Tri-State Mall; Claymont, Delaware

Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE

With a name like the “Tri-State Mall,” you might expect a major, regional mall out of this Claymont, Delaware center. Of course, you’d also be completely wrong.

The tiny Tri-State Mall on Naaman’s Road in Claymont, Delaware, located right along the Pennsylvania state line, is easily one of the bleakest and most unappealing malls that we’ve visited. While we at Labelscar love the idea of the enclosed mall and find that it’s a rare occasion that we don’t enjoy one of these centers, Tri-State Mall is one of those rare cases where the place feels so forbidding that we’re in a bit of a rush to leave. These pictures, all taken in early August 2007 of the forty-year-old mall, should illustrate why.

Set between some middle class suburban areas to the west and an expanse of oil fields and other industrial areas to the east, the Tri-State Mall is organized in a relatively simple “+” pattern, with one hallway leading straight from the parking lot to a comedy club in the mall’s rear, and a cross hallway leading between Kmart and Value City, the mall’s two anchors. There is also a rather sad little strip mall in the parking lot that’s built into the lot’s grade.

Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE

Apart from the mall’s downright hilarious website–which includes a bunch of small photos that were very obviously NOT taken here–we can’t find very much about the Tri-State Mall on the web. Did the mall ever do any better? What were the original anchors–was something here before Value City?

EDIT 8/13/07: Ask and you shall receive. Michael Lisicky always comes through for us–he had this 1987 photo of the Wilmington Dry Goods store, which occupied the Value City space. He also says the mall was a much bigger draw at that time than it is today. Value City took over the space in 1990. Also, Lisicky says he’s pretty sure that the Kmart was a Grant City store originally.

Wilmington Dry Goods at Tri-State Mall in Claymont, Delaware 1987

Strip mall at Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE Value City at Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE Kmart at Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE

Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE

Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE

166 Responses to “Tri-State Mall; Claymont, Delaware”

  1. This is a kind of mall we won’t mind see going away. Demolish it! Place a Super Target there!

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    Kelly Reply:

    @Jonah Norason, were are u from? are u local? is the Mall being demolished and something going up in its place going to benefit you? see i can’t imagine that u are local because everyone i know kind of likes that mall being there. what do u mean “we” won’t mind seeing it going away? who is this “we” u are referring to? and what makes u think u have to right to speak for anybody else? I would just as much enjoy seeing your house being demolished or even u for that matter, so should that give me the right to speak for everyone saying that “we” as a whole feel that way? u aren’t god and u ain’t the president of the US, u don’t have the right to make calls on something that has meaning to other people, just because u don’t like it. especially considering you aren’t even from here and it don’t effect u one way or the other. remeber the judgement u passed on something based on its cover when one day the same is done to u…….. just sayin.

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  2. That place is downright depressing and to be honest, I never even knew it existed! Much more quiet than Christiana Mall on the other end of 95.

    Speaking of Christiana Mall, they are about to embark on a much needed redevelopment phase with the closing of Strawbridge’s and Lord and Taylor, half their anchor lineup (JCPenney and Macy’s are the remaining anchors). The former Lord and Taylor will become a store called The Epicenter Collection, which is something new for a mall…kind of an internet shopping showroom. Shopping Centers Today has an article about it. The former Strawbridge’s will be Nordstrom…I’m honestly surprised it took them this long to open here…Delaware’s tax free shopping (they make up for it in tolls along 95!) attracts shoppers from 3 different states and the Christiana Mall is extremely visible from 95. With the coming of Nordstrom, the mall will probably be renovated and that probably means the three really cool fountains in this mall will be gone…oh well.

    Back to the Tri-State Mall…definitely the most depressing mall around.

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  3. Before Value City it was the Wilmington Dry Goods, known also as “The Dry”. Its famous anchor store was located on Market St. in downtown Wilmington. “The Dry” joined Kennard’s and Braunstein’s as the anchors of downtown. It was a strange type of markdown store and actually operated more like a Filene’s Basement but was years ahead of its time. No prices were listed on the clothes and had a strict return policy. There were several branches and even found their way into NJ but this one had real odd signage. (If I can find my poor photo of it I’ll post it.) The downtown store closed in the 70s and was quickly demolished. This store, like many Drys, became Value City in the early 90s when the store just overexpanded a little too much.
    I always loved the mall’s water tower. You’d be surprised how many Delaware Valley commuters know that sign.

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    jason Reply:

    @Michael,

    Do you have any other pictures of that mall? Besides the one’s posted on this site. I am trying to gather any info I can on it. Thank you sir!

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    Craig Reply:

    @jason, I took a few last week. If you’re interested I can send them to you.

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  4. Distressed! That sorry scene with the broken “MALL” signs says it all about this place.

    What a sorry little website. I think the mall they stole these pictures from ought to demand they be taken down or perhaps they, even worse, threw up some stock photos…

    Kmart, specifically (or Value City) looks like it might’ve been a W.T. Grant originally. Any idea about the original anchors?

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    Christopher Reply:

    Uh… Actually Kmart used to be W.T Grant. Because Value City used to be the Dry Goods store

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  5. We can’t discuss the Tri-State Mall without mentioning Soul Line. On Comcast in central NJ there is this hypnotic African-American dance show on TV late at night called Soul Line, and at the end they always say come and see us in person at the Tri-State Mall in Delaware. This show has row after row of blacks of all ages and shapes dressed in their most funk-tastic outfits, dancing in unison (sort of) to the music. Makes me want to go to Tri-State mall.

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  6. I don’t know which is more amusing: “Man’s World” or “Yum Yum Bar”

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  7. Wow! I had no idea. That’s certainly a lot more festive than what’s here at the daytime. Do you know where it is in the mall that they do the Soul Line show? Is it in the back where the “Comedy Lounge” is?

    Also, does anyone have any idea what the “Comedy Lounge” was originally? It seems like it was a mini-anchor of some sort.

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    Craig Reply:

    There used to be a movie theater at that end. Last movie I remember seeing there was La Bamba back in ’87. I saw The Natural there in ’84, and Ruly Carpenter, who’s family once owned the Phillies, was there! I used to get my haircut at Man’s World up until the late 80′s. That mall used ot be pretty crowded on the weekends. Thanks!

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  8. Gotta love the name Yum Yum Bar for a mall store!

    As for my opinion of this mall, it unfortunately isn’t a very remarkable mall. To me, this one somehow screams as Delaware’s version of Pierre Moran Mall.

    And BTW, I think it’d be interesting if labelscar eventually did an entry on nearby Christiana Mall, since I’ve always heard(and read) a lot about that mall over the years, since I became a geek interested in malls. :D

    Also, what exactly do I have to do to submit info, pics, etc. about a mall I’d like to profile? Since I think I know a perfectly good mall that exists that I would be interested in profiling for this site(but obviously, I won’t reveal which mall it is, until I submit the info for this site to the webmasters of labelscar). Though keep in mind that I probably won’t be able to get pics of this mall right away onto the site, since I need to make one more trip to this mall to get pics of it(was too chickened out unfortunately, the first time I visited this mall, to get interior pics…. :( ). Thanks to anyone who can help me out on telling me the procedures I need to do next, and I’ll see if at the same time I get pics on this mall I wanna profile, I also can find time someday soon to make a trip to Randhurst Mall to get pics of it, before it gets de-malled.

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    Tom Reply:

    @Allan, wow, its hard to even say anything to someone who has already admitted to being a geek, but do u think u are so perfect that u can drive around and take pics of something that is in ur opinion an eyesore because I can help u with that, u need not look any further than ur own home mirror. my lord some of u people are seriously LOSERS!!!!! u have to much time on ur hands, go get a job, start contibuting to our nation, cause I promise ur presence alone just ain’t cuttin it!

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    Tom Reply:

    @Allan, oh and the YumYum Bar is pretty well known for how good their food is…. and what r u known for…… just sayin.

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  9. After seeing the huge “Tri-State Mall” water tower from I-95, I decided to stop here last year expecting a mall to live up to the grandness of the water tower. The strangest part was that I couldn’t find a restroom anywhere in the mall.

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    Craig Reply:

    @dan-onymous, restroom is in Burlington coat factory

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  10. Hahaha!! Soul Line is absolutely hypnotic (there isn’t any better adjective for it). Wednesday night at 8, you will get hooked … and it’s hard to explain why, you just will. They have huge commercial segways which promote the Tri-State Mall … this is literally 10 minutes away from me, so cool!

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  11. Feet Like Fine Brass???????

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  12. Did some work on Lexis-Nexis on the place, it seems to be fairly crime-ridden. In 1981, a sales clerk was abducted and killed, left in a nearby church parking lot. In 1991, an attempted drug deal led to a murder. There was a lawsuit in 1996 of some slip-and-fall at a Wendy’s there. I found a funny 1999 article about a loitering problem amongst teens there, and it actually claims that the mall was renovated around that time, and was built in 1967. Also around 1999, it appears that a Shoprite was an anchor.

    Otherwise, what an ugly place.

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    Joe Reply:

    @Kelly, I agree with u, we all had some good times there, and have some great memories of it. I hate it when people talk down on what they consider to be the misfortunes of others, especially when its somethin it never occured to us to be a misfortune. thats what makes us real!

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  13. I think the Kmart used to be a Grant City.

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  14. The first pic gives the wrong pic when I click on it, and the 3rd pic doesn’t work at all.

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  15. Now that I’ve seen the WDGoods sign, I think I see a bit of labelscar under Value City’s logo…

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  16. There was also a Dry Goods in Dover across the highway from the old Blue Hen Mall. It’s now a Value City as well. When I was growing up we always shopped in Wilmington at the old Wannamaker’s ouitside of the city, but I recall being in Dry Goods a number of times, and the toy department was in the back right corner and they always had the best shit. When PeeWee’s Playhouse was big they had everything imagineable (I dont know why that sticks out). The Blue Hen Mall, though, is something else. For a mall that has been dead for 15 years, it is a relic to behold. I was in the old mall a few months ago and I took some pictures before I was hustled out by some 108 year-old security guard.

    It had a gigantic Woolworths with the nice (relatively speaking) restaurant attached (not the food counter). Most of the store fronts are still intact actually … it’s now used as a corporate center — the old Penney’s store is now an Aetna call center and the old Woolco/Roses was a Nation’s Bank office.

    Does anyone else remember the Blue Hen Mall??

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    sean Reply:

    @ccmoore, i remember the blue hen mall…and used to work in the dry goods across the street while in high school! ah, memories.

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  17. Yes! I remember the Blue Hen Mall in Dover. It also contained a small branch of the Wilmington-based Kennard-Pyle (Kennard’s) department store. Blue Hen didn’t have a large Kennard’s but it had a presence there.

