Mall Stories

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Jizaboz
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Mall Stories

Post by Jizaboz » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:41 pm

I would like to discuss our experiences in shopping malls from 1980 to 2000. Of course we can discuss the fallout years afterwards but let’s start here.

What stores did you frequent? What kind of people did you watch? Did your local mall have cool fountains? All of these questions and more that any of you have to add will make for a fascinating conversation. I will add my own experiences later.

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Ice Cream Jonsey
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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:50 pm

Great topic. I would go to the malls around Rochester all the time. CERTAINLY. I tried to go to mall in Longmont, CO when I lived there and was working on Necrotic Drift. I remember that February was the best time to go to a mall. There was NOBODY there, especially on weeknights. Hey! It's February! And a weeknight! I am gonna go to the mall next week on like Tuesday.

NOTE: I get nostalgic for malls because I worked at Electronics Boutique placed in a mall for a couple years.
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Re: Mall Stories

Post by RetroRomper » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:00 pm

I've never really been comfortable at malls and the few times I've gone to one (when I was a wee little lad) amounted to either a death march (the Mall of America in PA) or just me freaking out over the crowds and social cliques that thrived there.
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Flack
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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Flack » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:26 pm

When Crossroads Mall opened in 1974, it was one of the 10 largest malls in America at ~1.3 million square feet. It was built about five miles south of the spot in Oklahoma City where I-35 crosses I-40, thus the name. Its centralized location made it instantly popular, but years later as people moved to the suburbs and businesses began to focus on downtown OKC, the mall died.

There was a big fountain inside, of course. There was also a huge permanent carousel, and a big area where Santa set up his temporary North Pole every year. Right in the middle of the mall was a huge ramp that allowed wheelchair access to the second level. Later in life I dreamed about riding a skateboard or bicycle down that thing.

My favorite place in the mall was Bally Le Mans arcade. Anytime a new game was released, you would see it there. That was the first place I saw Gauntlet, and Dragon's Lair, and lots of games. Later, they had a Galaga 3 (the big projector one inside a dark room) and two Namco race cars. In the late 80s they added a wall of televisions that played music videos. It may have been the best arcade I ever visited in the 80s.

Two stores down from the arcade was the game and hobby shop. They had a lot of models, including tons of Warhammer stuff. It was the go to place for D&D manuals, and the front counter was loaded with all kinds of dice. I bought a six-set of D&D dice from there once that were see-through green. I still have them somewhere.

Upstairs on the opposite end of the mall was an oriental store called Eastern Treasures. The front half of the store was filled with fans and kimonos and stuff like that, but in the back is where all the cool stuff was -- swords, throwing stars, nunchucks, and blow guns. Later when the mall went downhill they moved all the swords and stuff up front to try and draw in customers.

A bit further down in the mall was the Software Etc. which turned into Babbages I think? There was also a Wizard's Computer Store (Commercial) that eventually moved over to Shepard's Mall. I think later a GameStop moved in but that was a lot later. There were a couple of bookstores we used to always hit when we were there, and a big pet store where you could walk by and pet the puppies in the front window.

I used to love going to Crossroads Mall. It was about halfway between our house and my grandma's house so we used to meet her there all the time and go shopping.

One unique thing I remember is that there was no food court. Some of the food places like McDonald's, Chik-Fil-A, and A&W were big enough where they had a few tables and booths inside. Other places, like the corndog place and all the dessert places didn't have anywhere to sit at all.

The neighborhood around the mall got pretty bad in the 2000s. In 2006 there was a gang related shooting inside the mall and in 2008 there was another shooting in the parking lot and that was the end of that. People quit going to the mall and vendors left in droves. The mall closed and went up for sale for $24 million and in 2011 a group of Hispanic investors purchased it for $3.5 million. They opened it for a couple of years and it closed back down.

There are several videos on YouTube of Crossroads Mall that people made before it closed, but I can't imagine any of you wanting to watch one. If anything, jump to the 11 minute mark of this one and you can see the old arcade.

