Indian Mall; Jonesboro, Arkansas

Indian Mall pylon in Jonesboro, AR

Over the years we’ve spent a great deal of time investigating why malls die.  We’ve found a great number of reasons, and one of the most popular of these has been competition.  We hate to sound general, but it’s happened all over the place, and probably close to you too.  The newer, shinier mall (replace ‘mall’ with ‘Lifestyle Center’ or ‘Big Box Power Center’ or whatever, same difference) becomes instantly popular and leaves the smaller, older center by the wayside.  However, this process usually takes a while, typically at least several years if not longer before total dominance is shifted from one retail center/area to another, and the losing mall finally gives up and meets Mr. Bulldozer.  However, that’s not necessarily the case here. What we’re about to investigate is rather unique, in that the dominance of one center shifted to another instantaneously; as one shiny new mall opened, the older, smaller mall was immediately abandoned, seemingly overnight.

Indian Mall in Jonesboro, ARFirst, a bit about the area.  With just about 60,000 residents and over 150,000 in the metropolitan area, Jonesboro, Arkansas is the regional anchor city for the northeast part of the state.  Jonesboro is, however, culturally and economically linked to the larger metropolis of Memphis, Tennessee, about 70 miles to the south.  That said, Jonesboro does enjoy a degree of autonomy, being the seat of local government as well as for having Arkansas State University, and being a regional center for agriculture and trade.

Most of the typical Big Box strip malls, chain restaurants, and businesses in general in Jonesboro are located in the southeast part of town along Highland Dr, S. Caraway Rd., and Stadium Blvd.  Indian Mall, named after the University mascot, is located in this area, and opened here in the late 1960s featuring Blass, TG&Y, Sears, and a supermarket.  Blass became Dillards, TG&Y closed in the 1980s and Dillards used its mall-fronting space for an expansion, and the supermarket closed and was converted to a food court.  Also, in 1976, JCPenney attached itself to the small 300,000 square-foot center, adding a stub wing onto the north end.  Indian Mall’s decor was relatively unchanged throughout its four-decade lifespan, which is neat for us mall historians, but don’t look for it being around too much longer. 

Indian Mall in Jonesboro, ARBy the mid-1990s, Jonesboro’s population had doubled since the 1960s debut of Indian Mall and, as the commercial center of all of Northeast Arkansas, could definitely support a larger and more modern mall.  The small Indian Mall chugged along into the 1990s, when its owner, Warmack & Company, proposed building a new mall just to the east of Indian Mall along Highland Dr. at Stadium Blvd.  Under the plans, Indian Mall was to have been changed into a Big Box or mixed-use retail center.  The new mall even got a name, Southern Hills Mall, and land was set aside for the development.  Unfortunately, though, due to a myriad of reasons it never materialized, and a competing mall developer stepped in to take the reigns and build Jonesboro a new center. 

David Hocker & Associates was the competing developer’s name, and offered up plans which did materialize in 2006 in the form of The Mall at Turtle Creek.  The new 750,000 square-foot center opened, and took with it most of Indian Mall’s stores.  JCPenney and Dillards had brand new digs there, and almost overnight many of Indian Mall’s remaining in-line stores seemingly packed up and moved down the street.  Almost immediately, Indian Mall was left completely vacant, except for Sears and Dillard’s Clearance Center. So, after nearly four decades in operation, the Indian Mall was felled in one swoop.  And, because its owner’s development wasn’t selected to become the new mall, Indian Mall sits there like a deer in headlights.  As of Summer 2007 the mall is technically open, but only functions as a corridor for mall walking and to get between the two remaining anchors.  Nothing else remains at Indian Mall and it’s only a matter of time before the property is redeveloped, and the mall’s website recently went down forever. 

The photos here were taken in June 2007.  Feel free to add your own thoughts or anecdotes and be sure to check out the Mall at Turtle Creek posting as well.  We felt they stood better together chronologically yet as separate posts.   

Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR

Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR

Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR

Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR

Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR

Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall Food Court in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR

Indian Mall Food Court in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall Food Court in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall Food Court in Jonesboro, AR

Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR Indian Mall in Jonesboro, AR

33 Responses to “Indian Mall; Jonesboro, Arkansas”

  1. Could you post the URL so we can see it on Archive.org?

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  2. It looks like it’s had at least on major makeover since it opened. The heterogeneous storefronts are ’60s, but the tile around the seating ares looks much more recent–I wonder if the food court was post-JCPenney since that would have involved more reconfiguration of space. I wonder if they had removed plantings or additional seating to account for the big open areas.

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    Phillip Birmingham Reply:

    @rich, Indian Mall was always that open, if I remember correctly. In its heyday, local auto dealers would often display the latest models in the main corridor.

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  3. http://www.indianmalljonesboro.com

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  4. Yeah the food court was added in the 80s sometime, and that whole wing was a Supermarket until then. The tile throughout the main corridor was actually remarkable and I’m told original.

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  5. Interesting you chose to finally feature this mall here, since I remember reading about this specific mall from the deadmalls.com site!

    It’s too bad, from looking at the pics, that it looks like they(Indian Mall owners) probably definately removed some fountains, planters, and other decor from the center of this mall’s hallways, over the years. I agree with Rich, the hallways (for a mall this size) look unusally empty(though I’ll admit that it looks like certain areas near its mall entrances had kiosk stores).

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  6. Why is Sears always the last to leave? It’s puzzling.

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    Ryan Reply:

    @Steven Swain, because its a powerful company its been in many malls couple of malls closed down and left sears standing or made for buisness and stuff

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    Allan Reply:

    @Ryan, I think DRoman’s post is actually the truth, the fact that it owns the stores and isn’t losing money on operating the stores, unlike the other mall stores and anchors that just lease the space for their store from whatever mall operator(i.e. GGP, Simon, CBL, etc.) runs the mall.

    I think there might be a few other traditional mall anchors that’ve done this to some degree(believe JCPenney may do this at some malls), but not sure which other department stores besides Sears have done this in the past. IIRC, mall operators usually almost always lease out even the anchor spaces today, versus decades ago, when it was more common for this arrangement to occur when a mall was first construction. Also, I do know with certain indoor malls, the Sears store there predated the construction of the rest of the indoor mall.

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  7. I think Sears owns it’s stores and that they’re ownership is seperate from a mall lease. Hence why Sears almost never leave a dead mall unless that store is underperforming. RIght?

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  8. Most large anchor stores (not usually junior anchors) are owned independently of the shopping centers they occupy. This is probably the case here. And, at any rate, the site will probably be redeveloped into something successful because it’s in the middle of the area’s major retail corridor. So Sears would probably be best to stick around, especially since they couldn’t site themselves at the new mall.

    And…we feature several malls which are already posted (or probably will be posted) on the Deadmalls site. Both Jason and I have contributed to that site in the past as well, and the content there is a valuable resource. However, our post on this mall also contains pictures in addition to the story to allow everyone to visualize it. We think using both photos and a story complement each other and give even those who have never been to the locale a great idea what it’s like.

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  9. I love the pictures! Well done.
    I always seem to attribute mall failures (outside of competition, of course) on low ceilings. Add darkness and it seals the deal.
    If the owners were smart, they would have remodeled this place once the new mall was approved by the planning board.
    Scott

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  10. One of the key things to remember in this mall death is the proximity of the two locations. They are less than one mile apart!

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  11. You are so right Dave, proximity is key to the demise of Indian Mall. There is now way 2 malls can survive that close, especailly in a small market like Jonesboro.

