Monday, November 12, 2007

My Salute to Zayre

There used to be a time, not too long ago, when there were other department stores besides Target and Wal-Mart. It's true! Honest! One of my favorite department stores that my mom would take us to was Zayre. There was a Zayre in Laurel, MD about 30 minutes from our house. It was always an occasion to go to Zayre because they were my favorite store for three reasons:

1. Their Snack Bar In the back of the store, near the layaway counter was a little coffee counter where they served the best hamburgers I had ever had. They were the cheap brand of frozen hamburger patties, but they were cooked on the grill oh-so-right and I couldn't get enough of them. My mom would give me two dollars and that would get me a burger and a medium fruit punch and I savored every last bite!

2. They Sold Atari 2600 Cartridges Long After Everyone Else Stopped The rest of the retail world had moved on to Nintendo, but Zayre had a big selection of 2600 games all the way up to the end of the `80's. They also had a weird selection of games like Eggomania and Word Zapper. Plus their prices were insane. Before Zayre went out of business, I got a Hide and Go Seek game for twenty-five cents! You can't beat that! Twenty-five cents is also were I caved in and bought E.T. some seven or eight years after it came out. Horrible Game!

3. Everything Was Orange Orange is my favorite color, but it's also a tacky color for interior decorating. I read that the company changed their color to Red early on in the game, but the Laurel store was bright orange until the day they closed their doors for the last time. The walls were orange, the carts were orange. Eating in the Snack Bar was like eating in a big orange box! There was orange everywhere. Even at a young age I knew it was all tacky!

While a successful company, Zayre also opened up the TJ Maxx chain of discount stores. In 1984, they founded BJ's Wholesale Club. The Zayre chain of stores was sold to Ames, who eventually converted all the Zayre stores to Ames before going out of business themselves in 2002. The Zayre in Laurel, last time I was there was an Old Country Buffet (and yes, I did eat there!)

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