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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Jizaboz » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:24 am

Ice Cream Jonsey wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:50 pm
Great topic. I would go to the malls around Rochester all the time. CERTAINLY. I tried to go to mall in Longmont, CO when I lived there and was working on Necrotic Drift. I remember that February was the best time to go to a mall. There was NOBODY there, especially on weeknights. Hey! It's February! And a weeknight! I am gonna go to the mall next week on like Tuesday.

NOTE: I get nostalgic for malls because I worked at Electronics Boutique placed in a mall for a couple years.
When I played Necrotic Drift I assumed you knew someone who worked in that mall that let you in after hours shortly before the mall was closing!
RetroRomper wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:00 pm
I've never really been comfortable at malls and the few times I've gone to one (when I was a wee little lad) amounted to either a death march (the Mall of America in PA) or just me freaking out over the crowds and social cliques that thrived there.
I remember the cliques thing being the only "scary" thing about arcades in the 80s. Like a group of dudes all in Addidas gear and gold chains playing Ninja Gaiden who would stare down any kid that dared to approach the controls haha. There were also what I call the "surfer jerk gangs" that would hang out around malls and arcades near the beaches who would generally be total dicks and scam artists to anyone who wasn't a local.
Flack wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:26 pm
There are several videos on YouTube of Crossroads Mall that people made before it closed, but I can't imagine any of you wanting to watch one. If anything, jump to the 11 minute mark of this one and you can see the old arcade.
On the contrary, I like any old mall videos or pictures lol. It's kinda like seeing pictures of what Disney World used to look like many years ago to me. Crossroads looks like it used to be an awesome place. Cool how you mention working at Electronic Boutique. I was about 15 when we got them around here after Babbages went away and I always said I was going to work there one day but never did.

Cool you mention too the thing about the lack of food courts. It was the same way around here too. The mall in Greensboro had this cool Mc Donalds on the corner of one end with this little metal fence around the open dining area. It stayed like that up until the early 2000s. A lot of other things are familiar too like the Asian themed store, hobby store, places to eat with nowhere to sit, always a bookstore or 2, the pet store everyone went in but rarely bought anything in. Your arcade at Crossroads however sure as hell sounds much more impressive than our Alladin's Castle or Time Out were heh.

The same mall in Greensboro I mentioned has also had a string of shootings in the parking lot over the past couple of years. I hope it sticks around a bit longer though despite it not being half as cool of a place as it used to be. The mall in Winston-Salem was the one I frequented as a kid and it's still around with less crime. I'll try to dig up some old mall pictures/videos as I get time.

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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Flack » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:31 pm

One thing I found interesting was that Crossroads was one of the 10 biggest malls in the country in 1974 at 1.2 million square feet, but the two malls we go to now -- Quail Springs Mall and Penn Square Mall -- are roughly the same size.

I have a lot of similar memories about those other two malls so I won't repeat them, but here are a couple of unique things that stand out about them.

I never went to Quail Springs Mall as a kid because it was so far north of the city and there was no highway or expressway to get there, so even though it may have technically been the same distance as Crossroads from our house, it literally took twice as long to get there. We ended up moving 10 minutes north and they built a turnpike that goes around the city so all of a sudden Quail went from being the most inaccessible mall for us to being the closest!

Quail still has a Time Out arcade. They also have a movie theater and a gigantic food court. Two or three of the booths inside the food court are big fiberglass cars from the 50s and they may be the most popular thing in the mall. There are always people sitting in them, and when it looks like people are about to stand up someone else will run over and stand next to it. I guess sitting inside a fake car is pretty exciting to kids.

Penn Square Mall is the Hot Topics /Gadzooks! kind of mall. Pretty trendy, overall. Lots of clothing places I would never shop at and shoe stores I can't afford. They do have an Apple store, a Microsoft store, and a LEGO store, though. They also have an updated AMC theater, where you can buy your tickets online, reserve your seats, and walk right in when you get there. The seats are large and recline and are guaranteed to put you to sleep. It's the main theater we visit.

