Richmond Mall is actually one of the newer malls when it comes to the bluegrass state. It was a late comer to the mall craze, opening in September 1988. Richmond Mall was developed by the same company that developed the similar sized malls in Middlesboro, Somerset and Madisonville. When Richmond Mall opened it was home to Walmart, JC Penney, Goody’s and Dawahares. Walmart left Richmond Mall in March 1996 when they opened a supercenter next door. The biggest blow to Richmond Mall came in 2008 when Richmond Centre opened on the other side of town. When Richmond Centre opened it attracted JC Penney, Dawahares, Goodys and Hastings directly from Richmond Mall. According to an article in the Lexington Herald Leader, when Richmond Centre opened Richmond Mall had an occupancy rate of 98%. By 2010 that rate had dropped to below 50% and the mall was put up for auction.
Today the mall is home to a church, a Habitat for Humanity Re-store, a Mexican Restaurant, Payless Shoes and Bath & Body Works along with several other smaller local stores. Oddly enough this location of Payless wasnt among the 400 store closures the chain recently announced.
The Sears Hometown store closed in January of 2017.
If you havent caught on yet I have a fascination with many things. If Im “into something” Im in it for the longhaul and almost obsess over it for long periods of time. One of my obsessions is Kmart, another is my home town of Harlan, Kentucky.
I come from a generation of Harlanites (yes its a word) whose primary retail destination as a child was Kmart and the other stores located at the Village Center Mall. Walmart didnt arrive in Harlan until 1991. Until then Kmart and Magic Mart had the corner on the mass merchandiser market in town.
Sadly, the Kmart store in Harlan closed in the spring of 1995. The memories of this store still stay with me today. Naturally with the advent of the internet I have always thought that a photo would pop up of the actual store. Those wishes had not came true until last weekend when I stumbled upon a website known as Vintage Aerial. I immediately searched for Harlan County and discovered that there were sets from the early to mid 1980s on dozens of sets of photos. It took me the better part of an evening, but I finally found it.
I can close my eyes and almost taste the superman ice cream from the deli. The future isnt bright for Kmart as a chain. As Ive stated in this blog before, if (when) they finally go, I am probably going to be very dramatic, over react and travel a ton documenting the stores before they are gone. Someone has to do all three of those things right?
This Kmart is located at 100 Mayberry Mall in the town of Mount Airy, North Carolina.
First a little history on Mayberry Mall. The mall opened in 1968 anchored by Winn Dixie and WT Grant’s Grant City. The Kmart opened in 1976 after WT Grant’s Grant City, which was the original anchor in this spot closed in 1975. in 1970 Belk joined the mall, and in 1987 JC Penney moved into the mall. In late September it was announced that 64 more Kmart stores would close. Among these stores was the store at Mayberry Mall. This store closes for good today, December 11, 2016. Once it is closed the last of the mall Kmart stores in North Carolina will be gone. At one time there were several mall Kmart stores in the state including ones in Eden, Hendersonville and Roanoke Rapids.
Sears in Maryville Tennessee pened in 1983 with the rest of Foothills Mall. The was originally anchored by Proffitt’s, a regional department store; Miller’s, another regional department store JC Penney; and Sears. Proffitt’s and Miller’s no longer exist. The original Proffitt’s space is now used by Belk, while the former Miller’s/Hess’s was demolished in 2011 to accommodate a new movie theater.
These older Sears logo signed stores are becoming very rare. In fact the only other one that I know of right off the top of my head is near Norfolk, Virginia. With the nearly constant bad financial news coming out about Sears/Kmart almost daily now, and rumors floating that the entire chain is about to fold one of my focuses in this blog is going to be to document various Sears and Kmart stores, especially unique ones that I happen to come across. It is well documented that Sears / Kmart are on their way to the retail graveyard with TG&Y and A&P and I dont want them to slip off into obscurity from our memories.
One of my first entries in this blog was an entry covering this mall. I posted back in March of 2014. That entry can be found by clicking HERE. This entry was posted when I was first beginning to gain an interest in retail history and trends. Since then I have covered many more malls in at least 5 states on this blog.
