I may be a latecomer to the dead malls scene, which is weird because I watched several malls in the Cleveland area decay into near nothingness. One of these malls was Randal Park Mall, which from what I can tell in the online dead malls community is a rather high profile dead mall. It was virtually extinct by the turn of the millennium. I still stopped by the Toys R Us located across the street until they eventually "moved" to Mayfield, which was probably close to ten years ago.
The last two memories I have besides that of Randal Park, was the last time I entered the mall in the late nineties to discover the Kay Bee toys had been shuttered for a number of years. The other memory was of a seasonal assistant manager of the Great Lakes Mall Kay Bee (where I worked in the late nineties), she constantly claimed "I was the Manager of Randal Park". I never did think that phrase meant much.
My friends and I did alot of "mall-hopping" in the mid to late nineties. We were spending our days off hunting Star Wars & Marvel toys in different Cleveland area malls. I pretty much only really ever checked out Kay Bee Toys and Hot Topic, while my friends also checked out Spencer's and the bookstores (Waldenbooks & B Dalton). Alot of the good times I had freewheeling around in my early 20's was done at malls and surrounding retail environments. When Kay Bee finally went under in the early part of the last decade, it is not a surprise to me that the bulk of my mall-hopping days were done.
However what did catch me off-guard when I stumbled upon deadmalls.com earlier this year was that I was one of the last of a breed who frequented malls. About the time I stopped visiting malls, apparently so did everyone else. This lead to the closure of alot of malls throughout the last decade. Another early dead mall, that pretty much was toast by the turn of the millennium was the Euclid Square Mall. I can remember visiting the Toys R Us there until at least 2001 or 2002 when the Transformers Robots in Disguise toy-line was out.
Another mall I seem to remember being open at around this time, although majorly wounded, was the Rolling Acres Mall. I can remember going into the Target there and thinking it was cool how a Target was the anchor of a major mall.
From the best of my understanding Randal Park, Euclid Square, and Rolling Acres are all now closed to human foot traffic. I think this is an amazing thing to me. That these "monuments to consumerism"* are all now dead. I have a whole lot of memories surrounding having good times with my friends at different malls, and I suppose at least I get to keep those.
I plan to visit a local dying mall near the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, the Ashtabula Mall sometime this year, since I doubt it will be open much longer. I am however happy that somehow despite all the mall deaths in the Cleveland area it's comforting to know that at least for the time being my hometown mall, Great Lakes Mall, and the nearby Beachwood Place mall continue to operate at nearly full capacity. I doubt however that Richmond Mall will last more than the next few years. (Oh I forgot to mention Westlake Mall, which I think has been demolished and rebuilt as an outdoor shopping center.)
Well I bid a fond adieu to these palaces of retail experiences.
*paraphrasing Kevin Smith's 1995 film "Mallrats"