Mar 31, 2018

Hazleton's Zombie Department Store

Standard Speaker - July 28, 1989

These days, it's not uncommon for a Spirit Halloween shop to temporarily take up residence in the vacant building of a store that had closed months or years earlier.  However, the Hazleton area had its own zombie retailer throughout the 90's.  It's called Ames Department Store.

Ames first appeared in Hazleton when they purchased the entire chain of 392 Zayre's stores in the United States in 1988.  They finally got around to converting the store in the Laurel Mall from Zayre's to Ames in November of 1989.

Standard Speaker - December 17, 1993

The rebranded Ames store in the Laurel Mall lasted less than five years.  They closed up shop in February, 1994 and were immediately replaced by K-Mart, which moved across town from their old location in downtown Hazleton to occupy the Laurel Mall anchor store. 

I was living in Florida at the time, and by the time I came back to the Hazleton area in the mid 90's, I just assumed that the entire Ames chain went out of business.  However, they were still chugging along and would soon replace another failing department store in town.

Standard Speaker - November 14, 1998

Hills Department Store was the main store in the Valmont Plaza for roughly a ten year span from the mid 80's to the mid 90's.  I'm not exactly sure when it closed, but the building re-opened for business in the fall of 1999 as an Ames Department Store.

I didn't even know that Ames still existed at this point, but their acquisition of the Hills Department Store chain made them the fourth largest retailer in the United States (behind Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target).

Standard Speaker - November 11, 2000

The second revival of Ames in Hazleton ended even faster than the first.  The Valmont Plaza location operated for less than a year and a half and closed its doors for the last time in February, 2001.  Within 18 months, the chain filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and closed all of its remaining stores.