Almost exactly 2 years after I posted the initial entry Magic Mart Stores announced the impending closure of the location at the mall. The article announcing the store closure in the Williamson Daily News can be found by clicking HERE. I knew I had to go visit at least one more time and pay my respects to the store. The following photos were taken on Sunday April 17, 2016.
Magic Mart has a long history with this immediate area of Williamson West Virginia and Belfry, Kentucky. In fact, although Magic Mart is headquartered in Bluefield, West Virginia, its roots can be traced to this area. The company that would become Magic Mart was founded by the Ammar Family in 1920 when the Ammar brothers opened Ammar Brothers’ Department Store on Third Avenue in downtown Williamson, West Virginia.
The local Magic Mart store was first located in the Appalachian Plaza in 1969. Then it moved toward Belfry along U.S. 119 in 1991, the location that is now a Tug Valley ARH clinic. From that spot it relocated to the South Side Mall at Goody, Ky. in 2005. http://www.flickr.com/photos/120051008@N03/26424689831/in/album-72157667214353331/” title=”Magic Mart — South Williamson, Kentucky”>
Long before this buidling served as the home for Magic Mart it was home to Kmart. Kmart opened with the mall in 1981 and closed in 2002 when Kmart Corporation filed for bankruptcy protection.
The final day of business for Magic Mart at Southside Mall is May 8th.
The Cumberland Regional Mall is located in the town of Williamsburg in Whitley County, Kentucky along US 25W. This was another big mystery to me. Ive noticed this mall for years. There is literally no information or pictures available online about this mall or its history.
The mall was originally opened in 1977 and anchored by TG&Y and Food World.
This building was originally TG&Y, later McCroy’s, until that chain closed. Walmart opened here in 1987. Im thinking thats about the time that this mall changed its name to Cumberland Regional. The Walmart remained until March of 1999.
Today the mall is basically comprised of a couple of restaurants, a parole office, a pawn shop, an indoor bouncy house and a nail salon. There was a theater here until around 2010 called Movies Five. The Mall was laid out with two anchors on each end and 2 corridor entrances. This is the mall entrance nearest to the Food World.
One of the few businesses open in the mall was this pawn shop and the Mexican Restaurant next door. At least they still decorate for Christmas….even if the Santa is a tad creepy.
This is a church now. Im thinking something like Shoe Show or possibly even Cato would have filled this space in the past. This tree was placed in the corridor nearest to the TG&Y / Walmart Another one of the few traditional mall businesses, a nail salon. The GOLD of the entire exploration, the walled up mall entrance from the former Walmart! Walmart closed here in 1999 when they opened up a super center near I 75. Im pretty sure this fancy fountain is not original. This is the rear of the mall.
The entrance from the rear side nearest to the former Food World.
The mall does have a more recent claim to fame. It even made the Huffington Post when a Chinese Restaurant at the mall was caught using road kill for their entrees. Yummy. That article can be found by clicking HERE
As always, if you have any more information about this mall please feel free to contact me or comment. Special thanks to my friend Bobby Peacock for helping me piece together the history of this mall!
Several months back a friend that I have made online through a retail history focused group on Facebook had talked to me about Cincinnati Mills mall. He wondered since I lived in Kentucky if I knew anything about the mall. I’m pretty well versed in Cincinnati. I’ve traveled to the city since I was young. I know my way around town pretty well., but this mall was greatly a mystery. Upon thought and review, I remembered once in about 2005 or so, I had a job interview in Warsaw, Kentucky. I came up the night before and spent the evening in Cincinnati. I remembered going to the Bass Pro Shop store at this mall. Eureka! I had been to this mall. I honestly thought that until last Wednesday when I actually went to the mall. I remembered being in the Bass Pro Shop, but the mall was a complete blank, and with the decor and design of the floor plan, I know I would have remembered this mall. I’ve recently became very interested in retail history and especially retail abandonment. What makes these super regional multi million dollar shopping malls so undesirable that they are left nearly abandoned? Cincinnati Mills is a perfect example of over saturation in the retail market. To give a little back story about Forest Fair Mall I submit the following from the mall’s wikipedia page:
at the junction of Interstate 275 and Gilmore Road (Exit 39). Currently, Cincinnati Mall is a two-story enclosed mall comprising less than 10 stores and services, as well as a food court and a movie theater; anchor stores include, The Screens, Kohl’s, and Babies R Us. It is considered to be a dead mall. The mall also features a large arcade in the basement, called Arcade Legacy. Developed by Australia-based real estate franchise L.J. Hooker, the mall opened as Forest Fair Mall in phases between 1988 and 1989. At first, it featured three upscale department store chains which had not previously operated in the Cincinnati area: Parisan, B. Altman, and Bonwitt Teller Maryland-based management firm Mills Corporation purchased the mall in 2002, forcing out the few remaining non-anchor tenants before closing off the entire mall for renovations. In 2004, the property was re-opened as Cincinnati Mills, a discount-oriented mall. North Star Realty of Georgia purchased the mall in 2009. It originally had a carousel which was later removed.
