Deerbrook Mall; Northbrook, Illinois

Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, IL

Bueller!!  Many will recall John Hughes’ 1986 hit movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and hardcore fans even know the locations, mostly around the Chicago area, where different scenes of the movie were filmed.  One of these locations was in north suburban Northbrook, where Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South high schools were used to represent the ficticious high school featured in the classic film.  Others might also know the high schools from the closing of The Breakfast Club, another Hughes classic.

Located 25 miles north of downtown Chicago, Northbrook is an upper middle-class suburb of about 35,000 people.  Ask anyone else in the Chicago area about Northbrook, and they’ll tell you it’s a pretty nice suburb.  Some would even say it’s pretty wealthy overall, because it is.  The mean home price in Northbrook is nearly $500,000, and the mean household income is well over $100,000.  While this is unusual for the Chicago area in general, it is not that unusual for the suburbs comprising Chicago’s North Shore.  In fact, compared to many of the North Shore suburbs, Northbrook seems more middle class than anything. 

The North Shore stretches roughly from Evanston, which borders Chicago, up the Lake Michigan shoreline to Lake Bluff and terminates at the Great Lakes Naval Training Facility in North Chicago.  On the west it’s roughly bordered by I-94, and the suburbs to the west of there are more decidedly middle class.  From Great Lakes on up to the Wisconsin border it’s even a bit gruff in places like Waukegan and Zion, but not terrible by any means.  However, many North Shore communities like Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Lake Forest, and Kenilworth have some of the richest zip codes in America, and along the Lake Michigan shoreline $10 million homes are the norm rather than the exception. 

Deerbrook Mall TJ Maxx in Northbrook, IL

So where are these people shopping?  That’s what you came for, obviously.  The wealthy North Shore has, as expected, a rather large number of exclusive upscale shopping areas.  Some of them are large regional centers, like the large Old Orchard outdoor mall in Skokie or the enclosed Northbrook Court in Northbrook, and some others are smaller and quaint like the downtowns of Lake Forest and Highland Park, the former of which features a large freestanding Macy’s and the latter, a Saks Fifth Avenue, among other things catering to the wealthy demographic.  These residents also definitely shop away from the North Shore too, at the mega-regional Woodfield Mall which is about 20 miles away, in downtown Chicago at the many offerings there, and even closer to home in Lake County’s own Gurnee Mills (self-explanatory) and Hawthorn Center (Lake County’s only mid-range regional enclosed mall), just to name a few.

In this particular post, however, we feature a long lost forgotten relic of Chicago’s North Shore which is amazingly still standing, and functioning successfully despite a drastic refocus over the past few decades.  It’s a bit worse for wear, and certainly abridged from its heyday as a major regional retail destination, but it’s there nonetheless.  It is Northbrook’s Deerbrook Mall, located at the intersection of Waukegan Road (Route 43) and Lake Cook Road.  Throughout history, we will see that Deerbrook went from regional mall to an ancillary mall full of category killer big box stores.   

Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, ILDeerbrook opened in the 1960s, and quickly became a very popular regional mall for the North Shore and surrounding suburbs, because of its central and easily accessible location along I-94, I-294, and the Metra station behind it.  Take a look at a satellite photo of the mall.  Northbrook featured Montgomery Ward and Turn Style, among other stores, and from what we understand the design was to connect these two anchors with enclosed mall space.  This enclosed space was designed like a mid-century downtown streetscape, complete with faux-antique street lamps, a dark brick lined floor, brick facaded walls, and other quaint fixtures like a large fountain in the center court in front of the center anchor, which is now TJ Maxx.  There were also some popular theaters at the back of the mall near the south entrance.

Fast forward to 1976.  Less than a mile down Lake Cook Road, developers were feverishly working on building an even larger retail destination in order to capitalize on the massive amount of wealth in the North Shore.  They constructed Northbrook Court, a large, regional, exclusively upscale two-level enclosed mall featuring anchor stores Neiman Marcus, I. Magnin, Lord and Taylor, and Sears which eventually became Marshall Fields and now Macy’s, as well as a slew of upscale local and chain boutique stores.  It is still there today in the same capacity, if not a bit more upscale today. 

