Caldor was a chain of discount department stores based in Norwalk, Connecticut. The chain declared bankruptcy in 1995 and closed all its stores on May 15, 1999.
The first store was opened by Carl and Dorothy Bennett in Port Chester, New York
, in 1951; the name was taken from parts of the couple's first names. Caldor had expanded to several locations by the mid-1960s, and by the 1980s, had locations across the East Coast
, stretching from New Hampshire
. As of late 1998, Caldor had 145 stores in 10 states. Caldor was also the site of many former J.M. Fields
locations. Carl Bennett is still active in May 2008, but Dorothy Bennett passed away on May 2
of a lengthy illness. She was 82 years old.
The Bennetts sold the company to Associated Dry Goods Corporation (ADG) in 1981. ADG would merge with May Department Stores in 1986. May sold the chain in November 1990 in a leveraged buyout. In 1991, Caldor went public and earned over $2.5 billion in revenue that year, becoming the fourth largest retailer in the United States behind Kmart, Target, and Wal-Mart. That same year Caldor came out with a new red logo and in 1992 introduced a new format for their stores. Throughout the early 1990s, Caldor expanded and renovated many of their older stores. By 1994, Caldor had 166 stores in 10 states.
The company used many different slogans. The first slogan was "Where shopping is always a pleasure", and was used up until the mid-1980s. The next slogan was "You'll Never Not Find It At Caldor" and was used from 1985 to 1988. The next slogan was "Caldor, your everyday discount store", and was used from 1988 to 1992. The final slogan used was "Bring home the difference", and was used from 1993 until the company closed. In the later part of the 90's nearing Caldor's closure, they also sometimes used the alternative slogan "Check out the change". Caldor also used a special holiday slogan. This slogan was "Caldor for the holidays", and was used on all the chain's commercials
for holiday specials and sales. Throughout the 1990s, the chain used the holiday slogan "Share the Joy," which some store associates reworked.
Caldor relied heavily on a weekly multi-color sales flier to generate business. Fliers were distributed weekly to advertise sales that ran from Sunday through Saturday. In November of 1998, the company suffered a public-relations blow, perhaps fatally, when its sales flier featured a prominent photograph of two grinning boys playing the board game "Scrabble" with the word "RAPE" spelled out in the center of the board. The "P" tile then formed the first letter in the word "PAL," while the initial "R" had been used to create "WRITE." Since no double- or triple-score spaces were involved in the placement evident in the photograph, the word would have earned six points: one each for "R," "A," and "E," and three for "P." Eleven million copies of the flier were distributed to the public via an 85-newspaper distribution chain. Caldor released a statement pressing its mystification over how the image was created and got past proofreaders.
In 1995, Caldor filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The chain found itself unable to compete with the lower prices and wider selection of such stores as Wal-Mart (which had acquired several former Caldor stores), causing a dramatic loss in sales. Some analysts believed that in the 1990s, Caldor management shifted too much towards non-profit based metrics such as safety and the appearance of having clean shelves.
Caldor also had trouble meeting its financial goals. Especially critical was its inability to meet its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and restructuring numbers. Shortly before filing for bankruptcy, Caldor had $1.2 billion in assets and $883 million in liabilities, the lowest amount of assets and the highest amount of liabilities the company had since it was sold by May Department Stores in 1990. After the bankruptcy, Caldor closed 10 underperforming stores in 1996.
In January 1998, Caldor had $1.2 billion in liabilities and $949 million in assets, one of the worst deficits the company has ever had. A few months later, Caldor closed 12 underperfoming stores located mostly around Washington, D.C.
. This along with the slow financial progress of the chain caused its secured creditors to force the chain into liquidation
, feeling that their shareholders would benefit more from the liquidation of the company than if they allowed it to remain in business. In an attempt to prevent the creditors from liquidating the chain, Caldor executives brought in a mediator in an attempt to come up with an agreement that would keep the chain open, but no agreement could be reached, and Caldor was out of options. On January 22
, Caldor announced it was liquidating its remaining merchandise and closing all of its 145 stores.
