Skip navigation

It’s amazing to me the way the world is able to expand and contract. And it’s equally amazing to me how with age…everything gets smaller…and smaller…and smaller. Dreams get smaller. Kids get smaller. Even sometimes it seems as if the general intellectual capacity of our society gets smaller as time moves forward…

Lately my mind has been spending a lot of time reflecting about a place that seemed huge to me as a child. It was only one store…with one little parking lot…in a little town…in a little corner of the world. But as a youngster it was the only corner of the world I knew. And at the time, that corner of the world seemed massively important and huge. The place I have been thinking about is Hills Department Store.

In the 1980s, things weren’t quite as franchised. WalMart hadn’t yet completely ruled the world with its iron teeth. And in my small New York Town, we had our little department stores. Through the greatest years of my youth…maybe ages 6 to 13…the main hub in town was Hills.

I remember going in and being overwhelmed and amazed by all the toys in the aisles. Transformers. Stuffed Animals. Amazing coloring books. And then I would move over to the music section. Row upon row of vinyl. I remember buying Prince’s “Batman” soundtrack there on vinyl…in 1989. I remember at Christmas time how gorgeous and warm the Christmas aisles felt. And I remember how busy and huge the parking lot seemed. How we’d have to park…heaven forbid…maybe ten cars back.

Hills is gone, as are many of the smaller department store chains. I remember lots of them. Twin Fair. Ames. Fay’s Drugs. Zayre. I still shop of course….but nothing will ever be able to match the smell, the warmth, the amazement I felt shopping at Hills as a child… My mom loved being there…maybe those are some of my best memories. Wintertime…snowflakes in the streetlights…

Years later…I can recall the building. I realize now it wasn’t so big. After traveling the country, I realize just how small that parking lot was. And I realize now, that in the scope of the world, one little store in one little town really is just an insignificant blip lost in the shuffle. Or is it? Maybe somewhere out there…the magic memories remain in someone else’s mind.

Because no matter how small your town…or your shopping stores…or your parking lot…joy is HUGE. Joy is massive. And I had to write this…to share with you…some of the fondest joyful memories of my youth.

For those who want to walk down memory lane there is a Hills tribute site here.