Northbrook Court quickly killed Deerbrook’s chances for remaining a regional center, but instead of dying away it quickly repositioned itself to become an ancillary to Northbrook Court.  The Turn Style went away and was replaced by Venture, which also closed at some point.  Montgomery Ward was also a ghost by the mid-1990s and a Best Buy appeared in its place.  Around 2000, about half of the remaining enclosed portion of the mall on the north end closed and was demolished to make room for new category killer big box stores like Office Max and Bed Bath and Beyond.  The theaters closed for good in 2001 as they were small and outdated, and the entire front was fitted with a modern facade. 

Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, ILToday, much of the original enclosed south portion of the mall remains and is entirely accessible. It almost looks entirely like a regular strip mall, except an enclosed portion is hiding within.  The reason for this is ostensibly to provide access to the TJ Maxx, as it is located behind the enclosed portion of the mall and has no other access.  Few other stores are open in the mall which do not also have exterior access.  So you can still walk around the brick floors and gawk at the fountain, which at last check was no longer running, and you can also look at the ancient mall directories and streetscape decor.  Just don’t gasp too loudly at the elephant earring lights (or are they flying saucers?) hanging down from the ceiling.  It isn’t polite.   

Take a look at the pictures. I believe they were taken in 2006.  If anyone has any more history on this mall, it would be much appreciated.  I’m particularly interested in finding out what the TJ Maxx was.  But also, I’d be interested to know what other stores were in the mall and when they opened and closed, or any other information anyone has, including more pictures.   

Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, IL Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, IL Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, IL

Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, IL Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, IL

Upon reading this post John G. has sent some vintage photos for us to enjoy!  The first tier are from the 70s or early 80s, but the latter appear to be from the mid to late 90s because they include Best Buy. 

Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, IL Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, IL Deerbrook Mall vintage interior in Northbrook, IL

Deerbrook Mall Venture in Northbrook, IL Deerbrook Mall Jewel in Northbrook, IL Deerbrook Mall Marshalls in Northbrook, IL

Deerbrook Mall Spiegel in Northbrook, IL Deerbrook Mall Monkey Ward in Northbrook, IL scan0004.jpg

 Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, IL Deerbrook Mall in Northbrook, IL Deerbrook Mall The Great Indoors Northbrook, IL

Deerbrook Mall Best Buy in Northbrook, IL

 

 

80 Responses to “Deerbrook Mall; Northbrook, Illinois”

  1. Yeah those lights are flying saucers. :)

    Interesting that TJMaxx as no other access except for the interior entrance, guess it’s doing good business despite the empty mall interior. To me it looks like the remaining interior should be demolished and turned into a strip plaza or something, I doubt Deerbrook will become a discount oriented mall since Gurnee Mills seems to take that title for the area. Maybe some local shops will help it?

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  2. I completely missed over this little mall on my recent trek to Chicagoland.

    Looks like though, by these pics, I didn’t miss much. I tend to avoid this region of the metro area because of its ‘upscale’ nature. I’m definitly not an upscale person and would have felt a bit out-of-place.

    Especially so, considering I was mainly in the area for an anime convention and was in full costume.

    I wonder if you guys hit the Belvedere Discount Mall? Oddly, Lakehurst killed this mall back in the 1980s when Wards jumped ship, but in an ironic twist, Home Depot opened at Belvedere and the mall repositioned as a ‘community’ mall with local stores.

    Lakehurst of course, died and is now a big plot of vacant land fronted by a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

    Gurnee Mills literally smashed all the regional malls in the North suburbs. Only Hawthorn, Old Orchard and Northbrook were able to really survive the hit. Golf Mill is clinging on. The rest have all died or were retenanted, or reworked into other uses.

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    mike Reply:

    @Matt from WI, Natt, trust me you wold not feel out of place at Deerbrook Mall! the northbrook-deerfield area and deerbrook mall in particular are not really upscale yuppie places. youd have to go to wilmette winnetka or further north to lake forest for that sorta thing. much of northbrook is normal upper middle class homes, and even lower rent town homes and apartments. plenty of normal workin folks live around these areas. there is only a small area of truly wealthy upscale mansion type places west of town. northbrook is a nice place to visit with a lot of history. as for deerbrook mall, before tj maxx was there it was a marshalls, before that it was a teen/ young adult clothing store in the 70s. so many places have been in and out of that mall, its hard to believe. most pretty forgettable. one long runner was a pet store at the south west part facing the old theatre. well anyway thanks webmaster, cool page.

