Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gold Triangle Stores: A FDS Division in Florida of Hard-Lines

Most people know the story of how Federated Department Stores became Macy's recently after absorbing and eliminating all mid-market department names under their ownership. Today, their trade is mostly a nationally-marketed Macy's and their upscale brand Bloomingdale's. However, in the past Federated operated three seperate non-department store operations. Two of these were discount formats. One of these, of course, was Richway and the other was Cincinnati-based Gold Circle. The third, though, was the odd Gold Triangle chain in South Florida.


Seemingly, Gold Triangle would have just been the discount division of Burdine's or Jordan Marsh. However, this was not quite the case. It was a hard lines store best described as carrying "recreational, home and electronics" products [1]. The closest relative to it is the also defunct Lechmere stores, which were operated by Montgomery Ward.  Gold Circle got its start in 1968. Three stores opened in Fort Lauderdale, Dadeland and Skylake Mall in 1970.   As a side note, it should be noted that Skyland Mall, built in 1959, was demolished in 2000.  At its peak, the chain grew to six stores, all in the Miami and West Palm Beach area.  The chain also had one store in the Tampa area, though I have no information on that.  Though operated by Federated, the chain was Hialeah, FL-based.


In November 1981, it was announced that Gold Triangle would liquidate and close down the entire chain. Apparently the odd format proved ultimately to be unprofitable, but this did not mean that Gold Triangle was being sold off. Instead, Federated decided to bring its Atlanta-based Richway division to Florida. Opening in 1982, the new Richway stores absorbed all six former Gold Triangle locations, also bringing an unfamiliar discounter to the Sunshine State. This will also explain earlier comments about a lack of the wedge skylights on the Richway stores in Florida, which would have been oddly very appropriate for a store with "triangle" in the name.  However, as images below will show, the building itself had a triangular shape.  They obviously were successful, though, and these continued to operate as such until the sale to Target in 1989.


To add to confusion, it is also possible that these stores may have briefly operated as Gold Circle. Gold Circle and Richway were merged in 1986 prior to the liquidation in 1988. Federated also absorbed another chain into the Richway family when they purchased two former Gibson's locations in Chattanooga, TN somewhere in the same period. The former Gold Triangle/Richway stores have mostly been abandoned in the South Florida market today, but they left a recognizable and familiar legacy similar to its home base, which is quite unique.


Former Gold Triangle/Richway store on 1941 S Military Trail.  Image from Google Street View.

Today, Target continues to operate in three of the six original Gold Triangle locations.  All three of those Target locations were rebuilt.  The one across from defunct Palm Beach Mall was the last to retain the Gold Triangle look.  Previously, five of the Gold Triangle stores converted to Richway.  One, at fore-mentioned Skyland Mall failed to be converted to Richway.  The other two have since closed and been relegated to other uses, including the one pictured above that is now "Sunshine Market".  Gold Triangle stores had a very interesting design indeed.


1760 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd location prior to demolition and reconstruction as a two story store in 2009.  Image from Google Street View.

Here is the list of the South Florida Richway locations which previously operated as Gold Triangle:
8201 W Federated Roadway (Plantation)
1200 S Federal Highway (Deerfield Beach)
8399 N University Dr (Tamarac)
1941 Military Trail (Palm Springs)
1760 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd (West Palm Beach)

[1] Hughes, Le A.  "Gold Triangle stores to close after Christmas".  The Miami News.  17 November 1981.

23 comments:

  1. These stores were more traditionally hard goods oriented than Lechmere, which focused more on small appliances, housewares, and sporting goods (including footwear). Lechmere's merchandise mix evolved out of early discount stores that started out being like Western Auto and gradually grew from that selection. Wards only owned Lechmere for a brief period before its demise. Dayton-Hudson owned Lechmere for quite a few years in the 70s and 80s, but kept a fairly hands-off approach to management for most of that time. They were a regional oddity that didn't transfer well to other markets. It was a bit like the evolution of odd places like the Andersons (coffee cake, cattle prods and Carhartt clothing) in the Midwest or Fred Meyer (a discount store super market hybrid that predated Wal-Mart) in the Northwest.

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  2. I thought Gold Triangle had stores in the Tampa Bay area and Orlando as well, but only the SE Florida stores became Richway. Like the Atlanta area Richway's, the SE Florida Richway's never made the complete transition to Gold Circle.

    Regardless, Richway had a panache that Gold Circle lacked, a better logo, and a more interesting, distinctive store design.

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  3. We did have a Gold Triangle in Tampa. It closed instead of becoming a Richway, however (the site, near Tampa Stadium, later became a Save 'N Pack supermarket-- another extinct chain, and later a Sweetbay Supermarket).

    Florida DOT never got the message, though, apparently. For years, they keep up a street sign which read: Gold Triangle (long after the store was gone).

    Today the site is still a Sweetbay: https://cornucopia1.hannaford.com/wap3/webapp/StoreLocator/StoreLocatorServlet

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  4. Orlando store was on Colonial Drive, just west of the Orlando Fashion Square.

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  5. I remember the Orlando store also. Right next to Orlando Fashion Square mall. Property is currently a Target, but it was vacant for probably 10 years or more after Gold Triangle closed.

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  6. I remember the Skylake location in North Miami Beach.The chain was Burdine's discount chain,not Jordan Marsh.

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  7. The Skylake location became a Home Depot location in 82 when they expanded to South Florida.

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  8. I worked at the Plantation FL Gold Triangle location, with a great group of people. I still consider that job to be the best (and most fun) that I ever had. It did not become a Richway location after it closed, and Richway lasted only a couple of years before Target took over those locations.

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    1. Hi there. I have a weird question. Would you happen to have a picture of the boat wheel in front of the fish and tackle section? Old friends of mine have been on a scavenger hunt for years; this photo will make me a hero.

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  9. I worked at hte plantation store and a bunch of people hooked up and got married from there. It was excellent!

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  10. The Tampa Gold Triangle store was located at2525 N. Dale Mabry Ave., it later became a grocery store, a division of Safeway Called Save n Pak, later the name was reversed. It stayed that way until Safeway sold the store and one other location to Tampa Based Kash n' Karry. Kash n' Karry was later bought by the Delhaze company and became a sister store to Food Lion before the name was changed to Sweetbay as it is now.

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  11. I'm positive one was not listed, on flagler near the palmetto expressway, in miami there is a mall now called mall of the americas, it has a Ross and a movie theater, outside once apon a time had a gold triangle, I know, because when I was 13 the year it went out of business I purchase lots of 45 records, some I still have. this was a pleasent memory for me.

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  12. I was probably 12 or 13 when Gold Triangle opened in Tampa. I remember hearing an interview with a company bigwig who was actually bragging about how the floors were unfinished as a cost saving method to keep their prices down. All I cared about were their frequent sales on new record albums. We lived on the other side of town, though, and my mom got tired of driving me there. She finally told me she'd give me the difference I was saving if I'd buy my albums at a closer store. I never took her up on that but I didn't ask to go back to Gold Triangle either. As noted above, they didn't stick around long anyway.

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  13. So much incorrect info!!!!!!
    GT had 6 stores - located as follows - store 001 Dadeland, 002 Skylake, 003 Plantation, 004 Orlando, 005 Tampa and 006 Hialeah. The main office was originally located at 325 W. 74 St in Hialeah until the Hialeah location was built then the main offices and whse was moved to the new store (approx 1978). None of them became Richway or Gold Circle. These were the only GT locations.

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  14. Gold triangle in plantation was not at the richway/target location.
    It was on 441 somewhere north of Sunrise blvd .

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    1. No,It was just North of Broward Blvd,near Plantation General Hospital.It became the DCF. Building

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    2. That's the one I remember, between Broward Blvd. and Sunrise on 441. Remember playing PONG when it was first introduced, a looong time ago.

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  15. I worked at Gold Triangle in Miami back in the early 70's. Lots of warm memories. The people I worked with...and the couple that ran a tiny sandwich/deli place somehow...on the ground floor of a medical building or something that was a bit further back from the street but within walking distance. Liverwhurst,American cheese and something else on Rye. LOL. Back to GT: Illiana Rodriguez, Madeline, Phillip, other names I can't recall right now. I was Nancy Wilson then. I have pictures of all of them from my first wedding in Miami in 1974. Those were the days.

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    1. Can you post some of those pictures - I heard Illiana works at a gas station in Homestead. I worked for GT from 73 to 78. The Deli was in Dadeland Medical Building which at the time was owned by Ira Segal and others. Frank Salerno was store mgr., Gerry Goldman and Rudy Baumbach were assistant store mgrs. Baker was the sporting goods mgr. (deceased around 1980), Bruce Terrell (deceased around 2000) was small electronics mgr., Eric was paint mgr. and I could go on and on. Please post photos.

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    2. Gold Triangle was a great place to work. There was an enthusiasm in the young company and the employees reflected it. They introduced a new style of merchandising that was ahead of its time. They made money but not enough for Federated that had been used to the high margins that there software stores like Burdines produced. I helped open the Plantation store and was later transferred to the Tampa store where. I loved working there.

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  16. Why all of the anonymity???? When the Dade Land Store 001 closed at the end of 1981. Larry Lewark and I, Allen Lundy were assistants to Dick Yarbrough. Bruce Terrell, my business partner after the end passed at the end of 2005. A wonderful place to work. Had a lot of fun there.

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  17. Gold Circle was based in Worthington, Ohio, which is a suburb of Columbus.

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  18. Gold Circle was based in Worthington, Ohio, which is a suburb of Columbus.

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