Not that this building is a great loss, but rather, the building and its neighbor, the abandoned Ethan Allen building, are icons in their own right as they have been vacant since at least the mid-nineties. It will be strange to have a non-abandoned building in its place.
In January 2007 the site was prepared for demolition and crews started removing the asbestos inside. Rumors immediately circulated about a Walgreens. In the fall of 2007 a Walgreens store did indeed open up, with a vacant Ethan Allen building right beside it. Unless there is a larger master plan for the area, it seems that North Main street and all its potential in its empty space will be nothing but gas stations, donut shops, pharmacies, and ugly office buildings.
No solid history yet. Please contribute anecdotes and stories to help us piece it together, and thanks.
bob lannon Apr 4 2014 My sister and I saw Santa here at Sears in 1958. The photo disappeared thanks to my mother and Cumberland PD until discovered in 2008. Miss RI but glad I’m here in California.
Kim Nov 2 2009 I worked at the main store from 1983-1988 in the shoe dept which was managed by Paul Pontarelli. My older brother had worked for the automotive store years prior to my time there. At the time I worked there, my mom was employed by the accounting center in Warwick (which had originally been in store 1153) and has since retired from Sears. Dean C.’s post hit it right on the money: Sears underwent many changes trying to “progress” into the 90s. But like other things that go the way of the DoDo, they failed. The Sears I worked for was a by-gone era... the department stores that have survived did so by moving into malls and amalgamating their personalities with that of those stores around them. Like the Lit Brothers, GC Murphy’s and Ann And Hopes, this Sears suffered the same fate of all free standing department stores.
Dean C. July 7 2008 I worked at the main store from ’85 to ’92. It was a great job, but a crazy time to work for Sears in hindsight, because it was when the retail giant took some really big chances that did not pan out. Sears closed its catalog, overdiversified in financial services and real estate, began selling other brand name products through Brand Central, tried to convert underperforming community-stores into HomeLife specialty stores [furniture], and then started accepting other credit cards besides Sears and Discover. Anyway, now that they cleaned up the old Automotive, maybe they will do something with the main store. Between that and Anderson Little, it looks pretty bad. That area has a lot of history, the old Lowes Drive-in and, way before that, the Cyclodrome, which was where the drive-in was, became the first spot to host an NFL game under lights [Providence Steamrollers vs. Chicago cardinals], Chip’s underground bowling alley, the list goes on. On a side note: When they stopped selling hot dogs and candy in the middle of the main store, a woman who used to sell them ended up making food and selling it to employees from the break room. She made awesome chicken crouquets!
lisa tudino sears automotive was my first real job. in 88, i was 16, and worked as a cashier. i was the only young girl there. i worked with so many nice and wonderful people. i learned so much about cars and customer service. my godfather got me the job, and i wasn’t too fond of my boss, but i learned to like him. i stil talk to him til this day. i had many great memories there. we were all very close, i would love to hear from anyone.
Ken Foote I worked at Sears on North Main Street throughout high school and college. My first job was pumping gas at the Automotive Center. I have lots of fond memories of all the people who worked there. I even met my wife there. She sold hot dogs at the main store. We’ve been married for 33 years.
Pete Falina I remember going to the North Main St Sears store as a child, about 50 years ago. I recall seeing automotive work going on in a small, single-storey brick structure sited against the parking lot retaining wall. Eventually, perhaps 40 years ago or so, the store took over the space, and the separate auto service center was opened down North Main St.
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