Britt's Department Store

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Jan
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Britt's Department Store

Post by Jan » 13 Feb 2009 20:03

Tapping into the incredible store of knowledge here to see if someone can tell me if the Britt's in LA (south side of street, just east of Fairfax) was on 3rd or Beverly.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can remember.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by runchadrun » 16 Feb 2009 23:51

That store is now the Kmart on the south side of 3rd Street just east of Fairfax.

Britt's was a unit of Newberry's. The only other store I know of was on the corner of Valley and Almansor in Alhambra, which became a Zody's but I remember seeing the Britt's labelscar as a kid. After Zody's closed it was subdivided into a Big 5, Pic n Save (now Big Lots), and Staples.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by Jeff » 17 Feb 2009 00:23

Were both Britts stores 2 levels? It seems like the one on 3rd and Fairfax was.

Is that Kmart multi-level today?

justin karimzad
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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by justin karimzad » 17 Feb 2009 00:28

There was a two-story Britt's at 855 Broadway in Millbrae, CA (last a Mervyn's since the 1970s), which opened in 1964.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by Groceteria » 17 Feb 2009 10:12

Jeff wrote:Were both Britts stores 2 levels? It seems like the one on 3rd and Fairfax was.

Is that Kmart multi-level today?
I vaguely remember that it was when I visited it about ten years ago.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by runchadrun » 17 Feb 2009 12:38

Jeff wrote:Were both Britts stores 2 levels? It seems like the one on 3rd and Fairfax was.?
Unless Zody's lopped off a floor, which I doubt, the Alhambra store was one level.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by Jeff » 17 Feb 2009 17:04

I always was amazed walking in there that the ceiling was so tall compared to other Zodys stores.
I wouldnt be suprised if it was only one story, just with an amazingly high ceiling.

Side note: You can still see the ZODYS very lightly on the front of the store under the Staples signage. 23 years later.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by hushpuppy212 » 04 Mar 2009 01:40

I grew up in Millbrae (about 15 miles south of San Francisco) and remember Britts well. It was 2 levels, with clothing on the ground floor and home furnishings on the second floor. It was pretty much a full-line department store, selling everything except furniture. They had candy, notions, fabrics, domestics, sporting goods, a stereo and (ahem) hi-fi department. There was a third half-floor of offices on the Magnolia Ave (back) side, accessible only by elevator. IIRC, when they opened, Britts had Millbrae's one and only set of escalators. On the ground floor there was a Holland House restaurant, which had a cafeteria in the front and a waitress-service lunch counter in the back. There were two pass-though entrances between Britts and the Holland House. Britts closed in the early 70's and Mervyn's took over. At that time, the Holland House was converted to selling space (sigh). I hear it's going to become a Kohl's

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by rich » 04 Mar 2009 14:29

This sounds like the Newberry stores that they branded as "Department Stores". Perhaps, they used the Britt's identity to lessen confusion with conventional Newberry's in places like California where they had a critical mass of the regular newberry variety stores. OTOH, they had Britt's where Newberry had no identity and department store Newberry locations where Newberry had little profile.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by jimbobga » 05 Mar 2009 02:21

To bounce this to the other side of the country, Britt's also had a store at "The Mall of Johnson City" in Johnson City, TN. This must have been sometime around 1975, for I remember that I was driving by that time and stopped to just go in to see what this store was since I had never heard of it before. It looked like a "real department store" to me, and I remember buying a Carpenters album in there. [Even mid-level department store chains had record departments at that time.] The store was an anchor at the eastern end of the mall, so the building is still there, occupied - more than likely - by one of the Belk stores in the mall. I believe it was two stories.

I also remember seeing a Britt's in South Florida in the late sixties; perhaps it was Fort Lauderdale. I remember that it was a free-standing store.

While Newberry's was not as common as many other variety stores in the south, they weren't totally unknown. They did, however, have enough of a presence that if the chain had called the department-store version "Newberry's," people would have placed it on the same level as W. T. Grant and S. S. Kresge.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by dooneyt63 » 05 Mar 2009 19:08