    The old Wanamakers in Wilmington was a great store. It was architectually beautiful. I’m glad I was able to photograph it before it ended. If you shopped in Wilmington was Merchandise Mart (or Merchant’s Square) before your time? That was Wilmington’s true shopping center, along with Price’s Corner, and was anchored by a great Strawbridge & Clothier store. The whole large center sits there decaying, as it has been, for almost 30 years. It’s visible from 495. Centers like the Tri-State Mall with the Dry Goods hurt this mega-center back in the late 60s but Concord Mall was the last straw. Though it is not an enclosed mall it is a labelscar to the max and it is a massive retail graveyard. I have one photograph from the late 80s and not much has changed.

    If I get to Dover sometime soon, Blue Hen Mall here I come.

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  18. I remember Merchant’s Square too. I dont recall if I was ever in that Strawbridge’s or not but it’s all still there … and dead as well. When I send Jason my Blue Hen Mall pics, I’ll send the MErchant’s Square pics too. I got some amazing shots of the inside of the CineMart through abroken window. It’s like something from a movie (no pun intended).

    Michael, have you ever posted the Wannamaker’s pics??? If not, you should share, that store was designed by the firm that designed the Pentagon. I drive by it every day on my way to work, it’s the coolest building in Wilmington, I think.

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  19. No mall could ever be in great shape if they have a loan or check cashing place. This mall must be three times as bad … I counted three of these places from the pictures – Advance America Cash Advance, United Check Cashing, and ABC Title Loans. I definitely agree with the first commenter – just demolish it already and put a Super Target in its place.

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    Jen Reply:

    @Tricky Nicky, what the hell do u care? I live around here and that Mall has some really good memories for us. We happen to want it to stay, why is it any of ur concern whether it stays or goes?

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    Tom Reply:

    @Tricky Nicky, actually some of us in this area hate Target, so should we put one there just to please u? why don’t u just find a hole to disappear into please me?

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  20. There seems to be a real push for a Super Target here but I’m not sure, at this location, it would make the best business sense. I love Target but that’s meant for Rt. 202.

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  21. Can any Delaware natives confirm if there’s still a vacant Caldor in Wilmington?

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    Craig Reply:

    @XISMZERO, It was turned into a Home Depot on Miller Rd

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    Kelly Reply:

    @XISMZERO, nope they went out of business long, long ago, the are wal marts in almost every location there were Caldors. I don’t know why they went outta business cause it was years and years before any wal mart came around here. I was a kid then but I’ve heard they were expensive and didn’t have a large selection.

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  22. Can you be more specific? There was a Caldor in Newark, and it sat vacant for a long, long time. It was turned into a BJ’s maybe 3 years ago. There was also a Caldor in Dover.

    I’m not sure about Wilmington, though.

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  23. Wow. Absolutely pathetic and hilarious. To hell with putting a Super Target here, this should stand as the national memorial to retail failure. That’s just unbelievable. Check cashing, wigs, dark hallways, a K-Mart…there’s a recipe for mall success!

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  24. Is Yum Yum Bar a store? What do they sell? I want to drink and look at a K-Mart!

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  25. I would like to know who owns the Tri State Mall? Can any one tell me?????????

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  26. Yum Yum Bar does appear like a restaurant. It has seats and booths.

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  27. I think “Rosen Properties” owns the mall, at last check.

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  28. Oh wow, the Tri-State. I visit some friends in the Claymont area from time to time and I made the mistake of driving into this hellhole’s parking lot thinking it might be a real mall and I could get lunch there. That has to be the biggest dump of a shoppign center I have ever seen. I took one look from my car and never even turned it off.

    Right now there’s actually a huge haunted house attraction set up in the part of the lot nearest to Namanns Road. They should really just gut the place, or firebomb it after everyone’s out, and move on. That particular part of Deleware is a deadzone for retail. Let it bcome an annex to the refinery or something.

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  29. Wow, I found this site from DeadMalls.com and just had to comment on the very 1st mall from my memory. I lived in Claymont with my family from 1972 to 1979 and back then this mall was hopping. In no particular order

    1. It should have been named the Borderline Mall instead of TriState because it does straddle the 2 states so closely but because it was so dinky. No more than 3-4 stores at most and then the fountain in the center. I fail to see how people from Jersey could have gotten to the Mall unless they were willing to drive 20-30 to the Delaware Memorial and up 95 and when you drive that distance what’s the attraction.

    2. The “Mall” sign has been up since the ’70′s so therefore most likely since the opening. The reason being is that the Tri-State had a traditional non-enclosed shopping area on the other side of Wilmington Dry Goods so the sign for the Mall differentiated from the enclosed and non-enclosed areas.

    3. The fact that the water tower has no graffiti on it is both amusing and astounding. When we visted friends and relatives in the Delaware Valley from 1979-1992 there was ALWAYS graffiti on the water tower with one exception in 1989 I think. The graffiti was there in the ’70′s as well.

    4.The parking lot is so outsized for the amount of shopping space available. as to be laughable. Of course the mall was built on a hill so that explains that.

    5. There used to be a Kinney Shoes where the Payless Shoe Source is and a WSFS branch right in front of what was then the Eric cinemas and is now the comedy club. There were no payday loan outfits there back in the ’70′s BTW. A healthy flow of all types of shoppers were in the mall during all shopping hours.
    There was a Grant store in there before the K-mart moved into the mall as well.

    6. I haven’t been back to the area since 1992 but the decline of the mall is emblematic of the decline of the area as well. I have lived all over the country and while the decline of Tri-State was predictable. Bannister Mall is the most shocking to me along with Metcalf Square in metro KC

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  30. The “Comedy Lounge” used to be a movie theatre. First Sameric owned it, then United Artists bought it, and then it was owned by one or two mom-and-pop chains before it closed completely in or after 1994.

    Believe it or not, that dump of a mall used to be hopping. The K-Mart and Dry Goods used to attract a lot of shoppers from PA seeking tax-free merchandise, and the movie theatre was a big draw as well. There were also lots of little specialty shops that did well, like the Hong Kong Shop, Keys ‘N Things, and the Tobacco Barrel.

    I worked at the movie theatre in the late 80′s, when I was a teenager and young adult. The mall was declining then, but it was luxed out compared to what it looks like now. At least there were still stores, including the ones I mentioned above, in all those empty spaces.

    To heck with a SuperTarget. I want to see a COSTCO put there!

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  31. I grew up outside philly and I remember going to this mall a few times in what I *think* was the late 80s. What I remember the most was this awesome (in my memory anyway) knife shop, fairly close to the entrance I think, because I know we didn’t have to walk far to get there. I say knife shop, but I almost certain they sold more than just knives, but my adolescent brain must have ignored anything not sharp and/or pointy there.

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  32. Joe: That was probably the Hong Kong Shop. They sold all kinds of Asian-themed stuff there, including knives, numchucks, Chinese stars, and the like.

    The Hong Kong Shop was really cool; that mall did have a few neat little niche stores like that one before it went completely downhill.

    I’m still hoping for my Costco! I hate having to drive all the way to Christiana.

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  33. Teresa Rothaar: No, it wasn’t an Asian-them store, by knives I mean “real” knives like Vintrox, Leatherman, and Buck. Knives you would actually use to cut things.

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  34. Obviously Big Kmart isn’t the true hypermarket, it was one of the Big Ks Kmart halfheartedly converted from regular Kmarts. It obviously must be one of those depressing Kmarts without automatic doors.

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  35. In the mid to late 70′s there was a Pantry Pride across from the Levitz. I wonder what supermarket (if any) it is now? One question to anyone in the area: On the other side of Levitz furniture was a ‘Kiddie City’. I imagine it became a Toys R Us. What became of it?

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    Craig Reply:

    @JoeW, Kiddie City became a kitchen cabinet store within the past 10 years.

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    442w30 Reply:

    @JoeW, Craig

    The market that replaced Pantry Pride off Marsh Road was Thriftway, so I assume that’s what happened at Tri-State too, although I didn’t remember there was a market there till mentioned now.

    However, the toy store was Kiddie World, which also was on Concord Pike, Kirkwood Highway and, possibly, somewhere in Dover too.

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  36. XISMZERO:

    As someone said, there was a Caldor in Newark and Dover. There were indeed two in the Wilmington Area which opened around 1992:

    One was on Centerville Road between Price’s Corner shopping center and the GM Manufacturing plant (off Delaware 141 near Kirkwood Highway). It became a fairly nice K-Mart after Caldor closed, but closed during their restructuring. (I guess a nice, clean K-Mart is too expensive to maintain.) Then it sat empty for a while, eventually being gutted for Wal-Mart.

    The other Caldor was in north Wilmington on Miller Road. It briefly became Ames in 2000, even though they were struggling at the time! It is now a Home Depot I believe?

    None of the stores were built by Caldor, but were remodeled buildings left vacant by other chains. The location in Newark at the former Castle Mall opened around 1995 I think. It had been a long-empty K-Mart (which had moved up the road to College Square to take a spot left empty by Bradlees around 1989). The Newark location was spacious for Caldor, and was my favorite big box retailer. The Prices Corner Caldor location MIGHT have been a Bradlees or Jamesway. I don’t know anything about the Miller Road Wilmington location’s history. It may have previously been Jamesway as well?

    All the northern Delaware/Wilmington locations have since been remodeled into new stores, so there are no skeletal Caldors left. I should also add that Caldor did very well in this area. Neither Target nor Wal-Mart had arrived in northern Delaware, Jamesway was gone, and Ames and K-Mart were both lacking.

    Hope that helps. I really miss Caldor. :-(

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  37. Joe,
    your right about the kinfe shop. I believe it was just inside the main entrance, on the right. The Hong Kong shop was towards the theater. There was also a great pet shop that once had a gorilla for sale and a great record store (Wow”record” store, really showing my age). The middle of the mall had a Fanny Farmer candy store, a jewerly store, Stride Rite and some kind of snack bar (not Yum Yum). Across from the pet store, there was the Carridge House resturaunt and an ice cream shop.
    The movie theater was pretty nice once, but went down hill after spliting into 4 screens.This mall was really nice at one time. Every Christmas, it was the first place decorated and Santa was there at all times. They had a Silo appliance shop in the lower section, a real nice chinese joint and I believe the Pantry Pride became a Pick and Save. Further down was the Kiddie City/Toys R Us.

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  38. This mall is str8-up GHETTO. While we were there it became clear that the Value City is closing down. My husband say on the internet that it might become a Burlington, but if it does I’d say that’s a corporate mistake for Burlington.

