Thursday, May 6, 2010

Of Bradlees and Muhammad Ali

From Mick Melvin:


I was out taking pictures one day and came across a deserted shopping center in Manchester, CT. What caught my eye was a tall Bradlees sign that I could see for a 1/4 mile down the road. I followed the sign down the street with memories of my childhood visits to Bradlees. I would go there with my family when we lived in New Jersey in the '70s. I was surprised to see the sign because the Bradlees chain has been out of business for nine years. When I got to the location, I found a completely dead shopping center. The only life I saw was a flock of pigeons and the occasional pedestrian walking through the massive parking lot.

Bradless was the anchor store in the once thriving shopping center. From what I could make out from the silhouettes of signs, there was a Stop N’ Shop, a movie theater, Hobby Tyme, Joann Fabrics, Card Gallery and a couple of others I could not identify. I decided to take a closer look at the stores and read some of the graffiti-strewn walls. On my stroll through the shopping ghost town, I came upon a store front that was on the side hidden away from the other stores. The Genesis Center, Inc., “Local Mental Health Authority,” had its share of graffiti, too, and a side door with posters of my childhood hero, Muhammad Ali. The back of the stores were full of graffiti and trash left there over the years.

The Greatest

The shopping center is a sad sight when you first look at it, but I’m glad I saw that familiar red and white Bradlees sign that day. It brought back many memories of shopping with my family and, like a lot of the subjects from the Backside, it gives you that great nostalgic feeling. It seems as though people who worked there have that feeling too. There is a facebook group for Bradlees and the Manchester, CT, store is mentioned. It closed its doors in 2001, but still stands to remind us of our retail past.

Dead Strip Mall

(For those who want to read more about abandoned Bradlees stores, this time in the Garden State, we direct you to a site we just discovered: The Caldor Rainbow -- ed.)


  1. It brings back similar memories to me as well. The Ali "posters" are quite amazing...quite a catch with the camera.
    Wonderfully shot and written.

  2. They're now tearing the whole thing down...

  3. Came across this post randomly searching old dept. stores. I've lived a few miles down the road from this my whole life, went shopping here as a kid with my family. I might have pics of its years of disuse somewhere, definitely do have photos of this shopping center (formerly called The Manchester Parkade) from the 1980s. Glad you noticed this, and thanks for the post! Good memories.