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Familiar names dotted Downriver's landscape throughout the years
UPDATE: We will be able to remove one name from this list in 2016: Hardee's Restaurant will be making its return in Woodhaven this year. The building is under construction at the corner of West and Hall Roads.
These familiar brand names were located within the boundaries of Downriver at one time or another during the last fifty-plus years. The businesses may no longer be in existence, or may have relocated to other areas of the United States. But at one time, these local and national chains served Downriver well.
Bill Knapp's Restaurant
The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company had several Downriver locations, though they were just as well known for their takeover of the Farmer Jack chain in the early 1990s.
Organized in 1974 with a 5-store merger, many residents "came and saw the difference" at Arbor, which was 8th largest pharmacy chain in the country prior to 1988.
Its outstanding food selection and birthday specials were favorites of the older generation. Retooling "God's waiting room," for the younger generation would be what did the chain in.
Originally formed as Home Centers of America in 1970, bought by KMart in 1984 and assumed its well-known name. It anchored Southtowne Crossing plaza in Southgate.
Offshoot of parent company Child World, this store had the enviable distinction of replacing the Michigan Drive-In Theater in Southgate. It would lose the battle with Toys R Us.
Began in Detroit in 1889. A huge (green!) presence Downriver until sold off and rebranded as Apex Drug by 1982; these were sold off to Perry Drug some time later.
Duff's popularized the local buffet. Their time Downriver was short (the 1980s), but likely were best known for their spinning dinner buffet. More exercise, hungrier customers...?
Michigan-based Federal, begun in 1929, enjoyed success for years in Southgate and Wyandotte before Steven West's managerial escapades doomed the company by 1980.
Frank's Nursery & Crafts
Begun as a produce carrier on Detroit's northeast side in 1942, Frank's grew to over 120 stores. With locations Downriver up to 2004, it was where beautiful things began.
Always the potential to relocate here, and with good reason: multiple Downriver locations of this fast food giant were a favorite of many until Michigan stores were taken over in 1996.
Built on a mastery of location and as much a definition of "Americana" as any roadside diner from the 1930s-1970s, the hotelier began as a restaurant chain; one location in Southgate.
Everyone's favorite furniture "Uncle" had a warehouse location in Taylor in the 1960s-1970s. The chain has been reborn, but before that it housed a tragic story.
A store that may have been ahead of its time with its huge size and selection of inventory. But almost as quickly as they appeared, they would disappear.
Inducted into the Downriver Hall of Fame in 2014, the chain which introduced Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer would be a literal Southgate landmark from 1958 until 2000.
New York Carpet World
A direct local competitor to Clyde's Carpet, their iconic TV commercials with the arresting monotone voice of Irving Nusbam were the huge draw to this thirty-plus year business.
PACE Membership Warehouse
Downriver's most well-known and largest membership warehouse during the '80s, but it would not be able to handle new competition
provided by Sam's Club in Southgate.
Formed in Pontiac in 1957, by the 1970s Perry's reach could be felt everywhere: 200 stores state-wide plus the 1980s discount chain of A.L. Price, which would compete with F&M.
A pharmacy chain often forgotten about, but they had a commanding presence Downriver from the 1960s into the 1980s. Eventually bought by CVS despite over 2,500 stores.
Security Bank & Trust
"When it comes to banking, Security is all you need" was one of Downriver's most well-known catchphrases for many years. They established their headquarters at Downriver's tallest hi-rise.
Meijer's answer to the membership warehouse popularity of the 1980s. Located north of the Taylor hypermarket, it would barely last a year before beginning a decade of languishing.
The name still exists to describe various second-hand furniture dealers out East. There aren't many details about Downriver's version: it succeeded Southgate's Kresge in the 1980s.
Not much is known about the history of this firm, but with its location at Outer Drive & I-94 in Allen Park, it would usher in the age of the membership warehouse Downriver.
The lunch counter at this beloved five & dime was the place for be for decades. Peaking in 1979, just 18 years later Woolworth was no more. It's now incorporated as Foot Locker.
Borders Books & Music
Began by brothers Tom & Louis Borders in Ann Arbor in 1971 and did not locate Downriver until the early 90s; it supplanted B. Dalton and Waldenbooks as Downriver's largest bookstore.
Church's Lumber Yards
A firm that would survive over 100 years in Michigan, its Downriver location was at Dix & Champaign, replacing the old Spartan Department Store by the late 1970s.
A chain which once had many Downriver locations, including Dix & Outer (Lincoln Park) and Huron River Drive near I-275 (Romulus). A main competitor of A&W at one time locally.
F & M Discount
One of Downriver's first wholesalers, this beloved health & beauty chain drew many customers by its size, availability of unique products, and low costs. Much missed today.
Ranked with Mr. Steak as one of Downriver's most beloved specialty restaurants. Notably, it was Riverview's location whose interior made it feel just like home.
The grocer with the well-known double-heart logo had two different lives Downriver, concentrated in Southgate and Lincoln Park. Its revival was in the mid-1980s but faded fast.
"Fifty Watts Per Channel, babycakes!" The country would witness Highland's success, as they would eventually become the nation's second largest electronics retailer by 1985.
Hughes & Hatcher
Most likely the #1 choice of men for suits and formalwear from the chain's formation in 1910 until liquidating in 1983. A mall staple at Sears Plaza (Lincoln Park) and Southland.