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  12. This reminds me of Hattiesburg, MS, where I attended college. It has about 45,000 in the town, and about 120,000 in the surrounding area. There was the old Cloverleaf Mall at the intersection of US 49 & US 11 which thrived for many years until Turtle Creek Mall opened in 1994, and Cloverleaf pretty much died. However, they reinvented themselves with the addition of a Stein-Mart, Hudson’s Salvage Center, and discount stores. There are also several businesses in the mall, including a call center where seemingly every USM student seemed to work at and a television station. Cloverleaf is down, but not out…

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  13. This mall started its downward spiral long befor the announcment of the development of the turtle creek property, and would have plagued the southern hills mall should it have opened. Warmack and company kept raising rent on its tennants and provided little support to its smaller tennants as well as reducing mall services like security and maintenance. The perception was that they were collecting more and providing less. They started strangling out smaller and older shops to attempt to make room for larger stores to collect larger sales percentages.Ii submit that greed or perception of greed was the root cause of the death of this mall. It should also be noted that Warmack and company started development at southern hills and cleared acres of forrested ground which is now barren and creates drainage problems for surrounding subdivisions. In my experience this typifies their attiotude towards the community which supported them for over 4 decades. Indian mall sits on probably the second most desireable retail acerage in the city which should be attractive to other anchor stores wishing to settle in a city where the traffic numbers exceed well over 100,000 in any given business day. Some of these typical anchor stores are building and have built stand alone stores in out of the way locations, instead of attaching them selves to a warmack and company mall located at one of the 3 most traveled intersections. This speaks volumes as to why it died overnightand will eventually meet a wrecking ball when sears contract or leaase or whatever expires. There never appears to be more than 25 cars on the sears lot that used to be full and even fewer aat the dillards clearance end. as for the food court remodel it came several years after jcpenny opened and could never attract any chain stores to the food court with several of the food court stations staying boarded up. additionally a resturant originally opened as a sambos set vacant for at least the last 10 years. In the end it all boils down to greed and lack of maintenence and development and thats just the way I see it .

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  14. Indian Mall was our only source available for a long time, but then people began to realize why do you have to shop here when Memphis is only 70 miles away, unfortunately Mr. Warmack & company did not realize this feat. This might have been because he was in his 80′s or 90′s and felt that people owed him something and would continue to shop at his “Grand” Jonesboro Mall. When Mr. Burrow & Halsey introduced the plans for The Mall at Turtle Creek and actually planned to bring shops to Jonesboro that we were having to drive to Memphis or Little Rock to visit, why would anyone continue to drive unless it was for a special occassion? Mr. Warmack never showed any desire to keep his facility modern, there was never a drive to get stores for today’s population into our city. Like Wayne M. states, he set his own downward spiraling future long before the new mall ever came to town.

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  15. [...] Labelscar conducts an interesting exercise comparing two malls in Jonesboro, Ark., looking at how a new project, Mall at Tuttle Creek helped push Indian Mall out of commission. Over the years we’ve spent a great deal of time investigating why malls die. We’ve found a great number of reasons, and one of the most popular of these has been competition. We hate to sound general, but it’s happened all over the place, and probably close to you too. The newer, shinier mall (replace ‘mall’ with ‘Lifestyle Center’ or ‘Big Box Power Center’ or whatever, same difference) becomes instantly popular and leaves the smaller, older center by the wayside. However, this process usually takes a while, typically at least several years if not longer before total dominance is shifted from one retail center/area to another, and the losing mall finally gives up and meets Mr. Bulldozer. However, that’s not necessarily the case here. What we’re about to investigate is rather unique, in that the dominance of one center shifted to another instantaneously; as one shiny new mall opened, the older, smaller mall was immediately abandoned, seemingly overnight. [...]

  16. It has been announced that the developer of turtle creek has acquired indian mall I am not sure if they intend to demolish it completely or revamp it but either way it is to live again as the shops at CaraLand or somthing like that. The ncaa has forced the local college to abandon the indian mascot so a slamming together of caraway rd and Highland drive leaves us with the shops at caraland. I say you go Belz Burrow or Burrow Halsey but lets give a little more thought to a name. caraland sucks!

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  17. Maybe mixed-use/offices could work but…political correctness killed the mall.

