More Details (and Questions) About the Return of Ames Department Stores to New England
Like many native New Englanders, I got both excited and nostalgic when I heard that the beloved Ames department store chain was coming back.
Then, like any New Englander, I grew cynical. Why?
Why, after two decades away, at a time of economic uncertainty, flourishing online delivery options, and a fluctuating supply chain, would Ames deem now the best time for its resurrection?
Equally puzzling was the mysterious, and dare I say cryptic webpage that quietly announced the planned return. Yes, it was from the domain once owned by the chain that once rivaled Bradlees at the old Newington Mall. But anyone can buy a dormant web domain.
So, I took a shot and reached out to the media contact listed at AmesStores.com with a few questions, and just 30 minutes later, I received a reply.
It was from someone named Shannon de Molyneux, whose listed their title in their email signature as President of Cross Moline Ventures (but a quick Google search for Cross Moline ventures doesn’t turn up a whole lot. Hmm…).
Nonetheless, the President was happy to respond with some details via e-mail.
“Stores will have a similar feel to the originals, and we'll stock the same products with the addition of groceries,” wrote Shannon.
“Select stores will have a Café inside, similar to the Hills Snack Bar concept. Interiors will feature drop ceilings instead of the warehouse style open ceilings, with tile and carpet throughout the store instead of polished concrete.”
Where can we expect to find these new stores?
“We're opening stores in CT, NYS, PA, in 2023, and eventually RI early to mid 2024.”
But for those reminiscing about stores further north, it sounds like you’ll have to wait.
“We won't be expecting to see stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine in 2023 and most likely late 2024 or early 2025.”
I thought it odd that we'd leave those Ames hotbeds out, but...okay.
And as long as we're headed back to the '80s, I decided to channel my inner-Colombo and say, “Just one more thing…”
I sent another e-mail to Shannon de Molyneux with two followup questions:
With Ames so beloved in New England, what was behind the decision to open stores in New York and Pennsylvania first?'
Also, why would Ames pick now to reopen, with so many existing stores understaffed?
To these inquiries, I received no reply.
Is it possible – again, just possible – that the Return of Ames could be a ruse?
Yes, Shannon did share some amazing details about Ames 2.0. And I have to say, it sounds even cooler than the revamped Sears coming in 2024 (which will place greater emphasis on gaming and electronics as well as digital home accessories).
All of which I just...made...up.
Just as it’s easy to buy a domain, it’s easy to describe a store we wish we could have. A Google search of Shannon de Molyneux didn’t turn up a whole lot either.
Did I just get catfished by an '80s department store??
But why would anyone put so much effort into a prank involving Ames? It’s probably just an understaffed operation that hadn’t thought its rollout all the way through. Right?
Sorry, but I’m starting to feel like this is less of a feel-good story and the makings of another New England unsolved mystery…
If so, that's a shame. For shoppers reminiscing about the glory days of New England malls, Ames would look great as a new anchor at the Fox Run in Newington.
That is, if Newington itself is even a real town...
UPDATE: After this story was published, Shannon replied to explain that Ames is opening first in Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania as those were the most "highly-demanded" states. Should I respond that the vacant Ames in Seabrook, New Hampshire is quite possibly the Seacoast's most revered landmark?