The last Caldor store closed permanently on Saturday, May 15, 1999. At the time the chain closed, it had 22,000 employees and 145 stores in nine East Coast states.
The chain sold $2.5 billion in sales in its last full year open.
- Albany (Central Avenue) - demolished for Grand Union, now Home Depot
- Albany (Crossgates Mall) - split for Best Buy and DSW; DSW relocated and is now H&M
- Babylon - now National Wholesale Liquidators
- Bedford Hills - now Kohl's
- Bridgehampton, New York - (Bridgehampton Commons)- now KMart
- Bronx, New York - Bruckner Shopping Center off White Plains Road, now KMart
- Bronx, New York - Fordham Road & Grand Concourse, now P.C. Richard & Son and CUNY on the Concourse
- Cicero (Penn-Can Mall) - originally Chappell's; closed 1996; now part of an auto mall
- Clifton Park (Clifton Park Center) - demolished for Boscov's
- Coram - closed 1996; demolished for Home Depot
- Cortlandt Manor (between Peekskill & Mohegan Lake) - now Kohl's
- Deer Park - now Kohl's
- East Patchogue - demolished in early 2008, Lowe's is in the process of being built on the site
- Fairmount later Wal-Mart; demolished for Target
- Fayetteville (Fayetteville Mall) closed 1996; now Stickley Furniture
- Flushing - vacant
- Freeport - now BJ's Wholesale Club
- Garden City - now Burlington Coat Factory
- Gates - Formerly Hills; opened 1993 and closed in 1996; now Steve & Barry's
- Glen Oaks, NY - was originally J.W. May's, then different flea markets, now Burlinton Coat Factory
- Greece (The Mall at Greece Ridge) - originally Gold Circle, later Hills; demolished for Hoyts (Now Regal) movie theater
- Henrietta - Formerly Hills; opened 1993 and closed in 1996; 1180 Jefferson Road
- Irondequoit - Formerly Hills; opened 1993 and closed in 1996; now Home Depot
- Kingston - now Burlington Coat Factory
- Latham (Latham Circle Mall) - originally Grand Union; demolished for Lowe's
- Lake Ronkonkoma - now Kohl's
- Mahopac - now Kmart
- Melville (Melville Mall) - now Kohl's
- Middletown (Caldor Plaza) - vacant
- Middle Village (Metro Mall) - originally Times Square Store; now Kmart
- Nanuet - now Kohl's
- Newburgh (Newburgh Mall) - now The Bon-Ton
- Oceanside - now Kohl's
- Pelham Manor - Post Road Plaza - became a Kmart, Kmart closed and property has been vacant since 2001.
- Port Chester - now Kohl's
- Poughkeepsie - closed in 1998, 44 plaza store is Stop and Shop
- Queensbury (Aviation Mall) - now The Bon-Ton
- Rocky Point - now Kohl's
- Shirley - now Kohl's
- Staten Island - later Bradlees from 2000-2001, a flea market from 2002-2004, now Burlington Coat Factory
- Suffern - now Wal-Mart
- Syracuse - 3667 West Genesee Street-closed 1996; now Walmart
- Vails Gate (NY 32, near NY 94 & NY 300) - replaced in same plaza by Shop-Rite
- Valley Stream - Green Acres Mall- now Target
- Victor - Eastview Mall; closed 1996; now BJ's Wholesale Club
- Wappingers Falls - now Kohl's
- White Plains - now Kmart
- Yorktown Heights - now Kmart
- Yonkers - now Kohl's
- Bethlehem - now Marshalls Megastore
- Bristol - later Ames, now Wal-Mart
- Boulevard Plaza - became Ames; demolished with other stores to make way for Target
- Snyder Plaza - became Bradlees, now Target
- One Olney Plaza-Front St. and Olney Ave
- Fairless Hills (500 Lincoln Highway, King's Plaza) - later Ames, larger portion now Big Lots
- Upper Chichester - later Ames, then Burlington Coat Factory, Burlington closed 2006
- Warminster - later Ames, then Burlington Coat Factory, Burlington closed 2006
- Wyncote (Cedarbrook Mall) - originally Jamesway, later Kmart Supercenter, torn down for Wal-Mart Supercenter