Monday, July 23, 2018

JCPenney Closing (Greenville Mall), Greenville, MS

Today's post highlights Washington County, MS, retail.
After a two months' wait, the blog returns its focus to the Greenville Mall today, for our promised look at the mall's JCPenney anchor liquidation. (If you missed my earlier post covering the Greenville Mall as a whole, please click here to check it out!) Last July, we looked at the JCPenney closure in the Oxford Mall, elsewhere in Mississippi. Greenville's store joined Oxford's, as well as three others in the state, in shutting down operations by the end of July 2017. Oxford and Greenville were the only two closing stores I visited in Mississippi, although I did visit another affected JCPenney in a different state; those photos will come to the blog eventually (possibly next July, with the current pattern I've got going :P ).

We're starting off with a view of JCPenney's mall entrance. This particular photo was featured back in my original Greenville Mall post as well. In case you missed that post, here's a quick history on this store: this space originally opened with the mall as Rose's in 1972, but Rose's closed only a short while later. Then, in 1976, JCPenney took over this space, relocating from downtown Greenville. JCPenney lasted here all the way until last summer, when it closed at the end of July 2017. The space now sits vacant.

I visited the store on July 12, 2017, when the liquidation was nearing its final stages. You can see in the previous photo that sales were up to 80% off throughout the store. In the shot above, we've entered the store, and are now looking at a directory conveniently placed by the mall entrance. The top of the map represents the store's exterior entrance, while the bottom (home to women's apparel) represents the mall entrance. For the sake of this post, I'm going to consider the mall entrance to be the "front" of the store - so anytime you see me say, for instance, "front right corner," I'm referring to that from the perspective of someone who has entered the store from the mall interior.

Straight ahead from the mall interior entrance is one of only two customer service counters to be found in this store. Just beyond that, near the center of the salesfloor (where the floor tile makes a diamond shape around it), is the store's jewelry counter. Store closing signs are visible throughout the place, but thankfully didn't seem too overbearing, at least in my opinion.

Moving on to the front right corner of the store now, home to yet more of the women's department. In this view we're looking out across women's apparel, parallel to the mall entrance. The same customer service counter we just saw in the previous photo is again visible here, while out through the mall entrance windows, you can also see a Rue21 store, which itself had closed not long before my visit.

One wall in the women's department (I believe this is the right-side wall, as viewed from the mall entrance) bore this large "Store Closing Sale!" poster near the ceiling. Below it, the amount of stock remained remarkably high, considering how far along the store was in its liquidation by this point. That said, there still were about two weeks or so remaining, and I'm certain that as the discounts rose higher, more and more customers made purchases.

Inching closer to the back right corner of the store, we find a strange setup: that sign points to the children's department being located clear in a separate room! Indeed, boys' and girls' clothing seems to have been located in an auxiliary or offshoot area, beneath a lower drop ceiling than the rest of the salesfloor and mostly sealed off from the other departments aside from two lone entry/exit points. (This is the first one; we'll see the other one momentarily.)

Here's a closer look at the entrance into the area that formerly housed the children's department. Unfortunately, I was unable to explore this room any further, as it had already been emptied out and closed off by the time of my visit. The store's remaining selection of children's apparel had been consolidated into the main portion of the salesfloor, as can be seen both above and in the previous photo. 

Located across from the entrance into the separately-located children's department is an area that, according to the directory seen at the top of this post, once was home to men's apparel, but had ceded its function as of the time of my visit to a fixture sale area. Several fixtures can be seen in the extreme foreground, while the rest of the shot looks back towards women's apparel and the front left corner of the store (the mall entrance side).

Here's a better view of the fixture sale area across from the former children's area. Note that this wasn't the only such fixture sale area in the store; fixtures were simply placed wherever a large empty spot could be found. Since this store dated back to 1976, I was hoping there might have been some interesting JCPenney antiques to be found, but no such luck - at least, not on this side of the store...

This view takes a look up the right-side actionway, again toward women's apparel and the mall entrance side of the building. While the store does look somewhat tired, it didn't feel nearly as dated to me as the Oxford JCPenney, and it also seemed to be kept very clean and tidy - an impressive feat for a typically-messy liquidation sale.

What little was left in the way of menswear was placed here, right beside the store's exterior entrance (that's the vestibule you see on the right of the pic, letting the natural light in). As noted earlier, I'm considering the spot I was standing in for this shot to be the back right corner of the store as viewed from the mall entrance, but if you were coming in through that exterior entrance, this would instead be the front left corner. (Am I making any sense with all this?)

Adjacent to the men's department is another entry/exit point to the offshoot children's area, seen here. If I'm not mistaken, this is located very near the store's exterior wall, facing the parking lot; in fact, I believe that is that exact wall that you see running down the left side of this photo.
The way this entry/exit point to the children's department was roped off allowed me a bit of a better view inside as compared to the one shown earlier in this post, but even then, I was still blocked from exploring any further. That said... it doesn't look like there was all that much to explore in here, anyway. Nearly all of the shelves and fixtures had been removed, leaving just the bare walls in most places, from the looks of it.