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  18. The Shoppes of Caraland will replace Indian Mall. Indian Mall will be demolished, and I have not heard what will happen to the Sears store. They may keep their current building, build new on the same site, or move across the intersection to their K-Mart location. The Shoppes of Caraland will be an open-air upscale lifestyle center with lush landscaping, according to several sources. It will bring in very nice stores that did not sign on with The Mall at Turtle Creek a few blocks away. Hopefully, The Shoppes of Caraland will include Williams-Sonoma, Talbots, Bonefish Grill, Crepe Maker, Macy’s, and a Fresh Market gourmet grocery store. People come to Jonesboro, Arkansas, from all over Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri to shop. The shopping in Jonesboro serves a population base of about a half a million, far greater than Jonesboro’s population of 60,000. The economy is great in Jonesboro. Most people in this region would rather shop in Jonesboro in order to avoid the high crime associated with Memphis. Jonesboro is definitely a city on the move and is no longer a sleepy Southern town. St. Bernard’s Hospital of Jonesboro is the largest hospital between St. Louis, Little Rock, and Memphis. People come to St. Bernard’s for their health needs from all over Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri, just like they do for their shopping. Jonesboro is a clean, efficient, fresh, and progressive community. We can’t wait until The Shoppes of Caraland opens!

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  19. I doubt Macy’s will open any new stores anytime soon, I’ve heard Fed… er, Macy’s Inc. has no interest in doing so for a while.

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  20. Indian Mall’s owners, the Warmack Family, signed its death warrant when they bought it. They NEVER attempted to revitalize it, modernize it or enhance it. They left it as was, too small, too outdated and on its last legs. A stage by stage remodeling, enlargement of stores by reworking its many blank and dead spaces and refurbishment of its exterior would have at least helped it transition when the inevitabile new mall opened. It could have easily become a outlet mall, which would have exploded in popularity here, or combo retail/office space. It was not ever going to survive as “the” mall for the region due to its size constraints and the consraints on the land around it to raise up new out parcel stores. Turtle Creek Mall had the right sight, size and outparcels to support the retail development our city needed. Southern Hills might as well have been named “Womack’s Folly”, it was a size constrained area, off the beaten path and would have caused a major disruption to the main road that feeds the city’s most affluent neighborhoods.
    The eventual purchase of the Indian Mall property by Mr. Bruce Burrow will certainly be a boon to our local economy. Mr. Burrow runs a first class operation and has his pulse on what people want and what they need. He and his company will undoubtedly bring the corner of Carway and Highland back to life, a life that began fading when Warmack and Compant rolled into town many moons ago.

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  21. burrow halsey has finally bought the indian mall…and are planning to build the shoppes at caraland…yay

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  22. Warmack has received a lot of criticism on this site. It is only fair to point out that Warmack was smart enough not to build a big mall at the peak of the real estate bubble. Warmack was also smart enough to sell the decrepit Indian Mall to a guy who was foolish enough to think that Jonesboro could support two malls within a mile of each other. Warmack left Jonesboro with money in his pockets. Burrow is reaping the karma he sowed. If you are waiting for the Shops at Caraland to open, don’t hold your breath.

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  23. in response to jonesboro statement, 6-20-2009, i totally agree with your comments. i think warmack had a great vision with indian mall at the time he built back in the 60′s. i also think that the warmack family sold out at the right time, they used great discernment with that right timing. i also feel that the purchasing party probably bite the big bullet, especially since our economy has been in its downward spiral over the last year(s). good luck to the new owner(s). as i stated, i agree with you in your comment – don’t hold your breath when it comes for that new look.

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  24. Any updates yet on this place? Is it still empty?

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  25. to bobby p.’s questions. no updates yet. still empty and vandalized pretty well. haven’t heard anymore street talk on it.

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  26. The walls of Indian Mall will soon come down!

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  27. i guess that the walls will come down. i guess that the owners sold off enough of his out of town properties and business’ to be able to pull this feet off.

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  28. You should lookup their website on archive.org

    There is a directory you can put on here of the floorplan w/ anchors and everything.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060620022819/http://www.indianmalljonesboro.com/

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    Brock Hyde Reply:

    @Brock Hyde,

    You have to click on the blank white rectangle on the left side.

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  29. I drove by there recently. The mall was finally completely demolished. A sign out front said that a Kroger Marketplace is coming soon.

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