Sunday, May 27, 2007

Treasure Island


Treasure Island was a concept ahead of its time. Begun in the late 1960's, this JCPenney owned discount chain was basically the first supercenter concept ever created. Combining a discount and grocery store, this chain featured uniquely designed stores that were found in major cities across the U.S., but were known as "The Treasury" on the west coast. However, they were only successful in two cities: Atlanta and Cincinnati.

Georgia had four locations of Treasure Island stores, all located immediately off of I-285 except the first mentioned here, which was over a mile from Atlanta's perimeter highway. They were also located on major state highways in high traffic areas. These locations were at the intersection of U.S. 41 (Cobb Parkway) and Terrell Mill Road in Marietta, Buford Highway (GA 13) in Doraville, Memorial Drive (GA 10) near Decatur and Jonesboro Road (GA 54) in Forest Park.




The former location on Jonesboro Road in Forest Park is the most well-preserved location of a Treasure Island. You can also see the original painted over Home Depot sign in the background. The Home Depots were all on the left side of the original floorspace.

Consolidation of the discount store industry became fierce in the 1970's and 1980's following the massive failure of the W.T. Grant chain. This resulted in Treasure Island with its few massive stores having trouble competing with Kmart on steroids and the plethora of other discounters nationwide. Treasure Island was liquidated in 1981, and the vacancy of these stores created an opportunity for a brand new retail chain to emerge in Atlanta...Home Depot. Indeed, Home Depots very first locations were far smaller than today, taking up only a third of the former Treasure Island store space while Zayre initially moved in to take over the rest of the former retailer's floorspace.


The former location on Buford Highway is now a flea market.

In the late 1980's, Home Depot began building bigger and better stores while Zayre went bankrupt and was bought out by Ames. At that point, the Zayre locations were closed and Home Depot, now becoming a national chain, abandoned the original smaller stores. Given their location, these stores also faced decline of the area surrounding them. The most successful of these is the location in Marietta, which still has a Value City in the former Home Depot portion. The last major retailer in the Buford Highway location was an Office Depot, and now a large flea market covers much of the old floorspace. The other two locations are no longer retail with DeKalb County running offices out of the Memorial Drive location and the Atlanta Expo Center filling out the Jonesboro Road location. The Jonesboro Road location is unique in that it is completely unchanged from when it last functioned as a Zayre/Home Depot while the other locations were renovated and modified significantly.

Today, a concept like Treasure Island would be welcomed by many to reintroduce competition to a market completely dominated by only two discount chains, but its parent company JCPenney has mostly abandoned its other largely unsuccessful retail concepts. Its last, a collection of drug store chains including Eckerd, is now under different ownership while JCPenney focuses on its original department stores.

38 comments:

  1. There were a number of supercenter experiments that predate Treaure Island. Grandway (combos of Grand Union supermarkets and general merchandise discount stores) in Florida & the Northeast which began in '57, Super Giant in the DC area which dates from even earlier, and the original Value City in Cleveland (where food was a leased department) which was circa 1960. Meijer's supercenter format also dates from around 1960. there probably are others.

    Most of these died out in the 70s: Grand Union stopped building Grandways in the 60s; Giant scaled back the Super Ginats, but ran two full-line departments stores until well into the 70s; and Value City never opened other stores with a supermarket and the super market moved out of the first store in the 70s.

    Another variation on this: Wieboldt's, a low end full-line department store in Chciago had super markets integrated into a number of its branches. These dated back to at least the 50s and were closed in the 70s as the chain tried (unsuccessfully) to redefine itself.

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  2. Seems like 1981 was the breaking point for any number of concepts, Treasure Island among them.

    Home Depot started moving next to TI stores around 1978 or '79, taking over (I belive) the former grocery sections.

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  3. Treasure Island? Interesting, JCP had the same kind of discount/pharmacy concept in the Memphis area back in the '70s, but used the name THE TREASURY. Same logo (bold initial, thin helvetica font from the Penney's logo).

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  4. Um, he said Treasure Island = Treasury...

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  5. That's Treasury Drug, which is not the same as The Treasury.

