Demolished in 2005, the Original Outlet Mall in Kenosha, WI had an interesting life, going from being one of the earliest examples of the now ubiquitous indoor factory shop style outlet malls to its demolition in order to develop a new multi purpose community shopping center.
The Original Outlet Mall in Kenosha was first built and opened in 1982, as a place where people could go to buy outlet priced items from the likes of Sony, Jockey, Samsonite, Van Heusen, Hanes, Corning, Eddie Bauer, Fuller Brush and many more. It became a big draw for bargain hunters, who weren’t put off by its simple, functional design and lack of places to eat and relax because it was such a great place to find highly discounted items. It was a key shopping destination for keen shoppers with an eye for a bargain, even those coming from the Chicago area. There were even organized bus trips to bring groups of shoppers to its doors, and at the height of its reign in the mid eighties, the Original Outlet Mall housed around 50 outlet stores.
As outlet shopping became more common, a larger outlet shopping mall was opened just South of the Original Outlet Mall (now know as the Paradise Prairie Prime Outlets mall), and this featured discounted outlet branches of more upscale stores and became the most popular outlet shopper destination, essentially wiping the Original Outlet Mall off of many shoppers’ radars. The tenants began to desert the location in favor of opening up shop at the Prime Outlet center, leaving behind empty stores and even fewer reasons for people to visit.
The Original Outlet was given a superficial renovation in the late nineties, but this wasn’t enough to revive it, and it was sold several times in the early part of the 21st century before demolition was finally decided for it and its 2005 date with the wrecking ball was set up.