W T Grant

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Blair Bradford

W T Grant

Post by Blair Bradford » 24 Mar 2006 13:21

Does anyone else remember the old W T Grant chain? It went under in the 70's. My first job was at the Grants in the Cloverleaf Plaza in Concord NC. This store was one of the large Grant stores that was supposed to be 'just like Sears'. We had an auto service center, an interior decorator and sold appliances and furniture. They even tried selling panelling once...you remember - the old 70's panelling like the Brady's had? Toward the end, they decided to rebrand the large stores like ours and call them Grant City. They were scattered all around Charlotte. I know there was one in Gastonia and another in Hickory, but there was never a large one within Charlotte proper. After this name change came about, all the employees were struggling with remembering the new name. Once Sunday afternoon, one of the girls that worked in the credit department got on the PA system, to try and entice people to open an account. Very brightly, all over the store, we heard " Good Afternoon, Grant SH---Y Shoppers!" We were rolling in the aisles.....

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Post by jamcool » 24 Mar 2006 14:10

Grants was the first (around 1975) to go to "dime store heaven"..and Grant City was basically their last gasp to compete with KMart.

Remember these long gone 5&10s? Rasco; Sprouse-Reitz; Cornet; Kress; McClellan's; T G & Y; McCrory's.

One of the survivors is Duckwall-Alco, which is apparently thriving by building Alco discount stores in smaller towns where WallyMart won't go into (yet)

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Dave
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Post by Dave » 24 Mar 2006 19:46

There were W.T. Grant and later Grant City stores in Richmond. I remeber them well. One of the last Grant City stores is going to be demolished soon to make room for a Wal-Mart; right next to Regency Square mall.

In the 1980's I took a course in analyzing financial statements at the University of Richmond. The instructor used to pass out historic financials of a company and give you extra credit if you could guess whose financials they were - they were W.T. Grant's.

In a nutshell, the financial statements showed that a big contributing factor to Grant's demise was the extension of credit to about every warm body that came into the front door. The moral was that a huge increase in accounts receivable ain't necessarily a good thing.

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Here's part of what happened

Post by wnetmacman » 24 Mar 2006 21:50

In 1976, the majority of the W.T. Grant Co. was absorbed by Kmart. Grant was in bankruptcy at the time, and sold out to avoid liquidation. Kmart attempted to turn these stores into their own, but reportedly had problems integrating them into their system. Many of these stores remained open for some time. I found this picture at local.live.com:

http://local.live.com/?v=2&sp=aN.40.157 ... 0-%20Kmart_

This is in Norristown, PA, but Grant built many stores like this across the nation. This store is a carbon copy of one in Shreveport, LA that closed in 2003 on Mansfield Road, that opened as a Kmart in 1976. Interestingly, the auto center in this store was leased out to a transmission company, and was not a Kmart Auto Center.
Scott Greer

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Post by Jeff » 25 Mar 2006 03:05

WT Grant had a 2 level store in West Covina, CA as an anchor to teh Eastland Center.

After the store closed, the first level became an Office Depot store (after being closed for a long time) and the upper level was subdivided into mall shops. I remember the weird setup for the stores. A Mervyns store was added next to the former Grant spot.

Here is the location. Whats funny about Eastland, it was a former mall that is now big-boxed. but you can still see the remnants of the original mall.

Blair Bradford

Post by Blair Bradford » 25 Mar 2006 15:25

You're right about the credit program. We were constantly hounded to get people to apply for credit cards. I think, too, another problem with the company was that they couldn't decide if they wanted to be Sears or if they wanted to be Kmart.

The store in Concord where I worked sat empty for a long, long time. It eventually became a Brendle's catalog warehouse in the 80's, but that company too went under. After that, it was a Drug Emporium for several years before they went bust.

If any of you Ebay, take a look sometime at the Grant memorabilia that is available on there. Amazing to me that so much of the merchandise is left and is still in working order.

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Post by todd » 25 Mar 2006 16:41

There was a Grant's in Anderson, SC at Watson Village. It was huge and seemed to stay around a long time. It was far away from the main commerical area of town and the influence of K-mart. It slowly died (like all of them) and the building is now a local hardware store. Reminds me of Murphy's which opened in Anderson Mall many, many years ago and was eventually closed then demolished to make room for a mall expansion.

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Post by rich » 26 Mar 2006 00:31

Grant's suffered from spotty coverage in many places. They did okay when everyone had downtown stores and people shopped downtown, but they couldn't compete successfully with Woolworth or Kresge (or GC MUrphy on their home turf in PA) for the spots in the first generation of suburban shopping centers. They never seemed to get into malls, although Woolworth managed to get into a great many 1st generation enclosed malls and many small town malls. Even Kresge built mall stores---Woodfield Mall outside of Chicago was one of their last variety stores to open.

Grant's were more apparel-oriented than the other variety chains and sold less of the usual dime store stuff (stationary, gerbils, parakeets, cheap toys and kids books). From the mid-60s onward, they tried to sell home entertainment items and the like under their Bradford name---no one wanted this no name merchandise.

For a brief time in the early 60s, they offered S&H Green Stamps, the only variety chain to try trading stamps. They didn't help. The one significant legacy of Grant's is the Wm. T. Grant Foundation, which supports research on child development, education, and mental health.

