How long has it been since you visited the fascinating jumble of stores on the several blocks of Viking Way at Carson and Bellflower? If you still call it the Triangle Shopping Center, then it’s been some time. For the past few years, it’s been known as Parkview Village.
“It was built for Douglas Aircraft and the subdivisions in the area,” said current property manager Benjamin Efraim of Beptal Inc. in Santa Monica.
The actual opening date of the area which incorporates the blocks of Viking Way and the 5400 block of Village Rd. has not been established, but Richard Brown of Jack’s Shoe Repair, the oldest tenant at the same location (since 1954) who recalls that it was going strong as of 1948, guesstimates an opening date of about 1945.
The Viking Way name, as well as its counterpart, Norse Way at Carson St. and Lakewood Blvd., doubtless was a product of Long Beach City College’s Viking mascot “Ole” who made his first appearance in 1937.
The earliest paper record relating to the center is a permit application by Harold Johnson for a drug store and food establishment at 4112 Viking Way on June 7, 1945. By 1951, the tenant, Thrifty Drugs was already applying for a second story. New businesses began opening: a dry goods store in 1946, $30,000 of construction improvements and a retail jewelry store in 1949.
Other longtime Parkview Village tenants are Rose’s Hardware, now on Village Rd. but originally on Viking Way as of 1951, Bodell’s Shoe Store which started up in 1959, as well as Lakewood Florist and Village Road Pharmacy which are both at their original location, but have been through several owners since the 1950s.
Lewis Bodell of Bodell’s Shoes recalled, “when we started in 1959, there wasn’t any Cerritos Mall. Lakewood Center was the big shopping center. We were a village shopping center with kind of unique stores. Bergman’s TV was right next to us, Bob Adams Men’s Store was next to us to the west, he had seven or eight stores in the area and was a real big draw. Across the street were Triangle Jewelers and a women’s clothing store.”
The original anchor stores were Thrifty Drugs and Thriftimart, a large grocery chain, at 4190 Viking Way, which occupied the quadrant at Bellflower where Bodell’s is now located, and a Bank Of America at the current site of the Village Vault. A night deposit drawer is still built into that building. As of 1950, Bank of America was paying $125 a month rent. In 1951, the bank building sold for $45,000.
Other retail shops were a women’s Mode O’Day store, a furrier, Carroll’s Department Store, a music shop and a fabric store. At the corner of Bellflower and Carson was the Americana Restaurant, which according to Brown of Jack’s Shoe Repair, had a full menu, a cocktail and piano bar. “Some of the waitresses still come in here.” The Americana closed up in about 1970 and was replaced by the current Mobil Gas Station.
Between the early 1950s and 1966, it was business as usual. In November 1966, a “new take-out restaurant,” according to the permit application, opened at 4159 Viking Way, next to the Richfield Gas Station. It was called Taco Bell.
In 1968, real estate investor Stanley Fann purchased the center and set out with some radical changes. In 1972, a permit was pulled for new Thrifty Drug building at 4195 Viking Way.
Brown also recalled a “family restaurant called Surrey that served hamburgers and malts” was located at the current Taco Bell location at 4103 Viking Way. As space was needed for the new Thrifty Drug Store, “when Surrey went out of business, the Taco Bell building was picked up and moved to where it is now by a truck, because Thrifty was going in and they needed to make space.”
The building just east of the first Thrifty Drugs was demolished. According to Efraim, the new owner “moved Thriftys from where Mother Mudds is to a new building, then removed some buildings, added some areas, because a supermarket was slated to come in.”
In May 1972, permits were granted for 4105 through 4129 Viking Way for five stores and a theater at “Triangle Park Shopping Center.”
After these changes, “the proposed supermarket backed out.” At that point, Fann either faced or declared bankruptcy, and “Viking Savings bought the notes in about 1979 and became partners in the development.”
In 1974, the building that houses the Triangle Eye Center, originally a real estate office, was built. In 1977, investor Bill Bro acquired the 17 parcels at the center for $1,848,000.
The same year three businesses opened at the current Tuck’s Tavern/Cirivello’s site: Sherry’s Cocktail Lounge, Hard Hat Pizza (followed by one of Bergman’s TV repair shop locations) and the Paradise Theater. In 1984, Cirivellos opened at 4115 Viking Way and soon took over the next-door Paradise Theater location.
During the 1980s, the area suffered from deferred maintenance and inconsistent tenants. According to Efraim, “The Village Vault building had been abandoned and had a hole in the roof.” The prospective Village Vault proprietors told Fann, “’if you give us a good rental rate, we’ll fix up the building.’ He gave them good rate so they fixed the roof,” turning it into a healthy business that, in turn, they sold in 1999.
In the late 1980s or 1990s, the Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid chain acquired Thrifty Drugs and the store suffered a dramatic decline: holes in the floor that were covered by floor displays and trash piled up beside alley dumpsters. Questions about the shoddy maintenance were answered with responses like “we have no plans to remodel.” Customer service at the out-of-state Rite Aide corporate offices insisted the store was located at Viking Highway. There was seemingly little interest in the upkeep of their store which they were intending to shut down.
In 1997, the investment firm Parkview Village LLC acquired Parkview Village. Rite Aid closed up their location in late 1998 and Country Roads, an antique mall, moved in. After about two years, Country Roads closed, but the new owners of the village had already embarked on a program to bring the village out of its slump (to be continued).