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  3. First of all, you would have made my day if you were in there in full Anime regalia, snooping around the dead mall. It would have made this mall a bit more interesting to say the least!

    Second, I’ve been to Belvidere Discount Mall and wow – it’s great. It’s also an interesting story, because the mall that killed it was Lakehurst and it survived by repurposing into a Hispanic-themed center and still trucks on today I think. I can’t think of many other examples of three tiers of malls where the oldest and newest survive, but the middle one died, can anyone else? Either way, I’m sure both Lakehurst and Belvidere will show up on here eventually.

    And, Golf Mill is an excellent neighborhood mall, but has definitely lost some lustre in recent years. When I first went there about 8 years ago the north mall section between Sears and Target/Kohls was 100% tenanted with normal in-line stores. As the mall transitioned from regional to neighborhood, all of them died and it became 100% vacant. The Value City or whatever they put in there doesn’t do much for the integrity of that portion nor make anyone really want to put any more stores in there. I guess they’ll have to get used to having that corridor just be a hallway between all the anchors. I also wouldn’t lump it in with anything in Lake County or even the north shore in general, as it serves mostly a local and decidedly middle class population in Niles, Morton Grove, and Glenview.

    Another mall to consider on the north shore (the only other one) is Lincolnwood Town Center, which opened in 1990 as one of Chicago’s newest malls. It still seems to be doing well, but it serves a more densely populated, urban demographic in Evanston, Lincolnwood, Skokie, and the far north side of Chicago.

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  4. Aw shoot, so you were in the area from May 11-13 (that’s when the convention was?) Ah well. I wouldn’t have recognized you anyway. I wouldn’t of had a face to go by.

    Still I’m sure you would have gotten a kick out of that. It would have been a treat for me as well, to meet one of those who runs this blog and interested in these malls, be them dying or thriving.

    And ditto the first commenter. Those are not lights. They’re UFOs.

    Haven’t seen Boston Market in a while either. They closed tons of locations a few years back.

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  5. Wow! Thought I was the only person who’d written about the malls of Northbrook online! I’d driven past Deerbrook Mall several times, but didn’t know there was actually a mall corridor…. it looks like a strip mall from Lake Cook Road.

    I can tell you that the space at the south end of the mall, just north of I-94, was previously “The Great Indoors”, according to a massive, um, labelscar on the building, before it was closed by Sears in July 2005. Don’t think there was anything going on there when I was in Northbrook/Deerfield in April but I could be wrong.

    Also, just to add some more information on Northbrook Court, as I’ve done my own expose as it pertains to the Natick Collection’s expansion (at
    http://www.framinghamnatickretail.com/wonderbread/extras/northbrook/index.html). Northbrook Court was not constructed as a response to Deerbrook, but was rather built as developers could not get Northbrook to approve a proposal for a condominium complex and instead decided to try to get a shopping mall built with a smaller condominium complex next door. That was followed by a battle over annexation by Highland Park as no village had actually claimed the land by that time. Northbrook ended up getting it, and the mall was named Northbrook Court.

    The anchor succession was also a bit different than you described. Sears was there, but it was replaced with JCPenney, which didn’t close their store but instead had their lease taken by mall management for Marshall Field’s in the early 1990s. I. Magnin was, I believe, an original tenant, but of course that chain collapsed, clearing the way for a new General Cinema in the mid-90s that would eventually kill off the General Cinema at Deerbrook. I’m pretty confident that Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor were not original tenants either, and that it opened with very downscale tenants and was a disaster at the start, having two of the four anchor spaces vacant at one point. But for a mall that never should have been built, it’s slowly coming around… the complete opposite of Deerbrook.

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    Jmarc63 Reply:

    @Justin, I need to correct some misconceptions with the opening of Northbrook Court . I started hanging out at what we called NBC when I was a kid in the seventies. So i remember this well. When The Mall opened for business the original anchor tenants were Sears, Neiman Marcus and Lord and Taylor, I magnin was was a vacant parcel at the opening. a few years after opening The I Magnin building was built and the store opened a year after that. . Yes the Mall was almost a Ghost town when it opened, But so was Hawthorne Hills in Vernon Hills, Now westfeild hawthorn, and the Grand daddy Woodfeild in schaumburg was a ghost town in its first few years, you wouldn’t belie it with the traffic jams to get into the parking lot today.