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  39. I was an assistant manager at the Wilmington Dry Goods store in Dover DE in the late 70′s. It was something else. All transactions were cash or check. We had a huge business of Amish customers. There was even a row in front of the store dedicated to horse and buggys with a water and hay triogh. I would love to see some pictures of that if anyone has those. When we bought goods for the store, we always bought Arrow white shirts, black, gray or blue Haggar slacks and lots of dark bolt fabrics for the ladies. Another memory was that every morning before we opened, all personell would come to the front of the store and listen to a recording of “The Stat Spangled Banner.” I was told the owner was a Russian Immigrant and thought “America was the best place on eath to live!”

    I remember the Yum Yum shop in the mall as a candy store that had lots of jelly beans (pre Reagan) and nickle candy.

    Great memories!

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    Mark Reply:

    @Steve Whitman,

    I remember you! You were one of my bosses! You are still around? How is the wife?Any kids?

    Yeah, me and C, maried,divorced, and such is life!

    Have you heard from anyone else? You know before Burlington took over,we had our share of tragedy too.

    Barb,from receivng was killed, remember that?

    More sad memories of a time long long ago…

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  40. They should tear the entire mall down and upen a Costco, Target and Wal-Mart, keep the Kmart thought, it seems to be making great business

    (What the hell is a Yum Yum Bar! Sounds perverted!!! :()

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    Christopher Reply:

    I agree with ya to Ed. Of cource I want that stupid mall teared down and replaced with a Costco, Target and Wal-Mart. In fact I think they should keep the Kmart too. But there are some other stores that should stay like Value City,Yum Yum Bar and Man’s World so keep those stores too PLEASE DO THAT!!

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    Christopher Reply:

    Ed, what else do ya wanna put

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  41. i have lived in claymont for 30+ years. tri-state mall was a great place even through the mid/late 80s. i have some terrific kid memories from that place. every store was in use up to the late 80s. movie theatre was great, there was a lounge/billiards in the back corner, shoe stores, chess king(haha), toy store, book stores, arcade, and lots of weird, stereotypical 70s/80s mall-type novelty stores. the yum yum bar was half candy store, half roller-rink style snack bar. geez…i have dreams about that place….oh well. i hate all the talk about knocking it down. it could be a really cool relic if some businesses were really serious about investing in it. open the movie theatre back up, fill the retail space back up, and ditch the friggin loan/check-cashing place, and the crappy k-mart and value city. beefed up security would be a must though. claymont is still predominately a respectable blue-collar town, but a few bad neighbourhoods, and some seriously worthless imports from chester, pa present issues with theft, loitering and vandalism. like i said though, invest in some worthwhile security, which the mall has not. people would come:) wish i had a couple hundred million dollars to invest.

    by the way, someone asked about what happened to the kiddie-world toy store next door. it was abandoned for quite some time, was turned into a cabinet/kitchen/bath outlet, and that now looks like it’s on the way out. all things must pass….it’s sad. no more knockin the tri-state around here:) it means a lot to some of us.

    by the way, the pictures on tri-state’s site really are of the mall, just in much better days long ago. adios.

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  42. btw, steve whitman, i’d love to chat and trade mall stories if you’re interested. i have been thinking about trying to get ahold of some old pictures and maybe trying to do anarticle in the news journal about the place. let me know.

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  43. The best was when someone went on the big water tower and doctored the Tri state Mall to say TRI STATE MALE.

    I briefly worked at the flower shop owned by Manny Klein and also at the Wendys (1.85 hour)

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    Catherine in Tulsa Reply:

    @Barbie,

    I remember the Tri State Male! OMG – and it stayed like that for a long time. We lived in Chi and went to Tri State Mall or Concord – then Christiana opened up and everyone went there. I was just telling a friend about Kiddie City and that’s how I found this site.

    I liked taking the stairs from WDG down to the back area. It seemed weird, as a kid. My bedroom furniture as a kid was from that Levitz.

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    442w30 Reply:

    @Catherine in Tulsa,

    You mean Kiddie World?

    I think Kiddie City was a regional chain in the Northeast, while Kiddie World was a Delaware chain. There was one Kiddie City but I don’t remember where it was – certainly too far for Mom to drive from northern Wilmington! I remember Kiddie World by the Tri-State Mall, Concord Pike, Kirkwood Highway and, possibly, one in Dover on the way to the beach.

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  44. Does anyone know what year the Tri State Mall was opened and what the original stres were then?

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  45. I am looking for the year that the Tri State Mall was opened and the names of the original stores that were there then. Does anyone know? Does anyone have any old pictures of the mall also?

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  46. Village Records was at the rear, next to the movies (where I saw Star Wars when it was first released). The record store had two rooms, records in the front and a black light room at the back, where they sold posters. The back room ended up full of pinball machines and it was a great place to hang out. There was a bookstore too on the arm towards the west anchor.

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  47. Grew up in Wilmington in the 80s and went to the movie theater there sometimes. One day there was an article in the paper about a shooting at that mall and my mom forbade me from ever going there again!

    I didn’t miss it.

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  48. I remember the mall and specifically village records, pet store, friends used to work at the orange bowl and pocket on the side all the $$$ they could, Hash was cheep thiose days, Claymont class of 79. Tina used to discount my movie tickets. It is a sad commentary to have gone back there some time ago (many years) and witnessed such a depressing decline. One of the reasons I rarely venture north of Boca Raton! The confluence of Brookview (“Crookview”) and the ever declining corridor from Philly/Chester to Wilmington, how could one not one see the demise. For those of you wishing to see a costco or anything of substance taking its place, don’t nold your breath. Having been on the development side of commercial RE, “it’s ain’t gonna happen” in REIT speak. My suggestion, bull doze and plow, then sow salt into the wounded earth and hope that nothing of such evil can ever sprout its seed again.

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  49. Found this site . . . I lived in Wilmington till my family moved around 1987 and I was in high school. Claymont had a pretty poor reputation even then, as it was pretty much white trash and so forth. My family used to go to the Dry Goods on occasion, and they had one of the Kiddie Worlds there too. I believe there was a Jamesway that I can remember looking at Steve Martin records but my mom wouldn’t let me buy them.

    In high school, the mall was the place to go to get pipes to smoke some herb, but otherwise there wasn’t any good reason to go there – it was a depressed area and I was less disadvantaged in comparison. I bet there was a lot of loitering by undesirables at that point, but I had just gotten my license and wanted to drive all around town.

    Anyone remember the water tower where someone climbed all the way up and spray painted a segment on the “MALL” so it read “Tri State Male”?

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    Kelly Jameson Minnick Reply:

    @442w30
    I grew up in Claymont, graduated from Claymont High School in 1983, lived along Philadelphia Pike/Darley Rd. Walked past Phoenix Steel to the tri-state mall when didn’t have ride. My step father was a New Castle Co cop. I had great times at the mall w/friends from Brookview. My mother would take me shopping to get my Jordache jeans and other designer jeans at the mall that were so popular at the time. I would hardly consider myself nor my friends as “WHITE TRASH”!! WEwere not even aware of “pipes” that could be purchased we were too busy shopping, getting slices of pizza, going to movies! Were there questionable areas or ppl? Sure, but that’s EVERYWHERE! I find you to be a very narrowminded, offensive, bitter individual who needs to get off that high horse that you are on. Perhaps you need look no further than your mirror for that white trash! This white trash you refer to could out class you in a New York minute!,

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    442w30 Reply:

    @Kelly Jameson Minnick,

    Cry me a river.

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  50. “Feet Like Fine Brass”. That sounds kind of perverted too (it is in the mall directory).

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  51. 442w30

    I would caution you against labeling any one area as “white trash and so forth” not only because it demeans others but it demeans you as well. I haven’t lived in Claymont since 1979 so I will not contest that there probably is an undesirable element that lives in places like Brookview (R.I.H) or Knollwood. I also know firsthand that there were (and remain) decent people living in Claymont who may be trapped for lack of a better word, and they are the ones whom you demeaned as “white trash”. Their future given the undesirables that seem to be spreading is probably questionable at best. Very sad and their fate is shared by many in declining suburbs all around the country. The Claymont I remember from the 70′s had regular carnivals,little league and parades. Just like any other suburb in Delaware or the country.

    But this blog is about the Tri State Mall and since you knew that pipes could be procured there it only confirms your assessment of the relatively poor lowbrow nature of Claymont. Please please don’t paint every area with such a broad brush. Not everyone is “white trash” or even white for that matter.

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    442w30 Reply:

    @Joe,

    Well, it’s 4 years later and what do I find?

    Sorry that you don’t like my interpretation of socio-economic depression. Next time I’ll be less honest in the interest of keeping things sanitized for all.

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  52. Look, i’v been qoinq to tri-state mall my whole life. im young but that mall means alot to me and alot of other people. especially when thats all you really know and its convienient.
    Now theres a comedy lounge, lady blue and city blue namebrand clothing stores, mans world suits and hair cuts, kims nail salon [which i go to every 2 weeks to get my nails done], 3 furniture places , rug expo, venus wigs, rainbow womans clothing store, kmart, a book store, yum yum bar,jenos mens clothing, tabacco outlet, payless, another new womans clothing store and theres about to be a burlington coat factory where value city used to be. levits is closed down and where the wendys used to be is closed down also and looks abandoned but who cares. leave the tri state mall alone. if you dont want to shop there then dont but people like me still do

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  53. There’s a sign for burlington coat factory at the mall. I think it was put up recently (last 2 weeks) or I have just been blind for the past few years. Any ideas? is burlington taking over the value city spot?

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  54. Feet Like Fine Brass and Yum Yum Bar MUST be owned by the same weirdo! K-mart seems to be making fabulous business, am surprise they didnt close it when Sears bought the chain (Or vice versa, i never knew anyway) i remember seem Kmart one day in my hometown, next day it was close, next day the entire plaza became a Lowes!

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  55. Comcast Cablevision down on Rt. 13 occupies the space that used to house Gaylords. And the Wal-Mart that used to be a KMart that was a Caldor used to also be or be adjacent to a grocery store called Plus. I was going to these stores when I was 5 & 6, but I remember. Funny what the brain can recall, isn’t it? I can’t remember what I did over the weekend on a Monday morning, but I can tell you all the stores that used to make up the New Castle Square Mall in 1987 and wher they were located. Hooray for Up N’ Down and Cheryl’s Sky Lounge!

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  56. Tri-State Mall was not always a “bad” place to go. I lived in Claymont from ’81 to ’95 and was 4 when I moved in. My mother used to go shopping at the Wilmington Dry Goods store – it stayed open a lot longer than the Strawbridge and Clothier down at Merchant’s Square on Gov. Printz. (BTW, that Strawbridge closed because the one at Concord Mall opened.) The Merchant’s Square area was just beginning to “go” at that point…

    Anyway, as discussed, you had two levels to the mall. The downstairs level has always had a food store – when I lived there it was Thriftway, but I think it changed hands even while I was still there. Also on the downstairs level was a Silo (before they went belly up in mid-’95), a decent looking Chinese Restaurant (want to say it was Great China but cannot remember for sure, I do remember the glass front and chandeliers they had inside, looked nice if you were a kid), a bank, and some other stores that escape me. Down in the lower parking lot there was a Wendy’s and a Goodyear. (There was a staircase that let you walk from the lower level up and into the Dry Goods Store above – I checked the Value City for that last time I was in town a year ago and it’s been boarded up from upstairs.)