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  6. I remember going in Treasure Island as a kid when my parents would go there and to the Richway near each other on Cobb parkway. Both stores had a very distinctive appearance. The "zigzag" roofline of Treasure Island and inside, the fluorescent lights being up in each triangular area, is a memory. Until last year, it was also the last time I'd seen PG17 style fluorescent lights (those "wavy" super-high-output types that were brighter than the standard 8-foot super-high-ouput types).

    As a kid, I remember being disappointed when Home Depot moved into part of the Treasure Island. I was last in the old Treasure Island building on the Friday after Thanksgiving of 2003 and there were three stores in the building, and I think they were all discount fashion stores (similar to Ross and TJ Maxx and Burlington). I was in the store on the far left.

    Of course, old Richway buildings have those huge wedges on top of the stores, bringing back great memories from my childhood every time I see them.

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  7. I grew up in doraville & I remember TI. Every friday we would do our grocery shopping there,We would pay for our grocery's leave them there in the grocery section & they would give us a tab with a number than they put our bags of grocery's in a tub with a number that matches the tab on a conveyor belt. WE would go into the department store & do some shopping than drive around to the side of the building we would give the clerk the tab with the number on it.They would find the tub with the number matching the tab & give us our grocery's from the tub.I'll never forget the little chnage machines at the cash
    registers's. The grocery section closed in about 1978.It was vacant for about a year before Home Depot opened in 1979. TI closed in about March or April 1981. We were there the last day. Naturally everyting was pulled appart & there was hardly anything left,After we left on the way home I felt sad because I knew it was the last time I would be in TI I live near FT Lauderdale now & they had Treasure Islands down here but called them The Treasury.
    There used to be a Treasury near where I live.The building was preserved almsot as all as the TI on Jonesboro RD. Home depot was on the right side of the building not the left. There was a Service Merchandise on the left & a Linen Supermarket in the middle.They tore the building down about a year & now there's a Walt Mart Supercenter on the spot.What goes around comes around

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  8. I also grew up in Doraville (Oakcliff & Pin Oak)in the early 70's, and TI was the place to go. As a kid, I got a kick out of the conveyor system used to send groceries out to one's car. I also thought alot of TI's pet department because of the number of aquariums they had.

    I work just down Buford Hwy, and see the old TI building every day. I see the old Zayre building every day too. I once lived in the brick duplexes right behind the old Zayre in early 1972. If I come thru Winters Chapel Rd, I'll see the old Richway location. My brain automatically takes me back to 1972, with full memories, and the music of the time playing in my mind. But, my heart is broken when I think of how dumpy the area has become.

    One nice thing though, the old Grandma's Biscuits location is still there and doing business.
    Of course, one may have to speak a myriad of different languages these days, just to place an order. That goes for anywhere on Buford Hwy.

    I think Treasury Drugs took over the old Rexall stores, or maybe the old Jacobs or Staples drug stores...can't quite remember.

    If you watch "Smokey & The Bandit" the first episode, they do part of the chase thru the old shopping center in Jonesboro and Treasury Drugs can be seen. There was an A&P next to that.

    We'd also shop at the Memorial Drive TI once in a while. Right off the exit ramp on the immediate right.

    When we moved to Stockbridge in 1974, we shopped at the Jonesboro Rd location, and it was very dumpy, considering where it was (ahem).

    Ah, the memories !!

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  9. I lived in Doraville as a kid, and I remember going to the TI store as well. One thing I remember is how they had part of the store organized into a number of little mini-shops along the front/right walls (The home electronics one had an early consumer B&W TV camera /VTR on display about 1971, sort of a harbinger of all the camcorders to follow. I have no clue how many hours total I spent goofing around in front of that thing).

    I can still see the place....moving in a generally counterclockwise direction from the entrance were clothing, fabrics, a cafeteria, sporting goods, hardware, housewares, grocery store, toys, furniture, music, and returning to the front exit, cash registers and a concession area. There was a photography counter in the middle of the store.

    There was also a TI automotive shop out in front, which is where my sister got her first two 8-track players (can you believe someone actually went to the trouble to steal the first one?)

