Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Yes Virginia, Bloomingdale's Had an Electronics Department

This post is rooted in my own personal experience a bit more than some others others and, as such, may border on being a tad granular. Even so, I have to think it will likely spark a memory in at least a few readers out there, as it did for me.

Long before the explosion of shopping malls destroyed the fabric of American retail (an article for another day), the 1970s and early 1980s were something of an innocent time for shoppers. Everyone's hometown had plenty of free-standing "mom and pop" stores that sold everything from refrigerators to sneakers to legos, and their only real competition came in the form of long-established department stores.

Almost every city had at least one of these department stores in those days: Perhaps you reminisce about your old Wanamaker's, Macy's, Dillard's, JC Penney or Lord & Taylor. Where I grew up, we were lucky enough to have almost every department store known to man, including B. Altman's, Abraham & Strauss, Bonwit Teller, and one of the most popular names of the time: Bloomingdale's.

For those born after 1990, department stores of the 70s and 80s were vastly different in composition than they are now, and Bloomingdale's was no exception. If you stroll through your local Bloomie's today, you'll notice the majority of the space is devoted to apparel, followed in scale by housewares, bedding and furniture. However, back in the early 80s, Bloomingdale's had a few departments you wouldn't expect to see: A bakery, a gourmet shop, a toy department, a book department (you heard right), and full-fledged electronics department.

As a child, the electronics department was more than simply a section of a larger retail space: It was a veritable oasis of awesomeness in a desert of brutally dull women's wear, towels, rugs and--God forbid--children's clothing. Sure, the department itself was no bigger than a large high-school classroom, but it managed to fit just about everything a curious, wide-eyed kid (or wide-eyed adult) could want: Televisions? Check. Stereos? Check? VCRs? Yup. Betamax? Yes sir. And last but not least--the real draw for a kid like me: Video game systems and hand-held games/electronics toys.

Did I just say video game systems? I sure did. Along the back wall of my electronics department was a neatly organized display wall unit that had every cutting-edge console of the time--one might call it a shrine of cool: A then aging Atari 2600, it's younger, spiffier brother, the Atari 5200 and the "new" competitior: Mattel's Intellivision system. Imagine each hooked up, brand new and ready to be played with, and you'll know an 8 year old's version of gaming heaven.

I played countless rounds of Pitfall and Combat on the Ataris, but I found the Intellivision to be the most intriguing: The odd keypad controller with removable overlays, the wide circular paddle, of course, the games. I can remember wiling away what seemed like hours (likely much less) taking turns playing "baseball" on that Intellivision--to the point where I had become somewhat of an expert, taking on all challengers who were foolish enough to face me on the digital diamond. They were soundly beaten.

In 1982, my attention was monopolized by a sparkling newcomer to the department: The powerful new ColecoVision, complete with the classic Donkey Kong--starring a "before he was famous" Mario--in all its colorful glory. This was my new gaming altar, and I would find a way to pray at it every time my parents felt the need to take me shopping.

The Bloomingdale's electronics department had other attractions to bend the will of kids--and raise the ire of parents--who entered: A form of candy-coated crack called handheld games. We're talking pre-Gameboy goodness here: Mini-LED based games like "Split Second," LCD "Game and Watch" games, and even Texas Instruments' holy trinity of edutainment: Speak & Spell, Speak & Math and Speak & Read. Each system was securely mounted along a long shelf, fully powered and always waiting to be played.

During my time in the department, I'd manage to keep things interesting for the sake of variety: Playing a game of daunting Pitfall (which usually ended quickly), enjoying a few rounds of two-screened LCD Donkey Kong Jr,  and an attempt to legitimize my visit by hammering out a few words on Speak & Spell--and then oddly realizing I enjoyed the latter more that I expected. Needless to say, I was in no mood to leave when my parents wanted to drag me from my digital wonderland.

Now, before anyone assumes my parents would simply plunk me in this sandbox while they shopped care-fee, I should clarify a few important points: Back then, department stores had a level of personal service that doesn't commonly exist today. When you walked in to your local Bloomingdale's or Macy's, the employees knew you by name, and vice versa. They were your neighbors, peers and even friends. Additionally, I had the great advantage of having a family member who worked at my Bloomingdale's at that time, so the employees were indeed actually friends in many cases. Lastly, my parents were never far from where I was, and they only really felt comfortable leaving me on my own when I was a couple of years older. Unfortunately, that trust, maturity and self-reliance blossomed at the same time my precious electronics department was on the verge of dying.

