July 24, 1973
The buffeteria was one of the most popular places in the Montgomery Ward store at the Miller Hill Mall when this photo was taken in July 1973, four months after the store opened. (News Tribune file photo)
When plans for the Miller Hill Mall were developed in the 1960s, Montgomery Ward was the first store to throw its support behind the project.
Stuck in what had become cramped quarters at 203 W. Superior St. in downtown Duluth, Ward’s — which came to Duluth in 1933 — announced in 1966 that it would open a new location in the yet-to-be-built mall.
Seven years later, in March 1973, Montgomery Ward was the first store to open its doors in the Miller Hill Mall, nearly four months ahead of the mall’s official opening.
Sporting goods department in the Montgomery Ward store at the Miller Hill Mall, July 24, 1973 (News-Tribune file photo)
When it opened, the new Montgomery Ward at the Miller Hill Mall was touted as a “showcase of retailing” and “one of the largest full-line department stores in the Upper Midwest.” It has “all the usual departments including catalog service,” the News Tribune reported on March 24, 1973. The article continued:
In addition, there will be special shops — a Junior Reflections fashion shop for teenage girls and a Chain Shop for young men, gourmet, wig, camera and garden shops and an aquarium. The buffeteria will be a combination operation serving “everything from a cup of coffee to a full meal,” store manager Paul Louchart said.
A long line of cars backed up on U.S. Highway 53 as “thousands of shoppers” flocked to the store on the day it opened, the Duluth Herald reported.
Clothing departments in Montgomery Ward at the Miller Hill Mall, July 24, 1973. The "Junior Reflections" department is to the left. (News-Tribune file photo)
Montgomery Ward announced in January 1999 that it was closing the Miller Hill Mall store. Its space in the mall now is occupied by Barnes & Noble, Old Navy and other stores. The store’s auto service center now is home to North Star Ford.
The Montgomery Ward chain, which once boasted more than 500 stores across the U.S., went out of business in 2001. The Montgomery Ward name was purchased and survives as an online retail site, though it is not directly connected to the one-time chain.
Here are some zoomed-in views from the photos above:
All-you-can-eat La Rosa spaghetti in the "buffeteria," along with…
…some nifty 1970s flowered carpeting.
That sailboat is on sale for $499.88.
Sir, can I interest you in a scooter?