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  10. I also grew up in Doraville in the 70s and have many memories of visiting the TI. My brother and I had our photos taken there almost every year. That whole strip of Buford Highway brings back memories...TI gave way to Home Depot and Phar-mor, there was the awesome toy store next door (the name escapes me...), Service Merchandise down the street, across from the current Value City which was Richway then Target("wedges" on the roof) and then I fondly remember having delicious breakfasts at Sambo's restaurant. Going the other direction on Buford Highway (inside the Perimeter) we shopped at Treasure's for your Home in the same shopping center as the Sears Outlet. The putt-putt place was fun and then there was Zayre's and, my favorite place of all, Playland roller rink!

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  11. I also grew up in Doraville in the 70's. The plaza with the Sears outlet was Pinetree Plaza. I lived across the street in Manor Ridge Apartments. The toy store next to TI was Lionel Playworld. There were no wedges on the roof of that Richway. It was Grants City before it was Richway.I remember Zayre with the sighn that lit up one letter at a time. They don't make sighns like that anymore. One time when I was about 6 I was walking in there. For some reason (I don't know why ?) I was barefoot. In the parking lot I stepped on a lit cigarette. OUCH!.

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  12. JT:
    I went through some old clippings my sis made in 1976 since I was a disaster buff. The Atlanta Journal did a series on disasters that December (not just the Jimmy Carter route to the White House). On the backs of the stories I saw a smidgin of Ellman's and a sizable hunk of Treasure Island ads for electronic gear. 79.99 for a CRT black and white? Darn!

    Holler if you wish to partake of the ads; I have scanned them.
    KT

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  13. The Treasury also had stores in the Chicago area in Niles, Oak Lawn and Rolling Meadows. They were the discount one stop shop merchandise that also included a drug store inside the store according to one 1974 ad. I think these were gone by about 1981 or so.

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  14. I was recently reminiscing with a couple old friends from Forest Park and Treasure Island came up in conversation. The parking lot at Zayre was a teen hangout on the weekends because it was just beyond the Clayton County line and FP police didn't bother to break up the party. My old friend, a gay man, said, "I used to love Treasure Island... they had a glory hole in the men's room." Funny how we remembered that place for different reasons!

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  15. I've lived in Doraville all my life and the changes I've seen! My sister worked at T.I. and my brother worked at the Winn Dixie at Pinetree Plaza. I went to Sequoyah High School (now a middle school). I remember when Buford Hwy wasn't much more that a poorly paved 2 lane street. You would never believe it to see it today. I worked at the Grandma's Biscuit; the only store left from that time. They say you can never go home, but I never left. Can't wait to see what the next 10 years bring.

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  16. I remember the one in Madison WI, it was a TI, not Treaury. The pictures bring back memories, I remember that roof line and the ad on the radio with the ingle "the store with the sqiggley roof" and the little xylophone noise. Was along the beltine hwy, I think the building might still be in use, not sure as there was an Arlans store in the same vicinity and hard to keep them straight now.

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  17. My mom loved Treasure Island. That was her favorite place to shop, followed by Richway and Zayre. I didn't care as long as the toys were good. We always went to the TI on Jonesboro Road, which used to be discount shopping heaven back in the day. Grant's, Richway, Sunshines, Zayre and Lionel Playworld were all in one stretch.

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  18. I loved shopping at the stores on Buford Hwy. Especially Treasure Island as it was such a huge place to a youngster. I could have sworn though that the Treasure Island on Buford Hwy which I loved as a kid became a Zayre and Handy City, not Home Depot. If it was a Home Depot, where was Handy City - I thought they were before Home Depot. I remember the older Zayre further south on Buford Hwy as well - I found a Jawa Star Wars figure there and was so excited cause it was the hardest one of the first series of figures to find. Lionel Playword on Buford Hwy was also the BEST toy store in Atlanta! The trains were cool! Ha! How about Tilly The All Time Teller - first ATM machines at 1st National Bank of GA. So many memories of Playland skating rink. Buford Clairmont Mall was great too with Sunshine Dept Store where Burlington Coat Factory was later. I worked my first job at Publisher's Book Outlet shortly after the early 80's renovation of Buford Clairmont Mall - I think it was Outlet Square during that period...Art Accents was cool too cause they had figurines of all types you could paint. Good times...

