AIR Decay :: Sears Department Store
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Sears Department Store


Summit Neighborhood Association blog: focus on North Main Street
The Ethan Allen Building (RIP)
Sears Automotive (RIP)
Anderson Little (RIP)
1320 North Main Street (RIP)
Down Under Duckpin Bowling Alley


The former Sears complex on North Main Street has been sitting idle for at least as long as I have been in Providence… since 1999. I’m not sure how long it has been vacant before that. Recently – around 2004 – Miriam Hospital was using the basement portion (accessible from the other side) as their Cardiac Center, but they built a new Cardiac Center and office complex down the hill in the shopping complex in early 2008. Now, the Sears parking lot in the rear of the building is the only thing being used. The building has been going to rot. Rumor told me that one of the main reasons Miriam moved out was due to flooding and mold issues.

But there is a shake-up on North Main coming… I can feel it. The Golds Gym – right over the line into Pawtucket – is moving to the former Toyota dealership on Pawtucket Avenue. That leaves their former building open for a new tenant. The Sears, Anderson Little, former bank building and Down Under Duckpin Bowling Alley are one long stretch of vacant dereliction that could be razed for… well, that’s just it. We don’t know what.

The bulk of these aforementioned buildings are owned either by the Procaccianti Group or Miriam Hospital. More office/medical space? There are already a bunch of medical-related buildings and services along North Main, so that would make sense. Our fear is that it would be a bigger box retail sort of thing – like a Best Buy or Target – and with the Shaws market just down the hill soon going to seed (Shaws has recently closed all of its locations in the Providence area), that possibility doesn’t seem far off.

Cecilia Jan 20 2019 This Sear's was built on the site of Sullivan's Steak House (and bowling alley), which was destroyed in a spectacular fire in the mid to late 1940's. The Steakhouse was adjacent to the A & P where my mother worked, and we watched the flames from our house on 9th St. The construction site was a great place for kids to get into mischief. Sear's had a great model train display at Christmas. I remember their bathroom displays with sinks, tubs and toilets. I bet many a kid mistook the display toilets for the real thing.

Debra English Wright Jan 24 2018 This Sears & Roebuck store is rich in history for our family! My Mom, Lucille English, worked at this one, part-time, for 30 years! I grew up wearing Sears clothing. My sister and I, as young Moms, would visit our mother while she was working and ALWAYS stopped at the hotdog counter for lunch! Then, the candy counter was next — on first floor which always had the freshest chocolate covered raisins and malted milk balls. I also learned how to DRIVE in the parking lot on the lower level. Still love the Sears that WAS! Years later, I moved to Ohio/Kentucky area and ended up managing a Sears Portrait Studio, which is also now defunct.

Dean Feb 14 2015 RIP Sears… great old store. Worked there through high school and college. Lots of fun memories.

Valerie A. Susi Nov 15 2010 I went to Sears with my Grandmother when I was just a little kid, I will never forget the hotdogs there at the grill on the first floor, she bought one for me everytime we went shopping!!

Harry Feb 10 2009 Glad to see that I am not the only one to misses this old store! Remember getting a new daisy bb gun in the seventies. I also remember looking at the boats as a kid, located in the lower level of the store and dreaming what it would be like to have one for fishing with my dad. My family went there many times.

Stephen Mattos Dec 11 2008 Man, why did Down Under (or as I remember as a little kid Chip’s Bowlarama) go out of business? I feel like a bowling alley in Providence is so needed right now. They could make it a mix use, bowling alley/rock club like they used to have in Chicago at a place called the Fireside Bowl. An awesome divey punk club right in the bowling alley!

Pat C June 26 2008 I SO remember the Sears on North Main Street. My mom used to take us on the bus (we lived in South Providence when it was still a lovely place to live in 1960) Mom would get our school clothes and after shopping we would go across the street to the Howard Johnson’s for hot dogs and then some ice cream before shlepping back home on the bus. God, it seems like yesterday!! I live in Fall River now but work in Downtown Providence since 1993 and I can’t get over how so many things are different but so much is still the same. My old stomping grounds!! This is the greatest website! Thanks for the memories.

Angus M Mar 5, 2008 I remember the Sears store there and going when I was a kid in 1967 with my grandparents and my aunt to buy all my birthday presents. They had the full line of Major Matt Mason toys and I came up from Riverside thinking that it was a long journey to get there. Also across the stree on the diagonal was a toy store called Brodski’s, I think. I wonder what became of that?

Mike F When this store closed, I was certainly sad to see it go. The North Main St store was a vestige of what department stores used to be. I have so many memories from my grandparent’s shopping there, my parents friends who worked there, my friends parents who worked, the small basement lunch counter that served the best hot dogs (with mustard, relish and celery salt) to the first video games and stereos I had. Bummer.

Cesar I remember shopping at the Sears with my parents and brother many times. We were in the car leaving the enormous Sears parking lot when we learned on the radio that John Lennon had died.
   At a certain point in the 1980s Sears made a strange business decision that it would close all the free-standing Sears complexes in the USA. It would only continue to operate the Sears stores that were part of large suburban shopping malls. While many could argue that this saves on marketing, because other stores help bring in the customers, it also appeared to be another anti-urban decision by a large retailer. Even now, Wal-Mart’s approach is to begin thinking about urban areas only when the rural and suburban markets are saturated.
   In the mid-1980s, some of my friends bought their first suits at theAndersen Little. The underground bowling alley was open long after the Sears complex closed. The combination of duckpins and the small bowling balls is something that is extremely difficult to find these days. This is a unique aspect of New England culture that has largely disappeared.

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