Let's talk about a big event in Wenatchee some 46 years ago. On Aug. 17, 1966, Valley North Shopping Center opened for business.
Several years in the planning, construction began Aug. 6, 1965. According to a news article at the time, more than $1.75 million was paid in wages to contractors building the 165,000 square feet of space. The construction itself cost over $3 million.
The 20-acre center was the dream of developers Rex Covey and Bill Barnett. Covey became president of Valley North Inc. and manager of the center and Barnett became vice president.
Nineteen businesses were already open or preparing to open on the first day with several others in the works. First to open was Albertsons, managed by Jerry Otis, followed by Pay Less Drug, managed by Hank Drewniany. Others participating in the grand opening were Weisfields Jewelers, World Wide Camera, Robinson's Men's and Women's Wear, J.C. Penney, Anita Dress Shop, Deb 'n Heir, GallenKamp Shoes, Valley North Music, Hickory Farms, Hol 'n One Donut Shop, House of Fabrics, Karmel Korn Candy Shop, Town Squire, Valley North Barber Center, Valley North Laundercenter, Winnie's Hallmark Card Shop and World Treasures Gift Shop.
Other businesses opening soon after were Raff's Shoes, Mandarin Restaurant, Bowen's Self Service Dry Cleaners, a flower store, professional offices, Valley North Photo and Art Studios, a toy store, a beauty shop and Pizza Inn.
Wenatchee Mayor E.C. Schoeneman and Washington State Apple Blossom Queen Patti Parkhill cut the ribbon officially opening Valley North. Ken Allen was master of ceremonies.
Here's a closer look at some of the businesses:
- HOUSE OF FABRICS
Valley North's House of Fabrics was the latest store in the rapidly-growing 77-store chain to open.
Bolts of cloth ranging from cotton prints to woolens were stocked in the store with samples of draperies, bed spreads and curtains lining the walls. The store also sold ready-made curtains and made curtains to order.
Patterns, threads and other notions were also available.
"We think this is the most complete notions center anywhere," manager Bill Lampman said. Lampman (in the photo) had been with the House of Fabrics chain for only two months and requested to manage the Wenatchee store that would employ 10 people.
- WORLD TREASURES
Everything from Italian glass to German clocks was available at World Treasures, said to be "one of the most beautiful and most unusual stores at Valley North."
The glass-walled store, owned by Dr. and Mrs. Merle Loudon, featured imported gift items from all over the world.
Lighting inside the store highlighted some of the more delicate items. Shelves were stocked by nations so shoppers could look inside and find what was available from where.
- ANITA SHOP
It took trips to New York and studies of the latest fashion trends to find apparel that would be stocked at the Anita Shop. Dora Medavoy, fashion coordinator and buyer for the 107-store Anita chain, said that buying for the Valley North store focused on "a line of first fashions rather than just popular lines. We think people are fashion-minded here and that the younger set needs these fashions."
Featured brand names were Jack Winters Jr., Petti, Oops, Wondamere, Sabra, Carlette and the Carnaby Look.
The store was the seventh in the Anita chain in the state and said to be one of the most beautifully designed.
Staff (in the photo) unpacking inventory were, from left, Pam Perkins, JoAnn Nickles, Wendy Wheeler, Portia Meredith and manager Evelyn Gilbert.
- HICKORY FARMS
Shoppers wanting to buy kangaroo tail soup, banana chips and brandied peaches had a new place to buy them.
Hickory Farms sold these items and many other food products that were hard to find. More than 100 varieties of imported cheeses, a specialty beef sausage, crackers and gourmet items were featured.
The store was also known for providing samples of its many products and slicing cheese by request from bulk quantities too large to lift.
The barn door at the front of the store set the tone of the old-fashioned interior. Isabell Hoover (in the photo) was the interim manager.
- J.C. PENNEY
Valley North's J.C. Penney department store and auto center was said to be the largest, most complete Penney's operation in North Central Washington.
The complex measured over 60,000 square feet, twice as large as the company's old downtown store that was destroyed by fire in 1963.
In addition to various apparel lines for men and women, new departments were added carrying electronics, sporting goods and home furnishings.
Penney's new auto center (in the photo) handled all repair work with a four-bay station, carried auto supplies and tires and sold a full line of Bridgestone imported motorcycles.
Lev Craven was the store manager.
- GALLENKAMP SHOES
One of the largest GallenKamp shoe stores in the firm's chain was at Valley North. It had 4,800 square feet and was designed by Fredric R. Frankel, with special attention to eye appeal and efficient operation.
The store was managed by Mike Douglas (in the photo) with five employees.
GallenKamp offered footwear and accessories of such well-known brands as Madison Square for men; Dream Step, Friskies and Correct Step for women; and Posture Pride and Bluebird for children.
- HOL'N ONE DONUT SHOP
Jerry Covey's Hol'n One Donut Shop was the only full-service restaurant in operation at the time Valley North opened.
In addition to the 50 to 60 dozen plain, glazed and fancy donuts Covey turned out daily, the shop also served sandwiches, salads, soups and lots of coffee.
It became a popular place to gather.
Hol'n One also offered take-home orders for donuts.
Covey's idea was to have a store where people could get good food and rapid service "and enjoy it enough to come back," he said.
- VALLEY NORTH MUSIC STORE
Music you heard on the mall probably came from the Valley North Music Store.
Rod Mitchell (in the photo) was the manager and Lester Putnam was on the sales staff. Mitchell also offered organ and piano lessons.
The store, featuring Hammond organs and pianos, was the largest of its kind in North Central Washington. It also sold Fisher stereos — the first time they had been available in Wenatchee.
Other products planned for sale were sheet music, records and television sets.
- VALLEY NORTH BARBER CENTER
Valley North Barber Center owner Jim Lindley (in the photo) emphasized that his business wasn't a barber shop but a barber center. "There is a big difference," he said.
The shop specialized in more than hair cuts. It offered shaves, razor cuts and styling.
At the time of opening, the shop had three chairs in place with space for six.
It was a two-man business with Lindley and his assistant Bud Smith doing all the work.
- KARMEL KORN CANDY SHOP
One business inside the mall was always easy to find. All you had to do was follow the sweet smells to the Karmel Korn Candy Shop, owned by Mr. and Mrs. John Parkhill (in the photo).
Old-fashioned butterscotch being stirred in a huge copper pot, popcorn drifting out of the machine, hot caramel being added to fresh apples - these were a few of the goodies available at shop.
Hard candy, ice cream and drinks were also sold.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce a completely new product in Wenatchee and we're looking forward to it," Parkhill said.
Did you have a favorite store, eatery or recollection of Valley North? Did you or a family member work there? Were you at the grand opening? Please share your memories!