As with the mall entrance, a customer service counter sat straight ahead as customers entered through the store's exterior entrance; that's visible off to the right of this photo. To that counter's left sat some fitting rooms, which as you can see, had some updated signage. The fact that this store got some updates like that says to me that it may well have actually been doing well. After all, I don't think it was ever explicitly stated that the 138 stores JCPenney closed last summer were underperforming; rather, the statement was that the chain was trying to "shrink its footprint." A more recent (as in, last week) report from The Motley Fool suggests that the stores that closed simply fell victim to their size: "JCPenney's management has indicated that Sephora and appliances are critical for boosting sales per square foot. Many of the JCPenney stores that closed last year were targeted because they were too small to support Sephora shops and appliance departments." Unfortunate indeed...

I can't remember exactly where this wall is in relation to everything else in the store, but based on the clothing and (particularly) the stuffed animals in this shot, I'm thinking this was located in-between the two children's department entrances shown earlier in this post. (I must simply have taken this pic out of order from the rest of my circuit of the salesfloor). I thought it was interesting how the "Everything on Sale" sign had been split into thirds so as to read "Every/Thing/on Sale."

From the back left corner of the store, here's a shot looking (somewhat) across the back actionway, (somewhat) parallel to the store's exterior entrance wall facing the parking lot. Another set of fitting rooms is visible on the right of this pic, but I don't think they were seeing much use, given all of the non-clothing merchandise placed out in front of them! Indeed, this area appears to have been housing the remainder of the store's various home departments...
...while all of the salesfloor space formerly dedicated to the home departments, as seen here, has become almost exclusively home to fixtures for the fixture sale. This shot is looking down the store's left-side actionway, with the mall entrance once again off in the distance. With the exception of those stacks of toasters and Dutch ovens, this space has been set aside entirely for fixture sales.

At least I was able to have some better luck in finding a vintage fixture over on this side of the store: check out this relic! This is definitely an old... something or other. Anyone know what the heck this thing is?! :P  Looks to me like its use definitely involved cash somehow, though whether it served as a cash register or as some way to make change, I have no clue. And at $150, I wasn't about to take it home to investigate further, either!

That was pretty much the only fixture worth mentioning over here; the rest were more or less the same as could be found on the other side of the store, just some random clothing racks and display tables, for the most part. Here we're looking back across the fixture sale area toward the back left corner of the store, where a few pillows can still be seen for sale on those shelves in the background. Be sure to note the large "Fixtures & Equipment For Sale" banner seen at the upper left of the shot, too.

Briefly detouring to the center of the store now, for a look at how it was holding up. The jewelry counter just barely made it in on the right side of this photo; to its left - my focus here - was the women's accessories department. Looks like there was still a respectable amount of accessories to be had here, while jewelry - from what little I can see of it in this photo, anyway - looks to have been wiped out completely, by this point.

I made sure to take a close-up shot of one of the many support poles throughout the store that were bearing these notices. They read, "This JCPenney will soon be closing... but we'll still be there for you! We look forward to serving you online anytime at" What's especially sad about all of these JCPenney closures last summer is that, for the most part, online shopping is getting to be one of the only options for customers in the affected areas... the majority of the closures seemed to affect small, rural towns, where there are very few physical shopping options left. For instance, here in Greenville, the only major department store remaining is Belk (and even then, there have been rumors circulating of its closure, too).

Stepping out from center-store, here's a view looking toward the front left corner of the interior. As we find ourselves approaching women's apparel once again, some more merchandise makes its way into view. There's also another of those grammatically incorrect "Every/Thing/on Sale" signs present in this pic, as well as a trio of desks that may well have come from the door marked "offices" behind them.

Panning to the right, we see what remains of the store's shoe department, which was home to shoes for all customers: men, women, and "family," according to that one sign. (I guess you could buy matching shoes for everyone in the household? :P )  Then, off to the left...

...we find two openings, one leading to a restroom and the other to a mysterious upper level. The restroom was interesting to see, especially since the store directory does not list one in this spot. (Rather, the only restroom it reflects is the one located in the now-closed-off children's department.) Initially I thought that perhaps this restroom was employees-only before being opened to the public after the other restroom had its access blocked off, but then that wouldn't explain the presence of that recent-style "restroom" sign above the hallway.

Something that was for sure employees-only, however, was this staircase leading to the store's upper level, shown in close-up above. Obviously, I didn't venture any past this point, but based on those stairs alone, I have to wonder just how many cool relics could be found up there! (I also bet it was quite a pain trying to get all of the office furniture from up there down this narrow stairway to sell it all off...)

The only hanging department sign in this store (not counting the two "customer service" signs above the registers) was the one you see here, promoting the women's active department. Beneath it, the similarly-recent décor for the offices and fitting room, respectively, can be seen... and behind it, some enormous wall vents are visible. Those vents made this the most dated-looking area of the store, in my opinion.