By 1983, a new animal was appearing on the local retail landscape: Big box-style electronics superstores. These included the now defunct "Wiz" (in my area), Circuit City, and eventually, Best Buy. At the same time, department stores were being thrust into a battle with rapidly sprouting shopping malls which, while not necessarily competing for the electronics dollar, posed a huge threat to their apparel and home goods revenue streams. Department stores with smaller electronics departments like Bloomingdale's were forced to make a choice: Keep fighting a costly, losing battle with the likes of the superstores, or concede and devote more focus to their bread-and-butter offerings like apparel and housewares to compete with malls. The choice was clear.

By 1986, Bloomingdale's had closed the last of their electronics departments around the country, using the newly freed space to widen the footprint of women's wear, shoes or--in my store--a transplanted luggage department. Stores like Abraham & Strauss and JC Penney managed keep their electronics departments on life support for a few more years thanks to large appliance and cassette sales, but eventually they fell as well. A new age was upon us, for better or worse.

At the time, I viewed it simply as a changing of the guard, free of the nostalgic lens I now peer through as an adult. As a kid, you simply want the next cool device, and the store that sold it became less of a destination as it was a supplier. I have countless memories of my first NES and it's descendants, but I remember little of the store at which I acquired it.

Young people reading this will likely scoff at the quaint idea of getting up out of a chair, getting in a car and driving to a local department store to buy a TV or a gaming console. Whereas the shopping mall had razed the previous retail landscape, online retail has all but changed some local department stores to mere showrooms. Yes, there are positives to consider: convenience, ease of shopping, lower prices, etc.; I'm not oblivious to the fact that almost everything we hold nostalgic usually has legitimate financial reason for disappearing and/or changing. Even after writing this, I can't imagine buying my next console or TV without checking online for a cheaper price.

Some might say I've bestowed a bit of hyperbole on something so mundane and fleeting as a local electronics department. That said, there's something to be said for these little enclaves of play: Sure, they may have been doomed by design from the start, but they had a personal connection with the customer that we'll never recapture. For a child, that connection is even more vivid and meaningful--fused into our mental motherboards right next to Christmas mornings and candy stores.

The nature of technology has obviously grown far beyond the boundaries of a trackball-driven game of Missile Command: Today, a Nintendo DS or iPad is met with the same wonder I had watching Mario climb a ladder to rescue a princess on 19-inch tube TV. The question is, does clicking a shopping cart carry the same emotional resonance as walking wide-eyed through a bleeping, flashing corner of fun in your hometown store? Perhaps the bigger, sadder question is, does it even matter?

  • Highbeam Research has an article on the demise of Bloomingdale's electronics departments
  • Special 80s bonus: The iconic scene in "Splash" that takes place in Bloomindgale's electronics department can be seen here on YouTube.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Renovating!

If you're looking at this blog and saying, "what the heck happened?" -- don't worry. I'm in the process of updating/renovating the look and feel. However, unlike the usual "hey let's wait until our design is locked down, and then re-launch" method, I decided to do with the more unorthodox, "let's edit live so everyone can see, and do it over a period of a few months" method. Cutting edge.

Anyhow, just be patient, and all will be fixed shortly! Until then, keep loving the 1980s!
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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Trapper Keeper: Mead's Answer to the Swiss Army Knife



Admit it: There was always a tiny spec of excitement you used to feel when heading out that day to buy your fresh, new school supplies every September. Sure, the feelings of dread, impending humiliation, exclusion and forced conformity took center stage when labor day rolled around, but a quick trip to Woolworth's or K-Mart would ease that pain for a moment. Of course, most of what you'd buy would become instantly obsolote: Multi-colored ball point pens, laminated college-themed book covers and that uber-geek pencil holder you'd never use. Amidst all those pencil-top erasers, translucent rulers and paint pens, the one central anchor of every school supply shopping list was the notebook and/or binder.

