Time to Bring Caldor Back, Entrepreneur Says

A Connecticut man is looking to capitalize on people's passion for the brand by putting a 21st century spin on things.

Credit: Justin Calabrese
Credit: Justin Calabrese

About 63 years ago a man had a dream and $8,000. When he got out of the Army, Carl Bennett wanted to open a housewares store in Port Chester, N.Y.

Bennett's dream came true in the early 1950s when he opened Caldor — named after himself and his wife, Dorothy.

By the 1980s, that $8,000 had gone a long way and Caldor operated stores all along the East Coast. In 1981, the Bennetts sold the company to Associated Dry Goods Corp. for $313 million.

Caldor closed its doors for good in 1999, four years after the Norwalk-based company filed for bankruptcy.

Fast forward to 2014 and we’ve got another man with a dream — to bring Caldor back into business and make Carl Bennett's dream a reality once again.

The man is Justin Calabrese, an entrepreneur with a love of business and a plan to reinvent the Caldor brand. Presently enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Hartford, the South Windsor resident has started more than seven businesses since the age of 16.

Calabrese is hoping to capitalize on his knowledge and the fond memories of former customers to get Caldor back up and running.

“Because opening a physical location in 2014 is not a viable option at the moment, and $5,000 won't be close to enough funds, I am looking to bring Caldor's back using an ecommerce business,” he writes on a GoFundMe page he created to secure financing. “Since businesses are moving to an e-commerce model, and because that is the new wave of the future, I feel strongly that Caldors.com would flourish.”

The $5,000 would cover the cost for the domain name, Calabrese says. He created the GoFundMe project in April 2014 and since then, there’s been one donation of $101.

Do You Remember Caldor?

As part his business plan, Calabrese is conducting research on what Caldor was like when it was open. He posed this question in a post on Patch:

  • What was Caldor like when it was open in the ‘90s?

Calabrese asked anyone with a Caldor collection of memories to post a comment here or write to: “PO Box 3043, Vernon, CT 06066, Attn: CALDOR.”

Patch reader Claire C said she worked at Caldor for seven years.

“It was so sad when it closed,” she said. “Working there you were made to feel like it was a big family.”

Caldor wasn't the Bennett's only contribution to the community. Over the years they gave back to the place where both had deep roots, in Fairfield County, Conn. Lasting tributes to their many philanthropic efforts are The Bennett Cancer Center in Stamford and the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at Fairfield University.

Would you like to see Caldor back in business?

Andrew Mitchell Blum CT June 04, 2014 at 08:07 PM
It really was a good store to do a lot of 1 stop shopping Andrew Mitchell Blum, Fairfield, CT
Kathy Saffo June 05, 2014 at 12:02 AM
In the 70s in the valley, we had Bradlees, Woolworths, Caldors, Kings, Grants... If one store didn't have something you wanted there was a variety to choose from. Now you have Walmart or Target. We lost our choices. On my wedding day I went to Caldors with my sister and bought a couple of outfits for my Honeymoon. I could always find a bargain there.
Mark Bellantoni June 05, 2014 at 06:39 AM
Caldor was the walmart of yesterday. I was on the executive payroll & opened several stores back in the eighties. Caldor also owned many subsides that were used to supply the retail stores also Caldor sold merchandise to sears & other retailers through there subsides. There were no family members intrested in taking over the business so Carl sold. After that it was all downhill. The subsidies were sold the stores were buying direct & had no clue. That was the beginning of the end. Most walmart stores in the tri state area are in former Caldor locations. Caldor once had a monopoly in the tri state area. But Good things never last long....
confectioner June 06, 2014 at 01:37 PM
Worked in the Caldor buying dept in 88-90, good old Glover ave- no one was more aggressive on pricing with so little stock, they would still be taking rainchecks. Ames, Bradlees, Zayre's and Caldor were so concerned with each other they didn't react to Wal-Mart and Target moving into the area. Caldor had 120 stores mostly in NE and Atlantic States.
Craig R June 07, 2014 at 04:07 PM
Fisher's Big Wheel in Old Saybrook.


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