Space in an abandoned textile mill was adapted into a 1,500 square foot appliance store by Port Chester, New York's Carl and Dorothy Bennett. This fledgling operation, which served its first customers in November 1951, was an amalgamation of the first names of its founders...CArL and DORothy = "Caldor".
A move toward general discounting came about in the late 1950s. As the chain grew, so did its stores, which would eventually gravitate toward the 80,000 to 120,000 square foot range.
New York City-based Associated Dry Goods bought the Caldor operation in May 1981. Under ADG's leadership, the chain expanded exponentially. By 1984, there were one hundred stores.
Associated Dry Goods was acquired by St. Louis-based May Department Stores in July 1986. Under May's leadership, the expansion of Caldor slowed considerably. They divested their holdings in the discount chain, in October 1989, to an entity known as Odyssey Partners.
Another period of rapid growth ensued, with one hundred and fifty-eight Caldor stores in operation by 1995. However, competition from Wal-Mart resulted in the chain filing for bankruptcy and closing stores.
By January 1998, with a second bankruptcy in motion, the end was at hand. Additional store closings could not put the company back on steady ground. The chain went out of business during the months between January and May 1999. On hand to divvy up shuttered stores were Wal-Mart, Bradlees, Ames and Wisconsin-based Kohl's.
CALDOR-ANCHORED SHOPPING MALLS:
*SWANSEA MALL, Swansea, MA (1979)
*WARWICK MALL, Warwick, RI (1984)