• Headquarters: Braintree, MA
  • President: Peter Thorner
  • Employees: 16,000 (Jan.1994)
  • Stores: 105
  • Slogan: Savings on the good stuff!
  • Founded: 1958
  • Closed: 2001

Bradlees was one of my favorite discounter. It was a chain similar to Ames, but with larger stores, often located in bigger cities, and with a unique layout. It offered general merchandise with many discounts all year around. The chain survived many years while facing Walmart stores that were opening throughout New England. Bradlees had 130 stores before filling for Chapter 11. It emerged with 102 stores in 1997 up to 105 stores in 2000. CEO Peter Thorner cleaned up the financial problems of the company and wanted to see Bradlees operating 150 store in a near future. Bradlees did open new stores including one in a former Caldor in Staten Island.

It was obvious that Bradlees was not going to survive another ten years with all the big box expansion in the Northeast. They tried everything but it didn't worked out. The thing I liked the most about the chain was the layout and look of the stores. It was different from the cookie-cutter Walmart stores.


The first Bradlees store opened its doors in 1958 in New London, CT. The name Bradlees was taken from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT where the Company’s earliest planning meetings were held. The chain was acquired by The Stop & Shop Cos. in 1961. By 1968, the company had 52 stores and was making nearly $140 million in sales. Bradlees had consistently profitable growth through the 1970s & 1980s.

Stop & Shop Cos. was acquired by Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts in 1988. Then, Bradlees spun off as a publicly traded company in 1992. The company filled for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection and closed stores. The decision was made to sell 37 facilities located in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland to reduce debt. In 1994, Bradlees had over 16,000 employees and was entering new markets with six to ten new stores, including its first stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY.

In early 1995, a new management team was chosen by Bradlees' Board of Directors to lead the company and return it to profitability. In February 1996, Bradlees closed twelve unprofitable stores. On February 2, 1999 Bradlees successfully emerged from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. Bradlees former CEO Mark A. Cohen moved to Sears to become president of Sears Canada Inc. in 2003. Peter Thorner replaced him when he left Bradlees. "There's always a new reason to shop at Bradlees" was one of their slogans.

Bradlees offered three core product assortments: moderately priced, basic and casual fashion apparel for the family along with accessories and jewelry, basic and fashion items for the home, and edited assortments of commodity and convenience goods. The company operated 105 stores in seven Northeastern states: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. (In 1996, the company operated 136 stores, in February 1986 they had 156 stores)




North Windham







Nashua I

Nashua II





This website is not affiliated with the former Bradlees chain.