“Hey, want to go to the mall?”
We shopped (or we window shopped), teens hung out, ladies lunched, kids got their pictures taken on Santa’s lap, we tried to win cars and other prizes. Sometimes there was even live music (and, hey — remember Tiffany’s mall tour?)!
For decades, the mall was THE gathering place for millions of Americans. It might seem like malls have been around since forever, but the first official indoor shopping mall didn’t exist until 1956.
Built on the outskirts of Minneapolis, Southdale Mall was the first climate-controlled, fully-enclosed mall in the US. Not only was it a convenient and comfortable place to shop and gather — no matter what the weather! — it made good business sense, too.
Unlike the traditional downtown shopping scene, where every building had a different landlord, mall properties had centralized management, where leasing could be controlled to maximize sales for everyone. And, of course, parking was significantly less hassle at the mall than it was downtown.
Consequently, the mall concept exploded, and Southdale Mall became the template for suburban indoor malls as we knew them.
Back then, indoor malls were a convenient one-stop location for shopping, eating, recreation and socializing. Many of these sprawling malls had movie theaters — and some even had ice rinks and bowling alleys.
And, the mall looked, smelled, and sounded good, too! Malls were glittering and luxuriously appointed, designed to tempt you to indulgence at every turn. Just by taking a quick walk around the place, you could tell that they really know how to make customers feel like royalty.
But none of that was enough for indoor malls to survive the age of the internet.
By the turn of the millennium, brick and mortar retailers — including so many of those located in shopping malls — struggled to compete with online marketplaces.
After all, shopping doesn’t get much more convenient than online! Especially when there are machine learning algorithms that not only help retailers better predict what customers need, but also efficiently connect customers with their products.
Since the ease of online shopping has lured most of us to its charms, indoor malls have started to die out. But what hasn’t faded is our fondness for this vintage relic.
Take a nostalgic trip back with us to some of the best indoor malls from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
And don’t miss part 2: 50 old mall stores you probably haven’t seen for years (at least not looking like this)
1960s: Vintage malls in the early years
Multilevel vintage mall with a palm garden courtyard
Stores you can see in this mall include Treasure Isle gifts & Jewelry, Hart Schaffner & Marx Clothes, a barber, and a medical clinic
Chris-Town Shopping Mall, Phoenix, Arizona (1962)
Old Chris-Town indoor mall in Arizona (c. 1960s)
You can see the Korrick’s Department Store on the right
Hudson’s store at Oakland Mall – Troy, Michigan (1969)
1960s mall with a Florsheim Men’s Shoe Shop (1969)
Scenes from the Old North Mall in York, Pennsylvania (1969)
Stores shown include The Fabric Tree, Hanover Shoes, Buxton’s, Parklane Hosiery and Kinney Shoes
Smith & Welton store at a vintage mall (1960s)
Dayton’s department store at Brookdale Shopping Center, Minneapolis (1966)
1970s: Vintage malls with 70s style
Rich’s store at Cumberland Mall – Atlanta, Georgia (1973)
Dayton Hudson’s Woodland Hills Mall, Tulsa, Oklahoma (1976)
See Aberson’s Alley, Florsheim Shoes & Gray’s Jewelers
Plymouth Meeting Mall, Pennsylvania (1960s-1970s)
Shops include a Fashion Bug and a jewlery store
Belden Village Mall – Canton, Ohio (1960s-1970s)
Inside the old Belden Village Mall (1960s-1970s)
Colonial Park Plaza vintage shopping mall, Pennsylvania (1970)
Town East Mall, near Dallas, Texas (1971)
Rosedale Shopping Center – St Paul, Minnesota (1971)
Midtown shopping mall, Rochester New York (1960s-1970s)
Strawbridge & Clothier grand court at mall in Pennsylvania (1972)
JC Penney at 3-level Southdale Shopping Center, Minnesota (1972)
Old malls: Ridgedale Shopping Center, near Minneapolis, Minnesota (1973)
Stores include B Dalton Bookseller, Peck & Peck, and The Limited
Strawbridge & Clothier – Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem, PA (1973)
Mayfair Shopping Center – Old mall in Wisconsin (1973)
Beyond the creek and bridge is a large Marshall Field & Company store
Huge light fixture at Fox Valley Shopping Center in Illinois (1974)
Deptford Mall Shopping Center, New Jersey (1970s-1980s)
Florsheim Shoes, Flower World, Marqueland’s Candies
Retro shopping mall in Indiana
You can see Florsheim shoes, Kinney, Kay Jewelers
Vintage postcard of Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Stores seen include Naturalizer, Meyer Treasure Chest Stores, and Hanover Shoes
Vintage mall – Woolworth’s store and fountains
Twin City Mall – North Palm Beach, Florida (1971)
Shops seen include Morse and Upstage
Vintage postcard – Sunvalley Mall, Concord, California (c1970s)
Shops seen include Sandra Joy Casuals, Kushins, Penney’s
Vintage 1970s shopping mall
Stores seen include Kinney Shoes, Jack and Jill, and a Northwest Airlines kiosk
Vintage Woolworth’s store next to a fountain at a retro shopping mall (1976)
Vintage 1970s shopping mall with two levels
Stores include Young World & Basket House
Vintage shopping mall scene – 1970s or 1980s
Stores seen here Hardy Shoes, The Bombay Shop, Hot Sam and Sears
Fiesta Mall in Mesa, Arizona (1979)
Stores shown include Rings & Things, Musicland, Sears and a Hallmark store
1980s: Retro 80s malls
A classic old-school eighties shopping mall
You can see a Flagg Bros, Thayer McNeil Shoes, and what looks like a Chick-Fil-A
Eastland Mall ice skating rink – Charlotte, North Carolina (1970s-1980s)
Skating rink inside Galleria Mall, Houston, Texas (1980)
Shopping mall food court stands (1980)
There’s a Pretzel Fest and a popcorn place (Photo date based on photographer’s catalog record)
Shopping mall food court in northern Virginia (1980)
There’s a Pik-A-Pita and Frank & Stein restaurant (Photo date based on photographer’s catalog record)
Town Center mall – Cobb County, Georgia (1980s)
The Shops at Georgetown Park mall at Christmas (1980)
Montclair Plaza – Montclair, California (1986)
Hulen Mall – Fort Worth, Texas (1980s)
Stores here include The Cook’s Nook, The Limited, The Gap
Georgetown Park shopping mall (1980)
(Photo date based on photographer’s catalog record)
1980s shopping mall with fountain and clock
Tysons Corner Center shopping mall, Tysons Corner, Virginia (late 1980s)
Vintage malls: Shopping mall and hotel lobby (1980)
Retro 80s shopping center information booth