Shop the Monkey

On the backside of an otherwise very healthy, modern strip mall stand the trace remnants one of the greatest names in 20th-century retail.

Shop the Monkey

This location for Montgomery Ward (“Monkey Wards”, as some affectionately called it) once-anchored the Tel-Twelve Mall in Southfield, MI, it was one of about 250 remaining stores to go down with the ship as the long-troubled department store of 128 years liquidated in 2001. Curiously, with this particular store also went the relatively healthy, still, enclosed mall, itself. Management decided, with the departure of Wards, to subsequently clear out the remaining in-line tenants and convert the property the present-day, otherwise-bland shopping plaza which retains its original name.

Half of this building, which faces the busy Telegraph Road and dates to the mall’s construction in the late-1960s, was given a facelift beyond recognition — subdivided into what is presently a Michael’s, a recently-closed Pier 1 Imports, and Office Depot. The pictured back half of the store, however, was left almost completely intact; retaining some Ward-era signage and window stickers for the original incarnation of the Wards website by the back door. The interior is currently used for storage and has otherwise remained unmolested over the last 18 years, even retaining the store’s escalator atrium.

While in town with Ace’s Adventures the other month, I swung through and gave it this quick (ha) shot after dark. We had been in touch with the realtor behind this property, and the original intention was to be let inside the following morning to see what else remained. Unfortunately those plans didn’t work out.

Polaroid 600SE
Mamiya-Sekor 127mm f/4.7
CineStill 800T


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