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  19. I worked at Treasure Island - it was my first job - before that played baseball for Sequoyah all 5 years - broke my neck paying football there in 68 - graduated in 70. Lived near the TI Store, worked at W.T.Grant later, and GM afterwards.

    Pennys also owned a chain of Drug stores called Treasury Drugs.

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  20. I also grew up in Doraville in the 70s, and remember all of these stores. The toy store mentioned was originally Lionel Leisure City and was like a mecca to kids back then. I too remember the pet department at Treasure Island and the grocery pickup around the side of the building. There was also a store somewhere near there called Arlan's. We shopped at Richway and Winn-Dixie and Service Merchandise and got all our prescriptions at Collier's Drugs. Anybody remember the Clock Restaurant? I lived in Oakcliff and attended Oakcliff Elementary and Sequoyah High School (class of '81).

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  21. Like many of you I can still recall the area on Buford Highway where we would go to shop, eat, see movies, play putt-putt, go roller skating, etc... back in my days as a kid --which were the 1970's.

    I lived in Doraville, on Shallowford Road and could look down and see the McDonald's on BH through the woods of my back yard. We moved to Norcross in 1971, but still frequented the area for the above. Back-to-school shopping was done at Richway (Grant's prior to that).

    Treasure Island was very unique for it's day --from the exterior to the combo grocery/retail shopping/auto all under one roof. This store seemed so big to a kid under 10 and I can still recall what it looked like from the inside, as I can Richway, Buford Highway Twin, Sambo's, Grandma's Biscuits, Lionel Playworld (Leisure City), K-mart, Service Merchandise ..I also recall a Uniroyal tire store at the right entrance/exit to TI.

    I don't know where I'm going with this --I seem to be just listing old establishments that i can recall from the area ..my Retail memories I suppose.

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  22. I remember shopping at the Doraville TI store with my mom as as a kid. I also worked at the Home Depot in the 80's. Different world over there now. Coolest things on Buford Highway in the 70's though was the old putt putt a few miles south on Briarwood and of course Playland.

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  23. I grew up in Doraville..Wow things have changed. I loved shopping at Treasure Island with my mom. I was fasinated with the conveyour system. We would treat ourselves on Saturday mornings with breakfast at The Clock. Had friends I went to school with that worked at the fast food places down Buford Highway..free food if you did'nt get caught. Does anyone remember Murry's Subs?..Best Philly Cheese steak for the time. It is great reading all these memories...

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  24. I loved Treasure Island in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was such a fun place that I called them and called them asking if they had any openings for cashiers. They kept saying that they did not have any openings; however, I called them for 30 days straight and after that they told me to come on in and that they would hire me! I love working there and still feel very loyal to JCPenneys who owned Treasure Island. I still have some of the things I purchased there in the 1970's! It was a really cool place - and I hated to see the Target store come in across the street. Target was not nearly as cool.

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  25. The TI in Milwaukee was my most very cool place to window shop as a child....I would gaze at the electronics department for hours on end. The record department was awesome, with the top 10 and top 40 records of the week flyers that I collected for years! My parents did not allow me to be in a store unless I was buying something, but I'll tell you, the store was almost hypnotizing. It is now a full strip mall including stores such as Kohls department store, Marshalls, a dollar store, and Pick N Save grocery store.
    But if you go into the back of Pick N Save and look up...the unforgetable zig-zag roof is still intact, an amazing look back in time, considering how old this building really is, and how well it stood up to the test of time.
    They built new restrooms out in front of the building now, but when I am shopping for groceries, I still like to sneak in the back and let my mind go back to the good old days when shopping was fun, the signs were as high as the sky, and the more lights the better was the skyline of days gone by.

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  26. As there commercial would say "under the squiggly roof (ring noise) at Treasure Island". For alot of us Baby Boomers out there this retail store gave us some great memories. I grew up going to the one in the Milwaukee area. For our family of seven it was a everyday sort of thing. The same way WalMart has become that for many of us now. Except it's different now. TI seemed to be so unique in so many ways. For me having Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream at the front ice cream counter after our shopping trips was always the best. And who can forget those metal rollers that those grey bins would roll along with our groceries in, as my mom would drive the car around to side of the building and some guy would load up our car. Parcel Pickup was the great. WalMart is good, but Treasure Island was the best!!!

