As I mentioned in the last post highlighting cards I received from reader Angus, by the time I posted the first group of cards, I had already received a second envelope from him. This second envelope was a PWE, so it had only a few cards in it. But, all of the ones I'm highlighting here are ones that could be found at various department stores and pharmacies in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
So let's go shopping!
Let's start at our local Kmart, where you never know when a deal will show up...
Wait...what's that I hear?
It's a Bluelight Special!
The Aaron is a card I have already, but I had to highlight it for the great photography, the big smile, and the Milwaukee Braves hat he's wearing.
And, that Plesac...a really nice card of the Brewers closer from the late 1980s.
Well, now that we have loaded up on cheap yard furniture and some t-shirts for the kids out there, let's head back in time and go to Ames.
Being a Midwesterner through 1995 and then a Southerner, I have never stepped foot in an Ames. Ames moved into Chicago in 2000...and then went entirely out of business and closed all of its stores in a chapter 7 liquidation proceeding in the bankruptcy court 2 years later.
Someone actually saved the final voicemail that went out to all store managers and, using old commercials, made a video out of it.
It's interesting to note that Ames's liquidation was the second time it had filed for protection under the bankruptcy code. It had done so in 1990 shortly after acquiring and rebranding the Zayre stores around Texas and the Midwest. Interesting to at least me is the fact that the Zayre Corporation spun off at least two concepts -- B.J.'s Wholesale Club and T.J. Maxx -- that were far more successful than the original corporate entity and still thrive today.
That's a long corporate introduction to this Topps-created card for Ames in 1990. Perhaps Topps got stiffed in the bankruptcy for the costs for this set and that's why, after 1990, Topps stayed away from the specialty boxed set business. That, or it was far more lucrative to print 800 million of each 1991 Topps card than to print 100,000 sets of these cards for Ames.
Molly in these pinstripes brings me to a small point that bugs me about the 1980s throwbacks that the Brewers wear these days. On the current throwbacks, the team has included the old-school MB logo which appears on Plesac's hat on the left sleeve of the uniform:
...as Ryan Braun is modeling on that Bowman Platinum card. The only patch the Brewers had on their left sleeves in this time that I can recall is the one that Molly has on his arm -- the H/K patch to honor Harvey Kuenn.
Like I said, it's a small thing.
Anyway, on to the next store...and this one has been defunct for even longer than Ames has!
Yet another store I had never seen myself in person was Revco, a name created from shortening the original company down from "Registered Vitamin Company". This Paul Molitor card was printed for Revco by Topps in 1988....which was the same year that Revco filed for bankruptcy protection after a leveraged buy-out gone bad.
Geez. Remind me never to have Topps print any cards with any logo I design on it. I'll end up in bankruptcy that same year.
This card gives me the excuse to link to a story from National Review from 2011 which asked the question of why you are much more likely to see Brewers fans sporting hats with the 1980s logo on it than you are to seem someone sporting the current logo.
The answer is that Milwaukee was one of the COOL places to be in the early 1980s. Industrial jobs -- including those in the brewing industry -- were fairly plentiful. City population had not declined significantly from its 1960 peak. TV had two shows -- Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days -- which highlighted life in Milwaukee as being quirky and fun. Add in the fact that the Brewers from 1978 to 1983 enjoyed the best consistent stretch in team history, the Bucks had their best decade ever in the 1980s, and even Marquette basketball was good, with having won the NCAA tournament in 1977 under Al McGuire and then continued to be good under Hank Raymonds into the 1980s.
These days, the only active large brewery in town -- Miller -- is owned by South African Brewing and merged into Coors. Industry, other than Harley-Davidson, has gone smaller or to the South or overseas to escape the more expensive union labor. The Brewers sucked for well on 20 years. The Bucks -- their 7-game series with the Bulls this year notwithstanding -- have swayed between mediocre and godawful. Only the Packers and the Badgers have been shining lights -- and both of those teams do not play in Milwaukee (the Packers stopped playing in Milwaukee in 1994). Throw in two more words -- Jeffrey Dahmer. It's not a pretty picture.
So, long story short, Milwaukee loves the 1980s more than most places because Milwaukee mattered a lot more in the 1980s. Or, as the story put it:
So it makes sense that Brewer fans, more than fans in other cities, would choose to cling to the glory years -- both for the team that they root for and the city in which they live. In this city, there will always be nostalgia for the time when nobody messed with Milwaukee. A time when you could get drunk and kiss a girl without hearing from her attorney. A time when you could throw an aluminum can into the trash without ending up on some neighborhood recycling-watch hit list. A time when a cigarette dangling from your heavily-mustached lip identified you as someone not to be crossed. A day when being spotted in a Trans Am didn't mean you were going somewhere, it meant you had arrived.All that from Revco. Wow. We'd better get to our last shuttered store -- Woolworth. This Cecil Cooper card came from 1987.
Other Woolworth-named companies around the worth continue in business, but here in the United States, Woolworth went away in 1997 when the company renamed itself Venator Group and focused its business entirely on its successful subsidiary and current company name -- Foot Locker.
For some reason, I really enjoy these corporate histories and generally following rabbit trails that I come across when I do random Google searches. Angus, thank you for the excuse to look all these old department stores up!