The longtime Newberry's Department Store in downtown Birmingham, AL, was for a time in the late 1960's-early 1970's changed over to the Britt's banner. It later switched back to Newberry's. Observers from the time have stated that the store faltered a bit as Britt's...because of the unfamiliarity. It rebounded when re-bannered Newberry. I remember the store being one that Newberry's considered as a sort of junior department store during that period. A fair-sized Newberry in downtown Pensacola, FL, was never re-bannered, but it did get the department store makeover and even had a small furniture and rug department. After the McCrory buyout of Newberry's in the mid-1970's, the stores quickly reverted to variety stores...and not too great ones, at that. This was the time that such department store model stores as the Newberry's location at Edgewater Plaza Shopping City (mall) on the Mississippi Gulf Coast were given up to such chains as JC Penney. The Edgewater store "reopened" in a much smaller non-anchor spot as McCrory. The previous department store model Newberry's had pretty good quality merchandise and variety and had both a Newberry's lunch counter/coffee shop and a William Tally House. Newberry's restaurant operations were pretty advanced by the 1960's. All of this, at nearly all locations, was allowed to languish by McCrory management. After a couple of bankruptcies, toward the end of the life of the McCrory organization, it was heartbreaking to go in the few surviving legacy Newberry and Britt's stores.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by Super S » 06 Mar 2009 02:18

dooneyt63 wrote:The longtime Newberry's Department Store in downtown Birmingham, AL, was for a time in the late 1960's-early 1970's changed over to the Britt's banner. It later switched back to Newberry's. Observers from the time have stated that the store faltered a bit as Britt's...because of the unfamiliarity. It rebounded when re-bannered Newberry. I remember the store being one that Newberry's considered as a sort of junior department store during that period. A fair-sized Newberry in downtown Pensacola, FL, was never re-bannered, but it did get the department store makeover and even had a small furniture and rug department. After the McCrory buyout of Newberry's in the mid-1970's, the stores quickly reverted to variety stores...and not too great ones, at that. This was the time that such department store model stores as the Newberry's location at Edgewater Plaza Shopping City (mall) on the Mississippi Gulf Coast were given up to such chains as JC Penney. The Edgewater store "reopened" in a much smaller non-anchor spot as McCrory. The previous department store model Newberry's had pretty good quality merchandise and variety and had both a Newberry's lunch counter/coffee shop and a William Tally House. Newberry's restaurant operations were pretty advanced by the 1960's. All of this, at nearly all locations, was allowed to languish by McCrory management. After a couple of bankruptcies, toward the end of the life of the McCrory organization, it was heartbreaking to go in the few surviving legacy Newberry and Britt's stores.
The former Newberry's in Longview, WA started life as Britt's in the mid-1960s. While I have never visited it as Britt's, it retained older Newberry's signage outside until the very end. Inside, at one point they had a lunch counter, and this store also had high ceilings that were more typical of a department store. At some point, I am guessing the early-mid 80s, this store was consolidated into a smaller space, and the lunch counter was eliminated. Also, this store removed all the covers from the recessed light fixtures, which frequently had burned-out tubes. It really was a dump toward the end, and survived until the end of the chain. The store was demolished a few years back when they redeveloped the Triangle Mall. Ironically, Newberrys did open a new store in the newer Three Rivers Mall in nearby Kelso in the early 90s, but it did not last long, maybe 3 years. That space is now Chuck E. Cheese's.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by dooneyt63 » 06 Mar 2009 19:24

Several of those early 1990's Newberry openings occurred. Of course, they were "in name only". They were absolutely identical with McCrory stores of the time. It was strange because the Newberry name was not particularly known in some of the markets where this took place. A former Winn Dixie store in Hueytown, AL, was given the Newberry's name in the early 1990's. It lasted only until the last bankruptcy, 3 or 4 years. What a sad end for a once most innovative chain.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by carolinatraveler » 07 Mar 2009 14:51

Those Newberry conversions turned up in some unusual locations in the late 1990s, places where the Newberry name had never been strong. Former TG&Y Family Center stores in Burnsville, NC and Erwin, TN were partitioned and a part, perhaps as much as half of the original square footage, was reopened as Newberrys. The G. C. Murphy store in Newmarket Shopping Center in Hampton/Newport News, VA was done this way, too. It was a large store, and the Newberry layout took up about half. That one lasted until McCrory closed their last stores, while the TG&Y conversions were short lived - probably less than two years.

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Re: Britt's Department Store

Post by nycityny » 02 May 2009 11:24

Jeff wrote:Were both Britts stores 2 levels? It seems like the one on 3rd and Fairfax was.

Is that Kmart multi-level today?
The 3rd & Fairfax Kmart today is almost identical to when the store was Britt's. It even looks like the escalators are the same. One enters on the ground floor and additional shopping is one escalator ride down.

The area where food used to be served is now a Kmart/Sears appliance store/annex.

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