Title: Mega Stores...More Ideal
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richiedoo
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(Date Posted:08/08/2007 04:46)

OK so we now know that seasonal stores like Harrow's and Treasure Island have become history(boo-hoo). These stores were nice to browse around and may have had some unique items here and there. However, as a native New Yorker in the metro area, these stores were usually located outside the metro area and would mean having to go out of my way just to get there. Meanwhile, I would have a Target or a Wal-mart conveniently closer where I would probably be able to get the same thing. Harrow's has gone in the same direction as Channel and Rickle's which now would become Home Depot. Just the same as Grant's, McCrory's and Woolworth's lost out due to Target and Wal-mart. But, as they say it's business as usual(boo-hoo)
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(Date Posted:08/09/2007 06:23)

Sorry Rich, but these Christmas specialty stores had much more than just "some unique items here and there" -- and to suggest as much indicates that either you have never visited these stores, or have lost all memory of what they were all about; otherwise, you would not have made such a statement.

We too, in the suburbs, have the likes of Wal-Mart, Target, and all of the other mega-centers that some like you choose to extol the virtues of. And perhaps for most goods (other than Christmas) that might be justifiable -- at least as far as price is concerned. However, with regard to these mega-centers, bigger is not always necessarily better, and I would not be lamenting the loss of the Christmas specialty shops if your Wal-Marts and Targets offered goods that were commensurate with the selection that could be found at stores like Christmas City, Harrows, Treasure Island, and can still be found at Fountains of Wayne and Branch Brook. In fact, as big as these mega-centers are, when it comes to Christmas, they can't hold a candle to these specialty stores -- they're the jack of all trades, but the master of none.  

Yes, I'll grant you, these stores are indeed an inconvenience for some of you in the five boroughs to get to, but to our delight -- this is one advantage the suburbs have over the city.

The city has a lot, but it doesn't have it all.  

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Dale D Elf
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(Date Posted:08/20/2007 04:28)

Have to disagree with you there, Richie.

As much as I enjoy how much further my christmas decoration dollars go now, I will forever miss the charm of treasure island and harrows.(We still have Branch Brooke though)

The official start to my christmas season always came in late september/early october when the Harrows in Union on Route 22 would start building their christmas tree displays. First you would see the summer furniture being put away, then tons of cardboard boxes in the front window, and then the lights from 3 or 4 trees.

These few trees would keep multiplying until by early November their Christmas Displays were entirely set up and displayed in their front window, blazing all night. I used to drive my mother crazy by making her drive past Harrows so I could see the first decorations of the season.

Then as the season progressed, we would go inside in the evening, when they would dim the lights in the front of the store where the trees were, and all you would hear were the whirring motots of the animated figures and the tinkling electronic christmas music coming from everywhere.

That's why I miss Harrows.

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(Date Posted:08/20/2007 09:43)

Nice to see you back on the board Elfie; it's been a long time.

How uncanny that we both share the exact same fond memories of Harrows in Union, and how it was always so exciting to watch as the transition took place from the summer to the Christmas displays. I myself would always start looking for it right after Labor Day. That's why it was so disappointing when they closed that store and moved down the highway to Green Brook. While it is true that the new store in Green Brook was larger and more modern, it never quite had the charm of the Union store. Of course, now even the Green Brook store is closed as a result of the bankruptcy last year.

Aside from the great selection and variety that stores like Harrows, Christmas City and Treasure Island had to offer, it was also the ambience that you enjoyed there while you shopped or just browsed -- or in my case, loitered! That is something that these impersonal mega-centers will never be able to duplicate.

Perhaps -- just perhaps mind you, if others understood this, there would be less cynicism about their demise.   

 

P.S. - Hopefully as the new Harrows store chain expands, they will be opening up stores in New Jersey.

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Dale D Elf
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(Date Posted:08/21/2007 04:53)

Hey Chip,

Nice to see I'm not the only Harrows Junkie here, lol. I grew up around Harrows during the late 80's/early 90s, and I do remember it be a little worn around the edges. The scent of the chlorine from the spa/pool section, the old noisy automatic door to the place.

