Monday, November 20, 2006

Swanky Sears in Phoenix

Phoenix, Arizona - circa 1960s

Pretty groovy looking desert-styled Sears store somewhere in the Phoenix area in the sixties (I did a little cleanup and color/contrast adjusting to the original image).

I found this shot at the great vintage Phoenix site,, but all the caption says is "Sears Camelback", so I'm not sure which shopping center or plaza this was actually located in. But it's such a nice exterior I wanted to feature it.

If anyone out there can help to positively identify where this was (which shopping center), it'd really be cool and junk. I'll update this entry when/if we can sort it out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I beleive this former Sears is in the Camelback Collenade. I did an Aerial and noticed that there was a Sears here. And from the center dirctory (its no longer a mall), its 2 levels (main floor and basement level). It looks like it was subdivided into a Petsmart, Best Buy and Old Navy on the upper level, and a self storage on the lower level.

This mall is obv. Dead. Another Anchor is subdivided and there is a Mervyn's store as well.

Mon Nov 20, 09:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS - here is an overhead:

Mon Nov 20, 09:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PPS - This at one point may have been called Sears-Rhodes Mall.

Mon Nov 20, 09:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! That Phoenix website is amazing! Not sure what's cooler--the UA movie theater pic (from the Phoenix in the 1970's section) or the food court pic (from the Tucson in the 1970's section).

Mon Nov 20, 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kieth, you had swanky on my mind!

Mon Nov 20, 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey all! Great old photo of an old Sears store. I spent a large amount of my growing-up years in Tucson and I do remember that this Phoenix Sears store was at what was then called the Colonnade Mall, on Camelback Road. I believe this Sears was in existence there until the very late 1980's or early 90's. Per Sears website, it's definitely not there now. The Colonnade Mall site was torn down later on in the 90's and redeveloped into the Camelback Colonnade, a power center-type complex. I remember going into the old Colonnade Mall around May 1990, just before I graduated from college in Flagstaff. At that time, there wasn't much left in this mall but for a few stores. There was a Marshalls store in a downstairs area that, according to the Westcor web-site, is still there as part of the newer center. Alas, I didn't get into the Sears store then, but the mall itself was indoors. I imagine that it was built as an open air center and was enclosed later on, perhaps in the 70's. If memory serves me correct, I think there was still an Orange Julius or something like it still open in Colonnade back in 1990 and also what looked like a Casual Corner and a few other typical mall stores that had closed up. The other department store at Colonnade, per ad's in the Arizona Republic back in 1979-80, was a Joske's. I understand that it had been a Rhodes prior to that(and per info on this blog site, may have been a Liberty House between the two but I'm not sure). At that time, Joske's was an Allied Stores division based out of Texas and had 2 Phoenix stores, at Colonnade and at Metrocenter. Jeff is correct that it was called 'Sears-Rhodes Mall' by many that lived or grew up in Phoenix, as I had heard that myself. After Joske's left Phoenix in the mid-80's, I remember seeing the outside of the Colonnade store after it had closed. Based on what I remember of the architecture, I'd say the Rhodes store was built either in the late-50's or early 60's. Not sure when the Sears was opened but I'd guess early 60's, as it looks very similar to the Sears in Tucson at Park Place, nee Park Mall. I was told that it was built around 1966 or so, a number of years before Park Mall was built onto it. BTW, thanks mucho for the link to those cool color photos from Phoenix and Tucson. The mall photos from Tucson really took me back! Great times I had just wandering around on my own and checking things out. Actually, the photos of the malls in Tucson may even be from the early 80's, as Tucson Mall opened in March 1982(though the Diamond's store there, now Dillard's, opened the prior fall). I was there opening week, so I do remember. Thanks again Keith for this great site and please keep up the awesome work!

Mon Nov 20, 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sears in my hometown of Renton, WA looked just like this. Same script logo, same inset facade with griod, same overhang with rock walls (there were planters with trees in them, which had cutouts in the overhang to let rain in) The Renton Sears was one anchor of Renton Center, an outdoor shopping center with a center walkway (partly covered) that had sculptures to play on and one of George Tsutakawa's first two fountains, dated 1960. The anchor at the other end was originally a QFC - Quality Food Center - a local supermarket. Later, it was a small Penney's/JCPenney, selling only clothing. The Penney's was one story, Sears was two - Sears had a candy counter (every few years it'd be moved between up and downstairs) and a full auto repair garage in back.

I've always been big on neon signs, and Sears' logo is a fond memory from childhood. The ones in the two positions seen in this photo were green paint with white outlines and standard-green neon. The "back" (around the right side of this pic) had no sign. The far side of the building had one that had been painted white, tubes and all, and never worked. This may indicate that there was originally no shopping center attached, but I'm not sure on that. Shopping center tenants included a womens' clothing store, Childrens' Corner (local kids' shoe store) some gift shops, a jeweler, a tiny greasy-spoon with great food, a cafe, and signs left up by chance spoke of a long gone shop called "Happiness Is..." which sounds to me like a hippie place (Renton was also once home to a hippie shop, closed long before my time, called "Happy Day")

Renton Shopping Center was torn down in the early 90s to make room for a huge Fred Meyer, a local chain which is a bit like a better quality Wal-Mart: supermarket, hardware, home furnishings, bedding, clothes, shoes, electronics, optical, jeweler, bank. The Tsutakawa fountain was moved, and now sits behind the restaurant at the Maplewood Golf Course.

Tue Nov 21, 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Cora said...