One only needs to mention the name and the memories start flying. The inspiration behind the creation of the Downriver Things franchise, Southgate's store ran from 1963-1980.
Mervyn's was Southland Mall's second addition, being added in the late 1980s. It would do good business for the most part until the chain decided the West Coast was their best market.
NBD (National Bank of Detroit)
Purists and critics were enraged when the venerable Wyandotte Savings Bank was bought out by NBD, but they ended up a pretty good neighbor. Would later change to "Bank-One."
The original local competitor to OfficeMax, it was the store that replaced Southgate's original K-Mart location on Eureka Road. As of 2015, it now partners with OfficeMax.
Palace Fine Foods
A restaurant chain that was not too fancy, yet not too gaudy. Numerous in number, The Palace was a steady, hard-working performer which always provided a top-of-the-line meal.
Home of the "World's Biggest, Best Salad Buffet" (it also had a breakfast version), it had many locations Downriver. Though portions were smaller, they were among the tastiest.
The Robinson name came before Joshua Doore, then came after it - as an "uncle." Had a brief five or six-year presence in Southgate on Eureka Road; Binson's resides there today.
The 1960s equivilent to Big Lots but with a department store touch, Shopper's Fair spent over 15 years Downriver with two locations in Riverview and Southgate. Departed by 1975.
Victim of the country's first blockbuster anti-trust, our company was Standard Oil of New York, later named Socony, which ran a refinery in Woodhaven into the 1980s.
What was one of the best places to get a deal on overall auto repair Downriver in the 1970s thru the 1990s? Gee, that's a Tuffy. It would ultimately become Midas Muffler's competition.
Downriver's original furniture warehouse with the area's brightest parking lot was located in the well-known gray metal building at Fort & Pennsylvania from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Today the name is only known for their iconic chewing gum production, but as an early offshoot grocer, Wrigley had many Downriver locations in the earlier days.
Formed in the early 1950s, best known locally with its location next to Korvettet in Southgate from 1963 until replaced by Pak N Save in 1985. Chatham's demise was met in 1991.
Known in its first 35 years as Wards Company (no relation to Montgomery Ward), Circuit City was the pioneer of the modern-day electronics superstore. Operated in Taylor until 2009.
Downriver Federal Savings
Only two local banks had "towers" to hold their headquarters: Security and D.R.F.S. This building is still Taylor's largest, even though D.R.F.S. was replaced by Heritage in the 1980s.
"Savings Time" became the household phrase for groceries Downriver, begun by Al & Tom Borman as the Food Fair chain in 1955 before becoming Farmer Jack in 1966, defunct 2007.
Forest City / Handy Andy
First incorporated in the 1920s, the Forest City Downriver knew best opened two stores by 1970 and became the area's premier home improvement store until fading by 1995.
The petroleum chain is making a comeback in some southern states (complete with the classic logo, intact) but it has been over 30 years since Downriver's seen the "orange & white."
HQ (Home Quarters)
The chain that would push competitors like Builder's Square and Handy Andy out of the Downriver scene, HQ's freeway location in Southgate brought it an astounding business.
Several Downriver locations of this classic chain survived into the 1970s. For those lamenting the loss, fear not: The Qdoba Mexican Grill is operated by Jack-In-The-Box.
Kresge Dime Store
Formed near the turn of the century in Detroit, Kresge was on par with Woolworth as one of the area's premier dime stores. It would spin off K-Mart, which had a huge presence here.
"America's Steak Expert" would prove to be the first chain to challenge Bonanza and Ponderosa Downriver for the best steak experience. It would have locations in Taylor and Riverview.
Neisner Five & Dime
Unique in its Midwestern market, virtually everyone over age fifty has a story about the Wyandotte and Lincoln Park locations. But their expectations were too lofty to reach.
Old Country Buffet
Sveden House and Duff's may predate it, but the first true long-term family-style buffet chain Downriver would last nearly two decades, with two locations, under two different names.
Perkins Steak House
A long-time national chain which would only locate Downriver for a few short years. It replaced Howard Johnson's in Southgate from 1973-1976, itself was replaced by Ted's Place.
Red Barn Restaurant
A person knew that when the "Hungries" hit, he or she better hit the Red Barn. Taylor's location on Telegraph Road became better known as Downriver's last arcade location: Red Baron.
A competitor to the Ponderosa chain locally, Ryan's was known for their ample portions and complete dinner bar. Located on Eureka, the location would end up as Fire Mountain Grill.
Showbiz Pizza Place
Originally called Showbiz Pizza Palace, the place where "a kid can be a kid", it would be part of the initial resurgence of the old Topps shopping plaza in Southgate in the 1980s.
This gas station chain still exists today in the south. Known for their "Fire Chief" brand of gasoline, Texaco had many locations Downriver, but all had moved into memory by the 1990s.
A gas station chain still in existence, but not found here since the 1990s. It would anchor the Detroiter Truck Stop in the 1970s, and even had a website dedicated to the iconic '76 Ball.
Detroit-based (formed 1928) brothers Isadore & Leon Winkleman were ahead of their time, focusing their long-term plans on suburban stores, a practice not common until the 1950s.
Wyandotte Savings Bank
Established November 20, 1871, and for nearly a century was Downriver's best-known bank. It was merged (most unpopularly) into the NBD chain January 2, 1989, which became Chase.