Do you remember Ames?

Remembering Ames Department Store: A Legacy of Value and Community

For many, the name “Ames” evokes nostalgia and memories of a beloved department store that played a significant role in communities across the United States. From its humble beginnings to its growth as a discount retail giant, Ames left an indelible mark on the retail landscape. In this blog post, we’ll take a journey through the history of Ames Department Store, exploring its founding, growth, and notable achievements.

A Humble Beginning: Ames Department Store traces its roots back to 1958 when Milton Goldberg and his brother Irving founded the first store in Southbridge, Massachusetts. What started as a small discount store gradually expanded, capturing the attention of customers seeking quality products at affordable prices. Ames quickly gained popularity and embarked on a remarkable journey of growth.

Expanding Reach and Success: Ames experienced significant expansion throughout the 1960s and 1970s, opening new locations and establishing a strong presence in the northeastern United States. With its commitment to offering everyday low prices, Ames became a go-to destination for budget-conscious shoppers. The company’s success was attributed to its wide range of merchandise, including clothing, housewares, electronics, and more.

Community Engagement and Employment Opportunities: Ames Department Store was not just a retail chain; it was an integral part of the communities it served. With each new store opening, Ames brought employment opportunities to local residents, contributing to economic growth. Many employees developed lifelong careers within the company, fostering a sense of loyalty and community connection.

Notable Achievements:

  1. Ames Plaza: In the 1970s, Ames introduced a pioneering concept called “Ames Plaza.” These larger-format stores featured an expanded selection of merchandise, including groceries, automotive supplies, and even sporting goods. This innovation allowed Ames to cater to a broader customer base and diversify its offerings.

  2. Acquisition of Zayre Corporation: In 1988, Ames acquired the Zayre Corporation, a well-known discount retailer at the time. This strategic move further solidified Ames’ presence in the industry, expanding its footprint to over 700 locations across 20 states.

The Rise & Fall of Ames

Ames was Founded

Ames Department Stores Inc. was an American chain of discount stores based in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, United States. The company was founded in 1958 with a store in Southbridge, Massachusetts, and at its peak operated 700 stores in 20 states, including the Northeast, Upper South, Midwest, and the District of Columbia, making it the fourth-largest discount retailer in the country.

The End of Ames
Ames Department Stores

The company, despite expanding into other markets and taking over many closed stores abandoned by competitors, went out of business in 2002. All stores ceased operations on October 19, 2002.

Challenges and Conclusion: While Ames Department Store experienced success and growth for several decades, it faced challenges in the late 1990s. Increased competition from larger retail chains and changing consumer preferences impacted the company’s profitability. Unfortunately, these challenges led to financial difficulties, ultimately resulting in the closure of the remaining Ames stores in 2002.

Ames Department Store’s legacy lives on as a testament to its dedication to providing quality products at affordable prices. It served as a community hub and a reliable source of employment for many. The memories and impact of Ames continue to resonate with those who fondly recall the store’s presence in their neighborhoods.

As we reflect on the history of Ames, we celebrate its achievements and the significant role it played in the retail industry and the communities it served. The memories of Ames Department Store serve as a reminder of a bygone era and the enduring impact of a store that truly understood the needs of its customers.

While Ames may no longer be in operation, its story remains a cherished part of retail history, forever etched in the hearts of those who experienced the joy of shopping at their local Ames store.


Company's Peak Year


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Company Website




Click through the gallery above to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and rediscover some of the most beloved retail stores that were once the ultimate gathering spots. Relive the magic of these bygone days and cherish the memories that have stood the test of time. But wait, there’s more! We’d love to hear from you too! If you have any information, stories, or anecdotes about these cherished spots, share them in the comments below. Let’s create a community of shared memories and celebrate the places we hold dear. Did we miss one of your personal favorites? Don’t hesitate to tell us all about it in the comments! Join us in honoring the past, as we recall these cherished retail stores that may be gone but will never be forgotten.

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