Thanks for posting the link to the page with all those lovely historic photos of Phoenix and Tuscon. It made me want to visit a place I never had the slightest bit of interest in. Too bad it most likely doesn't look like that anymore.

Tue Nov 21, 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Sobieniak said...

Kinda neat the seem palms outside the store like that. Best I can see 'em is uaully inside a mall up here in the Ohio jungles. :-)

Wed Nov 22, 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Scott Parsons said...

There are a couple of Sears in the San Francisco Bay Area that look this way, too. Although, the green signs are gone. However, they still have the towering palms!

Wed Nov 22, 05:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a common style of architecture seen at many Southern California Sears stores as well, including the one in Riverside (circa 1960s). The palms are still there, but alas, the cool Sears script has been replaced (photos: 1, 2, 3).

Fri Nov 24, 06:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sears on Camelback was built in the late 50s-early 60s and was for many years the lone Sears in Phoenix. The store was the lone tenant on the site until later in the 60s, when Rhodes was built and an enclosed mall was built between the 2 stores. Sears-Rhodes mall was born and kept the name until Rhodes was changed to Liberty House (both were a part of the Amfac congolmerate)and the mall's name was changed to Collonade Mall

Wed Jan 10, 11:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My parents purchased at least one tire at the Sears Auto Center at the Sears-Rhodes Mall in the 1960s. The last time I visited Camelback Colonnade was in 1999. Mervyn's and Marshall's were about the only businesses open at the mall.

The Sears Store at Renton Center was the first modern suburban Sears in the Seattle area. I don't know who first anchored the opposite end of the mall. It was someone before QFC. The secondary anchor at the back center of the mall was Newberry's, a variety store chain that eventually was purchased by (but not rebranded as) McCrory. Newberry's also had stores at Northgaye and Bellevue Square in the Seattle area. H. L. Green, another variety store that became a McCrory subsidiary, had a store in downtown Seattle.

The Rhodes department stores were owned by a chain called Rhodes Western. after being purchased by Amfac, their stores from Tacoma WA to San Antonio TX were rebranded as Liberty House in the early 1970s. However, the San Antonio store at Wonderland was still branded as Rhodes when I visited in 1976.

Fri Jan 19, 01:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The previous posts are correct; Sears-Rhodes Mall was redevelped as The Camelback Colonnade couple of times, with the most recent iteration that turned it into a big-box power center. The east end that contained Sears now houses Best Buy, Old Navy, Miracle Mile and several smaller stores, in addition to the lower-level self storage center. The west end is offices, plus Marshalls and a couple of outlet style stores, with other small specialty stores in the center portion. A new, detached Fry's Food Store was built to the south, adjacted to a Meryvn's store that was tacked on the back (southwest) end of the center. The Century branch of the Phoenix Library system is still on the southwest corner of the property, which is also adjcent to the northbound exit/southbound entrance of the AZ51 freeway, on Highland St.
The area contained a lot of specialty retailing, as the Town and Country shopping center sits directly to the east, across 20th st, along Camelback Rd.

Wed Oct 08, 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked at this store from 1972 to 1975 in the Garden Shop and Building Materials Annex in the back. Thanks for posting. It brings back fond memories. Several employees at that time had service dates of 1949 and I always thought that was the original opening at that site.

Wed Dec 17, 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I worked at the Sears store from 77 to 78 as a floater. At the time I remember as you exited Sears going into the mall there was a Pizza D'Amore that had the best square cut pizza. Also a Walgreens and a record store.

Sat Sep 04, 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was the Sear Rhodes Mall on 20 Street and Camleback.
They had covered parking tooo. They also held the Vietnam Draft there too.

Thu Dec 01, 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger tismeinaz said...

Sears Rhodes Mall - 20th St and Camelback in Phoenix. It's the Colonnade now. The end where Sears was is now a Best Buy and a lot of smaller stores. Staples is in part of what was the Rhodes anchor at the other end. It's still a busy mall. It sort of turned inside out - all the stores are pretty much accessed from the outside.

Thu Aug 21, 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Tiffany said...

I came across this site looking for old pictures of the Sears-Rhodes Mall in Phoenix. My dad owned a barbershop in the mall from about 1969-1974. I remember this Sears when I was a young girl. I was hoping to find a picture of my dad's old barbershop. Thanks for the trip down nostalgia lane...

Thu Nov 06, 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is definately the colonnade mall sears store. I worked here in the early 80's. It was a great place to work. On the corner of 20th St. and Camelback road. What a deja vu. Thanks so much for the memories.

Mon Feb 23, 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in that neighborhood. We used to go to the Thrifty Drugstore for ice cream cones in the Summer. We lived in a large mid century modern/ranch home just behind the mall. I got lost in the Sears basement floor of the store at the age of four. My big brother found me, crying. I shopped in the Hancock Fabrics to sew my own clothes as a high school student. Now nearly retirement age, we're moving back to the neighborhood. I wish there were a photo of the Rhodes store.

Fri Dec 23, 11:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work at Sears as a data entry operator until they closed the divion office in 1988. My uncle built the wood railing in the mall. Lots of memories...

Thu Jul 04, 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger marcparella said...

I worked at this Sears from 1980-1981 as a floater. I would come in and get my assignment to which department I was needed in. I worked everything from hardware to paint to women's clothes to the candy department that was in the front by the TVs. Man, did I get in trouble when I was working in Candy... watching TV and eating candy. I transferred to the Sears at Fiesta Mall a year later and worked in the Boys Wear department. I made $3.25 a hour back then.

Sun Jan 12, 02:07:00 AM  

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