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Post by danielh_512 » 27 Mar 2006 00:56

Grant City had a store on Industrial Blvd. here in Cumberland, MD. The store never became a Kmart, and in 1975, opened as a Hills, the only one ever in Maryland. It closed as an Ames in 2002, and still remains empty w/Ames signage on the store. Kmart must have known it would turn into a bad location, not wanting it even though they had no store in Cumberland, and wouldn't until 1981.

There was also a Grant's variety store 5 miles up the road in LaVale Plaza Shopping Center.

Kmarts that started as Grant's that I've been in:
Ellicott City, MD
York, PA (now closed)
Lancaster, PA (East side)
Weirton, WV
Front Royal, VA

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Post by marshd1000 » 27 Mar 2006 02:02

I do remember that here in the greater Seattle area seeing one WT Grant store, though I had never been in one. At Villa Plaza Shopping Center in Lakewood, WA (outside of Tacoma), there was a WT Grant store. I do remember that for at least 10 years or more, this store was vacant. Villa Plaza was a shopping center where there were various grouping of stores seperated by large parking areas. But in the late 1980's, it became Lakewood Mall and became an enclosed mall with the some of the stores from Villa Plaza remaing disconnected from the main mall at the outer edge of the parking lot. Anyway, after the enclosed mall was built, the WT Grant building became part of the mall and was occupied by a regional department store chain from Oregon called, "Emporium". This mall opened with much fanfare and boasted a Frederick and Nelson, Mervyn's, Lamont's, and Target in addition to "Emporium". Emporium was the first anchor store to close in the mall in the mid 1990's. Eventually all the anchor stores except Target closed. Frederick and Nelson eventually became a Gottschalks, which is still there. But since Lakewood Mall was not able to replace most of it's anchor tennants, the mall was torn down. Gottschalks and Target remain and the place is now called Lakewood Towne Center. It is now a power center but it is actually very similar to the old Villa Plaza in the fact that there is no mall style arrangement. It is basically a "Power Center" with a lot of "Big Box" stores. So what was a unsuccessful location for WT Grant became unsuccessful for quite a few merchants there. But it seems that Lakewood Town Center is doing well in it's new format!

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Post by marshd1000 » 27 Mar 2006 02:03

I do remember that here in the greater Seattle area seeing one WT Grant store, though I had never been in one. At Villa Plaza Shopping Center in Lakewood, WA (outside of Tacoma), there was a WT Grant store. I do remember that for at least 10 years or more, this store was vacant. Villa Plaza was a shopping center where there were various grouping of stores seperated by large parking areas. But in the late 1980's, it became Lakewood Mall and became an enclosed mall with the some of the stores from Villa Plaza remaing disconnected from the main mall at the outer edge of the parking lot. Anyway, after the enclosed mall was built, the WT Grant building became part of the mall and was occupied by a regional department store chain from Oregon called, "Emporium". This mall opened with much fanfare and boasted a Frederick and Nelson, Mervyn's, Lamont's, and Target in addition to "Emporium". Emporium was the first anchor store to close in the mall in the mid 1990's. Eventually all the anchor stores except Target closed. Frederick and Nelson eventually became a Gottschalks, which is still there. But since Lakewood Mall was not able to replace most of it's anchor tennants, the mall was torn down. Gottschalks and Target remain and the place is now called Lakewood Towne Center. It is now a power center but it is actually very similar to the old Villa Plaza in the fact that there is no mall style arrangement. It is basically a "Power Center" with a lot of "Big Box" stores. So what was a unsuccessful location for WT Grant became unsuccessful for quite a few merchants there. But it seems that Lakewood Town Center is doing well in it's new format!

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Post by ieguy441 » 27 Mar 2006 20:37

There was a WT Grant store in Hemet, CA in the early to mid 1970's that anchored "Grant Plaza" with the neighboring Stater Bros. By the 1980's, Sears had taken over the property and in 1999, the building was finally closed when Sears joined the Hemet Valley Mall. Since then, the building was remodeled into office space and it now houses the Welfare Office. Stater Bros was closed shortly after the ABS store buyouts and is currently being subdivided into more Civic space.

rrr

Post by rrr » 31 Mar 2006 14:36

Grants had quite a large store in downtown LaCrosse, WI before Valley View mall pretty much wiped out downtown. Grants was between Sears and Fantles Fifth Avenue. As I recall it had a full ground floor, a mezzanine with a lunch counter on one side with the bubbling bright colored drinks and a pretty fair tuna salad sandwich, and a basement with toys and, at Easter, plastic pens full of colored chicks and ducklings. I don't recall if the store included a second floor above the mezzanine, that may have been rented out as office space. There were 2 escalators, one at either side of the mezzanine. Exciting stuff for a small-town kid!

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Post by danielh_512 » 02 Apr 2006 22:01

It's a small world. That Norristown Kmart was less than 2 miles from my house when I lived in the Philly area. Had no idea it was a former Grant's. Genuardi's was right next door in that little shopping center.

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Post by runchadrun » 03 Apr 2006 00:50

I was only 5 or 6 when Grants went out of business, but I remember 2 stores on LA's Westside.

One was at Culver Center, on the Overland side near Washington. The sign was a tall prism-shaped tower with "Grants" on the top and that was on top of the building. (I mean that the sign was tall with a triangular cross-section.) It later became an independent discount store, I think called "Dollar Saver". I think it's now a Bally Total Fitness.

The other was on the corner of National and Sawtelle. It became a Pic n Save and for the longest time the handles on the door still said "W.T. Grant." It's now a Big Lots.

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