Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Grand Opening of Hills in Lorain – August 18, 1960

The Hills Dept. Store in South Lorain closed back on July 31, 1982, replaced by a new store in Amherst. 

But when exactly did the Lorain store first open? I had never really covered it on this blog. So I hit the Journal's online archives to find out.

As it turned out, the Grand Opening was on August 18, 1960. There was quite a big build up in the Journal, as it really was a new kind of store. Here's some of the paper's coverage. Note that there are a few photos of the store. I had forgotten about those two large arrows with the blinking lights that seemed to memorize me as a kid.
August 15, 1960
August 17, 1960
August 17, 1960
August 18, 1960
August 18, 1960
August 18, 1960
August 18, 1960
August 18, 1960
August 23, 1960
Hills had a new concept for its time – a standalone department store. It was different from a downtown store or one occupying a space at a shopping center along with competitors. So it's not surprising that hundreds of Lorain area shoppers were in line for a half hour before the ribbon cutting took place.
It was kind of sad when the store closed in 1982. I had only come home from college about six months earlier, and it seemed like Lorain was falling apart, with Downtown stores closing and the steel mill laying off thousands. It was a depressing time indeed.
A 2011 view of the former Hills store on Route 57
A 2022 view
The Amherst Hills store opened the week of November 5, 1981. So it was open for about 8 months before the store in South Lorain closed.
Ad from the Journal of November 5, 1981
And Ames Department Stores, Inc. purchased the Hills chain in mid-November 1998. Ames itself went out of business in 2002, although there are plans for a comeback in 2026.


Ken said...

I remember Mom taking Sue to Hills a couple times. I felt left out. I wanted to go to Hills. I like Hills. Then when she finally took me along it turned out to be a store. What a gyp.

Anonymous said...

Wait, so Hills on Cooper Foster was never open at the same time as the Hills in South Lorain? When did the Hills on Cooper Foster open? That would mean that Hills on Cooper Foster was only open for like 10 years. This is too much for a Wednesday morning.

-Alan D Hopewell said...

Margaret 's boys loved going to Hills; cooler stuff than Ontario, a larger toy department than the other stores we went to, and the popcorn...

Mark said...

Hmm.. that's odd. For some reason of vaguley remember mom taking me to "the old hills"... not the new one. I thought they may have both been open at the same time... at least for a little bit

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Amherst Hills turn into a Ames store after Hills left?Then it too didn't last very long as the mighty Walmart destroyed any and all competition everywhere in the universe.Kind of like the giant Death Star in Star Wars.

Dan Brady said...

I just posted an update. Both stores were open at the same time for about 8 months, from early November 1981 until July 1982, when the Lorain store closed. And yes, Ames bought the Hills chain so the Amherst store did become an Ames outlet for a while.

Wendy said...

Loved going to Hills in South Lorain. They had the best toy department and selection of Barbie dolls. I recall my Mom bought me a pair of black “Beatle” boots there, in about 1964 - I thought I was the coolest 2nd grader in those boots.

Mark said...

That's good to know they were both open at the same time for a bit... thought I was going nuts there for a bit, Dan! lol. The reason I remember the "Old Hills" so well was my mom took me there to get my first computer - a "Timex Sinclair 1000." We had gone to the Amherst Hills, but they were out of stock but called over the the Lorain one, who held one for us. Anyway... researching the old Timex Sinclair, I'm both happy and a bit sad that they now have one in the Smithsonian.

Sucks to get old lol