Wednesday, February 01, 2006, 6:30 AM // 3 comments

Pennsauken Mart: 1956-2006

Pennsauken MartThis past weekend I found myself unexpectedly nostalgic over one of the area's most dubious landmarks of my childhood: the Pennsauken Mart. This past Sunday, after 50 years, The Pennsauken Mart closed its doors good.

The Mart was something like an indoor version of an outdoor flea market. Just about anything your could think of could be found at the Mart. I mean everything. From the ordinary--T-shirts (three for $10), luggage (entire travel collection for $49), and food market--to the less ordinary and strange--boa constrictors, Samurai swords, and hubcaps. There were service vendors at the Mart including a tattoo parlor and $10 massages and food and beverage vendors of every ethnic delight including Italian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, and soul food. The Mart was probably the area's first food court.

Growing up, I would visit the Mart--or as I called it, "The Pennsauken Mall"--for various reasons. The most obvious for most was to purchase hot "Philly" pretzels right out of the oven at the shop that sold nothing but pretzels. Another reason, the Mart was a place to hang out. My friends and I would wonder the pungent halls while waiting for one of our parents to pick us up after we saw a movie at the Eric movie theatre which was located right next store to the Mart. I can recall visiting the Mart to purchase music, cigars, and insense. I remember one time, in fact it was the first time I ever recall hanging out with my friend Steve, we stood outside the liquor store asking people to buy us beer. Ahhhhhh, good times.

This weekend, I went vistited the Mart one last time. And this time I took my kids.

The halls were a whole lot emptier; many of the vendors had already packed up their tents, headed for new digs in Willingboro, Camden, Columbus, and Cowtown. Still, a few things remained anchored exactly as they had been since my first visit to the anti-mall including the "Head Shop," wig store, video store, and pizza parlors that anchored both main entrances.

I decided to take my kids to the Mart so that they could see that not all shopping centers were clean, well-lighted, and pleasant smelling. That at one time the Mart was the place to go to buy all sorts of goods in one place. And lastly, I wanted to share a childhood memory--albeit dirty and foul smelling--but a memory all the same.

Pennsauken Mart
Pennsauken Mart
Pennsauken Mart
Pennsauken Mart
Pennsauken Mart

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How happy the kids must have been to have been dragged to such a creepy place. "Thanks, Dad. That guy in the picture is still leering at me. And the urine won't wash of my shoe."

Boone

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Weave said...

That place was AWESOME! They had a store that had old TV's, stereo equipment, albums, guitars... I used to spend much time there in the day.

I remember going to the PSM with Steve - one of his first outings after moving to MS. We walked there from his house and had a friggin blast.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Alexandra Hayes said...

Hi,

I found your email address doing research on the Pennsauken Mart... I'm a contributing writer for South Jersey Magazine, and I'm writing an article on the saga of the Mart for the September issue. I read some of your comments on various blogs, etc., but I was hoping you'd let me quote you about fond memories of the Mart while growing up in South Jersey.

Can you share with me when you used to go there, what you'd used to by, how it was the place to hang out with friends, etc... and if you still live local, where do you go to buy those things now?

Any information, anecdotes, etc., would be helpful!

Thanks.

Alexandra Hayes
Contributing Writer
South Jersey Magazine

6:17 AM  

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