For most of the 1980's/90's/early 2000's, one of my weekly trips out of the house was to browse at Waldenbooks. Before the days of Barnes & Noble and Borders, there was Waldenbooks, and I can still feel the store's presence every time I drive through Southbury Plaza.

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Did you know that Waldenbooks originated in Bridgeport, Connecticut? According to, Lawrence Hoyt and Melvin Kafka opened The Walden Book Company inside a department store in Bridgeport in 1933. By the 1970's Waldenbooks had over $200 million annually in sales, in the 1980's, Waldenbooks was the largest retail bookstore chain. Then the 1990's came, and multiple acquisitions followed. Waldenbooks was absorbed by Borders, which branded the stores as their own, which lasted until all of the former Waldenbooks locations nationally shut down for good in 2011.

The Southbury Plaza Waldenbooks lasted almost that whole time, before the ultimate end, I do remember it being re-branded as a Borders toward the end. I used to love shopping in Southbury Plaza, still do. It was so much quieter than the Naugatuck Valley Mall/Brass Mill Center in Waterbury, and the Danbury Fair Mall Waldenbooks location was always packed. Waldenbooks, the Hallmark store, and then McDonald's was my Southbury routine.I spent most of my time browsing through the wonderful selection of magazines, which have disappeared almost as quickly as bookstores over the past decade.

What is the former Waldenbooks in Southbury Plaza in 2024? A Verizon store, which I walked into on Saturday and had a serious flashback to all of those previous visits. I know it can't happen again, the world has evolved to where there are no magazines, and a book is easily downloadable to your device, but I'll never forget Waldenbooks at that location.

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