For as long as I can remember I have frequented Kingsport, Tennessee. The town that I live in is quite small and in order to have any shopping options beyond Walmart, Kmart or Big Lots we always had to travel out of town. A lot of the time we would end up in Kingsport. Kingsport is about an hour and fifteen minutes from home. Also for as long as I can remember I have liked retro looking things. There is a shopping center on Lynn Garden Drive in Kingsport known as Parkway Plaza. And the best part is…..it has a big, gawky , huge, oversized sign in the parking lot that is straight out of the early 1960s. I just love that sign.
You can imagine my feelings when a friend of mine who lives in the area sent me a link to a news article discussing plans to demolish and redevelop the land where the center sits. I know, redevelopment is good, and the center has been empty for years and years with no hope of new tenants….But the sign. The sign is gorgeous.
To give you a little background information on Parkway Plaza I have done what bit of research I can and I have found some interesting tidbits and even a few pictures from the early days of the center.
The center was constructed in 1961 and opened in 1962 by a guy by the name of by W. B. Greene, Sr. who owned the W.B. Greene store on Center Street in Kingsport. He was also into the banking business.
The center was anchored by Kroger and Grant’s. The center also included a revco pharmacy and a Dollar General Store which arrived later. Grant’s remained in operation here until the chain went out of business in 1976. Kroger would remain in business here until August 23, 1986.
This picture was taken almost right after the center opened. Kroger wore this building well and that sign looks fantastic.
The mall shops must refer to the cluster of shops in the arcade open air area between some of the larger inline stores.
Grant’s was replaced by a store called Lay’s which was based in Cleveland, Tennessee. Lays would close in 1985. After Lays closed the space was replaced by Freds and a store called World of Toys. Once Kroger closed in 1986 a local grocery chain called Food Country USA opened and would operate here until the mid 1990s. The last chain store to operate in this center was Dollar General. It operated here until about 2005. They built a new store directly across the parking lot.
The center’s sign still stands as of today, for how much longer I dont know. The former Kroger is gone, as are the inline stores.
Only the former Grant’s remains. But the construction equipment is in the parking lot, ready to get to work I am sure.
Inside the former Grant’s. As you can tell the demolition has begun and soon this center will be nothing more than a memory.
That grocery cart sure has saw a lot in its lifetime.
Dollar General built a stand alone store across the parking lot several years ago and remains in operation there today.
So long Parkway Plaza, I will always remember you and your fabulously majestic sign. You are such a symbol and landmark of Kingsport to so many people. I so wish that whoever (Walmart???) builds on this site would decide to incorporate this sign into their store design like Kroger did when they built their gas station in Bristol Virginia on the old Krispy Kreme site. They kept the big Krispy Kreme sign and built their Kroger gas sign to fit it.