Remember the Halloween displays if you went there before November? Or the life-sized Nutcracker Soldier with the hands partially broken off? lol

For some reason I could never find the Harrows in Greenbrook and couple of years ago. It was sure a disappointment to see Treasure Island close. I sure wish that places like Harrows could survive and thrive, but as someone who works in business, I see two big obstacles:

1. Christmas decorations are a much cheaper commodity now, available in every Target and Dollar store. I mean I can get an entire christmas village for $10 at my local dollar store, when a similar single model house at Harrows would cost $20 or more.

2. Christmas decorations are usually items treasured and cared for by their owners - which doesn't fare well for stores looking for repeat buyers.

Just my two cents. I'm going to go put on Christmas Broadband and get some work done.

-Dale

p.s. the loop I used to make my mother make on Saturday nights was up 22 past harrows, to greenbrook to see Treasure island, and then a last stop by Christmas city on the way back. Looking at decorations under flourescent lights at target simply does not compare.

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(Date Posted:08/21/2007 06:33)

Yes, I too, remember the Halloween displays at Harrows, as well as the Nutcracker statue. In fact, if I recall correctly -- there were 2 of them: one on each side of the entranceway to the Christmas tree display room. I've often wondered whatever happened to them; they didn't use them after they moved to the Green Brook store.

For several years in the mid 80s, I worked right around the corner from Harrows. So from September through December, I would visit the store quite frequently on my lunch hour...ah, memories.

I'm very particular when it comes to the decorations I buy, and these stores just offered a better quality of merchandise -- not to mention selection. Yes, you might pay more for it, but it was worth it to me. Several also had their own exclusive private label for merchandise. In the case of Harrows, it was 'Golden Sleigh'. Since these stores were dedicated entirely to Christmas, I was always able to find specialized items there that I could not find anywhere else.  

By the way, the Harrows in Green Brook was located on the westbound lane of Route 22 -- next to the Carrabba's Italian Grill restaurant.  

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bobes1
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(Date Posted:08/21/2007 17:43)

Chip,

I too remember going to Harrows frequently each week to see what they had stocked in Christmas decorations. We cant also forget the smaller places like The City (Christmas City) that bame fully dedicated to Christmas.


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(Date Posted:08/21/2007 23:07)

Oh I haven't: I talk about Christmas City, as well as Treasure Island in my 2 previous posts on this thread. Also, in case you haven't read it, I have a section in my latest edition of "Chip's Tips" where I discuss these great retail store chains and their unfortunate demise. In fact, that's what prompted the creation of this thread and the subsequent discourse.

Here's a link to my latest edition of "Chip's Tips: http://www.theyulelog.com/htmls/chip.html

Regarding Christmas City, it was no doubt my favorite of all the Christmas retail store chains. Over the years, I became acquainted with several members of the Puleo family who owned the business, including the matriarch, Marion Puleo, who opened up the first store in Linden, N.J. almost 50 years ago. The Puleo's began as artificial Christmas tree manufacturers first, before they went into the retail business, and they continue to manufacture to this day. Years ago, when the manufacturing was still being done domestically in Elizabeth N.J., my father, Louis Arcuri, used to sell them the steel they used for the center posts and braches for their trees. Puleo artificial Christmas trees were carried by everybody, including Harrows and Treasure Island. The name for the manufacturing arm of the company was Puleo Manufacturing Inc. The actual name for the retail chain was The City: in the summertime they went by the name Summer At The City, and at Christmastime, the name was Christmas At The City. At their peak, they had half a dozen retail stores. Unfortunately, soon after the sons took over the business, the family split up. The oldest son, Sal Puleo, started National Tree Company (http://www.nationaltree.com), which is located in Cranford, N.J. They are manufactures who sell to stores that include Fortunoff, Fountains of Wayne, and the recently resurrected Harrows, which currently has 2 stores in Long Island. The second oldest son, Tony Puleo, initially stayed in the retail business, but has since closed his stores and is now focusing on his manufacturing/distributing business, Puleo International Inc. (http://www.puleointl.com/holidayProducts.asp) Tony's business also has a line of lawn and garden products, keeping that tradition in the Puleo name alive. The youngest son, Joe Puleo, is no longer in the business and has since ventured into real estate.

      

    

 

  

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