Daily Archives: March 29, 2013

The Mall Situation in Memphis, Tennessee

Mall of Memphis: Closed Christmas Eve 2003. Started out in the early seventies as “the mall” in the Memphis area. However, a deterioration of the neighborhood in the early 90′s, coupled with one or two murders in the parking lot, started it’s demise. The last anchors (Dillard’s and J. C. Penny’s) left in 2001, and nothing, not even government offices, could help. Sadly, the only thing going at the time it closed was an ice skating rink, and those kids have been left out in the cold. (Sorry for the bad choice of words!)

Raleigh Springs Mall: Bad management and a change for the worse in the neighborhood have this mall on life support. It opened in the seventies with several anchors (Penny’s, Woolworth’s, Goldsmith’s, Dillard’s, and Sears). Present management took it over in the early 90′s, and the downhill slide began shortly thereafter. There has been a change in the neighborhood during this time that was not for the better. Woolworth’s went under in the mid 80′s or so, and it was not until the turn of the century that a movie theater was built with government funds for the benefit of a local chain of theaters. Up until this time, the space had been mostly vacant with the front being used for mom & pop candy and tobacco stores. Penny’s became a catalog outlet in the mid 90′s causing a change in clientele. This continued until early 2002, when the store completely closed. Dillard’s became an outlet store as well about this time, using two of the original three floors. It resembled nothing more than a glorified rummage sale. They closed, as well as Goldsmith’s in April 2003. Goldsmith’s got a lot of bad publicity as gang members on an initiation stunt shoplifted quite a bit of merchandise only to be caught after a traffic accident that resulted in a policeman being killed on the scene. Sears still remains. Have not been there for about a year or so, as the mall has a bad reputation for stolen cars, and gang activity.

Oak Court Mall: Opened as an “Upscale Mall.” Bought a several years ago by the same company that has mismanaged Raleigh Springs Mall. Almost immediately the “upscale” label was removed. Lost Lord & Taylor as an anchor which, while understandable, did not help things. Now anchored by a double dose of Dillard’s on one end (two stores — one for men; one for women), and Goldsmith’s on the other. In between we have seen stores such as Disney and The Limited leave in the last couple of years only to be either left vacant, or replaced by a local operation that usually lasts until the SBA loan money runs out. A characteristic is that the mall has eight escalators between the various levels in the public area, and almost always one or more of them will be turned off. I believe this is done on purpose to save electricity, and have continually complained. Goldsmith’s had one customer robbed and killed in their parking garage a few years ago. This mall could be in a lot better shape considering it is in a pretty good neighborhood for a retail location.