERE with some shelves almost high as the ceiling. The variety consisted of this: toys,clothes,dishes,furniture,and possibly appliances. The layout was this clothes near the front and center,majority of the rest of the merchandise in shelves surrounding that in shelves and to the left, and the rest of the merchandise over near the back of the store.

    If your still clueless think of a store along the lines of Two Guys,Sky City,or Mammoth Mart.

    What was great about this store was the prices everything was cheap and affordable(plus the tags actually displayed the prices sans-barcode)

    The whole chain slowly closed over the years West Hartford in 1970,then Wallingford, and then finally in 1997 the longest lasting one in Torrington (the location I used to shop at) closed.

    I always called the store “Star’s” but in reality it was called “NU-Star’s” (per a price tag I still have) I still have no clue what the “NU” meant to this day.

    Here’s a picture of a former Star’s Department Store (that became Caldor then Ames until they went under) that as far as I know still standing

  4. That Star’s store looks like some sort of hybrid design, like Vaenture-meets-Best-Products-with-a-side-of-Montgomery-Ward.

  5. Hi me again, I’ve found new info on Star’s.

    First off I was mistaken on the when Star’s in West Hartford closed it was sometime between 1972 and 1973 it closed, because I’ve recently saw an ad on the Caldor Rainbow that is dated from being 1972. I’ve also found out from some response on that blog that the store was severely burned in a fire (what caused it has been yet to be known to this day) which is probably why they closed down and had it refitted on the inside and the outside for Caldor to lease it. The store style in that photo therefore belongs to Caldor. I also have some sad news about that relic it’s being torn down for a Shoprite as we speak.

    I still haven’t found when and why the name changed yet.

    I also found out who owned them, and according to this article (I’m very sure it’s the same chain) Star’s had 6 stores total at it’s height three in New York, three in Connecticut.

    Unfortunately I can’t find any pics of their stores on the internet, the closest I got was a 1991 satellite image of the Torrington store which hardly shows any detail from that far out, sigh.

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