If there's anything super cool about Penn Square Mall, it's this. Out behind the mall is this spot called the 50 Penn Ditch. The building across the street is called 50 Penn Place and the ditch runs past it and behind the mall. When I was a kid, this place was a LEGENDARY skate spot. Due to fences and stuff it's hard to find, so a lot more people heard of it than had actually been there. Back in the early 90s, kids would skate down the mall's parking garage and, when they got run off by security, went over to skate the ditch. I went there a couple of times and it was awesome to see all the old graffiti from the late 80s still down there. It was one of those places where, if you knew about it, you felt like you were in on a big underground secret.
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Re: Mall Stories

Post by AArdvark » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:25 pm

Since RobB mentioned Long Ridge Mall I thought I'd throw in some pix. None of the photos are mine, I just found them out there.


Image

This was a water sculpture thingie that was usually closed for whatever reason. It was fun to chuck pennies at it and try to make the do-dads spin, if only a little. It was down by TapeWorld! Where music went to die.

The Contemplation Area! Because everyone goes to a mall to think!
Image

The Electric Ball Circus! This was my favorite sculpture, something I would build if given enough time and cash. Billiard balls would roll around in a Rube Goldberg sort of way.
Image

Not a Death Star, but it was soooo close. A big plastic ball that had water running down it. At Christmas they'd put a kiddie train around it, boo-ya!

Image

It was called Hot Dogs and More, but I think the more part was ketchup and mustard. Ah, the days of no food court, just a big hallway with random pretzel and hot dog sellers.

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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Tdarcos » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:27 pm

Flack wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:26 pm
When Crossroads Mall opened in 1974, it was one of the 10 largest malls in America at ~1.3 million square feet... The neighborhood around the mall got pretty bad in the 2000s... The mall closed and went up for sale for $24 million and in 2011 a group of Hispanic investors purchased it for $3.5 million. They opened it for a couple of years and it closed back down.

There are several videos on YouTube of Crossroads Mall that people made before it closed, but I can't imagine any of you wanting to watch one.
Dan Bell does a "Dead Mall Series" in which he visits malls all over the east/midwest either when they are in death throes or after they died. Is fascinating to see the creepy aftermath of a closed, deserted mall strewn with trash and debris. In one case him and his associates that had found an unlocked entrance to a dead mall in Ohio, went in and were filming, and were caught by the cops! Since they had not broken in, the place was not signed no trespassing, and they were following the golden rule of urban exploring ("Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints") they were merely escorted out and were not arrested.

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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Casual Observer » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:13 pm

Since a number of forum denizens here are from Rochester NY, here's a video of the classic but now defunct Midtown Plaza Monorail. I moved to rochester too old to enjoy this thing but my wife has fond memories of it and I did actually see it running during the few times I dared venture downtown while studying at RIT or living in the southwedge or corn hill neighborhoods near downtown. My strongest memories of Midtown Plaza are the empty stores and homeless hanging out by the greyhound bus station but I guess there probably was a time for that place.


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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Casual Observer » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:25 pm

Casual Observer wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:13 pm
while studying at RIT
ok, here's an actual personal Rochester Midtown Plaza mall story to go with that last post: When i was at RIT, it started in 1992 when obviously there were no cell phones and the internet was not even netscape so of course a technically leaning university used automated phone registration to help deal with the quarterly "lottery" of desirable courses. So everyone wanted Billiards as our P.E. class and nothing before 9:00 AM so when our lottery day came up you better believe we're on the phone at like 6 am to try to register. Fun part was that this overloaded the campus phone system so for any freshmen who had to live on campus this meant hours of picking up the phone and hearing . . . nothing. So going off campus was the way to get into the phone line and long old story short I ended up having to huddle at a "pay phone" with my dad's "calling card" in midtown plaza while my roommate met his "long distance girlfriend" at the bus station.