Enter the Mead Trapper Keeper. In the early 80's, the Trapper Keeper was the Rolls Royce of binders. Forget that spiral bound crap, or that cro-magnon denim-coated notebook, the Trapper was state of the art: A large, vinyl/plastic holder that folded open to reveal several pockets, a clipboard/penholder, several colorful folders (named "portfolios"), and a revolutionary "slider" style plastic 3-hole binding system to hold everythhing together. And what's more, when you needed to head to your next class, the whole unit folded over and sealed up securely via the adhesive choice of the decade: Velcro.

Talk about versatility and convenience! When this thing exploded on the scene back in the 80's, it was truly something to behold. Think of how you could use the pockets! Not to mention how each folder could be color coded to each subject! And what about that clipboard thing? You could put your note paper there, or keep it in that ultra-cool sliding binder system. Plus, you'd never lose your pens, since it would stay securely at the top of the clipboard!

And what about personalization? The Trapper Keeper used to come in a variety of styles and colors. In some cases, you could even get "themes" like sports or landscapes. And if you didn't like the pre-designed ideas, you could always simply use a pen-knife to open the pastic coverings to slide in your own photos and/or art to give your new notebook that personal touch! Honestly, the Trapper Keeper was by far the most exciting development in school supplies since white-out.

But all that excitement would soon turn to sadness. By the winter, each of the selling points of the Trapper Keeper would become liabilities: The pockets would become overstuffed and virtually unsuable. That nifty clipboard would lose its tension, and most of your notes would be housed in the binder area. The penholder would stop holding pens, and you'd be forced to use the pockets to hold pens (causing further damage). And that revolutionary "slider" binder? It would fall apart and become more of an annoyance than a godsend. To make matters worse, that velcro closure would be reduced to a patch of fuzz, making the whole system capable of "trapping" absolutely nothing.

By Christmas, the Trapper Keeper was all but useless. In the hands of any normal student, all of its bells and whistles were quickly muted, and its shortcomings become painfully evident: Not secure, easily broken, too small, and just plain stupid, Mead's answer to the Swiss Army knife seemed more like a toenail clipper. True, there were many Trapper Keeper faithfuls who would simply buy another, fresher unit to replace their fallen sidekick, but the more intelligent students realized quickly that this "new toy" was a big mistake. To quote The Who: "We Won't Get Fooled Again"--next year, the Trapper keeper would be avoided.

Mead kept making the Trapper Keeper for several years, improving it and attempting to rectify many of the issues that made it rather unusable. In the 90's, the Trapper Keeper became a luxury SUV in a time when students would have rather had a Honda Civic, and by the latter portion of that decade, the Trapper Keeper of old had dissappeared from store shelves. True, education was becoming more and more paperless, but the design of the Trapper Keeper alone kept it from overtaking the old standby notebooks year after year.

In the end, Mead's velcro-equipped beast became nothing more than a memory. A memory of a time when pencil holders, flourescent rulers and colorful sharpeners took the edge off of the single worst time of the year for any child: back to school. And for that, I guess we owe the Trapper Keeper a little bit of a thank you.



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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sly Fox Goes All the Way--Into Oblivion



One of the great things about the 80's (and any other decade, for that matter), is the proliferation of "one-hit wonders" that became some of pop music's most memorable songs. Some of these tunes many know by heart: they can name the song/artist at the drop of a hat (Toni Basil's "Mickey"). Others, however, are songs that ignite an internal memory conflict in your brain rivalling "Total Recall": The all-too-familiar battle in which one part of you says, "dammit I kow this song--I used to love it!" and the other says "who the hell is this?"Of course, if you loved it so much, common sense would dictate you should know the artist--but such is not the case with one-hit wonders... and this is their devlish charm.

In 1985, British producer Ted Currier assembled a pop/funk duo called "Sly Fox." The duo was made up of Gary 'Muddbone' Cooper, a former member of the iconic funk group Parliament, and a vocalist by the name of Michael Camacho. Cooper and the team magically combined elements of funk, soul, alt-rock and hip-hop, added a dash of obligatory 80's synth, and the result was the song "Let's Go All The Way." The pastiche of all these styles was a success, as the song became a huge dance track hit--but it didn't stop there: The song charted with almost every demographic you could imagine: pop, r&b, new-wave, rock, etc. It fit as easily into a playlist of the Smiths and the Cure as it did amongst Prince and Rick Springfield. Needless to say, this was a pretty tall order, even in the 80s.

