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Waldenbooks, Dutch Square: 24 Jan 2007   13 comments

Posted at 11:24 pm in historic,stores

I've written about Waldenbooks at Columbia Mall, and the other book store at Dutch Square Browz-a-Bit, but I've not said anything about the Dutch Square Waldenbooks, which for several years was my main book store.

Waldenbooks actually had two different locations in Dutch Square. The first one was sort of odd in that it was behind the corner of the main corridor and the first crosswalk, but not on the corner. There were two entrances to the store. One was on the crosswalk corrider before coming to the corner (where the Great Steak & Potato Co is today) and the other was on the main corridor just below Tapps (now the theaters), but the actual corner, Steak & Potato slot was another store.

The main corridor also goes markedly up hill from the crosswallk to Tapps, so the Walden's was a split-level store. If you call the crosswalk entrance the "front" (and that makes sense as they later closed off the exit to the main corridor), then the front of the store was on the ground and the back of the store was built on a platform that was, I believe, two steps up from the ground. My main interest was the science fiction rack, which was parallel to the main corridor and butted up against the raised platform forming the back of the store.

For at least one year, possibly two, I would spend one afternoon a week in the Dutch Square area while my mother would take my sister to piano lessons a couple of miles away. I had only a $0.60 weekly allowance, supplemented by $3.00 for mowing the lawn, so any actual purchase was a matter of careful deliberation and agonized tax calculation and penny counting (though it certainly helped that mass market paperbacks were still under a dollar in those years). In my hour or so of time, I would sometimes walk down to Boardwalk Plaza to peruse the Book Dispensary, but mainly I would circulate between Walden's and Browz-A-Bit trying to make up my mind.

I have strong memories of some of the books I bought at this Walden's (and in fact still have the books themselves in most cases). I recall in particular getting all of Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, one at a time, with awful 70s covers, and Pyramid editions of all of Doc Smith's Skylark and Lensman books (with bad [what was it with the 70s and loss of design sense?!] but better covers as well). Covers aside, I must have read each of those books at least 20 times.

I also liked the humor section though I rarely bought anything there. One book in particular made a great impression on me as a 13 or 14 year old. I was amazed that it sat right out there in the open, and always wished I had the courage to pick it up. Buying it was out of the question, of course :-)

Later when I could drive on my own, Columbia Mall became my book hangout of choice what with Walden's on one end and B. Dalton on the other. I sort of lost track of the Dutch Square Walden's. I did know they had moved down the main corridor from their original location. The reason I heard was that the split-level store was not ADA compatible, but I don't know if that is true or not. At any rate, I found their new location less interesting than the original. What with that, moving out of town and the advent of "big box" bookstores, I doubt I was in the new store more than a dozen or so times. I didn't even hear about it when the store closed.

After Walden's, Fashion's Unlimited went into their slot, and I find it amusing to see how they stock the men's dress shirts in the old Walden's magazine display rack.

Written by ted on June 14th, 2009

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13 Responses to 'Waldenbooks, Dutch Square: 24 Jan 2007'

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  1. Look's like "Fashion's Unlimited" like's the "fashion" of adding extra apostrophe's to their name.

    Dave

    14 Jun 09 at 11:59 pm

  2. Yeah, though I suppose you could make an argument for reading it as motto: "Fashion is Unlimited" rather than mistaking a possessive for a plural.

    Bit of a stretch..

    ted

    15 Jun 09 at 12:29 am

  3. I have read that the whole chain is in trouble and they might close all their mall locations. The Columbiana store is only half the size it was originally.

    Tom

    15 Jun 09 at 5:33 am

  4. I remember the old Waldenbooks very well, and that science fiction rack in particular. I bough many a Heinlein book from there. Still have several of them, too.

    E.J.

    15 Jun 09 at 6:51 pm

  5. That is hilarious how the shirts are stocked. I think I remember that split level store. You should do a Brendals (sp?) post.

    Mr. Bill

    16 Jun 09 at 3:59 pm

  6. "Brendle's Shines!"

    ted

    16 Jun 09 at 4:07 pm

  7. I found a link to the wikipedia page for Brendles

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brendle's

    Mr. Bill

    17 Jun 09 at 8:47 am

  8. When I moved to Columbia in Jan. '86, I worked in the Columbia Mall B. Dalton (having worked in three others, out of state, previously). Walden was The Competition, and I never did really like shopping there. However, B. Dalton having closed all of its Columbia stores, this was the closest one. I don't go to bookstores anywhere nearly as much as I used to.

    Between my cramped living quarters, the library, and reading e-books on my PDA (yes, I still actually use a PDA, not a smartphone), I just don't buy hard-copy books the way I used to.

    Barc

    8 Feb 10 at 3:56 pm

  9. The original Waldenbooks in Dutch Square was my second home growing up. My grandmother was the manager there for many many years and I used to spend Sundays with her at the store, taking out the old comic books, adding the new ones, straightening the magazines, ripping covers off of paperbacks. I remember the split level very well and I spent many a days holed up in the back corner reading. When I was old enough to work, she got me a job at the Columbiana location (fairly new at the time). I was still working there (around 1993 I guess) when Columbiana expanded and Waldenbooks moved to the larger spot at the other end of the mall. I remember one night we moved the entire store inventory cart by cart to the new location. When the Dutch Square store moved it wasn't the same. It wasn't quirky any longer (or poorly lit for that matter) and it wasn't the same. Plenty of good memories in those stores.

    Andy

    27 Apr 10 at 9:07 pm

  10. Andy, that's how you and sister fell in love with books, because of all the time spent in that store. It was so cool to go to because we got to open all the boxes and see the new books before anyone else.

    Deena

    28 Apr 10 at 12:37 pm

  11. This Walden's was my second favorite book store of all time. I loved the multi-level layout.

    Shawn

    14 Jan 11 at 3:51 pm

  12. Entire chain (and its parent, Borders Books) closing and liquidating now.

    Bobby G

    12 Aug 11 at 1:38 pm

  13. I'm afraid that if Borders continues to exist, it'll have to be in the form of an online store.

    If that happens, it'll follow suit of the following defunct businesses (under their respective (dot)com names:

    Circuit City and Comp USA as divisions of the Systemax Group

    Service Merchandise (after an acquisition by Raymond Zimmerman)

    Linens N Things (not sure of the top management)

    Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery are also defunct but claim to be producing a new (dot)com of their own but I wouldn't hold your breath (log onto their (dot)com names and you should see why I feel that way...

    Wooloworths continues to operate under a co(dot)uk URL under a division of Shop Direct Services, Ltd. as well...

    So I would be surprised to see Borders follow in this direction once the brick and mortar stores are liquidated...stay tuned

    Andrew

    12 Aug 11 at 10:35 pm

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