2017-03-10 / Community

A Window on the Past

The stores of Mill Creek Plaza
By Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society


By the time this photo was taken in April 1990, Mars had already closed, leaving the huge storefront vacant, and ready for Shaw’s Supermarkets to move in. (Courtesy photo) By the time this photo was taken in April 1990, Mars had already closed, leaving the huge storefront vacant, and ready for Shaw’s Supermarkets to move in. (Courtesy photo) Built in the early 1970s, the Mill Creek Plaza on Waterman Drive has experienced continual change over its many decades of existence. First anchored by the Giant Department Store, the plaza had a multitude of other tenants over the years, including the long-running Carriage Lantern store and Russell’s clothing store. In the accompanying photo that shows the Giant Store, we also see the very small storefront that CVS took up in the plaza back then.

There was always a need for a discount department store where you could pick up common household items at reasonable prices, so even after Giant closed, the large space was quickly filled – first by King’s Department Store, from roughly 1973 to 1983, and then by Mars, which operated there from about 1984 to 1989. Before Wal-Mart hit the country by storm, there were even a few other discount stores in the area, including Wellwood over at the Mill Creek Shopping Center across the street, and Globe Discount Department Store and Shoppers Mart on Broadway. For those of us living here in the 1970s, it was a quick trip to Mill Creek for most anything you needed. Women could buy their clothes at Russell’s or Owen Moore, and men headed to the popular Stuart’s Men’s Shop on Ocean Street, down by Smaha’s Legion Square Market.

Shaw’s Supermarket renovated the space that had been vacated by Mars and moved in in October 1990.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of South Portland Historical Society.

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