Now for some raw numbers that highlight the massiveness of this facility and the dramatic changing of hands this facility has been through in its relatively short life.
Ownership shifts have been common in the history of the shopping mall that straddles Forest Park and Fairfield.
•George Herscu’s Retail Projects of Cincinnati Inc. (1986-1991)
•FFM Limited Partnership (1991-1996)
•Gator Investments (1996-2002)
•Mills Corp. (2002-2010)
•World Properties (2010-current)
When the mall opened in 1989 it was the second largest shopping mall in the entire state at 1.5 million square feet. 1.5 million! To put that in perspective:
Fayette Mall in Lexington: 1.2 Million Square Feet West Town Mall in Knoxville: 1.3 Million Square Feet Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills: 1.4 Million Square Feet Hanes Mall in Winston Salem: 1.5 Million Square Feet Any of you who are familiar with any of the above mentioned facilities know that these are some very large shopping malls. Originally when the mall was in the planning stages in the mid to late 80s the vision was to have a place where a regional hyper market ( Biggs) could be located and also mid range department stores. The mid range department store in mind for Forest Fair was Dayton based Elder-Beerman. Somewhere along the lines the developers didnt think that was enough, so they wanted to go bigger, louder and more upscale with the remaining anchor tenants bringing Bonwit Teller, Sakowitz, B. Altman and Parisian to the mall, creating what he hoped to be a template for malls featuriing value based shopping right along side mid range and high end department stores. The only problem with this thought and plan was that Forest Park and Fairfield, the suburbs which this mall lies right on the border of, are both very blue collar neighborhoods. The upscale tenants targeted did not want to locate in forest fair and showed no interest in signing on to the mall. In response the CEO of LJ Hooker, George Herscu, dediced that he would just buy a controlling interest in the aforementioned upscale department stores, forcing them to locate at Forest Fair Mall. By 1991, B. Altman had went out of business and closed their location at Forest Fair. Bonwit Teller was sold to the Pyramid Companies of Syracuse and the Forest Fair store closed due to unprofitability. Parisian,bigg’s and Elder-Beerman were left as the sole anchors of the gigantic center. In 1991 LJ Hooker filed for bankruptcy and the roller coast ride for Forest Fair Mall was just underway. By 1994 Kohls had located in the old B. Altman space, where it remains today.
Flash forward to 2003, a couple of ownership changes and abrupt closings, including the removal of the Ferris Wheel and the entire mall has closed down save for the anchors which were bigg’s, Steve and Barry’s University Sportswear, Bass Pro Shops, Wonderpark, Kohl’s, Burlington Coat Factory, Berean Christian Store, Media Play, Off 5th, Babies R Us, and Guitar Center. At this time Elder-Beerman got out while the getting was good and closed their store, leaving biggs as the last original anchor tenant. Sometime around 2008, after being acquired by Simon, began to spin out of control into obscurity. Within a matter of 18 months, biggs, which was the largest tenant at nearly 250,000 square feet, Guitar Center, Urban Behavior, Steve and Barry’s, had all closed and the mall sat at 40% vacant.