One final interior shot now, this time looking down the left-side actionway (from the front left corner) with the former home department located off in the background. Unfortunately, this shot blurred on me as I took it, but it still accomplishes what it needed to accomplish, haha!

Making our way outside, here's a wide(ish) view of the store's exterior. All of these exterior shots were featured in my previous blog post on the Greenville Mall, but I felt it was a good idea to go ahead and include them again here for good measure. I'm not sure if JCPenney did any alterations to the façade when they took over this store in 1976, or at any point afterwards for that matter, but in any case, I think it still looks pretty nice. (Or should I say, "looked"...)
This closer-up view of the JCPenney exterior shows the sides of the logo pretty well - I bring that up because those struck me as slightly gold- or bronze-colored, especially in the previous image where you can see the sunlight reflecting off of them. Additionally, beneath the façade overhang, you can see a tiny hanging (and probably lighted, too) JCPenney sign to alert sidewalk shoppers to the store's presence... and beyond that, you can just barely make out the back entrance into the mall proper. 

...And speaking of mall entrances, we're wrapping up this post with a look at the Greenville Mall's main entrance at the front of the property, flanked by a JCPenney sign to its left. Now that this store has closed, I'm sure this sign (and all other JCPenney ones in- and outside of the mall, for that matter) has (have) been removed... hopefully they didn't leave any majorly prevalent labelscars behind! As a matter of fact, I was just in Greenville last week, but it totally slipped my mind to visit this mall once again to see how this empty anchor space has been dealt with. Oh well: I guess there's always next year...

"Next year" unless, of course, the space is backfilled before that time! I honestly don't know whether or not to expect that to happen, but if it does, I - and citizens of Greenville, I'm sure - would be very happy to see that. If such news does arise, I'll be sure to keep y'all posted... and until next time, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Contributor Post: Press Release: Shoe Station in Flowood, MS to Have Million-Dollar Moving Sale Before Taking Over Babies R Us Location

PLEASE NOTE: The below information was received in the MSRB inbox, and is being published here as a contribution to the blog. The Mid-South Retail Blog is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, Shoe Station; nor does the blog guarantee the accuracy of the information that follows.

An earlier version of this press release was originally published on June 23, 2018.  


For Immediate Release

July 19, 2018

Flowood, MS -- Shoe Station, an independent retail chain, is moving its store in the Flowood Commons Center two doors down to the former Babies R Us space in October 2018, after the space has been renovated.
Since the day we have opened our Flowood location, we have been tight on space since the demand was so high for the brands we carry," said Shoe Station President and CEO Brent Barkin. "Our new location will be nearly twice the size, at 24,000 square-feet. The new store will have room for an expanded assortment of sizes and widths for the entire family."
To facilitate the move, Shoe Station is having its first-ever Million Dollar Moving Sale, which features $1M of inventory. The sale begins August 3 and will run 3-4 weeks.
"The Million Dollar Moving Sale will have outrageous deals at bargain prices," Shoe Station marketing representative Rachael Deininger said.

Much of the sale's inventory is being shipped in from Shoe Station's twenty stores in five states.

"Other retailers offer sales that are not as good as they sound. We reject that notion. Our business model has always been based on value and volume, and the Million Dollar Moving Sale epitomizes our philosophy," Brent Barkin stated.
The new Shoe Station space, opening October 2018, will feature an enlarged area for accessories including handbags, wallets, t-shirts, and hats.
"After we close the doors of our current location in September, we will need a few weeks to finish the move. So this Million Dollar Moving Sale is an opportunity to thank our loyal Mississippi customers for their patience and to help them find trends before the new season," Barkin stated.
Shoe Station is one of the nation’s largest shoe retailers, with stores in Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia. The family-owned chain was founded in 1984 and has had a presence in Mississippi since 1987.
Brands sold at Shoe Station include: Alegria, Antelope, Ariat, Birkenstock, Brooks, Bull Boxer, Bussola, ColeHaan, Hey Dude, Kavu, Nike, OTBT, Over Under, Reiker, Sperry, Taos, Toms, Twisted X, Under Armour, and Vionic. Chaco sandals will be sold at Shoe Station's Flowood location in the spring.
For more information, visit

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Contributor Post: Food Lion #722, Manchester, TN

Today's special post comes to the blog courtesy of flickr user and new Mid-South Retail Blog contributor jaxcrodian. (You can visit his flickr photostream by clicking his username.) The store he has photographed for us today is, in his words, "Food Lion #722. Located at 944 Hillsboro Blvd, Manchester, TN 37355, this is a typical 1990's built Food Lion store." Unfortunately, neither of us was able to find an exact opening year for this store. Manchester, Tennessee, in case any of you are wondering, is "the county seat of Coffee County...located halfway between Nashville and Chattanooga on Interstate 24," according to Wikipedia.