    On the upper level you had all the other stuff. I don’t remember what the K-Mart was – I think it may have always been a K-Mart. The only thing I was usually interested in was the Eric 5 Theater there all the way in the back (where the Comedy Lounge is now). The only movie I can definitely remember seeing there “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in 1989.

    The other stores I don’t remember too well. I know the bookstore had one of the largest porn magazine collections in the Tri-State area. There was an arcade that I remember during the late 80s. Someone else mentioned the “Hong Kong” store – I remember that too, I made a few purchases there myself. There was also a “Venus Wigs” store on the “front” side of the mall approaching the K-Mart.

    I don’t remember exactly what shop it was, but I remember in the late 80s a house in the Radnor Woods (aka Radnor Green) subdivision was burned down by the Chinese Mafia to try and kill a guy. They killed his wife and children, but he was out of town…anyway, the guy had a store in the mall – it might have been a beauty goods shop or something.

    Good memories of my hometown.

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  57. I live 5 mins away from this so called “Mall” since I was one years old. Back in the day this was the place to go ! I remember always walking to kiddie world and the tri-state mall with my mother was I was little and if i was good we would get a pretzel from the orange bowl. The employees were always pleasent, unlike today ,you go to Kmart and it seems like it is so hard for the cashier to say “thank You” or “have a nice day” I remeber it was safe to play the games at the marry house and run right next door to the tabbacco barrel to get a candy bar without your parents being on top of you.People respected other people and carried themselves in a decent manner. Todays soiecty has changed and it is unpleasent to shop and hang around…the nigs took over being loud, hanging out, making rude comments, gathering out front in groups to smoke, blaring their jungle music, and giving cold stares. I do not shop at any of the stores what so ever. I am very fortunate I have transportation to shop at the concord mall and Target.I pray that I stay fortunate or else it leaves me no choice but to take that 5 min walk to get the things I need.I would like to see them give my children those good ol’ memories and update it with another movies thearter, video games,another fast food joint like mc d’s or wendys again, magazines and books, and put in a mall restroom…but I can not see that happening…you give a nice mall to an area of low class people who will not respect it …i can see writting on the bathroom walls, ghetto employees not cleaning the bathroom, crackhead kids running around trashing up the bathroom and being as ghetto as they can get hanging on the games and not playing them, low class employees working at the fast food resturant and loud as they can be and dirty.K-mart’s shelf are always a mess and not stocked. There ussually is only two cash registers open.how sad. They jack up their prices due to the shoplifters.I peronally think the place I would visit would be Tabbacco Express it is on your left as soon as you go in.make that a one stop in and get out quick. The employees are ussually nice. I don’t know though seems like the idians are taking over it ? As far as I can remember it looks like Jo-ann’s Fabrics is the last original store still there and that place is a dump too and their lines move terriably slow…I rather shop at Micheals. Yep thats where us crafty down to earth ladies want to shop, right next to the sound of tri-state gang banging loud thumping radios.Yuck has anyone even walk into that china resturant…it looks dirty. Heck the whole mall looks dirty…fix it up or tear it down and if they ever plan to fix it up….they need decent managers and store owners who hire decent pleasent clean, quiet ,hard working emplyees who care about their workplace who want to make their store look presentable and have customers feel comfortable, pleased with prices and want to come back. The nigs seem to not understand we are the ones who give them a job/paycheck…no customers mean no need to work.

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    Sbayley(Blake) Reply:

    @1980′s kid, OMG You had to Mention the Orange Bowl, That place had the best Pizza!! this site brings back some really good memories, Everything in Claymont that was there when i was Kid is gone, I grew up in Brookview and That gone,the only thing thats still around is the Stone School on Philadelphia Pike and Claymont Steak. I go to tri-state mall once in a while to Shop at Burlington(use to be Wilmington Dry goods, then Value City) Not the mall it use to be i can tell you that.

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  58. This mall needs to be updated and more rent-a-cops.

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  59. If anyone knew how to do history on the mall, which apparently not… The nail parlor that is in the mall now, was the Ice cream parlor, the comedy lounge was a movie theatre that smoke bombs were being thrown into the bathroom, The 212 lounge was the Merry House, City blue was a pet shop, lady blue was The YE Old Tobacco barrel, the recent place where kids came to see santa was WSFS, the bed store on the inside corner across from the payless was a Gordons Jewelers, The book store was a Pizza place, The clothing store next to Kmart was for T-shirt printing, I forget what the dance place was but the Tilte loans was Venus wigs, and for the nit wit who thought otherwise the Pizza place and the Yum Yum bar were owned by the same person. All businesses were doing excellent business and the mall thrived with People and Jobs and for the information. Dollar world which is now Tobacco express(same owner) was first a vidoe game store as in walk in and put your quarter in and play. Now for the genius who thought the mall was garbage and not worth it, It was do to prior mall management. The mall manager now is a hard worker and does a great job with what he has to work with at hand. Now unless you have something else negative and nothing better than to send half ass photographers to take bad shots of the mall, then realize finally that you have too much time on your hands and get a life.

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  60. Harsh!

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  61. The reason Tri-State Mall is so bad is when the sun goes down, don’t be cuaght any where near it. From drugs to prostitutes to violence plauges that area. So many people where killed in gang fights over the last 20 years it just collapsed. They use to be a pretty OK mall compared to Christiana. It even had a awesome movie theater at one time to to many people were killed in it.

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  62. I go by the sad tri-state mall on my way home from work,It was always a bad mall………..when I was a kid in the 70′s the rear entrance to dry goods smelled like piss and hobos were always around by the escalaters.The criminals from Chester,Marcus Hook ,Trainer and Wilmington loved that place……………., I hope they level that place and plant lots of trees and forget there ever was a cheezy dirty run down mall.

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  63. Tri State sucks! Clear that spot for a Super Walmart

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  64. Tear that place down; put a Walmart place in its place. I don’t like TriState Mall one bit. I also don’t like the policy that teenagers can’t hang out at Christiana Mall on weekends; I’m also boycotting that place. I love hanging at Concord Mall. I think the teenagers should visit the skating rinks or the bowling alleys if they want to have fun.

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  65. With respect I must ask those clamoring for a Super Walmart to arise from the destruction of the Tri-State Mall, what makes you think the same elements that destroyed the Tri-State Mall would not destroy a SuperWalmart and whatever else might be built on the property just like they did the Tri-State?

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  66. Wal-Mart has cameras and off-duty policemen shopping there but most importantly brings new development that will deter crime…

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  67. I WAS TAKING QUAALUDES AND CLIMBED THE WATER TOWER AND SPRAY PAINTED TRI STATE MALE. THIS ACT WAS THE MOST FAMOUS THING I HAVE EVER DONE, EVEN THOUGH ONLY AL TURKS AND GREGG SHALLUS WITNESSED IT, MOST OF CHICHESTER HIGH SCHOOL DOESN’T BELIEVE ME.

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  68. BCF took over the Value City spot as part of one buying the other. I’m surprised BCF wanted it…

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  69. I seem to recall that the Tri State would have opened up sometime between 1970 and 1972. Possibly before, I can’t be real sure.
    Having grown up in Claymont and lived in Brookview, (aka Crookview) and worse neighborhoods, I can personally vouch for Claymont being a rather sketchy place.
    Years later, sometime in the late ’80′s or early ’90′s, I wound up back in Claymont and took my current wife on a walking tour of all the hangouts of my youth, like the Tri State Mall. It seemed that everywhere had some violent event either in the past, or currently in the news, having just recently occurred. For example on that trip, my former mother in law had just been savagely beaten and robbed taking the night drop from George’s Bar to the bank. My wife did not appreciate my little trip down memory lane and was pretty anxious to just get the heck out of Claymont & never return.
    Heck, I grew up there, and that’s how I feel about the place, too.

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    Glenn Reply:

    @Bob J, Hey Bob You just repeated my same story minus the mother in law at Georges….Glenn

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  70. With regard to “Feet Like Fine Brass”, I just HAD to Google it to see where such a phrase came from. Apparently, it’s from the book of Revelations, 1:15 “And His feet were like unto fine brass as if they burned in a furnace and his voice as the sound of many waters…”

    Wierd name for a store, though.

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  71. [...] This is the page we’re taking this from, please check. [...]

  72. OMG!!. Tri State Mall. My mom use to drive from PA to buy her cheap smokes and beer for my dad. I think i started smoking on one of those rides down. I would walk around that mall for hours w/ my BF Jamie, and to this day i can’t tell you what stores were in there besides the Dry Goods. Korvettes maybe? Anyway, I stopped going down there after some drunk A-hole tried to grope me. Do that to a 15 year old today and they toss away the key.

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  73. Tri-state mall used to be a very different place about 15 years ago. The mall had better stores and was in much better condition. I live about 20 minutes from the mall (my mom used to take me there all the time when I was younger). As the area around the mall went downhill, the popularity of the mall went along with it. I have not been to the mall since I was about 10 and I live rather close. It’s just not really a safe place to go anymore. It’s rather sad to see those pictures, when I remember it so differently.

    P.S.
    The Yum Yum Bar wasn’t a store. It was like a small restaurant with the BEST hot dogs and cheese fries.

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  74. i’m calling bull-shit on “tri-state male’s” claim that he “spray-painted” the last L to make the word male out of mall. granted, this did happen, just about every year from my earliest memory of living right across the way from the tower. but it wasn’t spray-painted for sure. those letters are like 10 feet high or more, and they are a good height above the walkway on the tower. whoever repeatedly did this had the necessary equipment that would have been required to paint the whole word. it was an excellent and clever bit of vandalism, and tri-state male should be ashamed of taking credit for such memorable event.

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  75. oh my god, is that what’s left!?! was there the opeining day for the opeining of the w.t.grant discount dept. store and the wilmington dry goods store. there also were 4 or 5 movie theatres at the time and the place drew a lot from the people of marcus hook and chester because delaware didn’t have a sales tax. on the other side of the highway (I-95) there was a woolco department store in a strip mall with a mr. pizza and a howard johnson near naaman’s road. the hilton hotel opened shortly along the side with woodstream and greentree apartments. tri-state mall was always depressing even when new. you went to the dry and grants and after they went belly up the first k-mart in delaware opened.

