Arrowhead Towne Center; Glendale, Arizona

arrowhead-towne-center-18Arrowhead Towne Center is the only regional mall for a large region of over 1 million shoppers in sprawling northwest Maricopa County, comprising parts of Phoenix, Glendale, Sun City, Surprise, and Goodyear. Its market area is not only large, but economically and ethnically diverse as well, drawing both from extremely upscale, mostly white, brand new enclaves to the north and west to an economically diverse group with a significant amount of Mexican-Americans to the south and east. The average household income in the trade area is over $64,000.


Arrowhead Towne Center is the only regional mall for a large region of over 1 million shoppers in sprawling northwest Maricopa County, comprising parts of Phoenix, Glendale, Sun City, Surprise, and Goodyear.  Its market area is not only large, but economically and ethnically diverse as well, drawing both from extremely upscale, mostly white, brand new enclaves to the north and west  to an economically diverse group with a significant amount of Mexican-Americans to the south and east.  The average household income in the trade area is over $64,000.

arrowhead-towne-center-07Arrowhead Towne Center opened in October 1993 in a former orange grove located along Bell Road near the brand new Loop 101 freeway, Phoenix’s first belt freeway, connecting this formerly remote section of northwest Phoenix to Interstate 10 to the south and Interstate 17 to the east.  Loop 101 intensified the already-explosive growth in the Phoenix area which was occurring during the 1980s and 1990s, focusing it along this circumfrential route, which for the first time allowed accessibility to all parts of the metro.  Arrowhead was developed by Phoenix-area Westcor, and opened with five major anchors – Dillard’s, Robinsons-May, Mervyns, JCPenney, and Montgomery Ward – with an empty pad for an eventual sixth anchor.  Anchor Ward became Sears in 2001 following Ward’s bankruptcy.  

In many ways, Arrowhead Towne Center is your average, middle-of-the-road suburban mall.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the parking lot is still crowded on weekends – but, if an area shopper wants something more upscale, she has to head east to Scottsdale or northeast Phoenix.  Arrowhead offers stores like Gap, Apple, Forever 21, Tilly’s, Dillards, and Sears; there’s no Neiman Marcus or Saks here, but neither are there many vacancies nor a dirty, drab shopping environment, following a 2003-04 rehab of the entire mall. 

In 2003, owner Westcor has sought to bring a more upper-mid tier range of stores like Hollister and Godiva to the ten-year-old mall, as well as maintaining a nice esthetic.  Much of the decor featured “outdated, chunky pieces of artwork” from 1993, so Westcor solved this by revamping the mall with muted tile floors and modern wood trim. 

arrowhead-towne-center-18The revamped tenant list came with slightly more upscale stores such as Apple, Sephora, Coach, Papyrus, and Swarovski.  The outside of the mall also got touch-ups and a new paint job, and all of these changes took place right after mall owner Westcor became absorbed by L.A.-based Macerich. 

More changes have taken place since the renovation.  In 2006, Robinsons-May became Macys as part of a national nameplate consolidation, and in 2008 Mervyns closed as that chain folded.  In March 2009, the former Mervyns space became one of the first anchor-sized locations for Forever 21, a clothing retailer for young men and women.  And, in 2009, the sixth anchor pad finally filled with Dick’s, a two-level Pennsylvania-based sporting goods retailer. 

The design of Arrowhead Towne Center is a somewhat winding two-level straight shot between Dillards and Macys, with over 1 million square feet of space.  The mall was visited by over 11 million shoppers in 2007, and we visited in March 2009.  In fact, we visited the day of Forever 21’s soft opening; in the pictures you can see the Forever 21 sign going up.  When we arrived, it was about half done and the Mervyn’s labelscar was still visible, but by the time we left the sign was done.  Also while we were there, someone had apparently modified one of the mannequins outside Hollister…

30 thoughts on “Arrowhead Towne Center; Glendale, Arizona”

  1. Dick’s sells more than clothing, and the two level ones can be a hazard. Last December, I read about a two-level Dick’s in a mall that had a gunshot go off in it because a box of bullets had dropped on an escalator.

  2. In the inside photo of the second floor of Forever 21 picture you can see the spots where the letters for Mervyns was! By the way, i wonder why does Forever 21 need such a big space for their stores? An anchor size store? I never knew Halter Tops, Baby Tees and skinny jeans needed THAT much space, if they were to sold cosmetics and home stuff maybe…

  3. Is there much of a difference between an oversized Forever 21 and the chain’s XXI Forever superstores?

  4. There’s also a Harkins 18-plex near by.

    As for forever XXI, with anchor sized locations you can expand product lines to meet customer preferences. The other option of cource is to live with a large dead box that you cant fill. Many malls are learning that lesson the hard way.

  5. I expect Forever 21 to wind down operation in a few years. Not quite as crash-and-burn as Steve & Barry’s, but it will be definitely less saturated.

  6. @Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D), How come you believe this. Can you point outa few facts?