    On he deer brook mall issue, Deerbrook suffers from a confusing design, a strip center/ outdoor mall on the north end and an indoor mall on the south end, the big killers for the indoor mall on the south end.. The big killer was having major tenants that went out of business like Wards, Venture and Speigles, Then having there replacements turn there back on the indoor mall and close off the indoor access like service merchandise, sport mart and then Bed bath and beyond. Also the tenant mix aged and made the mall not very viable in a marketing sense and unappealing to consumers.
    As of this spring, the current owners plan to demolish the current development in phases over the next few years and rebuild the property with a modern retail mix in a strip center/lifestyle center format

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  6. first of hi i sent you photos that i have taken of this mall , i hope you post them .as for lakehurst if you want info go to http://www.lakehurstmall.net it has lots of photos of the mall including several of mine. the belvedeer mall is quiet a spot, i also have photos of this one and will send to you, i work today at the wal mart ware lakehurst mall was that is ware i wound up after the geat indoors closed. yes i worked there, store did realy bad and most likly should never have been opened.i have one more thing to say neiman – marcus and lord and taylor ore original i magnin did become the theater and macys was first sears then jcpenny and then marshall fields witch is now macys. north brook also had one of the first creat and barel stores
    john gallo

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  7. Interesting Northbrook Court synopsis. I knew Sears was JCPenney in the interim before becoming MF/Macy’s, but didn’t include too many details as Northbrook Court will eventually be another post on here most likely. However, you’ve done a pretty good job on your site outlining their history haha.. Interesting also that Northbrook Court started with 2 failed anchors before Neimans and LT? I wonder what they were. Maybe someone who was around then can fill us in; I wasn’t even close to being born yet. Thanks for filling us in!

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  8. Wow! What a great post! I really like the vintage pictures of Service Merchandise and Montgomery Ward. Deerbrook Mall is certainly an interesting place to go to. It really has nothing inside worth noting, besides TJMaxx (which can be a fun place to go! lots of good stuff here!). Based on the photos posted, I think it’s safe to say that TJMaxx used to be a Marshalls. If you’re going to go here, the stores you see from the exterior are what is worth going to. The interior of this mall really never changed, but the exterior certainly has. One big eyesore of this mall is the end where Service Merchandise used to be. It was a Great Indoors (home decorating store owned by Sears) store and closed up probably 2-3 years ago and after that happened, a large liquidation company opened up in that space, but that was temporary and only lasted as long as the merchandise did. I went there a couple times out of sheer curiosity and I ended up finding a nice Fossil watch that I paid almost nothing for. The rest of the stores you see from the exterior are always busy and despite having nothing much inside this mall, the big box stores seem to be doing well.

    One reason this mall may have died inside, is the fact that some stores (especially Ulta) used to have entrances/exits in the back of the stores to lead into the mall. Once things started closing up and there wasn’t really a good reason (or not a reason big enough) to keep those open, they cut those off. There doesn’t seem to be any effort to bring stores into the enclosed part of this mall, and once stores like TJMaxx leave, there won’t be anything even worth noting afterwards. I’m not so sure if the construction of Northbrook Court has anything to do with the decline of this mall. Deerbrook Mall isn’t technically a “mall”, it’s more of a strip mall and doesn’t cate to the same upscale clientele that Northbrook Court does. If you want Neiman Marcus and L&T…go to Northbrook Court. If you want one stop shopping like Jewel, OfficeMax, and Best Buy…go to Deerbrook.

    Matt from WI: there is still a Boston Market at this mall, but it’s not an outparcel anymore (I want to say it was at one point).

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  9. Oh, I know, anonymous. Boston Market still exists. I was just saying that they seem to of pulled out of my state for the most part, save for a few scattered locations in the Milwaukee and Madison areas.

    Ahh, Wards. They used to anchor my hometown mall until 23 years ago, closing in mid-to-late 1984 and being replaced by Kohl’s in early 1985. The store had that same exact signage outside.