"Let's Go All The Way" reached #7 on Billboard's hot 100 in 1985. This seemed to bode well for this newly formed group, but, as is the case with the fickle 80s, the future for Sly Fox was not bright. Their debut LP was not received as well as the single, partly because the rest of the album was low-end synth filler that rarely rivaled a Casio's "demo" button. And while MTV played the video for "Let's Go All The Way" quite often (probably too often), there's only so much milage you can get out of one hit--even in 1986. In no time, Sly Fox had vanished from the musical landscape.

Today, you'll likely only hear the pulsating strains of "Let's Go All The Way" at 80's clubs, or as part of your average retro TV program. Cooper went on to work on several more projects (including Adina Howard's 1995 hit "Freak Like Me" and some solo work), and Mr. Camacho continued working as a vocalist, mainly in the jazz arena. While the two may not have gone on to super stardom, their song has since been re-mixed and remade several times. Funny: 80's music often ends up as a punchline nowadays-- but it's oddly good enough to earn money for some band willing to remake it. Go figure, right?

· Sly Fox has an entry in Wikipedia.
· You can find out more about Parliament  here
· Michael Camacho has a profile on The Jazz Network
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Monday, January 16, 2006

Tomy's Handheld Pac Man: A Forgotten Gem

The 1980's spawned dozens of versions of the iconic arcade classic Pac Man: From mini-arcade tabetop, to home video game system, to electronic game watch. Some versions were way more popular than others, but each had it's own distinct charm. For example: While Coleco made the definitive tabletop/electronic iteration, there were quite a few handheld competitors that were pretty fun too. And, if you were one of the kids who had the "friend" who had the Coleco, you most certainly got attached to another version, usually out of jealousy.

In 1981, Tomy released a version of the classic maze game called "TomyTronic Pac Man." This version was distinctive for several reasons: First of all, it had a striking, bright yellow circular casing that screamed Pac Man. The game screen itself was rather small compared to the size of the unit, but it was fairly bright and colorful. Lastly--and oddly--Pac Man could only actually EAT the dots (or "bait" as the manual called them) when he was moving from right to left in the maze. However, once you got past this little problem, it became second nature, and the game became as addictive as any version ever made.



I personally remember this game because one of my cousins had it, and every time I visited my aunt's house, I was invariably glued to this little device for at least an hour or so out of every visit. True, I had my own share of handheld electronic games at home, but, as the saying goes--the 'grass is always greener,' and 'absence makes the heart grow fonder.' Honestly, we all fell into that way of thinking when we were kids playing with other people's toys--NUMEROUS TIMES--even if you ended up eventually getting the toy they had. Strange how that works, right?

As the decade went on, games got a little smaller and more refined. In addition, 'second-tier' games like these usually fell by the wayside in favor of other, bigger-name versions. But, as Pac Man games go, Tomy had a little gem on their hands with this one, and I have a feeling I'm not the only one who has fond memories of it.

    - You can see this game at The Handheld Museum (which happens to be a fantastic site). They even have the instruction manual! 

    - The original, Japanese version of this game was called "Puck-Man." You can find a great Japanese commercial for it on YouTube. 


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    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Duran Duran Makes Bond History... In a Film We'd Like to Forget

    I like to consider myself a bit of a James Bond aficionado. And while I don't own Odd Job's hat, a replica Walther PPK, or a shoe with a 3 inch switchblade in it (although that would be pretty cool)--I'm a huge fan of the franchise. However, unlike the usual "fanboy" type, I can realistically admit when something sucks--even when it's something one of my favorite character appears in.

    In 1985, EON and UA released what is possibly the worst Bond film ever made: "A View to a Kill." (I say possibly because "Moonraker" is usually considered the worst). Whether it's the obviously miscast geriatric Roger Moore (Filmed constantly with softening filters, and as stiff as a stick of stale gum), the stilted script, the vacuous Tanya Roberts, or the scene in which Grace Jones sleeps with Bond (My eyes! No!)--this film had it all. In short, the only notable things about "A View to a Kill" are Christopher Walken's bizarre performance as the film's villain, and the fact that this is Roger Moore's last film as Bond. Oh... and one more thing: this film generated the best Bond song ever recorded--by none other than Duran Duran.