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  76. Wow, Kmart didn’t get to Delaware until 1976-77? I thought for sure they had already had established a store everywhere by then.

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  77. I have fond memories of shopping at the Tri-State mall with my grandparents when I was a kid. Before Christiana mall opened up, they would take me to the Concord Mall, Prices Corner, Park City in PA or other local places. Spent a lot of time in both the Dry Goods and K-Mart as a kid sifting through toys, and I remember kiddie world distinctly!

    The had coin-operated video games out in the mall commons and I remember playing Atari football, Sea Wolf, Battlezone, Space Invaders and Pacman when it came out.

    I know that K-Mart was there at least in ’75 which is as far back as I can remember…I was just a little tyke at the time, and it was very well run and fun to shop. The Hong Kong shop and record store took up more of my time when I got a bit older, and for some reason I always make a sort of subliminal association with that mall and Bruce Lee. Must have been the restaurant and the Hong Kong shop and the general “70′s feel” to the place.

    The movie theater was nice back in the day, and movies that I watched there included “Empire Strikes Back”, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Gung Ho”, and “Runaway” amongst others. When I reached my later High School years in the late 80′s, the mall was in definite decline and I lived close to the Christiana Mall anyway. Going there at night was dangerous and whenever I needed to go I was always out before dusk. To many loiterers and gang-types hanging around outside for my comfort.

    I’ll always have fond memories of shopping and especially the Chinese restaurant, which my grandparents would treat me to once in while. Looking at the Chinese characters on the menu made me want to study an Asian language and are in no small part responsible for me living in Asia this day.

    It would be sad to see the mall taken down, but I don’t see how it could be resurrected and I don’t think it’s safe enough to take my family to see when we come back to visit. As someone else said, all things must pass but it will remain in my memories forever especially when I remember my grandfather.

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  78. I grew up in Claymont and from at least 1960 on it was a very tough place. The Tri-State mall was most notorious for the car thefts from its parking lot. In fewer than twenty minutes your vehicle could go from being parked there to being in a Chester, PA chop shop. I am not aware that the police ever found in tact a single car stolen from there.

    I took my young cousin to the cinema (I believe there were originally three or four of them ) there about 1978, when the mall was about ten years old. Hearing the audio was virtually impossible: teenagers chased each other up and down the aisles yelling and laughing throughout the whole show. The ushers who worked there looked terrified, and spent most of their time pushing trash barrels around, acting busy so as not to have to confront anybody.

    The Mall should have been named the Bi-State Mall, because there was no reason for anybody from New Jersey to drive over to it; the bridges were not close.

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  79. The original configuration had two theaters, which was a big deal
    at the time. They were Eric 1 and Eric II. Saw original Stars Wars three or four times.

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  80. When I was a kid I used to visit the Tri-State Mall literally every other day.My Mommom ((GOD REST HER SOUL)) would bank at the WSFS then we’d venture down to the Tabacco Barrel and she’d play lottery and buy scratch off ticket after scratch off ticket.I’d get 2 hand full of quarters and went next door to the Merry House and played the car game that was on your right as soon as you walked in the door.Sometimes I’d go in the back room and play some of the other games back there but there was always older guys playing at the pool table in there on Saturdays so I never went that far in on the weekends.That car racing game was so awesome.In my teenage years I worked at Dollar World ((which is now Tabacco Express)) and My Pizza ((I think that place is now a African store of some sort)) the mall was still busy on the weekends then and that was in 1999.My whole life I’ve only lived 5 minutes from the Tri-State Mall.They have a Save-A-Lot where the Thirtway used to be sometimes I go over there to buy a few things and to stop at the movie store over there that always has new releases before any other store has them.I’d be really upset if the knocked that mall down some of my fondest memories from my childhood are there..I do wish that they’d do s

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  81. omething nice with it though so it can be what it once was.
    That mall deserves something.

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  82. I grew up and still live (in Pennsylvania) about 2 miles from Tri-State Mall and back in the 1970s and early 1980s my parents often shopped there. I remember many people (including my late brother) referring to th Dry Goods as the “Dry Rots” since they seemed to sell a lot of inferior quality and defective merchandise. Almost everytime I got a 45 rpm record there, it always skipped when I played it and my mom would end up taking it back. I also remember my dad saying that he came across a pair of pajama bottoms with one leg! Anyway, I have many fond memories of the Tri-State Mall. After I got my very first job in 1985, I used to go there every weekend to pick up stuff for my dad at K-Mart and bought MANY records and tapes at Village Records! I also bought my first CD player (along with many other stereo components) at Silo. The Hong Kong shop was another favorite of mine, in fact I was friendly with a couple of the ladies who worked there during the mid to late 1980s as they became to know me for stopping by almost every weekend. I believe they were the ones who died in a house fire as mentioned earlier by Chief. Some of the stores I remember at Tri-State Mall during the mid 1980s (enclosed portion): Rite Aid, Book/Card Shop (both next to K-Mart), Orange Bowl, Man’s World (clothing store and barbershop), Hong Kong, Village Records, Pet Shop, WSFS, Eric Theaters, Gordon’s Jewelers, Kinney Shoes, Gallenkamp (sp?) Shoes, some sort of specialty toy store next to Man’s World, Fanny Farmer Candies, Hallmark Card Shop (next to the Dry Goods), Bar/Game Room next to Eric Theaters (don’t remember the name). That’s all I can think of for now. I do miss the Tri-State Mall the way it used to be.

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  83. I grew up in the area, Just over the border in Pennsylvania, And yes it did have it’s heyday, It was built before Concord mall or Granite Run mall, The other large malls in the area. Yes the original anchors were the Wilmington Dry goods and Grants. But another huge draw was what is in the back,… now A Comedy theater… Was a Eric movie complex, And it was the only one around at a time when people actually went to the movies. It started out as 2 large theaters, That were later split in half to make it 4… One thing they did that really sent it down hill… There use to be a large set of steps going from what is now value city down to the lower level, Where there use to be a real grocery store (Not a Save-a-lot)… We would park at the lower level, Go up to the Dry goods, Hit the mall and grant’s (later K-mart).. And do our grocery shopping on the way out. At the time it opened it was a big “Tri-State” deal… It was the only Suburban shopping center for many years

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    pete Reply:

    @Glenn, I too grew up in Claymont in the 70s and frequented the mall as a child and young teenager. It was the only mall in the area and we had a blast. I too remember the movie theater. Do you also remember the Hong Kong shop. And dont forget the head shop right down near the theater. Do you remember the orange bowl, a great place for drinks and snacks. It was a thriving place and packed with shoppers especially around Christmas time. I have a lot of memories there. I havent been there in 25 years or so due to living in va, but im back now and plan a trip to see what the mall looks like now. I hear its not very pleasing, but still want to take a look.

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  84. I grew up in Claymont. I lived there from 1965 ( when I was born ) until 1983 ( when I graduated from Claymont H.S. ) The mall opened around 1970 . The two main stores at each end of the upper level were Grants on the west end and Wilmington Dry Goods on the east end . ( and yes every one referred to it as The Dry Rots ) There was a book store , a Rite Aid drug store ,The Yumm Yumm Bar ( a snack bar ..pizza ,hot dogs ,fries and sodas ) The Orange Bowl ( another snack bar ) a pet store ,The Hong Kong Shop ( where I got all my KISS posters and t-shirts ) Village Records ( which was also a head shop ,and arcade ,and for a while the were a TicketMaster outlet ) , The Eric Theater originally had 2 theaters but the kept splitting and adding theaters. The bar / restaurant was the Merry House ( they had pool tables and arcade games in the back ) . There was a tobacco shop ,a shoe store (maybe 2 shoe stores) ,a Hallmark store , a Mens clothing shop , a fabric store and Mans World (a mens hair salon where a pretty woman with big hair would cut and feather my hair …yes I was cool ) .There were stairs to the lower level which was really an outside strip of stores . I didn’t usually shop down there but there was a grocery store a Chinese Restaurant , a Sporting Goods Store ,a Bank with a drive thru and I think a liquor store ( that may have come later ) . I’m sure I left out alot of info but the posts above seem to be correct about the names . One thing I remeber was the water fountain right in the center of the mall , my mom would give me pennies to throw in it , later on they made it into a planter and then I think they removed it altogether. There may have been a clock above the fountain. K-Marts replaced Grants in the mid seventies. K-Mart had a restaurant in it . I don’t think that had been in Grants. When I was a kid the TriState Mall was a great place and it was very busy . The parking lot was definately not too big. Many stores have come and gone since the mall was new and the mall has been in decline since the eighties. I had many friends and family members that worked in the mall . I have moved from the area and have lived in NJ almost twenty years , when I pass the mall now I am saddened by how bad it looks now . Claymont seems to have suffered over the years also . It seems run down and tired ( if a town can be called tired ). Also I lived on The Hill ( Knollwood ) for the first thirteen years of my life and one of the previous posters called the residents white trash , well he’s kind of right most of the people ther didn’t have alot and they were a rough bunch and while some of them may have been white trash alot of them were hard working decent people . In all of the “better” towns and neighborhoods I’ve lived in I’ve never had better neighbors. I’m sorry to ramble on but I just hope to let people know that TriState Mall was once a much better place and for most people in Claymont it was The Mall.

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    bill m Reply:

    @Paul E., we drank alot of beer at that mall paul. there and the drive inn. you, me, mike,gary and who ever else happened into our little moving party. bill m

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  85. I found this site by accident and had a great time remembering my old Claymont days in the 70′s. Me and my buddies used to walk to the mall before we could drive and hang out there for hours. It had everything a teenage boy needed, movies, food and a pretty good record store. I also remember going with my parents and getting $5 Wrangler blue jeans at the Dry. Also remember that lots of times the seams weren’t so straight but what the heck, they were only $5.00. I don’t remember being afraid back then but have since heard of the muggings in the parking lot so I doubt I’ll go back to check it out. It’s sad to see it decline but life goes on and the memories are good.

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  86. This really is the saddest little place one earth. I live a couple of miles away, and it really is just a wasteland. My neighborhood is fine, the area just around the mall is okay, except a small neighborhood behind it is rather busted and white-trashy.

    I lived in Philly as a child, so in the mid 80s I visited this place(only 20 minutes outside of Philly) and it seemed like a magic wonderland. There were 2 small toy/specialty shops, Wilmington Dry Goods seemed like a great store to a 7 year old, and next to the mall was a huge toy store, one of the large Toys R Us style places that all went down before the 90s

    In the 90s, it was no longer magestic, but I did buy shows there, there was a bar with arcade games, the KMart was clean, and even the Value City was okay. Most importantly, at the top of the “+” was a theater where I saw tons of movies, starting in ’89.