So, as you can tell just by reading the information and the wikipedia article alone the mall has had a very rocky history and the wikipedia page isnt entirely up to date as the Screens (the discount movie theater) has since closed for business. Best I can figure out the theater closed sometime in the last 6 months or so. It’s really a shame to, since the theater is in such a great location but to be honest, is a discount cinema going to drive much traffic into a shopping mall? While I was inside the mall I counted 5 stores that were open for business. Babies R Us, Outdoor World, Kohls and 2 local shops. Outdoor World at Forest Fair Mall was Ohio’s first location for the chain, as was the Steve and Barry’s at Forest Fair. Outdoor World, as did Kohls, has sealed their entrances to the mall corridor. The lower level of Outdoor World. Outdoor World is scheduled to leave the mall in the coming months as they have a new facility under construction that is to be completed sometime in 2015. In this picture you can plainly see the Saks Off 5th label scar. Sak’s Off 5th closed here in 2009 and relocated to the Cincinnati Premium Outlets on up the road off of I75 The mall was divided into neighborhoods. Each neighborhood had their own theme. Former Media Play location at Cincinnati Mills. Media Play closed here in 2005 and this space has been vacant since. The remains of the Food Court. Gold Star Chili sounded so good, but I really dont think I was going to get any kind of service at this location today. You have to wonder what makes some places just leave their signs up when they close? It’s almost as if they just turn the lights off one night, not to come back at all. One of the final inline stores to go, Claires. They must have followed Gold Star’s lead and just turned the lights off one night. this Claire’s was located on the bottom level where the Y of the building footprint came together. There were several people in the mall walking for exercise. At 200 million dollars this has to be among the world’s most expensive walking tracks.
rows and rows of unused store fronts.
You won’t get a lot of information at this desk. Nor will you get much service out of the elevator which has been locked and marked as closed. Escalators are turned off as well. So expect to do some climbing. You won’t enter this Kohl’s through the mall. The doors are locked. There is a small maintenance crew still working at this mall though, as proof by the yellow buckets and wet floor signs in front of the former Claire’s
Babies R Us and the two local inline stores were the only three businesses that I saw which used the interior mall corridor. You have to wonder what Babies R Us and Kohl’s intentions are at this mall once their leases expire.
Bon Worth has went the way of Gold Star Chili and Claire’s. Not sure what this store front use to house, but I do enjoy the style it has. More walkers utilizing southern Ohio’s most expensive walking track. More store fronts. Empty of course. Outdoor World opened here in 1999 replacing Parisian which had closed their location here in 1996. even the mall parking garage is closed for business here.
On this picture you can plainly see the ghosts of Showcase Cinema, Guitar Center, Biggs and Johnny Rockets. The other theater at the mall, yes there were at one time two, is still alive and well. Former Elder-Beerman
Former Bonwit Teller I have explored abandoned buildings for years. Usually those are crumbling into the ground and I can hear the building fall when I step on the floor. This experience was much different than any other abandoned / urban exploration visit I have ever had. There was something very erie about walking through such a gigantic building and not seeing anyone around at all. I think that the one thing that will stick with me about this visit was the fact that the escalators were turned off. There was something just odd about it. I definitely, defintiely enjoyed it and I am glad that I got to experience this mall as its future is very uncertain. With Outdoor World leaving the mall later this year, the mall is going to be left with four stores. As recently as mid April the mall and its owner was in the news discussing the mall’s future. New York based World Properties, the mall’s owners has suggested that there is a potential buyer for the property according to an article posted on Cincinnati.com. According to the article a mixed used facility is in the future for the mall, or, if the right developer is found, redevelopment all together. In the end Forrest Fair Mall, Cincinnati Mills, Cincinnati Mall or its later incarnation Forrest Fair Village was just too close to two other major, and already established shopping malls in Cincinnati. Less than 5 miles from Tri County Mall which had Macy’s Dillards, Sears and JC Penney already and only 6 miles in the other direction from Northgate Mall which also had a lot of the same standby stores that every mall needed in that era to survive and thrive. The facility is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen and reminds me a whole lot of Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills, Michigan. I hope that the owners can find a new owner that can find the right mix use of this property and retain part of the mall for shopping purposes.