valley view

The sign outside the Valley View Antique Mall is a remanant of the store's past glory. The site of the former department store is closing for good.

Though busy by present standards, on Sunday afternoon the Valley View parking lot in Brookfield was barely full compared to what it looked like in its heyday.

The landmark shopping center, which for the last decade has been home to an antique mall and flea market, is closing next month.

J.V. Ferrara, president of Valley View Enterprises, confirmed Sunday that the mall will close Aug. 31. The flea market also housed in the building will close shortly thereafter, manager Bob Stafford said.

It means reduced prices on the hodge-podge of vintage collectibles, trinkets and whatchamacallits now sold at the mall.

Sunday afternoon, a few dozen people were rummaging around the dimly-lit place and there was a line at the front counter.

The decision to close was made for several reasons, foremost among them the condition of the 48-year-old building.

Now a relic, Valley View was a forerunner of the big-box retail center. It opened in 1959 and carried a wide variety of merchandise ranging from home-and-garden supplies, automotive, hardware, furniture and clothing — along with a wide variety of widgets and gizmos and a lunch counter where short-order staples and homemade milkshakes could be ordered.

In Brookfield it provided a town center in what Ferrara called a “bedroom community” that still lacks a central gathering place.

The store once employed about 200 workers, many of whom were Brookfield natives.

But the spread of national chains like Wal-Mart and the commercial boom in nearby Hermitage and Niles near the Eastwood Mall led to the store’s demise, Ferrara said.

“As people’s time got busier,” it became harder for Valley View to draw business from outside Brookfield, Ferrara said.

The store used to attract out-of-town tour buses filled with people anxious to “go Valley-Viewing” as the store’s longtime commercial jingle encouraged people to do.

On Dec. 10, 1995, the store was shuttered and became a flea market and antique mall.

A variety of vendors sold their wares there and a couple years ago the antique mall offered a homestyle variation on the PBS television program “Antiques Roadshow” but the building’s condition is forcing it’s closure, Ferrara said.

It needs a new roof, heating and air conditioning system and an interior renovation.

Ferrara said he’s been in touch with local real estate brokers to discuss potential uses for the site, and ruled nothing out.

“We’re looking at all of our options,” he said.