First up, an overview of the store's exterior. jaxcrodian writes, "The outside of this Food Lion. This store just got an outside repaint."

"We are now entering this Food Lion!"

For our first interior photo, "The store's produce department." This particular décor package, according to my good friend AFB's self-titled Albertsons Florida Blog, "debuted in 2005, and was used in a large number of remodels through the early 2010s." With that in mind, unfortunately I don't have any way of knowing just when this Manchester store was remodeled to this décor, nor do I know what décor it would have had originally. If any of you know or have any ideas, please let us know in the comments!

"Aisle 9 in this store" is the focus of our next photo. The aisle signs in particular caught my attention here. I don't believe I've ever seen an aisle sign split into two halves like this before. Typically, as you're likely aware, there will be a singular aisle sign per aisle, centered above the aisle's walkway. In this store, however, the aisle signs appear to be hung even with each aisle's shelving, effectively giving each aisle two signs. It's a good enough idea, in my opinion, because this way the signs are allowed to specify which side of the aisle a particular item is located on. But the execution seems to be rather poor, in that it looks to be kinda difficult to actually see the signs beyond the aisle endcaps.

Up at the front end of the store, jaxcrodian notes that this is "The checkout area, with a total of 6 lanes (5 regular, 1 express)." I personally haven't been in a Food Lion store in (what feels like) eons. The wooden pergola-type fixture above the checkouts is a neat feature!

Finally, as we exit the store, we have here a look at the sign that reads, "Thank you for shopping Food Lion! That concludes our look at a Food Lion store!"

Thanks again to jaxcrodian for sharing these pictures and captions with the Mid-South Retail Blog, and if any of you have any information to add to help bolster our knowledge about this Food Lion store, please don't hesitate to drop a line in the comments below! Until next time, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Staples in Memphis (and Tupelo, too)

Today's post highlights Shelby County, TN, retail, as well as that of Lee County, MS.

For today's entry to the Lost Histories of Mid-South Retail series, the blog will be taking a look at the short-lived presence of Staples in Memphis. Despite having a fulfillment center in the Bluff City for a number of years, Staples never had an actual retail store locally... so in 2011, the self-proclaimed Office Superstore decided to change that. In January of that year, the Memphis Business Journal reported that Staples "could enter the Memphis market by the end of the year," and that the chain was looking at sites in "East Memphis, specifically the Ridgeway Trace development, as well as DeSoto County, Germantown, and the Wolfchase Galleria area."

The fact that a specific shopping center was identified in that article meant that Staples likely was far along in the process of looking to locate at that aforementioned Ridgeway Trace development. Sure enough, by February 25, 2011, Staples announced that they would soon be entering the Memphis market with "a 17,945 square foot lease at Ridgeway Trace, the shopping center at Poplar Avenue and Interstate 240 developed by Houston-based Weingarten Realty Investors," per the Memphis Daily News. That first store wound up with an address of 5851 Poplar Avenue. Below are a few captures of the store while under construction from Google Street View (in September 2011), as well as some additional photos of the store following its grand opening courtesy of various sources.

Courtesy Google Maps

Courtesy Google Maps

Courtesy Google Maps. Incidentally, I captured all of these screengrabs exactly one year ago, on July 4, 2017. Shows how long my blog posts spend in the development stages, haha!

Grand opening day! Courtesy Yelp.

Courtesy Collins and Arnold
Courtesy LoopNet

Courtesy LoopNet. Interestingly enough, the Carter's store you see on the left of this image was reportedly their first location in the Memphis market, too.

Courtesy Yelp

Ridgeway Trace shopping center signage, featuring Staples placard just above the base. Courtesy Yelp

Courtesy ClearSky Images
While its first store was still in the middle of construction, Staples was already on the hunt for additional locations in the Memphis metro. In mid-April 2011, the MBJ reported that the chain "has picked its second location and is negotiating a third." That second location would prove to be a "build-to-suit property just south of a Kohl's," in the Galleria of Memphis shopping center along N Germantown Parkway in Cordova. Like the first store, this location was set to measure around 18,000 square feet. Unlike Ridgeway Trace, however, the Galleria of Memphis was already a long-established shopping center. There was simply enough space between the existing Kohl's store and the nearby street for Staples to literally squeeze one of their stores in there. You can better visualize what I'm talking about with the Bing Bird's Eye Views below, which are joined by a couple of additional pictures of the store. This store would be given an address of 2321 N Germantown Parkway.

Courtesy Bing Maps. Here you can see how Staples managed to squeeze in-between Kohl's and the neighboring road.

Courtesy Bing Maps

Courtesy Bing Maps. Not sure why the Staples logo backdrop looks so odd in this view.

