Spokane Journal of Business

J.J. Newberry to close its last Spokane store

Shadle Center outlet will shut its doors this April after 35 years in operation

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J.J. Newberry Co., the retail variety-store chain that had three outlets in Spokane just two years ago, expects to close the doors on its last store here, at Shadle Center this April, says Kevin Lake, the stores manager.

The 19,500-square-foot store at the Shadle Center, located near Wellesley and Alberta in northwest Spokane, opened in 1961 and currently has about 20 full-time employees. Those employees will be laid off when the store closes, Lake says.

McCrory Stores Inc., of York, Pa., which operates hundreds of Newberry stores nationwide, filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in 1992.

Lake says the Newberry chain still is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but chose to cease its operations here by closing its remaining store in Spokane. He says the decision, which surprised the employees of the store, was made in late January.

About two years ago, Newberry closed its downtown Spokane store at 610 W. Riverside, after operating in the city center since the 1920s. The national retailer closed its store at the University City Shopping Center in the Spokane Valley about a year ago.

The chain announced in 1991 that it planned to close its downtown store here, but changed its mind and kept the store open, albeit on a smaller scale, until closing it in 1995. The former downtown store used to be Newberrys largest store in Spokane. It is still vacant as the buildings manager has struggled to find a new tenant to occupy the space.

Newberry also formerly occupied a store in the Silver Lake Mall, in Coeur dAlene. It closed that store in 1991.

Lake estimates that the Newberry chain employed as many as 300 people in Spokane during the 1970s.

The loss of the Newberry store at Shadle Center deals yet another blow to that aging retail complex. Another anchor tenant, J.C. Penney Co., closed its store there in 1991, and Shadle Centers managers have been unable to find a tenant to fill that vacated space.

Plans for a multimillion-dollar upgrade of the center were shelved last summer when the owners of the complex, South Carolina-based Insignia Financial Group and California-based Century Properties XI, put the 311,000-square-foot shopping center up for sale.

  • Chad Cain

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