Goodbye Ann & Hope

On June 29, 2020 Ann & Hope announced they would close all remaining outlet stores following a series of previously announced store closings. This includes their historic headquarters location in Cumberland at 1 Ann & Hope Way.

I stopped by to take some photos of the building yesterday, just to capture some images before the signs are removed and the building becomes mostly vacant.

Ann & Hope is known as the “the first discount department store in America, pioneering practices now common in modern big box stores.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I don’t recall any childhood memories of the store, but many in Rhode Island and especially in Cumberland. I know the shopping cart conveyor was a unique system for moving shopping carts between floors. I bet that was neat to see in operation.

From the “About” page on the Ann & Hope website is some interesting history that I thought I would capture, copied below:

In 1953, Irwin Chase and his father, Martin, opened their first store in an old textile mill in Cumberland, Rhode Island. The building and store were named after a ship, the Ann and Hope, which was lost at sea off of Block Island, Rhode Island in 1806.

Originally, Martin Chase operated a ribbon manufacturing business on the third floor of the Ann and Hope building. When a lower cost ribbon was developed that would later make the Chase’s ribbon style obsolete, the ribbon business was closed, and the remaining ribbon was sold at a discount to tenants in the building. Word of mouth quickly spread, and the Chases added additional lines of merchandise.

The Company was built on the philosophy of buying large volumes of merchandise, and selling it at a discount. Since Ann and Hope’s prices were very low, they had to have low operating expenses. As a result, the Chases implemented several innovations. One of those changes was the use of central checkouts that are now commonly found in most discount stores. Another was the use of shopping carts in a discount store setting.

Today, the second and third generations of Ann and Hope’s founders operate 11 Curtain & Bath stores in 3 New England states. In addition to these stores the company runs other concepts such as Dollar Outlet and the Garden Outlet. While you may no longer be able to buy everything from food to stereos to sporting goods under one roof, each store has an outstanding selection of products at prices that are the lowest you will find anywhere. Some things never change!


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