    Nowadays, it’s not just depressing, but nearly damned scary. Half or more of the interior shops have no store. The bizzare side strip is bustling with activity around the hip-hop record store, liquor store, dollar store, and super discount grocery store, the type where you bring your own bags and no name brands are to be found. Theater’s been gone for a long time now, Value City closed down and there’s a Burlington Coat Factory. The K-Mart is just a mess, obviously doing horrible business as there is always just one cashier despite line length, and last Holiday season the layaway ok e in the back of the store must have been 25 people deep or so. It’s pretty sad, and I’m not looking down on the people, since I’m broke, it’s just an awful situation.

    Finally, there are stairs outside leading from the top parking lot to the side strip. Dark, scary metal stairs I’ve never cared for in the few times I’ve used them years ago. A few months ago, my friend saw a tussle between some guy and two others fighting over a backpack(likely with drugs inside or it was just a robbery) Someone was thrown down the steps, someone got cauuht on a fence and beaten pretty good. The one guy ran away with the backpack as one of the other 2 guys started SHOOTING at him!!!

    My friend actualy tried to help settle things before the gun came into play. He waited around to talk to the police…but they never showed. Likely because nobody ever called them!!

    Anyway, from magic to crap. Sad.

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  87. I grew up in Chester and spent a great deal of time in the Collingdale/Marcus Hook area where my grandparents lived. I remember eating breakfast at the K-mart diner very frequently with them. The “oil fields” that a previous post referenced is actually a Sunoco refinery and tank farm. Something that I did not hear mentioned though is the very recognizable “refinery smell” that engulfs the area. It’s kind of funny because it’s somewhat comforting to me as I associate it with plenty of fun times and happy memories.

    Whenever I am in the area I find myself pulling into the mall. Much like passing a bad accident it is almost impossible not to be curious. The Value City is no more and has been replaced by a Burlington Coat Factory. I have to credit the owners with finding a store that’s even more depressing than Value City…I didn’t think it could be done. Those who cross the mall hoping to find better shopping conditions at the K-mart will be dissappointed. It is filthy, smelly and all of the workers look like they are in some kind self-induced zombie-like state to try and deal with their jobs.

    The interior of the mall itself is so pathetic that it’s impossible not to feel a bit sad and think about what once had been. As you pass the few remaining stores you will see shop owners standing in the doorways trying to remain proud but knowing how bleak their situation is. The only thing that makes me smile on my ever-decreasing visits is the center piece of the mall…the Yum Yum Bar…standing out like a surreal, bright oasis in a desolate wasteland. There was a solitary customer sitting in a booth eating a hot dog. She was staring straight ahead and had to notice me looking in since I was the only person in the mall and I passed three times in under thirty seconds. Although she had the same catatonic gaze as the K-mart employees she seemed slightly different…perhaps taking some strange solace in that Yum Yum Bar as I have for the past several years.

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  88. I was just at the mall a few weeks ago. Burlington Coat Factory is actually a decent store with nice clothes / suits. Better than Value City, which had a lot of “irregular” items. As for the inside of the mall, yes, it was very sad. Man’s World was still open, with a barber waiting to cut hair (I used to go there back in the 80s). Yum Yum bar had three employees behind the counter! There were a few empty stores and a “church” that was down the movie theater wing. The theater earily still had ticket booths in front. K-Mart is just really dated and crowded. I remember eating at the old restaurant when I was a kid. That’s been gone for a while. Anybody remember the Keys N Things kiosk? There was a humble yet proud Halloween set-up where it once stood.
    Does anyone know when the Cinemart on Gov Printz closed?

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    S Reply:

    @Craig,

    > Does anyone know when the Cinemart on Gov Printz closed?

    Eon’s ago – tho I don’t know exactly when. I suspect in the late ’70′s/early ’80′s.

    But before it was a Cinemart, it was a huge Aquarium supply… they had tanks upon tanks of tropical fish. I remember going there in the mid-60′s, when I was a young kid.

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  89. Hey Ed this is the guy who left a reply on November ,22 ,09 and some other stores that should open up should include Shoprite,Wendy’s and Toys R Us. Y’all might not think so but yo.FYI there are no grocery stores in that mall, there are no hamburger joints in that mall and there are no Toy stores in that mall but yes Value City,Kmart,Yum Yum Bar and Men’s World must stay but man that man should open a Costco,Target and Wal-Mart ASAP!!!

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  90. HI THERE ED!!!!!!!!!! Hows my freind doi’n? I got an Idea 4 ya when ya’ll tear down that Tri-State mall. We can turn it into a SHOPPING CENTER!!!!!!!!!! In fact we can make it 1,000% famous people from RI,CT,NY,NJ,of course DE,The district of Columbia,MA,VA,NC,SC,GA anf FL can shop at. Let me tell you the stores it can have Costco,Target and Wal-Mart the store we could keep are Kmart,Value City,Yum Yum Bar and both the mens world barber shop some more stores that could open are Shoprite,Wendy’s,Toys R Us,The Andersons Specialty store,Villa Pizza,The Chilldrens Place,Staples,Home Depot,Dollar Tree,Qdoba Mexican Grill,Quiznos,Bath & Body Works and Radio Shack.More stores that can stay include Payless Shoes,Mia’s Depot,Tabaco Store,Barber Shop and Check Cashing.And the last store that can stay includes The Comedy Lounge (Wich is a Movie Theatere) and some more stores that can open include a bowling alley,arcade and a fancy restaurant. But when I typed in the last store that can stay. Well i’m not finished yet because I suppose theres room in our shopping center for the stores that can stay and that store we’re gonna keep will be City Depot. We should also keep the JO-ANN store and reopen the Burlington Coat Factory and lets also open up a Puppet Theatre,Post Office,Jewerly Store,Train Shop and Ice Rink too and those are all the stores that will open. And our shopping center will have different events EVERY month.In January we can have a new years carnival when you can play games like those ones when you hit a gong and if a pin goes all the way up and makes a sound you’ll win and we can have a pie eating contest too will even have a game where you can toss a ball try to hit some cans and win a stuffed bear,one game where you can spray water at a itty bitty target and if the stuffed bear reaches the top you can win a prize,one game where you take a rainbow colored ball and shoot it at a target and when the ball hits the target you’ll win a prize and we will have hundreds of games and rides and when the New Years Carnival is over people will run outside at 9:00 PM and ballons will float into the sky and fireworks start to boom and crash!!!!!!!!!!, In febuary we can have a hug fest to see how many people you can hug after the hug fest we’ll have a kiss fest to see if you can kiss all the people you hugged at the hug, In March we’ll celebrate lepracoans and search for gold all over the shopping center, In April the easter Bunny will arrive at the shopping center andeveryone can meet him in May we can have a celebrate your Mom,Aunt or Grandma at the Shopping Center day in June we can have a celebrate your Dad,Uncle or Grandpa at the Shopping Center day in July we will have a president VS Bad Guy show down and whoever wins will win a free Shopping Spree,in august we’ll have a BIG beach party where everyone can do a tropical dance and we’ll have tropical food, In september we’ll have the shopping center’s 117th Aniversery where we’ll have a show with magicans,clowns,trapizes and wizzards too,w’e’ll have Spongebob,Patrick,Mickey Mouse,Minny Mouse,Dora and Boots walk on the sidewalks of the shopping center,In October people will go Trick-Or-Treating there and we’ll have a Holloween Party,In November we’ll have I Pumpkin Pie eating contest and in December take your picture with Santa,Tell Santa what you want for Christmas,Eat cookies with Santa,Have breakfast with Santa, Dance with Santa,Sing with Santa and have some fun with Santa.Okay dude good luck on making this Shopping Center and do what I told you to do because I’m gonna be In Charge of the mall and you’ll just be Vice Manager thanks for letting me talk to you

    See ya later Ed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  91. Hi there Ed I gotta idea for our Shopping Center we can have a dinning circle!!! It’s like a food court only outside. It will have a Villa Pizza,Quiznos,McDonald’s,Burger King,Wendy’s,Arby’s,Chick-Fil-A,Bojangles,KFC,Taco Bell,Pizza Hut,Long John Silvers,Papa John’s and Church’s Chicken it will be on one side of Shoprite and another side of Value City and it will also have some sit-down restaurants like Applebee’s,T.G.I Fridays,IHOP,Chili’s & a sports bar I’ll call it the outdoor dinning sidewalk it will be somewhere by Toys R Us and Kmart where another sidewalk is across from it. It’s the one with Target,Burlington Coat Factory and Home Depot in fact I also have another idea.In front of COSTCO we can put a 66 ft. water fountain that people can make a wish and throw coins in it.

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  92. Hey Ed, Watcha Doin? I’ve got an impressive idea for our Shopping Center for services next to Value City we can put an event zone where the shopping Center’s events can take place,Behind ShopRite we can put a pedestrian freindly area it can be a place where people can live,Work & play.We can also put a nice li’l park that pepole can talk a walk,walk their dog,yo a shoppin mall in VA will be havin all that and I think you and I sha’ll do the same

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  93. Hey Ed!!! for our Shopping Center we should put a Fun Park where you can drive bumper cars,Play Basketball,Go Bowling,Play Indoor Miniture golf. And the fun park can also have a MagiQuest. And it can have cool birthday offers like a play-dough themed party, where you can play with A LOT of play-dough. A gliterry craft party,where you can make something glittery.A bubble N dancing party where the B-day child

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  94. I lived in claymont for many years it’s a shame how it all went down hill. The girl killed on peachtree rd and left in the colvert. And than they built Stoney Brook and from there it went down hill real fast thats when i decided it was time for me to move out. What a shame it was a real nice place at one time. I see Woodacres have cameras up.

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  95. My BF and I hung around the mall in the early 70′s.It was nice then.I remember a trendy clothes store called Phillipsborn.There was a shop called “Pearl of the East”.Also,Elaine Powers,and a lighting store called Art Lighting(?)on the lower level.We both had partime jobs at Woolco.It really is sad what happened to it.

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  96. My hubby(BF from previous post) corrected me.”Pearl of the East” was at Concord Mall.Also,Woolco was at Northtowne Plaza…which I think was that little strip shopping center that someone referred to.

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  97. I like Tri-State Mall. Scuse me if any of this is redundant: It’s a good place to buy cheap durable men’s hats, hiking boots, liquor (tho Total Wine just across I-95 is the best). It’s unrenovated all right, that doesn’t bother me, keeps prices down. The mall attracts a lot of African Americans from nearby Chester PA. Travelers see Tri-State cause of the water tower you can see from I-95. But the big mall in the neighborhood is Concord Mall a few miles west on US 202, and there’s a big Target nearby on Naamans Rd/Del. 92 (same road that goes past Tri-State).