    Throughout the Bond franchise, there have been numerous memorable theme songs: Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger," Tom Jones' "Thunderball," "Nobody Does it Better" by Carly Simon, etc. But not one of these ever approached the popularity and success of Duran Duran's powerhouse single, "A View to a Kill." Written by the band and legendary composer John Barry, the song has a sizzling musical bed, a powerful beat, and a markedly good performance by the group. Punctuated by synth orchestral hits throughout, the song is, without a doubt, the most effectively exciting Bond song ever.

    And the public agreed. The song skyrocketed up the Billboard charts in 1985, and became the only Bond song to reach number 1--a feat that has gone unmatched to this day. Of course, Duran Duran's popularity was partly to blame for this, but the fact is that this song transcended being merely a "Bond theme": people who didn't see the film loved it. People who hated James Bond loved it. People who never saw a Bond film loved it. In other words, it was just a kick-ass song, plain and simple.

    Of course, the sad fact remains that this massive hit was associated with a massive clunker of a film. True, there were probably some ticket sales generated by the song, but it soon became apparent that the tune was exponentially more exciting than any of the lame scenes in the film that shared it's title.

    In the end, it really didn't matter that much: The song kept Duran Duran on the charts, and "A View to a Kill" did respectably well at the box office. What's funny about this pairing is that it was a bit of a harbinger of doom on many fronts: Duran Duran's singles after 1986 were mostly forgettable. The next two Bond films, while good, didn't capture the popularity of the Moore films; and the next few Bond theme songs evaporated quickly from any charts they made it on to.

    Could it be the curse of "A View To A Kill?" Who knows. Thankfully, the franchise's heart began to beat again in the 90's. But, the songs have never approached the level of Duran Duran's masterpiece. Who would have thought that nearly 21 years later, a Bond movie would be relegated to a footnote in a theme song's liner notes, instead of the other way around?

    - You can find out more about "A View to a Kill" visit the IMDB.
    - If you have iTunes, you can hear this song here.

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    Friday, January 06, 2006

    What Exactly is a Neutron Dance?



    If you owned a radio in 1984, there were certain musical acts that you couldn't go 5 minutes without hearing. You know what we're talking about: Those long-lasting, uber-popular groups that released track after track of radio freindly goodness that seemed to remain in heavy rotation for half the decade. Think Duran Duran, Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. One act that fell squarely into this esteemed group of 80's icons was the Pointer Sisters--and one song that kept them there was the oddly-titled "Neutron Dance."

    You remember it: the thumping 80's synth lead-in, the infectious early-80's dance beat and the title that didn't make a lick of sense. In 1983, the talented sisters Pointer released a massive hit album by the name of "Break Out." In the years leading up to it's release, they were already heavy hitters, scoring six convincing top ten hits on both the pop and R&B charts--a feat many acts would have been happy to settle with. However, "Break Out" lived up to its name and propelled the sisters into the stratosphere of Pop, R&B, Dance and--surprisingly--New Wave stardom. "Break Out" showed just how savvy the Pointer Sisters were: it embraced the synthesizer craze of the times, while still maintaining a legitimate soulful groove in each song. This made the album major crossover material, and that foresight paid off.

    The album stayed on the Billboard charts for over a year, and it spawned 4 top ten singles, including "I'm so Excited," "Automatic," "Jump (For My Love)." and last, but not least, "Neutron Dance." Well, almost. Truth be told, "Neutron Dance" didn't reach said heights based on it's appearance on "Break Out." Instead, the song was rocketed into radio history when it was included on the multi-platinum soundtrack for the classic 80s film, "Beverly Hills Cop" at the end of 1984. Coupled with such pop magnates as Shalamar and Patti Labelle, the Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance" helped make "Beverly Hills Cop" one of the few soundtrack albums at the time to reach number 1 on the pop charts. On it's own, "Dance" reached number 6 on the pop charts.

    Of course, no one really knew what the hell "Neutron Dance" meant. A nuetron is an electrically neutral sub-atomic particle which, when coupled with protons, makes up the entire mass of an atomic nuclei. So, what are we talking here? Are we to assume the song is about a happenin' dance devoted to neutrality? An homage to the forgotten sub atomic particle? A companion peice to a song about Protons? Our guess is none of the above--and honestly, no one really cared. Between 1984 and 1985, not one soul jumping to the rockin' beat of "Neutron Dance" wondered what the significance of the title was, and they never wanted to find out. To be honest, that's actually part of the charm of the song: it's odd scientific reference lent itself to images of neon glows, kitchsy technology, and loose aural associations to "nuclear": all things that were indicative of the 1980s. Maybe the Pointer SIsters were smarter than we thought!

