Norwalk, CT


 Warren D. Feldberg










Slogan:  Bring home the difference!


Unfortunately, I never visited a Caldor store before.  I learned about the chain online and through a past co-worker of mine who worked there.  I know that Caldor was a neat store chain, they had about 145 stores in 9 states of the east coast at the end.  Just by looking at pictures of the stores and logo, i knew that it was a modern chain, the stores were looking good and the format seemed fine.  Even if the chain was bigger than 105-store Bradlees, they banrkupted before increased competition from Wal-Mart and others.  Another 22,000 employees lost their job in 1999.   Caldor only had one store in New Hampshire, in Bedford near Manchester.




Caldor was founded in 1951 by Carl and Dorothy Bennett, who combined their first names to form "Caldor'' and opened one small store in Port Chester, N.Y.  The Bennetts sold Caldor to Associated Dry Goods Corp., and in 1986, ADG merged with the May Department Stores Co. In 1991, Caldor went public and grew into a company with $2.5 billion in annual sales. But in recent years, Caldor failed to distinguish itself from other regional discounters, like Ames Department Stores, and couldn't compete with retail giants like Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target.

Caldor's slide into liquidation  was nothing if not gradual. When it entered Chapter 11 in september 1995, the move was widely viewed as strategic, a way to deal with vendors and factors that had grown nervous concerning Northeastern discount chains in the wake of Bradlees' bankruptcy filing, and to ensure adequate stocks for the Christmas season. Shortly before its filing, Caldor's balance sheet included $1.2 billion in assets and $883 million in liabilities.  In February 1998, Caldor announced they would close twelve stores.

In February of 1999, Caldor, the company founded by Cal and Dorothy Bennett in 1951, turned into dust. This was the end of the sales pitch for the 4th. largest retail chain in America. 22,000 workers took home pink slips for their trouble. 145 stores in nine states were put up for lease. After 48 years, and annual sales of $2.49 billion, the going out of business sales at Caldors began.

Ironically, Caldor's one-time sister chain under the May Co. umbrella, Venture Stores, had a few months earlier announced its liquidiation owing to myriad problems that it could not overcome. Some observers on that fall morning believed that similar challenges still faced Caldor.  Caldor once had 166 stores and 24,000 employees.

Yet here, once again, as Caldor was gearing up for a 1999 turnaround and perhaps anticipated celebrating a half-century of retailing in 2001, the same old story is being told about a retailer once hailed for its success and innovation that fought like a champion to survive.





Caldor cart spotted at a Building 19 store.
A Caldor cart seen at Building 19 in Nashua NH.

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