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Hills - The anti-inflation department store!
May 7, 2008 - Ron Flaviano
I have been a fan of retail stores since I was a kid. The marketing, signage, store layout, and overall experience. One of the stores that stands out in my childhood memories is Hills. Even though my Mom often took me and my sister to other stores like Zayre, Grant City and K-Mart, we usually ended up at Hills.
The Hills experience in the 70s was a very exciting one. From the wildly flashing light strips and sign on the outside of the building to the great popcorn, everything about Hills appealed to me as a child. As soon as you walked in you could smell the hot popcorn at the front of the store. It was always a treat on the way out, along with a Coke or cherry slush. The stores were bright and had 70s Muzak piped in. They had a GREAT toy department, where we would get lost while my Mom shopped. The stores were not overly fancy, but there were always bargains galore...and the clerks wore these Pepto-Bismol colored smocks.
I remember looking through the record section for the newest 45s, and checking out the collection of Atari, TI99/4A or Intellivision video games. I remember that at first, they did not accept any credit cards...and the old NCR cash registers at the checkouts. They always had fireworks on the 4th of July, and everyone would watch them from the parking lot.
We shopped at many different Hills stores as children (Liberty Plaza, Boardman Plaza, Austintown Plaza) but most of my memories are from the one at the Ridgeview Plaza in Warren. I was very disappointed when AMES bought up the Hills chain in the late 90s...and then summarily closed the whole chain.
The closest thing to a Hills experience today is shopping at Marcs...basically because of the simple layout of the store and the unassuming nature of their signage.
Do you miss Hills or any other retail establishment? Let me know...until next time, keep clipping those coupons!
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