    Marshall’s is now also a part of TJMaxx, so the nameplate swap makes sense, but I think the conversion was made when both names were still part of seperate companies.

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  10. By the way, what became what here? Which was Wards, which was Service Merch, etc.?

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  11. Okay, I’ve tried to figure this out. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I have the right anchor chronology now.

    * TurnStyle became Venture, which became Office Max, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Men’s Wearhouse.

    * The demalled section became Spiegel, which became SportMart, which became Sports Authority.

    * Designer Depot became Best Buy.

    * Marshalls became TJ Maxx.

    * Montgomery Ward became Service Merchandise, which became Great Indoors, which became the liquidation store, which is now vacant.

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  12. That sounds plausible to me. When I first went in 1999-2000, most of the boxes were there including Best Buy, and Service Merchandise was almost on the way out. However, there was a portion of the mall that still existed from TJ Maxx up to the Blockbuster which was closing then.

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  13. For an area that is decidedly upscale, I think it would be a good idea to convert the indoor portion of the mall to an outdoor lifestyle center, although with a lot of emphasis on detail. It could compliment Northbrook Court in a way. Throw in some sophisticated entertainment like an arts theater. Somehow, connect that section to the existing strip mall also.

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  14. the order of the ancors is right with the excption of one thing spegal and sportsmart werw also in the wards space . it was wary large store spred out on one floor. sears removed the sothern most part of the wards building to build tthe great indoors wittch is a new building , and also has a heated underground parking. thats because that health club witch i think was wards auto center uses all the parking at night. i was working at the great indoors when it closed and also worked for the liquidators, that was a fun one in one years time i closed two big stores and opened two with one being the same . the liquadaters were a co from the south named hudson capitol. they were liquadating a katrina damaged mcraes from biloxi ms. and were only tell the merch was gone.

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  15. I am so glad someone finally found some information on Deerbrook Mall. We go there atleast 2-3 times a week to the Bally’s gym out front and I am always curious about the history of the mall. I tried to research it a year ago but got nowhere. I will admit it is a bit creepy going inside a pretty much empty building to go to the TJ Maxx. It actually made me sad when I went in there the first time and realized it used to be an inclosed mall. Thanks so much for all the history! The oly other mall I’d like to know more about is Raleigh Springs Mall in Memphis TN.

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  16. Wait, Spiegel can’t have been in the old Wards, if Wards was at the south end. Sports Authority’s at the NORTH end.

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  17. thay moved to make room for the great indoors, look at the photos .you can dee that wards, spiege,l and sportsmart all had the same entrance .also want to note designer deopt and best buy space were a john m smith homemakers store..dose anyone remember the fire at bed bath and beyond that sent smoke through the whole mall it was in the late 90s just before all the remodiling but had nothing to do with the think it was allrady planed.

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  18. Incredible vintage photos there. You can take hundreds of digital but the genuine nature of old film photos in their respective eras are golden.

    I would’ve never known that TJ Maxx (or whomever before it?) reformatted the entire entrance (nevermind interior of the store) for its own stock. Luckilly, TJ Maxx’s groovy old-looking common modern logo fit nicely in this place. Marshall’s still has a few locations around with that 70s logo (and carts doning the logo) including one down the street from my house.

    UFO lights were just the first thing I thought of when I saw that foyer picture.

    It’s also interesting to know TJ Maxx took over that Marshall’s here; both of them are still at each other today. I’m still not certain whose doing better (I think TJX Corp. despite their sluggish offspring HomeGoods and Bob’s) but they’re seemingly neck and neck.

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  19. So Wards moved from the Great Indoors to the Spiegel space?

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  20. I love the older pics especially the 3rd one.

    I really hate how the “brighten up” these malls to the bare bones.

    Removing the wood paneling,the colonial themed lighting,the decor that makes the place look attractive,sigh.

    It’s like they said “aw,its too dark in here,I can’t see anything hey I wanna see what else this mall has that hasn’t been seen” and so they take the lighting lever to maximum till they can see every nook an cranny. But else was their to see to a mall,its just it’s walls and stores,nothing much else.

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, but wait I know what this is about,this has nothing to do with style and everything to do with precieved safety.

    Think about it! people don’t feel “safe” in dimly lit malls and they believe crime will less likely happen in bright mall .