Courtesy Bing Maps

Courtesy LoopNet

Courtesy LoopNet

Courtesy Yelp

Courtesy RealtyLink

If you're a Memphian or just a Mid-Southerner who visits the city frequently enough, you may remember these two stores. But what you probably don't know is that Staples - as mentioned previously - was initially planning to open a third Memphis location as well. In that same April 2011 article, the Memphis Business Journal reported that "Staples is also targeting the former Bookstar location [3402 Poplar Avenue] at Poplar Plaza, a 359,860-square-foot shopping center at Poplar and Highland, sources say. The Bookstar location, which is 18,200 square feet, has been vacant since January [2011] when the company's lease expired." Now that would have been an interesting conversion to see! There's enough to say about Bookstar to make it a subject for another day, but for the sake of this post, the short story is that its store was housed in what was once Memphis's Plaza Theatre, which dated back to 1952, and Bookstar kept much of the former cinema's traits intact, including the marquee on the exterior of the building. Seeing what Staples would have done to the place would surely have been a trip, but alas, it wasn't meant to be - it seems as if the negotiations never panned out. Instead, Osaka Japanese Restaurant wound up taking over the location in 2012, drastically altering the interior of the space (sadly) but ultimately keeping the exterior intact (thankfully).

So... that leaves us with just the two stores, one in Memphis proper and one in Cordova, both under construction in 2011. Based on the Google Street View images we saw earlier in this post showing the Ridgeway Trace store still being built in September of 2011, I'm not sure if either store even managed to open in the same calendar year. Why does that matter? Well, it makes all the difference for those of you who might be interested in counting the months to see just how short-lived Staples was in the Memphis market. Three years following those captures, in September of 2014, the Memphis Business Journal broke the news that Staples would soon exit the Memphis market with the closure of its two stores. "In March, Staples announced plans to close 225 stores nationwide to save $500 million," the article reads. The two Memphis stores may not have had ample time to prove themselves, but if sales were already trending low, or if the chain simply didn't want to spend additional money further expanding in the market in order to gain better market share against competitors Office Depot and OfficeMax (which had just recently combined at the time of the closure announcement, but were still separate entities when Staples first opened in the Memphis area), it makes sense that they would cut their losses and close their two stores. (That total of two stores pales in comparison to Office Depot's seven, the latter chain's total in the Memphis metro as of the time of this writing. Office Depot may have had even more stores open back in 2014, to boot.) "The Memphis-area store closures mean the nearest Staples will be in Tupelo," writes the MBJ. Both stores closed on October 11, 2014.

At this point in the post, it's time to dive into some more pictures... only this time, the majority of them will be looking at the stores post-closure. To start out, though, here are a few more Bird's Eye Views from Bing Maps, this time looking at the Ridgeway Trace store.

Courtesy Bing Maps

Courtesy Bing Maps

Courtesy Bing Maps

Courtesy Bing Maps

Courtesy Bing Maps

Obviously, a post on some former stores isn't complete without some pictures of what they look like today. Once again, let's start with the Ridgeway Trace store, at 5851 Poplar. I visited this store for a brief photo blitz on January 4, 2018.

Here we are approaching the store. Despite being located in a popular shopping center with visibility from the nearby interstate, this former Staples has yet to find a permanent new tenant.

Moving a little closer to the storefront, we see more of Staples's signature red façade. Except where the red backdrop behind the Staples logo is typically horizontal grooves... in East Memphis, the backdrop was comprised of sleek red tiles instead (a couple of which look to have been chipped or otherwise scarred when the Staples signage was removed). Below the backdrop is a similarly red-colored awning above the entrance/exit doors.

Peeking into the salesfloor from one of the front windows, it becomes clear that very little remains from Staples besides the carpeting on the floors. In this shot we're looking toward the center and left sides of the interior, with the entry vestibule visible on the right of the frame.

The windows on the right side of the storefront reveal the same story: inside, original Staples carpeting is still in place, but there's not much else to speak of. All of the décor and shelving units that this store once had likely left at the same time that Staples did in 2014.

Peering in through the centrally-located vestibule itself rather than the windows on either side of it didn't prove much better. In fact, all it seemed to capture was reflections from the outside, including one of myself, instead of any more of the store interior! There is *one* notable thing in this shot however, but I'll save discussion of that for a little later on in this post...

Turning our attention back to the exterior design detail with this close-up of the red logo backdrop area. No true labelscar is visible here, but you can definitely see the damage done to the red tiles from the signage removal.

I thought these bollards out on the sidewalk in front of the store were interesting. The thinner parts of them are all painted red - another thing to identify this store as a former Staples. This was the case at the Cordova store as well, and many other Staples stores out there, I would imagine. (It just depends on how long this has been a practice.)

Another look at the façade, this time from a slightly different angle than we've seen so far. There wasn't that awful much to photograph here, but I still wanted to be sure I thoroughly documented the little bit that was still present.

Zoomed out a little bit more on the storefront, as we retreat farther back into the parking lot. I thought this particular store looked very nice and classy, what with the white, almost-marble-looking blocks and the different varieties of brick. It's a shame that whoever eventually moves into this space (surely something will move in...!) would likely completely remodel this façade, but at least we still get to enjoy it for now!