Roomate ended up <not scoring> with "long distance girlfriend" and I --ended up with 8AM Physics and ice skating and juggling as my P.E. classes. I can still skate and juggle a bit.

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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Flack » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:05 pm

In a weird freaking coincidence, I ran across a new article about Crossroads Mall this morning.

http://www.405magazine.com/February-201 ... f-History/
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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Flack » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:49 am

I was looking for some old pictures of Crossroads Mall and found some from 2007, back when the arcade was still open. Just how I remembered it!

Image
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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Flack » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:16 am

Another mall memory.

Beginning in the fall of '95 I was traveling all over the country for work doing computer upgrades. I'd be gone for a week, home for a week or two, and then back out on the road. Growing up, I think our family took maybe two out of state vacations (not including trips to Chicago to visit family). Beginning in the fall of '95 and going through the following spring, I went to Phoenix, Atlanta, St. Louis, Spokane, and several other cities. I was 22, flying around the country and getting close to $100/day for meals and incidentals. It was a blast.

The only downside was, as low man on the ladder, I got most of the sites nobody else wanted. I may have still been August when I went to Phoenix and Atlanta, and when it got cold, that's when I started going north. (I remember the week I was in Spokane, some of my co-workers were in Hawaii.) Anyway, in late '95, maybe early '96, I went to Minneapolis.

Our hotel ended up being right across from the Mall of America, and so that's where we went pretty much every day after work to hang out. I had heard it was the biggest mall in America, but I had no idea just how big it was. It's huge -- Wikipedia says 5 million sq ft (2.5 million retail space). Half the mall is 3 levels and one part is 4 stories. The middle of the mall has an entire amusement park. We ate dinner at the mall almost every day and wandered around. I remember asking someone if there was a Radio Shack and someone told me there were two. The size of that place was unbelievable to me.

I went back to the mall a couple of years ago while on vacation with the family. The idea of walking around in a crowd for hours on end isn't quite as entertaining as it used to be, although they did have a state of the art arcade and it was the first place I ever got to play that Star Wars battle pod game. The LEGO display is bigger than ever now. I can't imagine going to that mall often if I lived nearby, but it sure was neat to walk through the couple of times I was there.
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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Tdarcos » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:35 pm

In the Southern/Southwest part of Los Angeles County there were two major malls that, as far as I know, are still there: Los Cerritos Mall in Cerritos, California, and Lakewood Center Mall in Lakewood. At that time, back in the 1970s and early '80s, Lakewood Center was listed as the largest mall in the world in the Guiness Book of World Records.

Long Beach Transit ran buses to both shopping centers. However, they stopped going into Los Cerritos, and stopped on the street outside of the mall. RTD, the major bus operator for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernadino Counties, did continue to run buses into Los Cerritos. So I asked one of the drivers on the Long Beach Bus, and he said Los Cerritos management thought buses did too much damage to the parking lot, and wanted $50,000 to continue to use the bus area in the Mall. Long Beach Transit refused to pay. I told the driver I thought that was ridiculous; buses bring customers and employees who don't want to or can't afford to drive (or in my case, were too young to get a driver's license.)

At the same time, Lakewood Center did some major remodeling of its bus landing area to add room for three more bus stops and extra benches for people waiting for the bus. They understood where their bread was buttered.
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Re: Mall Stories

Post by Jizaboz » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:10 pm

Great stuff! I'm struggling to find old pics of malls I went to but here is one of Hanes Mall in the 80s with the awesome metal sculpture things and fountains I remember.

Image

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Re: Mall Stories

Post by AArdvark » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:58 pm

Only real story I got is the time I stole a room humidifier out of Sears. It was a Christmas present for my mom. Picked the box up and took it to an unmanned service counter. Took a long piece of that yellow 'paid' tape and wrapped it around the top and sides. Left the building.

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