Retail Relic: Ames Department Stores


Ames Logo

To those of us who grew up in the Northeast, Ames was Wal-Mart before there was such a thing. Ames was many things, but they weren’t glamorous: their stores were big emporiums with long rows of flourescent lights that sold plastic jelly shoes, cheap plastic bins for storing random stuff, and fiberboard furniture. But unlike Target, Wal-Mart, or even veritable old names like Caldor and Bradlees, Ames was ubiquitous. Every decent-sized town in New England had an Ames.

Ames’ history is a somewhat long and sad tale of a regional discounter that tried to stand up to Wal-Mart and other national chains. Ames began in 1958 out of a warehouse in Southbridge, Massachusetts as a store that attempted to bring department store goods to rural areas affordably. In their early days and even through the 1980s, Ames was located primarily in rural northeastern towns. Unfortunately Ames’ overzealousness was their undoing. A disastrous acquisition of faltering giant Zayre in 1988 caused Ames to go bankrupt and close many of their stores, and they spent much of the 1990s regaining their footing. By the late 1990s, Ames was finally again on solid ground. Unfortunately, Ames was also keenly aware of the march of strong competitors like Wal-Mart and Target and how many of their peers, notably Caldor and Bradlees but also Ann & Hope and Apex, were dying off quickly. Instead of making many much-needed re-investments into their aging stores, Ames acquired Hill’s department stores, giving them 467 stores stretching from Maine to Chicago. It was a risky, defensive decision that was an 11th hour attempt to build the kind of volume to fight Wal-Mart. Unfortunately Ames had not learned from their inability to absorb Zayre more than a decade earlier, and this second disastrous acquisition would sink the chain. Ames filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in August 2001 and announced they would be going out of business forever exactly a year later, in August 2002.

At the time of their death, Ames was the fourth largest discount department store chain in the United States. Because many of their stores were in rural areas or lower-tier plazas or strips–and because their stores varied wildly in size or quality–many of them remain vacant today. The occasion for this post is the return of the excellent Ames Fan Club Website, created and maintained by Chris Fontaine, a native of Dudley, Mass., not far from Ames’ birthplace of Southbridge. Fontaine’s ambitious mission is to try and visit every former Ames site and document it in photographs to create a comprehensive historical archive of the defunct retailer. There’s also a wealth of great other stuff, including some hilarious employee training videos (my favorite is a teambuilding video produced by the Glenmont, NY store wherein a young employee treats her coworkers to a rendition of “Amazing Ames” sung to the tune of “Amazing Grace”) and photos of the chain’s planogram building near their former headquarters in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. Due to server issues, the Ames Fan Club had been offline for several months, since before Labelscar even launched. Since we at Labelscar (or me, at least) are big fans of the fallen discounter, and we’re glad to see that the Ames Fan Club is back.

I’ve included some uncredited, undated (2001-2002ish?) photos of the former Ames store in my hometown of Middletown, Rhode Island. The building has since been razed, and is now home of a Home Depot store that’s set further back on the lot. The original site of the Ames store (which is very visibly one of the stores acquired from Zayre) is now the parking lot for the current Home Depot.

Former Ames in Middletown, Rhode Island Former Ames in Middletown, Rhode Island

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.

44 thoughts on “Retail Relic: Ames Department Stores”

  1. We almost got a Zayre here… then we got an Ames instead. Now that building is an AC Moore, Michael’s, and whatever ends up in the remaining portion of Media Play. There’s still an Ames building, sign and all, somewhere in the Poconos. I’ll try to take a picture of it next time I go there.

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  3. My town almost got an Ames in 1990 to compete with our 1985-built Kmart… Ames never built for some reason, and the lot is still cleared out. Ames would pull out of Michigan in 1992ish. We also had Hills, but none of our Hills stores stayed open long enough to become Ames (one did become Target though).

  4. I bought a goose-down comforter at Ames for $20. due to a register mistake. I hedgeed my bets and went back in to buy another and it, too was $20. I think I may have stumbled on one of the reasons that Ames in no more 😉

  5. Do forgive if this is a bit off-topic. I never seen an Ames in my life, but from everything I’ve read about them online from fellow retail-history geeks like myself, I can’t help but be reminded of my homestate’s own chain, PrangeWay, so a way, it’s related.