Finally, here's a wide view capturing the entirety of the store's exterior. Note the "Available" lease sign in that window to the left of the doors. According to the shopping center's current lease plan, this is the only major vacancy remaining in Ridgeway Trace, besides a similarly-sized empty space in the right half of the plaza's former Sports Authority. (The left half is currently being remodeled into the Memphis area's first REI store.)

Let's hop over to the Cordova store now, at 2321 N Germantown Parkway. Unlike my above photos of the East Memphis Staples, the following images all come from various sources besides myself.

Courtesy Yelp

Here we see the storefront post-closure...

...Despite what I wrote above, turns out I did take this one myself after all :P

...and here, the left side of the building, where the secondary Staples logo was once stationed. (Or should I say, stationary? XD  Get it? "Stationery"? Office supplies? Okay, I'll show myself the door.) I thought it was pretty cool how closely these two pics matched the two shown earlier in this post, taken while this store was still open.

Courtesy Google Maps
Google Street View unfortunately never passed by this store while it was open, but it does have this view of the vacant building, captured in April 2017. Surprisingly, it looks like Staples's closure notices may actually have stayed posted to the windows that entire time.
Courtesy l_dawg2000
Speaking of Staples's closure notices, here's a close-up of one such poster, as photographed by l_dawg2000 in November 2014, shortly after both Memphis stores closed for good. I like how he described this location: "an afterthought tacked onto the side of the Wolfchase-area Kohl's, which was built several years before." He continues: "Three short years after being constructed this Staples was done, along with the other Memphis location at Poplar and I-240. Both locations closed in October 2014." 

Courtesy l_dawg2000
l_dawg took this shot peeking in through the vestibule of the store, but unfortunately - as with my similar view at the Ridgeway Trace location - glare and reflections reduce our visibility of the interior. Nevertheless, it's still clear enough to tell that this store was gutted just the same as the other one, with only the carpet remaining.

Courtesy l_dawg2000

l_dawg's final shot of the closed Cordova Staples is this exterior view, fittingly taken in the rain. Unlike the East Memphis store, I believe I can make out a Staples labelscar here! Also worth noting is that this store is a bit more traditional for a Staples, in that the red logo backdrop has that normal horizontal grooved look here. This store also has a much heavier brick design, likely to match the Kohl's next door (reference the aerial views included earlier in this post). Both stores have nice exterior designs; I can't decide which I like better.
I visited the Cordova store a couple of months after the East Memphis one, on March 3rd, 2018. I didn't photograph it as extensively...
...because I found that it was operational with a new tenant inside, Overstock Furniture & Mattress! I did step up to the front windows to take a glance inside (while pretending I was looking at that dining set you see on the sidewalk :P ), but I didn't see anything more than what l_dawg2000's photo shows: Staples's carpeting, and no other remnants of the former tenant. So this was the only photo I decided to shoot.

For better or for worse, Overstock appears to be only a temporary tenant in the former stores that they inhabit, based on the lone article about them that I was able to dig up online. Strangely, it seems as if this "chain" is present in multiple areas of the country, but they have a very minimal online presence: no Yelp or Google Maps pages, no website, no news articles, no reviews, no nothing. I first discovered them locally in December 2017, operating out of two former hhgreggs - one in Southaven, and one in the Commons at Wolfcreek shopping center in Memphis - as well as this former Staples in Cordova... but I have no way of knowing exactly when they first "infiltrated" the area. The Wolfcreek location has since closed (likely because it was just down the road from this Cordova store), but the other two remain open - and who knows, maybe they'll stay for a long time, as demand for both of the remaining locations doesn't seem to be that awful high right now. Not the worst fate for this former Cordova Staples by any means, but I can't help but feel that the signage (well, banner) and overall concept is somewhat cheap and gimmicky.

Not to be outdone, the former Ridgeway Trace Staples has gotten itself a new tenant as well - but its is even more temporary than Cordova's, believe it or not!

Courtesy Yelp

Yep, as you can see above, Spirit Halloween uses the Staples shell to set up shop every October. (...And for a few months before and after the holiday itself, of course. Got to have enough time for pre-sales and clearance, respectively!)

Courtesy Google Maps

The earliest Yelp review for Spirit Halloween at this location is from 2015, which makes sense - that was the first year the space would have been available for a Spirit Halloween store's typical operating season, after closing in October 2014. Spirit has operated here every year from 2015 onward. This is also what I was alluding to earlier in this post, at that picture taken through the vestibule of this store: in that shot, you could see a sticker of a skeleton hand left over from one of Spirit's previous tenures.

Courtesy Google Maps

This and the previous shot both allow us to see the interior of the store during the Spirit Halloween months, courtesy of Jason Boyd, who uploaded the photo to Google Maps in 2017. Again, nothing remains from Staples besides the carpeting, but I thought that including some interior views *not* taken through the windows for once would be welcome.

