Do You Remember? The Stores That No Longer Exist on the Cape

(AP Photo)

After southern New England retail chain Benny’s closed their doors for good at the end of 2017, many long-time Cape Codders have been left thinking of the other former local and national retail giants that have left the Cape over the years.


Let’s start with Benny’s. The Bromberg family operated 31 general stores across southern New England for generations before announced they are retiring after decades of setbacks at the hand of a changing retail market and the dominance of online retailers such as Amazon.

In late November, the Carpionato Group signed an undisclosed agreement to purchase the properties and announced plans to bring a mix of retailers and restaurants to the Benny’s locations. They expect to create hundreds of construction jobs and more than 1,000 permanent jobs once the stores open.

Jordan Marsh

The original department store came to the Cape in 1978 and remained at its Cape Cod Mall location for 14 years before an eventual merger with Macys.

Founded in 1851 by Eben Dyer Jordan and Benjamin Lloyd Marsh, Jordan Marsh opened its first store selling linen, silk, calicos, ribbons and other dry goods to Bostonians. The retail store later originated the concept of “department shopping” under one roof, offering goods like clothing, furniture, toys and more.


The Hyannis Zayre opened in Hyannis in June of 1956, the first of what would eventually become a regional chain. The 5,000 square discount linen, clothing, home goods, and nik-nak retailer was considered large at the time, akin to today’s Marshalls or T.J. Maxx in offering items at below-market prices.

According to an article in The New York Times the name came from the common Jewish phase “Zehr gut,” meaning “very good.” They chose to spell it Zayre and meant the name to be a reference to refer to their “very good” products – a fact that some Zayre shoppers may have found ironic. The chain was eventually sold off in the late 1980’s.


Located in the Hyannis South Wind Plaza for a number of years, Bradlees was a New England chain of discount department stores offering clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, electronics, and housewares. The stores promised shoppers “Savings on the Good Stuff.”

Beginning in the late 80’s Bradlees began feeling pressure from the expansion of big box stores into New England. As they began to methodically shut down dozens of their more than 100 locations, the Cape store avoided the axe. Bankruptcy proceedings led to more closings in the mid and late 1990’s, but Cape Codders remained loyal until the Hyannis Bradlees was one of the last locations to close in 2001.


Once considered the largest discount retailer in the country, Caldor operated 145 stores across nine states. Known as an upscale-discount retailer, they specialized in quality national brands, offered at reduced prices, employing the motto “the best available merchandise at the lowest possible price.”

Caldor suffered from financial issues in its later years, feeling pressure from Wal-Mart, and the company was liquidated in early 1999.

W.T. Grant

Grant’s was known on the Cape for their large Main Street Hyannis location. Founded in 1906, stores were located in downtowns and were generally of a small size, offering value to their customers. Grant’s was particularly known for their music, producing records featuring artists of the day, each emblazoned with the Grant’s logo.

Initially known as a small, personal retailer, by the early 1970’s W. T. Grant Stores had grown to almost 1,200 stores in 40 states and nearly $1 billion in annual sales. W. T. Grant’s bankruptcy in 1976 was the then-second biggest in US history.


Woolworth’s had a presence on the Cape for decades, operating originally from a building on Main Street in Hyannis, now Puritan, and eventually as the Cape Cod Mall’s original anchor store in 1970. They began as “five & dime” stores but eventually developed into the nation’s number one retailer with over 2,000 department stores across the country.

With the rapid expansion came a loss of the beloved dime-store feel. Facing financial hardship, the Woolworth Hyannis location was vacated in 1994. The rest of the company went belly-up three years later.

J.J. Newberry

Another department store to eventually bite the dust thanks to the big box store expansion into New England was J.J. Newberry. Cape Codders may remember their location in Falmouth Commons. Popular for everything from clothing, to linens, to houseware and school supplies. The company eventually filed for bankruptcy amidst increasing competition and shut down for good in 2001.

Ann & Hope

The first “big box store,” Ann and Hope would eventually inspire K-Mart and Wal-Mart with the idea of reducing overhead and underselling competitors on a wide range of merchandise. The chain pioneered new ideas in shopping, including letting customers pick out what they wanted and bring it to a register without the assistance of a salesperson, they were also among the first to introduce the idea of shopping carts.

Ann and Hope operated throughout New England from 1953 until 2001 until, like most on this list, they met their undoing thanks to growing competition.

By Staff
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