    For the unknowing who are not from the Upper Midwest, Prange Way (or also spelled PrangeWay, w/out the space) was a small regional banner, the discount-department store division of the H.C. Prange Co. (Prange’s) that resided in some downtowns and most major malls in Wisconsin, Michigan and the Rockford area of Illinois. They started in the basement level of the downtown Prange’s locations in Sheboygan, then at a later time, Appleton.

    In 1962, they decided to move this ‘bargain basement’ concept to a big-box form, thus Prange Way Discount Stores were born. In 1966, they had only a few stores by this time, noteably my hometown (Fond Du Lac) location, Appleton- West (The Marketplace Shopping Center), Green Bay- West (Green Bay Plaza Mall), and still holding operations out of the downtown Prange’s stores in Appleton and Sheboygan respectively.

    The 1970s and 1980s were their biggest period of growth, and by the mid-1980s, they had nearly 30 locations in the UP of Michigan, many of Wisconsin’s major cities, sans Milwaukee (had Arlans (stores taken by Target in 1981), and Zayre (lasted until Ames’ buyout) instead), one location in MN, and a few in the Rockford, IL.

    These are the locations I know of from looking at ad circulars and from memory, plus labelscars on former stores that have still not been turned into other uses. Many anchored small to mid-sized malls, others anchored strips.

    -In Wisconsin-
    — Appleton: Marketplace S/C (one of the older freestanding PW locations. It’s become a multitude of things since then, among them, Gold’s Gym and Big Lots.)
    — Fond Du Lac WI: Prange’s S/C (1966. Evolved into what is now Forest Mall. This location is now a Sears.)
    — Madison East: East Towne Mall (1971 w/ Prange’s. Closed in 1991, Prange expanded into former PW space just prior to Younkers’ buyout in 1992)
    — Madison West: West Towne Mall (1970 w/ Prange’s. Got their own store in the mid 1980s behind the mall in a new plaza)
    — Madison South: (Along one of the Beltline (U.S 12/151) frontage roads in a strip mall.)
    — Madison North: (Near the Airport in a strip mall anchored at the other end by a Kohl’s Supermarket)
    — Green Bay East: East Town Mall (1981, now Kohl’s.Department Store OfficeMax takes up where their store / mall entry was. Kohl’s moved from their original east-anchor location in the mall which is now a Hobby Lobby)
    — Green Bay West: Green Bay Plaza (now Office Depot, and Linens & Things)
    — Ashwaubenon: Prange Way S/C (now called Stein mart Plaza or Ashwaubenon Plaza)
    — Wausau: Prange Way Plaza (now a Foot Locker call center)
    — Manitowoc: Edgewater Mall (only store still vacant today, 1979-1980)
    — Oshkosh: Prange Way Center (Opened in 1985. Before this, it was a Copps Department Store/Supermarket ‘supercenter’ from 1961-1984.)
    — Sheboygan: **flagship store**: (A former Arlans Discount Store, became Prange Way in 1971)
    — Pymouth: FairView Mall S/C (early 1970s)
    — Sturgeon Bay: Cherry Point Mall. (1980s. Was a different discount store beforehand)
    — Superior: Mariner Mall (early 1980s)
    — Chippewa Falls WI: Chippewa Mall (This store and mall interior space gutted for a multiplex theatre)
    — Eau Claire: London Square Mall (1972)

    They also had plans to open stores in other small-town markets, but never came to become reality.

    -In Illinois-
    — Rockford: Machesney Park Mall (Closed 1988-1990) / Cherryvale Mall. (closed in mid 1980s)

    -in Michigan-
    — (Again I know of no specific locations, but I’d imagine they tried to break out into this region as well, since Prange’s had several locations up north of WI. I have a pic of an old Prange’s storefront at a small mall in Marquette, so perhaps they had a location in this city at another mall or plaza)

    -In Minnesota-
    — (I forgot their Minnesota store’s location, but I know they tried to break into this region. Unfortunately Target had a hold on Minnesota, so they probably weren’t around long enough, thus why I can’t remember).

    ( know I’m missing some locations, but those were the big ones I listed above.