For completeness... I quoted the Memphis Business Journal earlier in the post as saying that the next-closest Staples store, after the two in Memphis closed, was to be in Tupelo, Mississippi, a nearly two-hour drive away. Since it's the only other Staples I know of to have operated within the Mid-South (unless any of you readers are aware of any others; please let me know in the comments, if so!), I decided to research it, too, just for kicks.

Courtesy BizBuzz

The good news: I found the above photo in a BizBuzz article by Dennis Seid. The bad news: I found the above photo in a BizBuzz article by Dennis Seid that was announcing this store's closure. As it turns out, Tupelo's Staples would bite the bullet not long after Memphis's two stores, closing for good on July 11, 2015, nine months to the day of the Memphis locations.

Courtesy LoopNet

I found this image on LoopNet, showing the Tupelo store (and its neighbor, PetSmart) in better days. According to Mr. Seid, this store measured just shy of 24,000 square feet, and opened in February 2001. So while the store closed down not even a year after its Memphis counterparts, it did actually predate said Memphis stores by a decade - the chain had nowhere near as short of a presence, then, in Tupelo as it did up in Shelby County.

Courtesy BizBuzz

Some additional images were posted to the BizBuzz blog the day before the store was to close for good. In these shots, you can see the closure signs posted on the store's windows. As Seid writes, "Employees have been telling customers that the lease has expired and the store is not renewing its lease," but no one would confirm whether or not "the closure is related to Staples' announcement in March 2014 [that] it would close 225 stores by the end of 2015." Suspicious timing indeed if the closure was not related to that announcement, but then again, a lease expiration is a lease expiration...

Courtesy BizBuzz

Here's a close-up of the closing signs in the window, which are identical to the ones we saw earlier in this post, courtesy of l_dawg2000, at the Cordova location - perhaps the identical style places this store's closure among those 225 after all, or perhaps Staples has simply always used this design for its store closures. Again, unfortunately it seems like there is no way for us to know for sure whether this store was part of a mass exodus or if it was just a one-off closure. In any case, what we do know is that it represented Staples's exit from the Mid-South as a whole, following its exit from the Memphis metro mere months prior. In fact, it also looks like this may have been Staples's last location in the state of Mississippi, too. Ouch.

Courtesy Google Maps

You could tell that this particular store was older than the ones in Memphis, in that its exterior was chock full of that "red horizontal grooves" look. The subscript "The Office Superstore" below the main Staples logo itself also helped to date the store. In this Google Street View from August 2016, we see that after Staples vacated, as with the Memphis stores, nothing was altered on the exterior. Get this, though: apparently Overstock Furniture & Mattress did business in this Tupelo location, too! I'm not sure when Overstock would have started business here, or likewise, when they would have ceased it. But I thought that this was a pretty interesting coincidence nonetheless!

Courtesy BizBuzz

For all I know, Overstock might like to be doing business in this spot even today, but their nature as a temporary tenant meant that the arrival of a new, permanent suitor for this store took precedence. And as you may be able to guess from the blue paint job given to Staples's formerly red façade, that new tenant is none other than Goodwill! This will actually be Tupelo's very first full-line Goodwill store, as a matter of fact. (The town does have a Goodwill Bookstore and a Goodwill Donation Center, but has never had a true Goodwill retail store, reportedly.) This news again came per Dennis Seid's BizBuzz; he reports that the new Goodwill should open either later this month or sometime next month (July or August 2018). The former Tupelo Staples was located at 1046 Cross Creek Drive, within the Cross Creek Shopping Center near The Mall at Barnes Crossing.

For the home stretch of this post... l_dawg2000 was kind enough to dig in his archives and rediscover these photos he had taken on the morning of October 5, 2013. As it turns out, not only had he taken a trip to the Cordova store after its closure (as we saw earlier in this post), he also visited the East Memphis store back during normal operations... and he took some interior pictures, no less! As a result, I'm excited and grateful to be able to share these photos with you guys - the only known images of a Memphis Staples store's interior. (Most of the following shots come from l_dawg, besides a few more that I was able to find on Foursquare.)

Courtesy l_dawg2000

Here's the exterior of the Ridgeway Trace store; this, we've seen before. (I was actually quite surprised by the number of exterior pics of this location that I was able to find and include earlier in this post, as a matter of fact!) But it's what follows that's so rare...

Courtesy l_dawg2000

Without further ado, let's step inside! This shot was taken from within the store's entry vestibule, looking toward the Staples copy and print shop. This area occupied the front right corner of the building.

Courtesy Foursquare

This shot, one of the ones I found on Foursquare, shows a UPS ad placed within the entrance of the store, as soon as you step in from the vestibule. But I included it mainly because of what you can see in the background: the copy and print shop on the right, and some aisles beginning off to the left. Note also the half-wall just next to the ad, which features a blue stripe decorated with office-related words. This décor can also be seen in l_dawg's vestibule pic.