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  27. I'm 36 and barely remember going to the Treasure Island on Jonesboro rd. I mostly remember the flourescent lighting , had those high power lightening bolt flourescent tubes and they blinded you. Did they have some antique toy cars hanging from the ceiling? I have wondered if that was them, for years now.

    I also remember the Lionel playworld, and how i LOVED that fresh pool Liner scent as you entered the door.

    I remember a lot better, the Richways on Jonesboro rd, Tara Blvd, and old national. I loved richway, those large circular clothes racks were great hiding places to play hide and seek while my mom shopped. They also had a huge toy area, and a bigger than anyone has today, fish and pet section. And the everpresent smell of popcorn.

    Does anyone reading this remember the circus playhouse that took over the old grocery section of the richway on Tara blvd/arrowhead?

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  28. Thanks for this page .. I grew up on Browns Mill road and my dad alwas took us to TI and Richway on Jonesboro rd ..We also went to k-mart on cleavland ave ( Still Open ) and to Stewart Lakewood mall also Zares .. thanks Paul Williams

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  29. Had an opportunity to get gas across the street from the former Treasure Island building on Sunday. I had not seen it in years. I will admit when I saw I needed gas and I was on 285 it was a nice excuse to pull in to that exit and take a look.

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  30. Back in the early 70's I worked at the T I in doraville for three days pumping gas while looking for a better paying job. Went home to alabama for the week end and never went back to the atlanta area to work. I never collected my pay check from them.

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  31. Poor White TrishaJuly 28, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    wow it's been 2 years since I last posted and a whole 3 people posted since..I guess Treasure Island isnt a big tpic but it's still on my mind occasionally. I'm actualy a big Richway Junkie and have collected a lot of richway items (old bags, ads, early proprietary upc pricing stickers they tried using, etc.) I have also found online a circus playhouse menu (ask them about franchisee info) online..so anyone else out there from southside ATL in the 70's 80's?

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    1. I grew up on the southside in the 70s and 80s. I have so many good memories of shopping at Richway! It was the Target of its day. Better than Kmart! I remember circus playhouse. It was in the same shopping center as Richway. I also remember Sunshines in Forest Park. and Turtles records!! I want to go back!

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    2. So many good memories, thank guys, I grew up right behind the old braves stadium, right off morland, we went there all the time, loved the pet department, and my Dad always got me a hot wheels car...times like these will never come around again...have to keep the memories alive...God bless

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  32. there is a group on FB dedicated to everything Doraville,GA---lots of post abt TI memories

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  33. Worked at Jonesboro road T.I. (GROCERIES) 1971- 1976. At one time , Coca Cola sold more drinks in those 4 stores than any other outlet....
    Had massive end caps at end of aisles...
    Went to hell when they sold out grocery division in 1975.
    Started out as bag boy, cashier stock clerk..

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  34. I remember a Treasure Island in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood during the early Sixties. I played my first pinball there and the popcorn was good. Whatever happened to it?

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  35. I remember going to the squiggly roofed Treasure Island off Cobb Parkway and Terrell Mill Road in Marietta on their opening day as a youngster. Around Easter of 1971, my two sisters and I were each bought a baby chick there and each was dyed a different color for Easter. Those three chicks grew up to be some mean roosters that would chase my younger sister around the yard and were eventually killed by a large collie we had. I remember hanging out in the toy department looking at the Hot wheels and plastic model car kits while my mother grocery shopped, No one was worried about child abductions in those days. Once she finished her grocery shopping she would come get me. We would then pick up our groceries from the plastic tubs on the steel wheeled conveyor. The paper sacks of groceries would then be placed in the huge trunk of our Delta 88. I remember the K-Mart on Roswell Rd and Cobb Parkway across from the Big Chicken had a grocery store with the same type conveying system back in those days. That old Treasure Island turned into the first Home Depot started by a group of men who worked for Lockheed adjoining the Dobbins Air Force Base and Naval Air Station across the street. My how things have changed since then.

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