    Nowadays, this classic pop gem is relegated to flashback TV programs, food commercials and club remixes. Sure, it may be a little bit of a punchline in 2006, but way back in 1985, it was anything but. Whether you want to admit it or not, when this song came on, you were more than likely dancing and/or singing along with it. Of course, this was before the days when you were obligated to listen to "important" music that "meant something." What neanderthals we were in the 80s, right? Whatever.

    · Find out more about the Pointer Sisters at Their official site. 
    · If you want to check out the "Beverly Hills Cop" soundtrack, go to Amazon.com 
    · If you have iTunes, Click here
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    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    And What of Chess King?

    It's been said that the 80's were the decade of excess, and that was never more true in than in the explosion of specialty clothing stores on the retail landscape at the time. And while some of those stores survived until today, many fell to the fickle, stinging blade of the retail industry due to poor management and an overall lack of understanding fashion trends. One shining example of this fate was Chess King.

    For the uninitiated, Chess King was NOT a store for chess players or chess afficianados. Nor was it a store specializing in clothing WORN by chess players. In fact, one could say that anyone shopping at Chess King probably lacked the intelligence to play a game of Chess, but that's neither here nor there. The store was a specialty clothing outlet that sold men's and women's lines of "faux-upscale" 80's designer wear. More specifically, the cheesiest, sleaziest, ugliest and most eye-searing 80's clothes you could possibly find. Velcro closures? Check. Mesh designs? Check. Excessive use of leather? Check. Odd-colored thick v-neck sweater vests? Check. Just think of any tacky 80's trend, and then spin it as "upscale." That's Chess King.

    At the start of the decade, Chess King was a part of the Melville corporation, a conglomerate that also owned such retail properties as CVS and Thom McAn. Throughout the early 80s, the store was responsible for outfitting sleazoid bar-hopping womanizers, wanna-be coke dealers, and various guys who pretended to be record executives. By the mid 80s, any "culture" the chain once had began to dissappear, and the only people bold enough to step foot into Chess King were men who enjoyed excessive hair gel, wore several gold chains, drove Monte Carlos and fancied themselves as don juans/mob enforcers. With such a fantastic clientele, whatever happened to the King?

    The 1990's happened, that's what. When they saw that the only people shopping at Chess King were walking punchlines, Melville, Inc. finally got a clue and decided to take action. In 1993, they sold the failing brand to then retail magnate Merry Go Round Enterprises (MGRE). At the time, MGRE held the bands Merry-go-Round, Cignal, Dejaiz and Attivo (among others), and apparently felt that the slowly dying Chess King would be a great addition to their star-studded cadre of clothing failures.

    Anyone see where this is going? By the end of 1993, Chess King (as well as many Merry-Go-Round stores) was losing money hand over fist--It had already began to vanish from many major U.S. city mall landscapes. To make matters worse, the 90's had crushed the once happy world of specialty clothing stores. It was survival of the fittest: if you weren't the Gap or Express, hit the road. MGRE couldn't stem the tide, so they did the inevitable: They filed for chapter 11 in January of 1994.

    Within one year of doing so, it became clear that eliminating brands would be the key to surviving. First victim? Chess King. In November of 1995, MGRE closed all of its Chess King stores, and announced rather optimistic plans for emerging from bankruptcy with profitibility. We'll stress that word, "optimistic," because quite the opposite happened.

    In 1996, after several hundred changes in company leadership, Merry-Go-Round Enterprises decided to call it quits. They liquidated all their assets, and laid off all of their employees, thereby effectively killing any chance of ressurecting any of their retail brands. No more Cignals. No more Merry-Go-Round. No more Dejaiz. And definitely no more Chess King.

    Sad? Maybe. But don't shed a tear for Chess King. Any store who took pride in outfitting men in diamond-patterned cardigans and acid-wash pleated balloon slacks deserved nothing less than a painful demise. We can only hope that this is one king that does NOT return.

    · Read about Chess King's acquisition by MGRE here at Highbeam research
    · Read about Chess King's elimination also here at Highbeam research
    · Read about MGRE's liquidation here
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