Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, October 21, 2001, pg. 19
Despite a drenching rain, we had a great crowd of over 75 umbrellas with their owners attached at our Riverside Cemetery tour on October 14. A big thank-you to all the people who turned out and participated despite the weather. We had a great time together. Extra copies of the tour program are available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce--be sure and obtain your copy there if you weren’t able to make the tour. Videos of the tour are available from Larry Brooks at Hometown TV on 28 Mile Road. (517) 629-9683.
Work is certainly progressing on the N. Eaton St. widening project. It’s amazing that they were able to get five lanes out of the widening, but they did. This will help with the traffic flow in the area and help our local businesses. We were sorry to learn of the recent loss of Big Boy which no doubt lost business this year due to the construction.
One business that attracted much attention during the 1960s on N. Eaton St. was located in Albion’s 20-acre shopping center. The center was dubbed Stadium Plaza (for "Yankee Stadium," get it?) and the Yankee Department Store was Albion’s answer to "Shopper’s Fair" in Jackson. This was in the era when traditional downtown department stores were going out of style and new stores were being built in strip malls near major highways. For example, Jackson opened its ill-fated downtown street mall in October 1964 which resulted in businesses moving out to N. West Avenue, i.e. Paka Plaza.
The Yankee store opened on November 4, 1964 and contained 37 different merchandise departments containing such items as clothes, toys, shampoo, transistor radios, tools, and many other items all under "one roof." Hundreds of Albion shoppers filled the aisles and experienced the "new concept" in shopping. The store operated on the new "self-serve" fad, a departure from traditional department stores where a clerk would wait on you.
There was 30,000 square feet floor space, and Yankee shared a common lobby entrance with the adjacent 15,000 square foot Kroger store which also opened the same day. Early partners in the Yankee store were John L. Goudy and Howard Tate. Its address was 12953 28 Mile Road, later changed to 1507 N. Eaton St. after the area was annexed into the City of Albion. A big red-white-blue patriotic "Yankee" hat sign was placed in front near the street. Albion citizens were amazed at the massive asphalted parking lot in front.
Also in the strip mall were Cunningham Drugs (which confused people with the Carrington Drugs and Garrison Drugs downtown), Kroger Supermarket (which also opened on November 4) and Atlas Car Wash. Cunningham Drugs did not last long however, and was replaced by the Sunshine Center Wash & Dry Clean.
Shopping patterns continued to change, and strip mall department stores gave way to real enclosed mall stores. When Westwood Mall opened in Jackson in 1972, it affected numerous businesses in Albion as more customers preferred to shop at Westwood Mall instead. Yankee’s was absorbed by the Zody chain, and renamed Zody’s Discount Deparment Store in 1974 with Jack Smith as the store manager. It continued to operate only briefly and the store was subsequently closed.
From our Historical Notebook we present a photograph of Yankee Stadium Plaza showing the Yankee Store on the right. The scene is taken looking west from where McDonald’s is today. How many of our readers remember the Yankee Department Store?
Yankee Stadium Plaza
All text copyright, 2014 © all rights reserved Frank Passic