Friday, August 25, 2006

Larwin Plaza Shopping Center

Vallejo, California - circa 1960s(?)

Here's a picturesque little scene outside the Kresge and Sears stores at the old Larwin Plaza, which is now called Vallejo Plaza Shopping Center, as far as I can tell. Found no official website for the place, nor any information re: the year it originally opened (under the Larwin Plaza name), but I believe the name was changed to Vallejo Plaza around 1981, according to the Retail Traffic article I cite below.

At any rate, it's a pretty nifty shot, that much I do know for sure!

Mall history: n/a
Current website: n/a
Current aerial view
Resource articles: 1, 2
Previous entries: none


Anonymous Rob said...

A little bit of irony in seeing these two adjacent to each other. Kresge (now KMart) and Sears merged almost 2 years ago, but it is my opinion that both of these retail pioneers are in dire straits thanks to Wal-Mart, world economy and consumers fickle buying trends. If they both survive another 5 years, it will be a miracle. The Sears signage reminds me of the old Sears Town in Ft. Lauderdale right off Sunrise Blvd. As always, thanks for all the great photos, Keith.

Fri Aug 25, 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

Well Keith you did it...
You scared me to death that I actually missed a mall in my home territory. In fact, I never knew about this shopping center. Vallejo has never been, uh, a strong 'draw.'
Anyway, fascinating to learn about it. Looks like they tore half of it down to build some apartments. That's too bad. I was ready to go check it out tomorrow.
Thanks Keith!

Fri Aug 25, 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

I sure hope that your gloomy prognosis regarding K-Mart and Sears won't come true, as both are US retailers I'm actually familiar with (unlike many of the Northwestern regional chains featured in this blog) and have fond memories of.

Fri Aug 25, 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

That should have been Northeastern. Though I'm not familiar with Northwestern retail chains either.

Fri Aug 25, 06:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Just my thoughts too when I saw this pic. How ironic that you see Sears and Kresge / K-mart together in one picture like this.

I too, would hate to see both chains ascend to that big mall in the clouds, but if this whole 'Sears Grand' thing goes off well enough, we could very well see the K-mart name nixed in favor of "Sears Grand" which it seems Sears Holdings Corp is trying to push to become the off-mall banner for the company, shedding of their K-mart roots (Keep in mind it's K-mart who bought out Sears. I, and others, make the mistake often of saying Sears bought out K-mart).

It's too soon to tell yet, but it's a possibility.

Sat Aug 26, 01:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Looking at the aerial view, it looks as if the Sears building is still there being divided. If it is the Sears building, what a small Sears store, unless it has(d) a basement like most older Sears.

Sat Aug 26, 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

Sears is gone. My guess is they moved to nearby Hilltop Mall in Richmond.

Sat Aug 26, 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Georob said...

The Vallejo Sears left many years before Hilltop got theirs. More likely is that Solano Mall in Fairfield was the culprit. But the Larwin Plaza store was indeed a small one and after it was closed was replaced by a discount grocery store along the lines of Food 4 Less.

As for the Kresge store, what was most amazing to me is that it continued to operate for many years even though there was a full size KMART just a couple of blocks away on Sonoma Blvd. I don't remember how long this went on, but it was at least through the late 70's.

I also remember going into that Kresge once and hearing recorded announcements for Kmart mixed in on the Muzak. By this time, I'm guessing it was a Kresge "in name only" and that everyone who shopped and worked there considered it another KMart, albeit a small one.

The only other Kresge I recall in the Bay Area was at Foothill Square in Oakland right off 580 near the San Leandro Line. This was an outdoor mall anchored by Kresge, Lucky, Thrifty, and a large clothier along the lines of Roos Atkins or Grodins.

Alas, it's pretty much empty now and is about to be demolished and redeveloped. Mallrat, you should check it out before it happens.

Sun Aug 27, 01:53:00 AM  
Anonymous army.arch said...

We had a Larwin Plaza in Simi Valley, CA growing up. It had a movie theater, Builders Emporium, Thrifty's Drug Store, and a grocery store that I cannot remember the name of. They enclosed part of it in the early 1980s, and then renamed it later to Mountaingate Plaza.

Mon Aug 28, 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous lynne stirling said...

This pic. brings back alot of good memories for me. I went there as a kid with the folks and when I was old enough (13 or 14) my sisters and I would take the bus there and spend the day window shopping. We would eat at the kresges counter when you could get a burger,frys and chocolate shake for 50 cents.That was around 72/73.The Sears store closed in 86 and after that the rest of the malls original/familier stores soon begain to disappear.

Mon Aug 28, 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger hushpuppy said...

Sorry to hear Foothill Square is about to bite the dust. My mother loved to shop at H. Liebes

Wed Aug 30, 01:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That store had a talking parrot that if I remember correctly wasn't always caged. Thrifty ice cream for a nickle, grilled cheese at Kresges and a quick stop at Sears for your toughskins. Larwin Plaza had everything a late 60s 7 year old needed

Tue Jan 09, 07:29:00 PM  
Anonymous David Horn said...

Does anyone remember where the Savon Cleaners was located in this shopping center?

Tue Jan 16, 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Marcia said...

The K-Mart has been torn down - and that property looks vacant now.

in about 1980, there was a Larwin Plaza Sewing Center at the mall. Does anyone know where it was located and if there are any old employees to contact for histroical information. it was also called the Singer Companies as well.

Sun Jan 28, 08:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Juan said...

I remember Larwin Plaza very very well. A lot of you got the dates mixed up. Sears there stayed open for quite some time even after the Sears at Solano Mall had opened. Along with Kresge you had Consumers Catalog Store, Thrifty's Dept Store, Kinney Shoes and a few more stores.

Sears hung out for a while even after they remodled part of the shopping center and SHOWBIZ moved in.

The sad part was they had originally planed to build the Solano Mall in Vallejo but stupid Vallejo and their red tape laws forced the investors into looking elsewere and it landed in Fairfield

Sat Sep 18, 04:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bird at Kresge was called Charlie, and it was a mynah bird, not a parrot. It did talk, though. In looking up info on the Kresge chain, apparently it was a tradition in some of their stores to have mynah birds named Charlie. I don't think he was for sale. He stood guard over the pet section, which sold hamsters and fish. It was in the back corner of the store, up from the lunch counter. I also remember the "Consumer's Distributing" catalog store that opened in the '70s. You'd place an order out of a catalog in the store and it came down a conveyor belt. The mall also had Eucaplytus Records in the '70s. The Sears was very small but it had the same things other Sears did, including a candy counter.

Wed Mar 16, 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Much2Dooo said...

The name of the "Catalog Store". was Age A E ( not spelled right sorry ). My mother worked there for years. You could pay for stuff out of the catalog book with "Blue Chip Stamps". I'm not sure but I think it was located inside Thrifty's. Had like it's own counter. Not positive, I was very young then. Also, Sears actually hung around there until about 1998 ish. There was only a little like room with two workers & all they did was like if your weed eater broke & was under warranty you could take it there for them to fix. My cousin worked there until they closed it.

Tue May 15, 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This brings back many memories. I worked at the Kresge Store from 1977 through 1980. the Kmart was across the street from Larwin Plaza. They kept it open until the lease ran out some time shortly after I left the store.

Thu Nov 15, 03:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AG&E was never in the Larwin Plaza shopping center, but was located at what was then where Highway's 29 and 37 crossed until it closed.

Mon Dec 09, 06:38:00 PM  

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