Courtesy l_dawg2000

From analyzing l_dawg's interior shots, as best as I can tell we've jumped to the rear of the salesfloor for this pic, and are looking over towards the back right corner of the store. The orientation of the aisles was key to figuring this out: the aisles in this store appear to have been set up parallel to the front wall. Aisles 1-11 ran along the right side of the interior, numbered from front to back; while Aisles 12-18 ran along the left side of the building, continuing the numbering from back to front. In the center of the store...

Courtesy l_dawg2000

...were some shorter, unnumbered aisles, home to larger and/or more specialty-type merchandise, such as the printer department shown here. Off in the distance you can see the copy and print shop again, so for this shot l_dawg was still standing somewhere near the back of the store, on its left side.

Courtesy l_dawg2000

This shot looks up toward the front left corner, home to Staples's tech support center, and shows aisles 15-18, home to items such as cameras, MP3 players, and computer software. I guess the "MP3 Players" sign helps us confirm this store's 2011 opening, lol! Against the left-side wall, visible on the right of this shot, are ink cartridges.

Courtesy Foursquare
Here's a close-up of the signage for Staples's "easytech" tech support center, this shot once again courtesy of a Foursquare user. I like how the "E" in "easy" is actually a tilted power button icon (just like the "L" in Staples is meant to emulate a staple). I think the rest of the sign is kinda awkward, though, what with the tight spacing for "easy" but loose spacing for "tech." That "Y" is throwing me off too, given how plain the font choice for the rest of the letters looks.
Courtesy l_dawg2000

Digressions aside, here's another of l_dawg's photos, this one looking up toward the front wall of the store, with some more of the centrally-located departments in the foreground. The copy and print shop - which was my anchor in determining the overall layout of this store! - is once again visible on the left of the shot, with some signage for the customer service counter joining it just beyond the vestibule windows.

Courtesy l_dawg2000

We're looking from aisle 17 (on the left side of the store) in this view, on over to the right-side wall, with both the Computers & Tablets and Memory & Accessories departments occupying the aisles immediately in front of us, in the center portion of the salesfloor. I think it's interesting how, despite their predominately-red color scheme, Staples's department signage instead utilizes a lime green color (or at least, it did back in 2011, when this store was built). Not saying I don't like it, though. In fact, I think it looks pretty snazzy!

Courtesy l_dawg2000
Similar to the previous one, this shot also looks to have been taken within aisle 17, only now we're looking across the preceding aisles all the way towards the store's back wall. Copy paper lines the majority of said wall (and actually makes for quite a colorful display, in my opinion!), while out in front of it, you can see a display for - of all things! - Martha Stewart Home Office products. I had no idea that those were a thing... Staples's furniture department also is back that way, as evidenced by the "Chairs" sign (on aisle 12). Not sure how extensive their selection was, compared to Office Depot or OfficeMax.

Courtesy Foursquare

The checkouts are the one thing I'm having trouble placing within the salesfloor. As best as I can tell, they must have been located directly in front of the vestibule between the entry doors and the easytech counter, although that doesn't make much sense for them to have been right in front of you as you walk inside the store. In any case, they were definitely located up at the front of the building, as you would expect!

Courtesy l_dawg2000

Finally, along the front wall, we have the traditional "thanks for shopping" sign, below which is also a "Staples soul" community action/charity poster. The little heart icon is made to look like a bent paperclip - again, I like the creativity here! And of course, who can forget Staples's longtime slogan, visible here on the wall underneath the chain's logo...

..."that was easy"! As it happens, l_dawg2000 wasn't the only one ever to visit that Ridgeway Trace Staples; I simply wasn't into retail photography at the time :P  I only visited the store once, but being the advertising and memorabilia geek that I am, I didn't leave without first purchasing a coveted, iconic Staples Easy Button (which I am now even happier to own as a memento, considering how short-lived the Memphis Staples stores were!). Shown here is the base of the button, adorned with the Staples logo.

I took this shot of the underside of the Easy Button, in case any of you might be interested in looking at it. I was hoping for a date to be printed on here, but unfortunately I had no such luck. (Oh, and just because of the irony of the matter, I have to tell you guys that in order to get this shot, I had the button propped up against a staple remover :P )

Finally, here's the top side of my Easy Button. This thing still works like a charm (knock on wood!), and I'm proud to say that it sits on my desk to this day :)  And you can bet that I'm gonna press it as soon as I hit publish on this post, haha!

I hope you all enjoyed this chronicle covering the lost history of the former Staples stores in both Memphis and Tupelo! The Memphis stores in particular were so short-lived that it's very possible to forget them, if you even noticed them in the first place (kind of a "blink or you'll miss it" situation with those two, really)... so I wanted to ensure that they had proper documentation with this blog post. If you have any photos, memories, or other information to share about any or all of these stores, please don't hesitate to leave a comment below or email me at midsouthretailblog [at] gmail [dot] com! Stay tuned for another post later this month (if all goes as planned, that is)... and until then, as always, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell