Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rich's at Oglethorpe Mall

I previously stated that Rich's was a relatively new arrival to the Savannah market.  Rich's here was nothing more than a name, unfortunately.  The Rich's of lore had all of its history, charm and character taken out of it by the time the Oglethorpe store opened, so its position in Savannah was by and large a corporate move.  Regardless, it was a good one considering Burdine's probably would not have set too well with people in Savannah.  Nevertheless, Oglethorpe needed more room.  The smaller Levy's/Maas Brothers, which had just been bought out and closed, was hampering the mall's efforts to stay competitive with Savannah Mall even though it had opened a mere 9 years earlier.  With that, the store was demolished, the mall was extended and Rich's joined Oglethorpe as its furthest south store in 1992.

The pictures here are all by Russell Wells.  He took those for me back in 2004 when I was in the process of photographing all of the remaining Rich's stores prior to consolidation.  While it definitely lacks the cache of the classic stores, it is still nice to include these in my collection.

First photo is the direct mall entrance, while the second photo is a peculiar side entrance to the store right next to the main entrance.

The entrance to the Rich's wing was graced with this overhead sign combined with a lit mall logo that I still find extremely attractive.

The ever infamous "Rich's-Macy's"...a two year time span when then Federated Department Stores severely downscaled Rich's to make people fall out of love with it so they would embrace Macy's when they changed it over.  Honestly, Rich's as it really was died 15 years before they changed the name.  In fact, the downtown store closed around the time construction started on this store.  It was still sad to see a classic and once heralded store marginalized to the point that nobody even cared.

The new Rich's when it was built was reasonably attractive and solidly designed.  The only problem is that nearly every store built after it is a practical clone of this one aside from the fact this store had far less stucco than the later models.

These "customer pick-up" signs caught my attention, too, during the changeover.  I photographed my share of them during that time.  What is so funny is that this font used for the logo is now very popular ever since Rich's went away.

The Rich's logo was also displayed on the front of the mall along with JCPenney since both stores are in the back of the mall pretty much hidden from view of Abercorn.  I imagine Levy's/Maas Brothers had a worse problem since they were even more hidden.


  1. I concur that the Rich's has a better looking building that most of its contemporaries but the interior was too generic mid-market department store to say "All about the South". Perhaps a little variation on one of Burdine's Florida themed interiors would have been appropriate, only tweaking colors to match ante-bellum and colonial coastal Georgia.

    By the late 80's, Federated had turned Rich's and Goldsmith's into clones of Lazarus, and witht the mid-90's acquisition of Macy's, Atlanta was left with its 2 dominant department stores under the same ownership. Both Macy's and Rich's seemed to suffer at this point as if Federated wasn't sure whether to consolidate Rich's into Macy's or return Macy's to a local brand as Rich's. Ultimately they chose Macy's in 2003 as the national brand and began eliminating the last vestiges of the legacy brands they had owned. Of course it all started earlier, Rich's was acquired by Federated in 1977, and once the downtown flagship closed, it was Rich's only in name. But at least through the legacy of Davison's, Rich's, Levy's and Isidor Strauss himself immigrating from Germany to Georgia, there is a historical connection for Macy's to Georgia.

  2. This is the only Rich's I ever visited. It was a bit boring; reminded me of a typical Hecht's. The Belk in the mall was much more impressive.

    I wish I could have seen some real Rich's stores in their prime. They sounded cool.

  3. Well Macy's, Inc. has absolutely destroyed the legacy Rich's stores by "renovating" them. Now they are just plain, generic giant rooms lacking any class at all. They're so plain I get about the same experience shopping at Target...actually Target might be more enjoyable.

    Their recent renovations to two of the stores I knew best tore down the walls dividing off the departments and took out the classier elements, including the colored marble and wood flooring that had been there since the stores opened. The only store I noticed that had minimal renovation to it is the Lenox store, which apparently had classy enough trappings and history that it was less modified.

    I don't know about other people, but I think the way they did the legacy Rich's (and some other stores) is not at all inviting.

  4. I wish I had more stuff to add about Oglethorpe Mall's Rich's, but since I moved within the year after the store opened, I don't. I don't mind shopping at all, and at that point, Parisian at Savannah Mall had my attention...even if it meant driving past Rich's to get there. The Belk at Savannah Mall was a much classier-looking store than Rich's, as well. Savannah folks, it was Rich's,and that was all that mattered.

    I do know that the odd angled entrance from the mall was originally an inline store. Rich's expanded into this space within five years after opening. I have no idea what the store originally was.

  5. I miss Rich's so much. Thank you for posting these!