Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Vintage Postcards: Corte Madera Center

Finally, something entirely different!
He's a vintage postcard for Corte Madera Center, now known as Town Center Corte Madera. Love the trendy stripes. I bet that got old fast.

The back of the card reads "Corte Madera Center, Marin County, California. This extensive Shopping Area (too big for a single picture) of large stores and specialty shops is easily accessible and adjoins U.S. #101."

Like the other postcards of Bay Area Malls, this one was taken by Mike Roberts. I can see he carefully framed Mt. Tamalpais and the surrounding hills. One thing this card confirms, colorization. Clearly the Woolworth's and Thrify signs are colored in. Thrifty glows so bright, it looks fake. But, their 15 cent ice cream cones of yesteryear is worthy of forgiveness.

Regrettably, I know very little of this shopping center. Outside that it opened in 1958 and once had JC Penney. Only after it remodeled did I visit the center. It's also the center of controversey because Barnes & Noble is opening there soon, to the dismay of a local book store, Book Passage. Ah, competition at its best.

Read my Guide to Town Center Corte Madera

Visit the current Website.

See the aerial view.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Country Club Plaza Mall Sacramento

I finally had the pleasure of visiting one the very few malls in Northern California that I haven't been to, Country Club Plaza Mall. Well, I tried to visit once before, but it was closed (at 7:30 on a Saturday!). I only got to see the inside from the gates of Gottschalks that time. Then it was gutted and in its place a new, expanded mall. I'm glad they kept the mall enclosed, but I'm not sure if the public is. The outside of the mall had a number of big-box retailers that were doing fine, but the interior of the mall wasn't so lively. Personally, I prefer less crowds, but that isn't good for business.

I especially enjoyed the architecture of the Macy's, which used to be Weinstocks. You can find this building type at other malls, like Sunrise Mall. I'm not sure what the Gottschalks was before, so if anyone can help me out by answering that question, that'd be great!

I wish I got to spend more time in the area because another classic, now dead, mall is across the street. Country Club Centre. I believe it had Rhodes, then Libery House, then, Montomery Ward? My history is a little sketchy on this one. Corrections, please!

I hope you enjoy the photos!


Read my Guide to Country Club Plaza Mall

Visit the current Website.

See the pre-renovation aerial view.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Vintage Postcards: Sunvalley Mall in Concord

Just when I thought I had them all... along comes another postcard I haven't seen before. Luckily, I snatched it up (Buy It Now!). This beauty is of Sunvalley Mall in Concord in its early days. You'd never know the mall was two stories from this shot; the lower level is underground (least on this side of the mall).

If you look closely, you can see "Cinema" on the side, by Bank of America. Also, Macy's appears to have the same awnings they did thirty years ago! Well, same color and style, at least.

The back of the postcard reads "SunValley, the world's largest enclosed, air conditioned shopping center, contains free parking for 9,000 cars, including 16 acres of covered parking."

I *had* to cut and enlarge the shopping cart sitting in front of the blue car in the foreground. Where did that come from? Did Penney's have carts at one time?


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Retail Memories - The Big E Hillsdale

I *LOVE* this ad. Many thanks to a loyal fan for sending it to me. There is nothing more I remember of The Emporium than the giant "E." Always a site at many West-Bay Emporium Capwell locations until the very end.

Nevertheless, it looks as if The Emporium joined Hillsdale Mall in September 12, 1962. And late-night shopping until 9:30!

I was surprised to find Macy's preceded The Emporium by nearly 8 years at Hillsdale! What took The Emporium so long?


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Retail Memories - Macy's Hillsdale

Here's a fan-submitted copy of a historic ad in the San Mateo Times newspaper. It advertises the grand opening of Macy's Hillsdale and is dated Thursday November 18, 1954. The ad shows their other locations in San Francisco, Richmond, and San Rafael.

I love the artist's rendering, without the mall and with what looks like a field in the background. One can only picture what that may have been like. And free parking for over 12,000 cars!

Coming soon is the ad for the opening of the Emporium!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Vintage Postcards: Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo

Here's another little gem that shows Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo. No telling the year, but there is a "60" on the back of the card and the parking lot shows a car from the mid-to-late Fifties (confirmation, anyone? Make and model?).

Although my History of San Mateo County class touched a bit on the Hillsdale development, as a whole, I know little about this shopping center. Except for when it was enclosed in 1982 and Nordstrom joined the mall. I also spent a great deal of time here in the late Eighties, when nothing of any important interest took place.

