Greetings From Booklein Family Reading Center

Founded in 1927 the Klein News Company of Cleveland got its start as a local distributor of magazines and newspapers. As paperback books started gaining popularity, publishers would utilize distributors such as Klein to help bring the new low-cost books to market. To help spur interest in these new inexpensive books the company would donate them to area libraries as well as organizing bookmobiles to help acquaint students with them.

The Klein News Company wasn’t just an innovator in bringing paperbacks to market though, they were also innovators in technology. In the 1950’s and 60’s the company was the first in Cleveland to use the initial generation of IBM Computers to help improve the company’s operation efficiency.

Booklein Summit Mall
Postcard from the Booklein store at Summit Mall in Akron, Ohio.

By the 70’s The Klein News Company was the area’s prominent distributor of paperback books and was looking for a way to expand their sales even further. With supermarkets being the backbone of paperback and magazine sales at the time it only made sense to try and enter into a similar retail market, the shopping mall.

The company would bring their new idea to life with Booklein (pronounced book-line) Family Reading Centers. Though the name translated from German means “little book store”, the store was actually named after the company president, George Klein. Despite the name, Booklein was always first and foremost a magazine shop. The store stocked “all the magazines you’ve ever wanted to read…and then some”.  But it wasn’t just all books and magazines at Booklein. The store also featured tobacco, candy, maps, calenders, and of course, lottery tickets.

Booklein flyer rolling acres mall
Booklein – For all the magazines you’ve ever wanted to read…and then some.

In addition to the Summit Mall store The Klein News Company would go on to open Booklein shops at Great Lakes Mall, Rolling Acres Mall, Randall Park Mall, and Sandusky Mall before abruptly exiting the retailing market in 1984.

I have many fond memories of the Rolling Acres store as Booklein and later as Churchill News and Tobacco. The store was a must visit every time I would go to the mall. It seemed that no matter what age I was or what hobbies I had at the time, the store would have a magazine to cater to my needs.

Rolling Acres Bookstore
Booklein at Rolling Acres Mall

“We don’t just sell books, we serve our customers with a smile-that’s why we call ourselves ‘The Friendly People Place'”
Toni Lack – Manager at Booklein, Summit Mall from The Beacon Journal 1978

Greetings from Lazarus Department Store – Lima Mall

Originally built in 1965 as one of the DeBartolo Corporations smaller regional shopping centers, the Lima Mall had quickly become the areas preferred center and had already begun planning their first expansion to be opened in the fall of 1971. Included in the 262,873 square foot expansion would be the addition of 23 new stores including Foxmoor Casuals, Waldenbooks, Hickory Farms, Camelot Music, and Mary Jane Shoes just to name a few. The highlight of the expansion however would be a new anchor store, Lazarus, a Columbus based department store and a division of Federated Department Stores. This would be Federated’s sixth Lazarus branch store and second outside Franklin County (the first being at Richland Mall in Mansfield).

Exterior view of the Lima Mall Lazarus store shows the domed entrance.

Featuring three floors and totaling a whopping 165,000 square foot, the store was actually engineered accommodate for a fourth floor to eventually be added (though it never was).

The mall level of the store would house a complete fashion store featuring men’s and women’s apparel and accessories, a budget store, and a home sewing area. Children’s World, with fashion departments for infants through pre-teens would take up most of the second floor. The third floor would consist of the decorative home department, a home entertainment section, and offices. Also on the third floor located in the dome tower would be The Sky View Restaurant. With seating for 130 guests the Sky View would offer the diners a panoramic view of the countryside.

Sky View restaurant Lima Mall
Have a seat in the Sky View restaurant at the Lazarus store in Lima Mall. (Image via The Lima News Archive)

In 2003 the Lazarus store would be rebadged as a Lazarus-Macy’s and then two years later they would completely drop the Lazarus name.

In 2021 Macy’s would close up shop on the former Lazarus store ending its near 50 year run.

Greetings From Belden Village Mall – Canton, Ohio

On October 1st 1970, Belden Village Mall opened its doors to a “New World of Shopping Pleasure”. Mall management billed Belden Village as “The Magnificent Mall”, and a quick glance at these old postcards makes it rather obvious that it certainly lived up to it’s moniker.

Belden Village Mall Canton Ohio
Main Entrance – Belden VIllage Mall

Upon entering, one would immediately realize that Belden Village Mall was much more than your average shopping center, the mall was alive with fountains, lush plantscaping, and gorgeous sculptures from several well known artists.

1970s Belden Village Mall
The Main Court at Belden Village

In the malls Main Court tied into the fountain is this rather striking free-form metallic sculpture by Cleveland’s own Clarence Van Duzer who had several of his works on display throughout the mall.

Fountain at Belden Village Mall
A great view of the fountain and Clarence Van Duzer’s sculpture

Another renowned Cleveland artist, William McVey Contributed this magnificent piece in the Higbee’s Court. Mr. McVey also had pieces in other mid-century malls most notably being his hippo sculpture in Detroit’s Eastland Mall.

Higbee's Court Belden Village Mall
Higbee’s Court featuring sculpture by William McVey

In addition to the artwork placed throughout, the mall also featured cozy seating areas, surrounded by tropical flora and contemporary lighting really did make the mall feel alive, even during the harsh winter months in Ohio.

Belden Village Mall 1970
One of the many cozy seating areas at Belden Village Mall

Back of postcard reads:

Belden VIllage Mall – Where good taste costs no more.

Main entrance to belden village mall
Belden Village main entrance in 2018

Though remodeled in 1987, today the mall is still very much alive and serving Canton well, but I can’t help but wonder what happed to all the amazing art from the mall.

Greetings from Midway Mall – Date Unknown

Named after its perfect location between two cities, Lorain and Elyria, Midway Mall opened in 1966 and I would have to believe this postcard to be not much newer than that.

Some notable highlights from this image include Winkelman’s, Penney’s, Harvest House Cafeteria, Fanny Farmer and some great semi-circle bench-style seating. To see what this mall looks like now makes it pretty easy to understand why people don’t really go to malls anymore.

Midway Mall Elyria Ohio Postcard

Initially, Midway Mall management prided itself on its squeaky clean image, so much so that there was a 3 bedroom furnished apartment onsite for the head to maintenance to help him make sure that his crew would continue to make the mall the “Showplace of Ohio”.


Back of postcard reads:

Midway Mall, one of Ohio’s finest shopping centers on Route 57 between Elyria and Lorain.

Midway Mall - Elyria Ohio
JCPenney at Midway Mall – 2018

Gone are the terrazzo floors, the sleek benches, and globe style lighting that once adorned this beautiful court. The JCPenney store is now not surprising gone as well, honestly it looked like they had already given up at this point anyway (great window display). No word on if the apartment is still there.