The glory days on Kirkwood Highway


Good afternoon,

News that the last I. Goldberg store in Center City Philadelphia is closing brought back memories of the retail hub along Kirkwood Highway.

When we arrived in Delaware in the late 1980s, trips to that area were a necessity for people who had recently landed in the retail-deprived Route 40 area.

Goldberg, a small chain at the time, had a store on Kirkwood Highway that offered durable backpacks, a necessity when it came to school shopping. At the Prices Corner shopping center, Woolworths was a good spot for school supplies.

If you needed building supplies or hardware, your options were Hechinger’s and Channel later became Rickel.

Later on, Strawbridge and Clothier opened a shiny new Clover discount store. Electronics chain Silo was around for a millisecond and to the west near Newark, you could pick up merchandise from the Best Products store after ordering from the catalog.

A nice night out could be had at the Steak and Ale or you could grab a quick bite at Roy Roger’s.

All of the above departed long ago. Sears, a place to buy appliances and treadmills hung on, but exited Prices Corner in 2018, leaving JC Penney as the last long-time store standing. The highway’s auto row is down to a trio of new car dealerships after having as many as five.

Meanwhile, the Channel-Rickel site was the home of a Best Buy for years until the company two stores and opened a new location near Christiana Mall. The site has since morphed into space shared by discount grocer Aldi and a fitness center.

What’s next? We have seen some work at the Sears store, although nothing has yet been announced.

Midway Shopping Center off Limestone Road seems to perk along with off-price chains and smaller retailers and restaurants surviving and even thriving. One example is Kirkwood Highway Bachetti Brothers, market and catering service.

The same is true with Kirkwood Plaza, home to Kohl’s and Petco. Still, the area is dotted with retail vacancies and some centers in need of upgrades.

Entrepreneurs havestepped in and taken key corners, one example being Ferris Home Improvements on the Newark side of the highway.

While Kirkwood Highway is a long way from becoming a retail desert, it is time to plan for the next chapter. A new generation of retailers that bailed it out in the past does not seem to be waiting in the wings in the digital age.

Feel free to pass along any ideas.

A final note: OUr apologies for this space containing Friday’s column again on Monday. It takes one online checkmark to move Our View to its designated space in the newsletter. That did not happen.

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