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  98. Hey guess what Ed!? The new Target in my neigboorhood The Target sign went up! Gn’ite Sleep Tite don’t let the bedbugs bight (But they might)

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  99. Christopher, dear God, you are CRAZY. Simmer down. Your obsession with this place is unhealthy. And do you really know Ed? I sure hope you do if you’re gonna call him friend that many times.

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  100. Question I thought there was a Jamesway Department store in Claymont somewhere?

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    BobC Reply:

    @Ted, THe Ames was just west of the mall, across the street from the Hilton. It is now a Home Depot.

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  101. I think Jamesway became Ames

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  102. Growing up in northern DE in the ’80s, I remember attending several baseball card shows at Tri-State Mall and getting some Phillies players’ autographs- Ricky Jordan or Von Hayes or maybe Juan Samuel. I know we went to movies there, too, but I don’t remember which ones. It’s sad when you see the picture of that wooden-framed skylight atrium feature and you know that someone envisioned a much livelier place of commerce than we see today. I remember it as a pretty lively place, at least, and one where an eight-year-old kid could occasionally meet the baseball heroes he saw on TV.

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  103. WOW! Talk about memories and flashback! Oh the pain! Oh the humility! Oh what happened! I remember working in two of the success’ there, Dry Goods, and the theatre. The movie house was okay, but only one problem, They would not get many crowds for first run movies, It turns out even though we had five movie houses, and what we thought we were getting guarentee sells outs, many would sneak there friends in via the fire escape. I know, I worked there, remember? Now as far as Dry Goods is concerned, yes, I remember the 8 track player having only one song, of the Star Spangled Banner before each and every day before we be open to the public! I even remember some of the in house scandals that would be hush hush back in the day. Oh for example, one of the head cashier’ was dating one of the managers. Another time, during the Cabbage Patch doll craze, the gate that was entrance to the mall, was purposely not opened to accomodate the ensuing crowd when we opened our doors the day of the midnight shopping begining at 12:01AM black Friday and the mad rush to get one of the dolls. Afterwards we would, we as the fortunate ones that did not have to “do recovery” would go next door to Sid’s Bar next door, have a Coors (the first one I know that carried Coors,btw) and have one of his famous Steak and fries. Now don’t forget Sid was infamous for knowing Frank Sinatra We could not verify it, till he showed any/all patrons of a picture of him and Mr S. , and it was a personalized dedication on the picture too. Ahh the memories.

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  104. WOW. Thanks for posting this site. I stumbled on this mall by accident on Monday when I decided to take a mini road trip & venture off I-95 from Baltimore to the Jersey shore. I saw how old this mall was & just for the hell of it wanted to see the inside. It was small, ugly & run down. I assumed it was bigger by the name of the mall. I’m all about preserving history, but this will not be a loss if this place gets razed. I’m glad I got to be a part of this shopping center’s history though. The Kmart here is in bad shape too.

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  105. I grew up in Wilmington in the ’80s and went there a lot. Even then it was kind of icky.

    I will always think of it as the “Tri-State Male” for the reasons mentioned above.

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  106. I posted on here about 3 years ago. I grew up in Claymont and this mall was the place to go in the 1970′s-80′s. My family walked from Ashbourne Hills to the Tri-State Mall movie theater to see Star Wars. The mall had a great ice cream shop, a cool record store and a pet shop that was selling a gorilla. Back then, the place was very clean. The lower part had a Pantry Pride, a chinese restaurant, a Silo appliance store, an eye doctor and access to get up the steps to Wilmington Dry Goods. In the fall, the mall put up the Christmas decorations in September. Santa was at the mall in Novenber and the K-Mart had Saturday breakfast with Santa. My dad and grandfather almost beat the hell out of the Santa at breakfast one time. He was drunk as hell and was cursing at the tables. He tried to sit with my brother, sister and I (we were about 7,6 and 4 at the time) and my dad told him to leave and get some coffee. He didn’t want to hear that and my grandfather, in true Irish temper fashion, collared up “Santa” and took him up to the store management. We ate free that day, but were traumatized that Pop-Pop was beating up Santa. Now the memory is funny as hell. The mall was very nice at one time and it is a shame to see how bad in shape it is now.

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  107. What a mess! The mall never had that premium feel that some malls have. We would go to the mall in the 80s and 90s to see movies and it never looked as good as, or had the same quality as, the Christiana Mall. But we went to the theatre a lot because their main screen, even after being twinned, was the biggest in the area. I can remember lines that would go from the theatre at the end of the main hall all the way out to the parking lot. Forget about that nonsense today, but there you knew that they had 800 seats for the “big” movie, so you probably had a shot at getting a ticket.

    There was a pretzel stand in the middle of the main concourse and we’d stop there and load up on soft pretzels and sneak them into the movies.

    I could go on and on about the theatre, but I don’t want to bore anyone.

    I do remember some other details about the mall, in general. There was a good record store: the Sound of Tri-State, which later morphed into a small car-stereo chain. There was some sort of faux-Tudor-style restaurant and bar. There was a WSFS bank. A jewelry store or two. A book/magazine/tobacco place. A pizza place. I think there was a photography studio, too. There was definitely at least one wig shop and maybe two.

    The last time I went to a movie there, I wanted to see whatever was playing on the big screen. This was in August of 1997, the summer when big movies like Jurassic Park 2, Air Force One, Con Air, The Fifth Element, Men In Black, Contact and Face/Off were playing. Any of those would’ve been great to see on that big screen. What was playing that day? Yep… Def Jam Presents: How to Be a Player. Talk about going out on a low-note.

    Anyway, I went back there around 2003 and the place was just bare, like in the pictures. None of the places I mentioned were there any more. There might have been a wig shop left, but I don’t remember for sure. The one thing I do remember was that there was a skill game outside a cigarette store in the main hallway. It couldn’t be seen by the staff in the shop, so anyone could play it unseen. I mention that because when I passed the machine, I saw what the prizes were: Girls Gone Wild DVDs. I’ve never seen anyone ever win these games, even when the prizes are practical, like digital watches or sunglasses. But if a child was really good at the game, he or she could’ve walked off with that slimy DVD. I guess if you’re going to Tri-State Mall for entertainment purposes, though, you have bigger problems than your kid winning exploitative voyer porn for a quarter.

    Ending on a positive note: I did go to the K-Mart there in 2008 to get a Disney Princess bike for my daughter. They were the only place around who had it and were open at 9:00 the night before her birthday when I realized that the one I got from Wal-Mart had no effin’ pedals.

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    Exis Reply:

    @Sean M., I worked at that pretzel stand in the early 80′s and totally remember people getting pretzels to sneak into the movies!

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  108. The best was going to Village Records buying a bong, smoking some weed then going to the Merrie House for Happy Hour on Tueday and Thursdays nights and getting served at 17 and playing some pinball. But on most nights the agenda was get a $5.00 bag of weed, roll 5-6, smoke 2, sell 3-4 and get trashed on the $1.00 screwdrivers. At 17 that was a great time.

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  109. I grew up about 5minutes away from the Tri-State Mall so I have plenty of memories, most of them good. I remember as a young kid the Wilmington Dry Goods store, I remember the bookstore by K-Mart when a friend of mine got kicked out for looking at the porn mags(lol). I remember seeing Home Alone, Malcolm X and Menace II Society at the old movie theater, Fayva Shoes, Silo, etc….
    I also remember working there as a teenager, 1st at K-mart and then the Yum Yum Bar, which served hotdogs, fries, soft preztels, but for some reason, we weren’t required to wear gloves…..It was funny because the cash register didn’t tell you how much change was owed so nobody lasted more than a few days since they had to count it out on there own(lol)…The place is at total dump now, but I can’t help but go there sometimes and wax nostalgic….

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  110. Cinemart on gov prinze blvd. closed around Sept of 1980 when it last showed The Exterminator..And has been closed ever since..

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  111. What is going on with the old levitz furniture wharehouse in claymont, De. Is it for sale or will it reopen, Please let me know if its being sold and by whom, Thank You http://www.bireley609@comcast.net

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    Prange Way Reply:

    I was actually there last week. It’s just sitting empty.

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  112. I go to tristate mall about ever 3 weeks to get my hair cut at MANS WORLD. I WONT GO ANYWHERE ELSE. I know the barber very well and hes does a great job. I travel about 20 mins to get my haircut. Other then that the mall is pretty much empty.. Alot of empty space open for rent. I used to go there when I was 7-8 now im 24, back in the day the mall was the best thing around. I will continue to get my haircut at Mans world until the mall closes.

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  113. Tristate Mall has been on label scar for some time now. One interesting store in the mall is Tobacco Express. Not only do they sell Tobacco products but also cater to the Drug world as well. In their “specially” isolated Novelties room, they have not only K2 but an assortment of Bongs, Bowls, baggies, scales etc. that they call “Tobacco pipes” also to make extra cash in our slowly dwindling economy, they resort to selling xtreme porn. But the most upsetting thing about Tobacco Express is the fact that they will not hire African Americans to work for fear of the classic stereotype of theivery. They will sell them bongs and bowls but not hire them. In the history of Tobacco Express to keep up appaerances they may have hired 1 or 2 but probably only due to the fact that they were on the owners sports team. The owner even has his under age children starting to work there once in a while. The employees there are cool but the ones that have been there longer have been for a while heavily underpaid. The newer eemployees from “WAY OUT OF TOWN” have been making more than employees that are Vets there. Before the ex-manager Tony left however, the most employee type that was hired were considered hot women with big boobs and long hair with cute eyes. The employees are shy to ask for raises because the ownwer constantly mentioning the company does not make enough $. However the owner owns a big house in De. has a nanny for his kids, sends his kids to 2 separate private schools and takes enough frequent flights back to his home country. Bottom line unless you are DEAD DESPERATE. Do not work here.

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  114. does anyone remember the name of the after hours club on the lowe level of tristate mall that you had to go upstairs to get too? supposely a fun place to go after the bars closed.

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  115. Wow this is a really sad mall. It does not look foreboding to me, just really dark and depressing. From the looks of the exsisting tenant roster this must be in or border on a now mostly African American area. The nineties seem to be the decade that the demographics in almost any sizable city really began to change. The pattern being that any store that can will leave a mall perceived as “in a black neighborhood” and the remaining stores will be, check cashing, head shops, urban stores, family dollar. Given the economics of the area I don’t see any developers jumping on this property anytime soon. It’s too bad that people automatically assume that a mall is bad or will become bad because there are non white customers, but that is still the society we seem to live in. This would be a ideal spot for community leaders to take over and make it a populace specific mall with local mom and pop stores, pop in some sky lights and you could have a decent neighborhood center.