The back of the card reads "Hillsdale, California. Heart of the San Francisco Peninsula. Located on the famous 'El Camino Real,' just 20 miles from San Francisco. This beautiful shopping center offers the newest and most modern shops and stores."

The front of the card shows the Macy's, which is now partially hidden due to a multi-story parking garage. You can also make out a J.J. Newberry on the left. I love the large Hillsdale sign in the foreground, with what looks like to be a giant penis. In actuality, it's the outline of the San Francisco Peninsula. Must have been before some of the landfills :)
Please share your memories about Hillsdale here.


Read my guide to Hillsdale Mall

Visit the current Website.

See the aerial view.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Retail Memories - Emporium-Capwell

Ah, Emporium-Capwell, how I miss thee.

This is a scanned ad from 1984, as if you couldn't tell from the fashions. The more I looked at the ad, the farther back I went. They were celebrating their newest store at Vallco Fashion Park in Cupertino. They also listed locations like Stevens Creek Mall and Mountain View. Even Marin, which I don't remember at all (Northgate in San Rafael)?

I do miss Emporium-Capwell for the prices and selection. Who can forget a trip to the City and a visit to "The Market" downstairs, with its culinary treats.

Seemingly dependent on the side of the Bay you lived, you most likely called it either "The Emporium" or "Capwells." Of course, in its final days, they changed the name to "Emporium." It just didn't fly with us.

I seem to remember a commercial for Emporium-Capwell that sang "super station coppertop, Emporium-Capwell." Was I dreaming? The only connection I could make was the red tiles of many of the old Capwell buildings. I hope someone remembers.

Please, share your memories of Capwell's here.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Top 10 Malls in Northern California

Here is a list of the top 10 malls in Northern California according to the Overture Keyword Selector tool. It's based strictly on what people are searching for in the online world. Clearly, it doesn't tell us everything. For instance, we don't really know whether the Internet searchers actually found their destination target. Nonetheless, here are the top 10 based on searches in the month of August 2006:
1) Santana Row, San Jose - 7317 searches
2) Union Square, San Francisco - 7311 searches (the term "Union Square" is shared among a number of geographical areas. However, if you judged according to the number of searches for keywords "union square san francisco," you'd still have 2581 searches [and still be in the top 10])
3) Great Mall, Milpitas - 6051 (multiple malls share this name. However, if you judged according to the number of searches for keywords "great mall milpitas," you'd still have 2705 searches [and still be in the top 10])
4) Gilroy Premium Outlets, Gilroy - 5408 searches
5) Pier 39, San Francisco - 3755 searches
6) Westfield Valley Fair, San Jose - 3641 searches (multiple malls use the name "Valley Fair Mall" so this search is questionable. However, Valley Fair in San Jose clearly is the most popular of the lot.)
7) Stoneridge Shopping Center, Pleasanton - 3470 searches
8) Westfield Oakridge, San Jose - 2893 searches (multiple malls share this name, so this figure is questionable)
9) Arden Fair Mall, Sacramento - 2852 searches
10) Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto - 2648 searches

Santana Row beat out Valley Fair for the number 1 spot since my last top 10 using April 2006 statistics. Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento made its debut on the list while its major competitor, Westfield Roseville Galleria, did not.

For fun, here is the list of top 10 least popular malls according to Internet searches:
1) Carmel Plaza, Carmel-By-The-Sea - 36 searches
2) Reno Town Mall, Reno - 43 searches
3) Almaden Plaza, San Jose - 65 searches
4) Willows Shopping Center, Concord - 78 searches
5) Alameda Towne Centre, Alameda - 79 searches
6) San Francisco Japan Center, San Francisco - 90 searches (Tie)
6) St Helena Premier Outlets, St Helena - 90 searches (Tie)
7) Somersville Towne Center, Antioch - 110 searches
8) Blackhawk Plaza, Danville - 193 searches
9) Park Lane Mall, Reno - 221 searches
10) Fremont Hub, Fremont - 259 searches

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Sunvalley Mall Story

Here's a reprint from Concord Life magazine, December 1984. It talks about the history of Sunvalley Mall in Concord. I love the aerial shot in the article. You can see how open and pretty the area was before it was leveled and paved over. I tried to zoom in to the restaurant attached to Penney's. If I recall correctly, it was the Copper Penny. They had a huge penny on the side of the building. There also used to be a staircase to the ice rink below.

Does anyone remember the food court on the lower level near Penney's? I guess that was before Taubman changed his mind about them. They removed it at some point.
Most of this mall remained unchanged until a tragic plane crash in December 1985. The mall remodeled to its current state.

Read my guide to Sunvalley Mall

Visit the current Website.

See the aerial view.