    The 1990s were unkind, as Wal-Mart’s push into the Upper Midwest started to eat away their share of the market, as did the same things that plagued Ames. (ie: scanner problems, especially with overpricing items) that lead to lawsuits. Old outdated looking stores were another problem.

    H.C. Prange’s 1990 bankruptcy didn’t help either, this partially to blame because of the overall faltering department store market at that time (there were many consolidations in 1990-1991). They sold off the Prange Way division to a seperate management team, and also spun off their ‘specialty stores’ (id Boutiques) into another seperate division. It was also then that they ceased operations in all states outside of Wisconsin.

    By 1995, November, it was over, as they fell into bankruptcy. By May 1996, all stores were sealed shut.

    I dug into some archives of newspaper articles from 1995-1996, the final year for the chain. What I found out sort of, and didn’t (at the same time) suprised me a little. As part of a comeback strategy, they were going to roll out a chain-wide renovation program for all their stores, as well as build new ‘big box’ stores that were to have a hybrid ‘grocery / discount’ format, ala Wal-Mart Supercenter. Too bad, they went belly-up before this would have been realized.

    I sure do miss that chain. They didn’t have the nicest looking stores, but their prices were fair (not too high, not too low), they always had a sale going on every week, and just felt good to be supporting a store that was ‘our own’. (In fact, their final ad campaign was ‘Wisconsin’s Very Own” Prange Way) One of my childhood haunts because they were the anchor of my hometown mall which I went to often.

  6. One of the things that killed me about Ames is that when they failed to ingest Zayre’s, in the place I went to college (Brockport, NY) instead of moving the Ames into the newer Zayre’s building literally around the corner from the store, they kept the old, run down store instead. This would have forced Wal-Mart to go elsewhere, or to at least jump through more hoops, instead of just expanding the Zayre’s store when they came in 2 years later.

  7. I live in Dutchess County in New York State. I can think of 4 Ames that were near where I live. There is one in Carmel New York on route 6 that at least the last time I passed it was just an empty vacant old Ames. There was one on route 22 in Pawling that turned into an Agway when Ames folded and recently they gutted it out and made brand new storefronts that are currently empty but look pretty nice, much nicer than the Ames that used to inhabit it (Dingy!). There was another in Fishkill New York on route 52 but that too I believe has become a revamped strip mall? And yet another in New Paltz on route 292, but I think that is where the new Stop and Shop is. The only one I believe that still bears an Ames sign is the one on route 6 in Carmel, at least it did like a year ago. Ames was okay when I was a kid I guess, I lived quite close to NYC so moving upstate when I was a preteen, well Ames was a bit culture shock but it served the purpose as there was NOTHING here. Well maybe a Caldors & Bradlees (WHO? lol).. Jelly shoes and straight up junk is pretty much what Ames sold. But I do remember getting the original Nintendo Gameboy games there. And Tetris for the original NES. Ames, Caldors, Bradlees… I don’t have to tell you what store moved into this area to hammer the last nail into their respective coffins.

  8. The Ames in Torrington,CT is completely abandoned theres talks of Lowes moving in and plans of demolishing the store but so far still no activity.

    Ames was pretty decent low prices,good merchandise but some things never were improved,restrooms for example.

  9. I am from plymouth nh and my ames became a marshalls last year, and the marshalls is not very busy. I have seen many vacant ames over the years like many around buffalo new york and the one in wilkes barre pa, bloomsburg pa corning ny, binghamton, endwell ny, horseheads, ithaca, half of the cortland one vacant, wellsville, watertown ny, lowell mass, newport nh, east hartford ct, west hartford ct, meriden ct, etc etc. I wonder if some will even still be vacant in 2010. I was told that Hills was like Ames I never went to one. I went to zayre though and I remember finding as much there as ames more or less.

  10. The second Ithaca one (The former Hills) has been town down and the location will be a 14 screen movie theater for Pyramid Mall. The first Ames (the former Zayre store) is now a Big Lots and a TJ MAXX. As far as the smaller town Ames stores, such as Medina or Albion, there are only a couple of things that could happen with these stores.

  11. I am in Kalamazoo Michigan, and I can clearly recall our Zayre, Ames and Hill’s stores. We had two Ames and one Hill’s. One of the buildings is still standing and is now a giant indoor car supercenter. The other store was in a mall that was sadly demolished awhile back. The Hill’s store became a local grocery store and most of that building after being remodeled several times is also gone. My mom is a crafty lady and used to buy a lot of her supplies at Zayre’s and Ames. She still has a lot of her crafting supplies from those stores with their original labels on them. I miss that store.

  12. Where is the giant indoor car center in kalamazoo that used to be Ames?

  13. The car center is on Portage Road, just past Kilgore at the I-94 interchange. The building also housed a Builder’s Square, another piece of retail history long gone, after Ames.

  14. What Really Killed Ames?
    It is true that death of Ames is a sad story, but what makes it sad is that the arrogance of so few caused so many to loose so much.

    Ames was a great company, as one of the last people standing, I had a chance to see the whole fall from grace. IN 1999 the Media called us the Turn around of the decade, but within a few years we were Dead. Why? years earlier Ames had bought a weakened floundering company called Zayers, that soon led to bankruptcy and a long fight to recover. Within a few years of surviving chapter 11, the company Wizards decided to buy the Hills chain. Hills was a well run small chain of 150 or so stores that were facing the slowing economy of that day, the regional area of the Hills stores was such that they felt the softening economy much faster and harder than the North East. But the Wizards felt that the people running Hills were fools, and that they had all the answers. So began the final death spiral. Ames went from being a company with 300+ Million dollars in CASH reserves with NO debt to a company 500+ Million dollars in debt after the conversion of the former Hills units to Ames stores. Now within a short time it was obvious that the Thousand series stores as they were called were not producing and our debt was climbing. Eventually filing chapter 11 again but not surviving this time. The truth is these stores were never capable of producing the numbers the Wizards thought were possible. So what happened here is that a group of six or so people who wanted to be kings of the hill, ignored history and common sense and destroyed a very solid company and put 15,000 people out of work.
    For all of these efforts Ames did become the Third Largest Retailer in The Nation for a year or so, after buying up Hills, and the Wizards… Bigger and better salaries as they moved on to the next company to run into the ground.

  15. Zayre had put their energy into TJ Maxx and Hit or Miss,while niglecting their orginal business. I don’t recall seeing any new Zayre stores built after the early 70s, although there may have been a few. Zayre was not a very well run operation in their best days; you could always depend on them not to have advertised specials in stock even on the first day of a promotion. The stores tended to messy and short staffed. Zayre did manage to have very defined niches. They were a fairly good place for housewares. Their clothing lines had a strong following among city dwellers, esp. African-Americans. These were not Ames’ strengths and they managed to take a declining chain and run into the ground by failing to merchandise to Zayre’s core customers. They did manage to get Zayre out of markets like Nashville and Atlanta where they lacked critical mass, but they had a long learning curve in terms of what to do with the rest.

    Hill’s had built their business around blue collar rural customers. they were one of the last chains to take credit cards and based a lot of their business on layaway purchases. before Ames bought them, they acquired stores in places like Cleveland and Pittsburgh, near their main markets, but much larger places with more competition. It wasn’t successful. Although Ames ran somewhat similar stores, they didn’t know Hills’ markets and they probably hadn’t really mastered places like Cleveland which had had Zayre store bases.

    One of the many stock solutions to dealing with a failing company is to merge it with another company with problems. This never works, but businesspeople and investment bankers who supposedly know better have been making this misatake over and over again for decades.

  16. Ames was probably kicked in the butt by Wal Mart and sadly they did not survive!! Wal Mart SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. anyone remember a retailer called arlans discount department stores? i’m looking for some infomation on them, but can’t find ant but a couple old newspaer ads. one said they had 105 stores me to co. just wondering when and why they closed and where they where headquarted.

    i can remember shopping there as a child in the mid 70’s in wv. after they closed. it became a hart’s store part of the old big bear grocery store chain. then they store moved into a former sears store and made a combined big bear/harts. the old arlans store remained vacant for around 15 years til around 7 years ago when a gabrial brothers moved into it.

    you can email me if you want at with any information you have.

  18. i really didn’t shop much at ames after my local hills store in wv was bought by ames.what i remember the prices were higher and the merchandise wasn’t as good.

    too me it seems hill’s was a much better store. seems their buyers tried to buy items that were the same but different than what other stores had.

    i think people got caught up in the walmart hipe in the mid 90’s when it came to wv and left an old friend for a new one. but then again, if kmart was having trouble then it would be hard for most regional chains as well.

  19. What little I know about Arlan’s—they seemed to be based in Detroit and also had stores in Toledo. The Toledo store was gone by 1974. They probably went under during the consolidation of the discount store sector that took place in the early/mid-70s, with the growth of more national chains like K-Mart. Topps, Gaylord’s, and others either retrenched or went out of business at that time. Given the connection to Detroit, try Discuss Detroit bulletin board: The regulars know a frightening amount of detail about Detroit and its long gone institutions.

  20. Ames came to the Chicago market twice. First with the Zayre buyout, with Ames officially taking over in July 1989, then slowly converted the Chicago area stores toward the end of 1989, with the last of the stores being converted to Ames in March 1990. They filed bankruptcy a month later. 3 of the stores in my area opened in the early 70’s as Zayre, with the Gary Indiana (Black Oak sore on West Ridge Road, now Menards) opening in 1971. The Hammond Indiana store probably opened around the same time too at 165th Street & Columbia Avenue (now a Menards as well). Their Gary Indiana store (Miller) at Melton Rd (US 20) near Portage, is the only location that still closely resembles the original Zayre. It went from being Zayre, then Ames, to being a flea market, and now various small shops. That building is falling apart. The Kmart store next door closed their doors in 1994. That Zayre store opened between 1971 & 1974, as the Kmart store originally opened in 1973. The last location was in Merrillville Indiana at 61st Avenue & Broadway. It opened in 1978, and a completely different look from the stores that opened in the early 1970’s. This store only had windows on the left side of the store (similar to a couple of Mays Family Center stores that used to be in my area that opened in the 1950’s), and the sign was to the right of the entrance (whereas the sign was above the entrance at older locations). This site later became Menards, then they moved out, & UItra Foods moved from their old site to the old Zayre store.

    They were good stores to shop at in the early days. But Zayre let themselves get mismanaged, and filed bankruptcy, then being bought out by Ames, and Ames made many bad decisions. When they took over, the senior citizen discount was not allowed on sale merchandise, causing most of the senior citizens to flock over to nearby Venture. The cash register system was a disaster too. The Chicago area stores had registers that required entering the SKU #, then ask for price, instead of showing the price once the SKU was entered. So if the cashier entered the wrong amount, it accepted the amount, and if the item was on sale, and the regular price was entered wrong, it took the wrong price instead of changing itself to the sale price. They had the register system require manager overrides to void out the transaction, and that caused sales to drop drastically. They didn’t implement scanners in my local converted Ames stores like Venture did around 1987 or 1988. So the only time Ames was really busy was when they had their going out of business sale. The Hammond Indiana store was originally supposed to stay open, but when they finally did their first going out of business sales in June 1990, all 4 stores were on the list to close. They were gone by August 1990. For the Chicago market, Ames re-entered the market when they bought out 7 of 10 Goldblatts stores, and one of the locations they opened up in in Chicago was the 87th Street & I-94 (Dan Ryan Expressway) location, that they were at before. That site went from being Zayre (don’t know what they were before Zayre) to Ames, then to Venture, then Goldblatts, back to Ames. It’s now Burlington Coat Factory. When they bought out Goldblatts, they re-entered Gary Indiana again, but this time at the Village Shopping Center around 35th Avenue & Grant Street. That site was originally Montgomery Ward, until 1979, then was vacant until 1985, when Goldblatts re-opened in Gary, after the original Goldblatts went bankrupt. Ames re-opened that store in March 2001, and business was ok, but most people in the area (especially senior citizens) were bitter with Ames that most people wouldn’t give Ames a second chance. This time around, the problem was Ames sold their merchandise for much more than Kmart, and for some of the same stuff that could be found at Dollar General & Family Dollar, was also higher than Family Dollar & Dollar General. Then in August 2001, they filed bankruptcy again, and by January 2002, they left the Chicago market again. But unlike the first going out of business sale, Ames kept marking up the merchanside to where even after 50% off, you were just about paying regular price for the stuff, and eventually when they liquidated the entire company, most of the merchandise that never got sold ended up at Big Lots & various dollar stores.

  21. In the Philadelphia suburbs, I remember as a kid going to Korvettes (at the King of Prussia Mall), W.T. Grants (got my 10 speed bike there), Arlans, Woolworth’s, Two Guys and Jamesway, which became Ames. On the pricier side, I remember Gimbels and Wanamakers, both at the K. of P. Mall. Ahhh, the good old days!! These days, I refuse to go to Walmart, and go to Kmart. It’ll be a sad day when Kmart closes its doors forever.

  22. zayre, i remember them well, at one time i work as security for zayre, junk and more junk, managers not careing killed zayre, when ames came into the old zayre stores in florida, most people just could not adjust to the changes, i loved ames, good products at a good price, ames only lasted two years in florida before they shut down all the stores, i miss ames/zayre for their bargins and lunch counters. i don’t really shop wal-mart or k-mart anymore, target most of the time, it is to bad these companys can’t come back once gone. all most all of the old zayre/ames stores have long been torn down and memories gone forever.

  23. Feb.04,2010
    Whow what a loss to our community when we lost the AMES in Dover-Foxcroft,Maine.
    We now have a Shaw’s market there making three market’s to shop in for food. No department store except Family Dollar. Just wanted other former fan’s of AMES to how we miss you all. We will never forget the good friends we made while working to please our customers. Not all was great there as some of our Managers were a bit much to deal with,you all know who I mean.

  24. I/M interested in knowing more about Zayer. If they outsourced the merchandise they carred to other couttries. Paid their employees fair pay, made contributions to charities? anything you can tell me will be useful.

    Thank you,

  25. I remember Zayre’s. I live in the N.E. Ohio area. I loved Zayre’s. I shopped Ames too. But had to return most clothing due to it falling apart. Ames developed a very bad reputation in our area. They opened one in Barberton, Ohio. I shopped there. It was open for about 18 months before it closed. Then they reopened at another location close to Barberton. At that time, they opened about 12 stores in our area. As soon as they opened all of them, they started closing. The one close to Barberton was there the longest (about 1 yr).

  26. Worked at Zayer’s in Somersworth, NH in 1987 & 1988. Great co-workers. Terri, Ron, Dennise, Barbara, Grace, Sharon, Cindy, Phyllis, Vinnie, Connie. I worked there when Ames bought the company. Nothing changed while I was there, Came back to NH for a visit in the late 90’s. Ames had moved around the corner to where the Zayer’s building had been. A few co-workers still were there. My friend told me it closed down shortly after that.

  27. @Rob,

    I have to agree. I was with Ames for many years in management. I was in one of the smaller yet extremely profitable stores. We should never have bought Hills. Ames could not compete in the larger markets and they had to know that. GREED, nothing more. Ames could have just closed the stores in the bigger areas that were not making it, but kept the profitable ones open, like the ones in the small towns that had no competition. The store in Saranac Lake, NY for example, was an over 10 million dollar a year store! However, Joe, the CEO, was in some hot water that only total bankruptcy would get him out of. Because of HIS screw ups the whole company and all the employees had to suffer. He did not care one iota that we all lost our jobs, he was only concerned about HIS neck. It has been 8 years since Ames closed and hardly a day goes by that someone does not tell me how much they miss it. We have NO store in our town now or in other small towns where there was an Ames. We must drive an hour now just to buy underwear. It was Joe and corporate greed that screwed us all over.

  28. We used to have an Ames out here in North Huntingdon, PA. The building was razed in 2004 and a giant Target came a year later. All that I remember about that store now was its obnoxious dark green color.

  29. I was the Human Resources Administrator and Store Trainer for the Brattleboro, VT location of Ames Department Store. Vermont is rural, period. Not a huge applicant pool to work with, and many of our employees had been employed here two even three times before. It was a struggle to keep good employees and customers because of dismal atmosphere, non-interest of making things good, correct, and right by everyone involved, and we never had a refit. Joe Etorre was more interested in ignoring his mistakes (and thinking he had the goods to challenge Walmart), than improving what he already had in front of him. All of the buildings Ames occupied were small and inferior (our roofed leaked, and was never fixed), and in their effort to keep overhead and manhours low, we were always understaffed. This is no way to run a store, much less a business! I was there until the end, and the end was no surprise. And yes, the training videos were embarrassing to show new employees.


  31. @TIFFANY, That wont happen,believe me there are many stores i wish would come back but wont happen,Bradlees,Caldor and even better stores thanks to Macys who took away STERNS,ABRAHAM AND STRAUS, JORDAN MARSH AND FILENES

  32. There were 4 Ames store within 50 miles of where I live on the Delmarva Penisula. One was in Fruitland,Md which moved to Salisbury,Md when they took over the Zayre store. Another was in Seaford,De. Another in Pocomoke City,Md and one in Onley,Va. They are now a Ollie’s, Big Lots,Tractor Supply, and Sears in that order. And aside from the Tractor Supply that I’ve never been in they are dumps. From what I’ve read about their history stupid business decisions brought them down. My mother loved the Ames’ store and I can remember well shopping in there for Star Wars toys.

  33. I remember our Ames store here in Plymouth, Indiana. We had a very good store here, my family shopped there alot, more than what we do at our local Walmart. We would spend hours in there shopping and just chatting with other local people.
    I remember the seasonal room and the toy section, I still remember the layout of the store, so many good stores are gone now, but then greed and lack of common sense has caused this country to go into the crapper, it is sad.
    I don’t care what others say, our Ames was a very good place to shop.

  34. I worked at the Corporate office in Rocky Hill. They brought in a new CFO named Rolando DeAguire. This Cuban single handedly put the company down the drain and put 22 thousand people out of work. He came in and took over and fired management as he saw fit. He is the single reason Ames went under. At the time he arrived the company was a 2 Billion dollar company and stock was doing well. This guy spent years afterwards selling off Ames assets and then went on to other companies to ruin them also while making millions himself. Shame on you Rolando!

  35. I was just a kid at Rogers’s High School back then, but wasn’t the Ames in Middletown (off East Main Road) originally a Zayre’s?

  36. @Jane Arend-Denko, Every week I think of the Brattleboro VT and Walpole NH Ames stores and how much I loved their Crafts & More section and reminisce about the all the great craft treasures I found in your stores… Walmart doesn’t even come close to the craft items that Ames had and the sales help were always helpful…

  37. I miss the old department stores Ames bradless and freezers here in bangor me back in the 80s
    They had the best go-bots that was some good old
    Memorys my dad worked for them

  38. Can anyone tell me what date in 2002 that Ames closed in Wiscasset, Maine? It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
    Ruth Stone

  39. I remember when Ames used to be in my neighborhood. It was on Annapolis Rd. here in Baltimore in the same shopping center by the Food King. I was about 10 years old when they closed down. I can still remember the store music on the radio intercom whenever they would try advertise one of their products to consumers. Now, that Ames is a Roses. They sell about the same stuff as Ames, but they’re from the same company as Maxway.

  40. @Chris Whittaker, the last time I was in Brockport, a couple of years ago, I noticed the entrance and exit signs to the plaza where Zayre’s used to be were still there.

  41. I remember my local Ames closing, it was in the Copaco plaza in Bloomfield, CT. That’s back when we also had a Walbaums grocery store. But now stands a Burlington Coat Factory in place of Ames and a Stop abd Shop in place of Walbaums. The Ames sign for the Rocky Hill Headquarters is still there, sort of historic time piece.

  42. @Michelle B, It still seems like there is an opportunity for someone to create that chain (the Ames of small towns), especially up that way when you have a huge area which, while not heavily populated has very little in the way of stores. After all, if you have to drive an hour from Saranac, there have to be other towns where that is even longer.

    Seems like the idea was good when they created WiseBuys (which was in Tupper as well as several other places) – now why they let a certain person be involved, after his several other failures, well…. – Mentioned in a post below as Roses – maybe some(several) of the towns up in the North Country should get in touch with that company – those stores have some similarity with Ames and would work well in many areas in NY – they are in PA & OH so not too far away.

  43. @Matt, Prange Way was awesome. I lived between the Madison South and Madison West locations and shopped both of them.

    They sold cool, inexpensive clothes and for me, were really a one stop store.

    Haven’t thought about them in a while. So this year we remember them on their 20th anniversary since closing. Gone but not forgotten

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