Caldor, The Department Store of the Past

Once upon a time, on a bustling Main Street in Port Chester, New York, a recently discharged army veteran named Carl Bennett and his wife Dorothy had a vision. As the music of the 1950s danced in the air, they poured $8,000 of their hard-earned savings into a little second-floor store selling an array of toys, housewares, luggage, and gifts.

The year was 1951, and this tiny store marked the birth of what would grow into a beloved institution: Caldor. The name itself, a charming amalgamation of the founders’ first names, mirrored the personal and intimate nature of the business.

With a focus on quality and a keen eye for detail, Caldor aimed to be more than just a discount store. Its appeal rested on offering name-brand goods that catered to middle to upper-income shoppers who craved quality and a sense of atmosphere. As the stores grew, Caldor’s slogan, “Where shopping is always a pleasure,” seemed to echo through every aisle, embodying the very essence of the Caldor experience.

Caldor’s story is one of both triumph and resilience. After expanding to its second location in 1958, the business was hit by a massive setback when a store in Norwalk, Connecticut, burned down in 1961. Yet, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Caldor continued to grow, opening its ninth store by 1966 and expanding into five states.

In the mid-70s, Caldor took over seven stores formerly run by the W.T. Grant Company, ending the decade with 56 locations and a remarkable $550 million in sales. Even in the face of the late 70s’ recession, Caldor’s earnings continued to grow. This success was no accident. Caldor’s strategy of selling first-rate, national brands at discounted prices, along with a liberal refund policy, set the store apart from its competition.

However, the winds of change were blowing. Caldor, once the fourth-largest department store in the country, began to struggle in the face of competition from giant discount chains. In 1995, Caldor filed for bankruptcy protection. Despite efforts to save the company, by May 15, 1999, the last Caldor store had closed its doors, marking the end of a 48-year era.

Yet, Caldor’s story is more than just its rise and fall. It’s about the lives touched, the communities served, and the memories created over almost half a century. The legacy of Caldor, built by Carl and Dorothy, is one of quality and customer experience, a testament to their unwavering commitment to their vision.

So, as we remember Caldor, we pay homage to a time when shopping was truly a pleasure, because of the warmth, the quality, and the service it offered. Take a moment to watch the video below and relive the Caldor experience. If it brings back fond memories, please do share them with others.

If you liked this, share it with a friend.

Check Also

‘Top Chef’ star Naomi Pomeroy found dead at 49 in river, days after going missing

Naomi Pomeroy, widely recognized for her culinary skills on Top Chef, has tragically passed away. The …