There are a lot of memories contained here in the Cleveland cityscape; our remarkable skyline may have changed over the years, but sometimes, looking at it just brings back a twinkle of nostalgia. Maybe you’ll see an image of Cleveland and something about it causes an old memory to stir, and you might be surprised by what you recall. If you’re here for that daily dose of nostalgia, you’re in the right place.
Higbee's has a history that predates the Civil War, making it a true Cleveland icon. In 1860, the store started its life in Public Square as Higbee & Hower Dry Goods. When John G. Hower died, Edwin Converse Higbee moved the operation to a five-story Playhouse Square Center store. The store would find itself back in Public Square by 1925, when the Van Sweringen brothers purchased the company and moved it into the Terminal Tower.
Despite bankruptcy during the Great Depression, the Higbee name persevered. In 1983, the Public Square storefront was featured in A Christmas Story and, less than a decade later, Dillard's bought out their joint owner and rebranded the existing stores as Dillard's. Now, the name Higbee's is a mere reminder of the splendor that was once Downtown shopping.
2. Heinen's Fine Foods
While Heinen's is a
new addition to the Downtown scene
, it is a long-standing Cleveland company. In 1929, Joe Heinen opened his first butcher shop on Kinsman Road. After experiencing success in this field, he opened up his first supermarket. Today, 19 stores speckle the state, and the Heinen family continues to oversee operations.
3. Boukair's Seesweets Restaurant
Boukair's was located in the Hanna Building, just a stone's throw from Playhouse Square. This chic ice cream parlor was a mishmash of colors and flavors, and their menu featured eclectic options that no other ice cream parlor could rival. It has faded into memory since closure in 1980s, but you can still taste their sodas and sundaes if you close your eyes and imagine their splendor.
4. Tops Friendly Markets
In 1996, Tops merged with Finast and a slew of stores appeared across Northeast Ohio. When the millennium rolled round, Tops debuted their first fueling station in nearby Akron; however, Tops' unprecedented growth had a significant impact upon the company's debt, and they began to downsize. By summer of 2006, Tops left the Northeast Ohio market. While the store no longer operates in this area, they still have a handful locations east of the state.
5. Fisher Foods
In 1907, New Jersey natives Manning and Charles Fisher were eager to open up their first grocery store. They expanded the business rapidly, and soon they were the largest supermarket chain in the city. Local adored the chain for its upscale shopping experience. In the 1960s, Fisher merged with the Fazio's and Costa supermarkets, enabling them to expand outside of the Ohio market. However, their fortune would not last, and they merged with the Rini-Rego Stop N Shop chain and Seaway Foods Wholesaler, forming Riser Foods in 1988. Less than a decade later, Giant Eagle absorbed the company.
6. Acme Fresh Market
In 1891, Massillon native Frederick Wilhelm Albrecht opened his first grocery store. Over the next century, the store would undergo remarkable changes. The small, cash-only corner store would eventually transition into a supermarket, and locations began to spring up across Northeast Ohio. In 1965, Acme debuted Click, a subsidiary retail store, and in the 1970s, they opened Y-Mart, a series of convenience stores. By the 1990s, they were rebranded as Acme Super Centers and Acme Express, respectively. These branding efforts were not eternal, it seems, and many stores closed down while others expanded as Acme Fresh Markets. Today, 16 stores operate across Northeast Ohio.
7. Dave's Markets
In 1930, Alex Saltzman opened a small produce wagon on Payne Avenue and affectionately named his business after his son. Soon, though, it would expand into a supermarket that would pass through four generations of the Saltzman family. Dave's has expanded to 14 locations across Northeast Ohio, and expansion of this locally-owned market was actually impacted by Tops' decision to withdraw from operations in the area. Dave's purchased four former Tops stores, making 2007 a busy year for expansion.
8. Malley's Chocolates
Despite the weight of the Great Depression, Albert "Mike" Malley borrowed $500 and set out to become a professional chocolatier. Amazingly, his first store on Madison Avenue in Lakewood was successful, and his second ice cream parlor and sweet shop would become notable as the first all-aluminum retail store in the nation. Now, with 23 stores, Malley's is the sweetest Northeast Ohio chain. They are perhaps most notable for their contribution to the Cleveland skyline: three very pink silos painted "Milk," "Sugar," and "Cocoa." These unusual features face I-480, boldly greeting locals and visitors alike.
9. The May Company
The May Company, Cleveland traces its history back to 1877, when David May established the May Department Stores Company in Missouri. This holding company bought, sold, and merged existing stores, resulting in a plethora of May-brand department stores to pop up around the country. In 1899, May acquired a storefront in Cleveland, and sold higher-end fashions through this outlet.
In 1914, May left his mark on the city by constructing an edifice on the southeast corner of Public Square, a landmark which was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1974. By the 1950s, The May Company, Cleveland was expanding into the suburbs, and in 1965, this Cleveland department store became the first local company to issue its own personal charge card. The company ended up merging with Kaufmann's in 1993. Kaufmann's merged with Macy's, and The May Company faded away into our memories.
Cleveland has been home to many notable companies over the years. Some have survived the dramatic economic changes of the past few decades, but others have faded into mere memories. What are your favorite stores of yesteryear?