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  116. If you want to see a current mall directory and current pictures, go to http://rosengroupinc.net/prop.php?state=de

    Looks like it might be rebounding a little bit…

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  117. becca you said, “does anyone remember the name of the after hours club on the lowe level of tristate mall that you had to go upstairs to get too? supposely a fun place to go after the bars closed.”

    Yeah, it was called Nicoles. It was advertised in the personal section of the newspapers as “Where the elite meet:”.

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  118. First and foremost, the Tri-State Mall Cinema was THE theater in Delaware and boasted the largest screen in the state. We are talking a screen that dwarfs any in the Regal Brandywine, and wider than Imax in King of Prussia. If you cared about seeing movies with maximum impact, it was the Sam Eric (Boyd) theater in Philly or this one if you lived near. During the 1970′s and early 80′s this theater was clean, safe, and had a great (for the time) sound system. Some examples of how a movie was like an event there- When The Empire Strikes Back opened in May of 1980, many seats were roped off to allow the employees of FACTORS to see the film on opening night (I was there). Factors did the local publicity, printing posters and various marketing here for the studio, etc. My 2 sisters and I came a half hour before showtime and the line was extending outside. Some friends from my school saw us standing with no chance to get in and they got us tickets somehow. We walked past the line and sat next to the roped off Factors people. Back then, many theaters got you in the mood by playing soundtracks over the speakers until the previews started (don’t get me started on how much better THAT was. The Sam Eric in Philly, for example, played John Williams the day of the premiere of “Jedi” to the cheers of the crowd. When do you hear cheers for “The Twenty” and various 20 minute ads in cinemas nowadays?). The Tri State Mall sound soon blasted the 20th Century Fox fanfare and the whole place shook with applause. The tie fighters started flying past our ears throughout the night. It was magical. “I Know” from Harrison Ford had the crowd roaring as well. The huge screen allowed no room for your eyes to take in exit signs or any other distractions. THIS was the way to see a movie. A few days later an usher told me the theater was swamped more than any weekend in its history because not only did EMPIRE open that weekend, but the Blues Brothers also was playing and packing them in. Later it all changed, whether new ownership took it over or not, I don’t know but it seemed like it. They added some smaller screens and it started to show decline. I remember the roof leaking and buckets placed to catch the water during a show one evening. Malls were meant to be more intimate family places back then. This one lived and died on the enormous Cinema, which brought families in, and when that started to go under, so went the Mall. Now, when I see the place, I can hear echoes of those tie- fighters. If only they would blast that pathetic comedy club and rebuild that Death Star! Oh, right beside the mall, to the right as you look at it, was the fantastic Kiddie World store. Best in the state and built with a castle facade on the hill. Get the picture?

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    442w30 Reply:

    @Joe R, very nice, well-written write-up.

    I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” in 3rd grade at that theater. I didn’t know the place’s significance, although admittedly I was quite young and then moved when I was 16.

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    Joe R Reply:

    @442w30,

    Thanks! I bet you had a great time seeing the movie there, too. I would also like to confirm Grants as one of the original stores there as well, as it was also in the Triangle Mall (later New Castle Square Mall) in New Castle. I remember being in Wilkes Barre PA in the 70′s at the Wyoming Valley Mall there and my parents told a clerk they were happy to have found some item, to which the clerk replied, “What? You can’t find one at that Tri-State Mall of yours?” He had disbelief. Nowadays, still a movie fanatic, I take my wife and 5 year-old son to many movies, and will be going to the Avengers at the Imax in King of Prussia. If the Tri-State screen was still around (in all its glory, mind you- not the later 1980′s version), there’d be no contest where we would see it. By the way, Philly is trying to save the Boyd (Sam Eric) theater. Here’s hoping, as it was the only one back then to top the Tri-State. Yes, some Orange Bowl pizza would be great too.

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    Josh S Reply:

    @Joe R,

    Hey Everyone, thanks so much for the memories!

    Joe, I waited in that exact line with my father to see “The Empire Strikes Back” and remember the music and massive screen too. It was great!

    My mother used to waitress at the bar that was kitty-corner from the theatre called the Merry House. From what I remember it was a pretty hopping place. She told me stories about how the different movies that played affected business – “The Godfather” was great for business, “The Exorcist”: people would come in, vomit in the bathroom and then leave.

    I actually grew up in Claymont (for a time at least) when my step-father worked at the old Phoenix Steel around the corner from the mall. We lived at Harbor House apartments on Gov. Printz blvd and I went to Maple Lane elementary.

    It’s a shame about the decline of the Tri-State mall but I don’t think it’s atypical. Many other places have suffered a similar fate when middle class jobs disappear.

    Thanks again.

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  119. I remember when I was a kid taking my $5 bill and going to the Mary house to play video games street fighter and ninja turtles were my favorite

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  120. I’m in commercial realestate and we never consider the locals views and feelings of centers. This center cen’t be making money for the land lord with the such high vacancy. I think a problem is that many of you with such fine memories of this center no longer live close enough it give it business.

    If you had the chance what would be some good ideas for redevelopment of the center? The location analysis along 95 should be an asset to this place. One commentator mentioned getting local community leaders involved, I think that is step 2, step 1 is fix leaking roofs, spruce up the interior, and work on the parking lot / security issues. Once you had the center looking better what type of tenants would you look for?

    -John

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    Joe R Reply:

    @JohnAdams, Reopen that Cinema. Promote it as having the largest screen in Delaware. That was enough for years of commerce for the Mall and cinema for many years until the owners let it decay. I would gladly go there instead of the Imax in King of Prussia, which I drive an hour to. Most within 20 minutes would frequent the Tristate Cinema. Get the theater state of the art again and people will come, helping all the stores around it.

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  121. Wow. Memories. I practically grew up in the Tri State Mall when I was a kid. My mother worked in the Yum Yum Bar and both my mother and father worked for Dry Goods. I was in there every day after school. Scary :).

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  122. Just found this gem of a mall today. Amazing. So desolate, lonely, forgotten. The few stores that remain are fighting the good fight. Fighting for survival in an economy they can no longer compete in.

    To everyone who says to put a Walmart/Costco/Large corporation there, I hope you know it is those places that separate us further into a two class system.

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  123. This mall used to be the best back in the eighties! CD and record shops, Kmart, movie theatre, etc. it slowly died out in the mid nineties, and now is maybe 10 stores total. Shame, it was a staple growing up. You can speculate as to why it died….I’ll leave it at that. Once in a blue moon we go there to the Kmart or Yum Yum bar.

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  124. Like others who have posted here, I grew up near this mall and spent a lot of time there. As you can imagine it probably depended on out of state shoppers hopping off of I-95 for some tax free shopping, much like Concord Mall does with PA shoppers coming down 202. But there’s a pretty large radius around Tri-State Mall now that is in decline so it’s no surprise it suffered.

    I remember standing in a long line waiting to see Terminator 2 there. There were people in the line I knew and even some of my dad’s co-workers were in line as well. There used to be a lot of theaters in the area, including drive-ins (there was a drive-in not far from the mall). Concord Mall only sported a 2-screen theater out in the parking lot if I recall. So Tri-State and Concordville (and later Painter’s Crossing) were where my family would go to see movies.

    Kiddie World just down the road from the mall was the best toy store ever. As kids my brother and our friends would beg our parents to take us to Kiddie World to the point of driving our parents up the wall with our whining. An entire isle of G. I. Joes, then an isle of LEGOs, Transformers, etc. Bike racks. Bad parking lot on a slope, but best toy store hands down.

    I later worked not far from that location and the area was already in decline. We had homeless people coming in our store to use the bathroom, and found them sleeping on the side of the building when we opened in the morning. Used to have some really odd customers come in, and someone broke in one night and triggered the alarm and the first policeman to arrive on the scene got in a fight with the intruder and nearly beat him to death with his flashlight and the guy still got away. The cop said he had to be on something, he pulled his ski-mask off and it was soaked in blood from the beating he gave the guy.

    Saw Die Hard 2 at Tri-State, and I think the last film I saw there when I was in high school was one of the Hellraiser movies. It was winter and when I came out the locks on the doors of my car were frozen.

    And to anyone referring to Claymont citizens as white trash: whether or not that’s the case, the kids I went to school with from Claymont, including Knollwood, were a hell of a lot more level-headed and realistic than some of the brats coming out of Brandywine Hundred.

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    442w30 Reply:

    @MikeB:

    Relax! Your memories have some good times, but my memories only show the decline. You are in agreement with me with a lot, but you just use more politically correct language to describe the demographical and psychographical landscape at that time.

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  125. I worked at village records from 1/1982-1/1988..Lots of memories of this place…the game room was a major hangout at that time as was the merrie house…it was unique in its own way..haven’t been in the mall since 1993, some day i will hopefully go back for nostalgia

    i’m sure lots of people have good memories about the mall from that time period…

    ate many a slice from the orange bowl and was friends with a guy who worked there named richie..hope he is doing well

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  126. I sat in Nicoles Lounge and talked with Phillies Pitcher, “Chris Short” for a couple hours one night after working night shift at sun Oil…..He died a few years later…..We talked a lot about the ’64 season, when they burnt his and Jim Bunning’s arms out. Always wished i had a picture, but people didn’t have cell phone cameras in those days…..

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  127. Stopped by this place a few weeks ago. It is amazingly desolate and pretty eerie to walk around in. The Yum Yum Bar is gone and is now a generic hotdog place. The wig store is there, and the tobacco store, and a rug place. That’s about it.

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  128. I just went to the mall for a visit a couple of days ago. not much has changed since I was last there. most notably, the yum yum bar is now the “sara grill”. same d├ęcor, different owner. i sat down and talked to “al”, the proprietor of “man’s world” barber shop. al has owned the shop since the mid-70s. it was so interesting to talk to someone who has been there virtually every day through the years. i asked lots of questions about how things used to be, and stores that have come and gone. apparently, the same family has always owned the structure, and currently run the company “the rosen group”, which is the company you’ll find on the internet in regard to ownership. the land is on a 99 year lease, with 40+ years left. al says it’s unlikely the mall will go anywhere in our lifetime, as the owners can’t redevelop the land, and they apparently don’t need the mall to be profitable.

    i recommend stopping in to say hello to al if you are from the area. he seemed very appreciative of the conversation, as was i. if i had hair, i would have patronized his business. and i still have my daydreams….if i hit the big jackpot, i will be purchasing my old haunt, and recreating the image that sits in my memories….for everyone’s enjoyment.

    one bit of trivia….i swore up and down that the mall used to have a chess king male clothing store. al says i am mistaken. perhaps it was in the concord mall. can anyone recollect?

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  129. Stopped into the Kmart at the mall today, and it’s going out of business. I was told the mall will be closing soon, too. I walked though the mall for old times sake and it was pretty sad. I wonder what’s next for the site. Had some good memories there.

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