  7. Jonah Norasson, I’m with you on Forever 21. They are expanding too fast, oversaturating markets, and utilizing too much leverage. Their merchandise mix is very trend specific, and with their unmanageable size, it is easy to loose track of a trend directed mix. If their buyers miss the mark, it only takes one bad season to sink a chain of that size, especially when so much leverage is involved. Remember Prange’s ID,Peck & Peck, Peck & Hunt, and Modern Woman chains? Prange’s buyers lost site of trends, and the entire parent company went out of business.

  8. To me, Forever 21 just seems like an Americanized version of H&M. Most of the Forever 21 stores that I’ve seen have been simply locations that were originally different stores at one time and have been converted into Forever 21 stores. Most of the investment seems to go into the XXI superstores and I think they would be best to operate as that alone.

  9. This mall looks and reads just like my post on North Point Mall here in Atlanta. Must be something about those suburban malls from the early 1990’s.

  10. Sears wasn’t an original anchor. That slot was Montgomery Ward until 2001.

  11. @Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D), the breakneck expansion is due in part to opportunism, though; there’s a lot of empty spaces in prime shopping centers right now due to the economy and a lot of other chains failing. And the product mix at Forever 21 isn’t necessarily much less diverse than, say, TJMaxx or Ross, who would have no problem operating similar size stores.

    Granted, I don’t disagree with you–something about their execution seems a bit half-ass to me. The one store I visited felt very slapdash and half-empty, and they were blasting the kind of music (more contemporary) that you’d expect to hear in a Forever 21 through the crappy old Mervyn’s speakers, which made the place feel really uncomfortable.

  12. I think the fact that Forever 21 opening a 100k square foot store in TImes Square (former Virgin Megastore, though some sources say Tower Records) is the ultimate in shameless expansion. An article on the subject sums it up nicely:
    “When Mid-Westerners think of New York City, we imagine images of Broadway plays, bustled streets, 5-star restaurants, and swanky boutiques come to mind. So the addition of a low brow fast fashion haven like Forever 21 smack dab in the middle of Times Square will probably be disheartening because, well, who doesn’t have one of those in their town?”

  13. @Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D), It wasn’t until about a decade ago or so that the big box stores were allowed to enter Manhattan. People were fearful that there would be no difference between Manhattan & any other city. New York was ment to be a unique place where you would find things that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

    Of course traveling through various neighborhoods throughout the city you will still find unique places like So Ho, Harlem, Flushing Queens & others. However as stated above, seeing these chains in Manhattan takes away a little something from it’s greatness.

    Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s & Sacks do make New York what it is despite being chains. Forever XXI doesn’t contribute the same way. Take it from a New Yorker born & raised.

  14. @Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D), my local mall (Westmoreland) had a Gadzooks at one time but it closed down several years ago. This was before Gadzooks was bought out by Forever 21.

  15. @Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D), Times Square is full of low-brow things to appeal to tourists, such as a giant Olive Garden. Anyone who comes to New York and eats at an Olive Garden is likely either a foreign tourist or someone with zero class, so opening a low-brow fashion store here might be kind of smart?

  16. @CoryTJ, Almost no one on here except me remembers Prange’s, because it was located exclusively in Wisconsin and maybe Michigan?

  17. @JT, It IS very similar to North Point! They even opened at almost exactly the same time too. North Point might be a lil more super-regional/important, but it’s basically the same thing. I went to North Point in December 2008, and I think it’s more destinational than this one too, with its little-girl-doll-factory or whatever it is, and some of the stores are possibly a bit more destinational too.

  18. @Prange Way, Spot on. Infact the former Warner Brothers studio store at 1 Times Square is now a… here it comes… waite for it… Walgreens!

    There’s nothing like a national drug store chain to atract tourists. The giant Toys R Us is an amazing site to behold, even if it is a chain. Go there & you’ll understand what I mean. OK it’s not FAO Schwartz, but nothing will ever come close to that.

  19. @Prange Way, There were indeed Prange’s stores in Michigan, as well as Illinois.

  20. @Christopher, Thanks!

    But now that I see it, the mall’s “renovations” only seem to be by taking out the hanging sculptures, the trees, and light fixtures. Then they repainted it.

  21. and new flooring, but I guess something that was built in 1993 wouldn’t need a huge update. This mall looks very similar to the Rivertown Crossings Mall near Grand Rapids here in MI (built in 1999). Nice looking mall nonetheless.

  22. I think the Forever 21 anchor-sized stores are unnecessary and blight the brand’s image. Most locations are remodeled but others, like the Heritage 1981 location in Emerald Square Mall are simply a sign over a former Rampage location.

  23. I keep hearing the possibility that Nordstrom is currently looking to open a store in this mall. If my mind serves me right, I remember seeing this mall under the “Future Store Openings” on I don’t see it there anymore, plans have probably been put on the back burner due to the economy.

  24. Wicked post, I totally agree. How long have you been blogging for now, I really like the design of your site. Cheers, Edmund J

  25. @Gary, They closed the fye, pacsun and American Greetings at my mall to open Forever 21.

  26. @Ed,
    Idk why you are all freaking out about forever 21 being a big store. Who cares?! I love forever 21 they have good clothes for good prices. Girls like that kind of store I don’t get why you care so much it’s there problem if its to big.

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