    Problem is crime still happens whether a mall is bright or not,Buckland Hills one of the brightly lit malls still has problems with crime,one was drug dealing I think,another time someone was carjacked.

    If you really want to prevent crime stop letting city centers and neighborhoods deteriorate in their condition,and stop luring people farther an farther away from the town,duh.

    rant over,phew.

    Anyway I like how the mall originally looked, ambient lighting,wood panels,post top Victorian style lamps very calm and rustic,but now its all bright,bright,bright white and bland,sigh oh well at least they kept the floor.

    What with the obsession with white walls,these days?

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  21. One of the things that jumps out at me about these (great) old pictures is how modern and–frankly–COOL that the Marshall’s store looks. It’s funny, the design here is a heck of a lot more hip and edgy, even by modern standards, than what they do nowadays.

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  22. I absolutely hate how they removed much of the ceiling, leaving the HVAC units exposed. It looks so tacky. Does anybody know when the mall decided to do this?

    On the other hand, I love that really cool Marshalls sign from the late-70’s/early-80’s.

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  23. My guess would be that renovation was done in the early or mid-90’s because that’s when malls started to be built with less and less themed decoration and more towards a “high-tech” look.

    I can tell the outside was redone much more recently though.

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  24. ok lets do this agin the south ancor spot was first wards it was closed long before the company was in truble. then it was split into three stores thay were spiegal ,designer depot, and service merchandise.designer depot closed and that space became homemakers. then the spirgal moved to gurnee mills several miles north and that space became sportsmart then hiommakers closed and best buy took that spot witch is waer it is now. then service merchandise closed. the mall moved sportsmart to a spasce at the north end witch is ware sports athority is today. the old sportsmart space snd servicemerchandise space wes toren down to build the great indors building . witch is now empty the only part of the wards building left is the part best buy is in that is the story of the south ancor spot

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  25. Okay, thanks for clearing that up.

    By the way, if I had to guess, I would say that maybe the Marshalls/TJ Maxx space was originally Spurgeon’s. Just a wild guess.

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  26. My first memories of Deerbrook Mall go back to 1979, before Turn-Style became Venture, which was a great place to play Atari. This was the north end of the enclosed mall, which opened out into stores, which at one time, included:
    Bresler’s Ice Cream
    Alan’s Games and Things
    Footlocker (late 80’s)
    Gamer’s Paradise
    Fannie May
    Kinney Shoes
    Tasty Platter coffee shop (Later Flipside records)
    Noah’s Ark Pet Store
    Kaehler Luggage
    Jean Action
    Janies (children’s clothing)
    Buffo’s Restaurant (late 80’s)
    …and many more that I cannot remember.

    Some interesting notes:
    Footlocker was just down the street at Northbrook Court when they decided to open up one at Deerbrook, which had a sub-par selection. The store was not open very long. In fact, there was always a high turnover inside the mall…stuff came and went like the weather!

    Also, Marshalls was originally a dingy store in Highland Park right off of US41 and Deerfield Road. They moved to Deerbrook in the early 80’s. TJMaxx was across town in Highland Park at Crossroads (a strip mall on Skokie Boulevard). They literally swapped locations at some point, although Marshalls is actually a little bit south at a big-box strip mall built over the demolished Edens Theatres in the early ’90’s.

    The movie theatre was a big hangout before they built the ones at Northbrook Court. We had a lot of fun there.

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  27. Thanks, Tony — any idea what Marshalls was previously?

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  28. I grew up in Deerfield in the 1970s. Here are my deerbrook (the “d” was never capitalized on the red lettering out front) memories:

    Montgomery Ward had running dishwashers with transparent front doors on display. There was a “Buffeteria” serving burgers, chocolate milk, fries, etc. They also had quadrophonic stereos on the sales floor with blinking colored lights inside the black speakers that made abstract cross / diamond patterns. The intercom lady was almost constantly sounding a soft electronic “bing” over the public address system and saying,

    “Mr. Shipper, 294, Mr. Shipper, 294,” or,

    “Mr. Sugar, 294, Mr. Sugar, 294.”

    I would play and hide in the round racks of clothes while my mom shopped. The electric fans and air conditioners always had strips of blue and silver ribbons blowing. I used to love sitting on all the lawn tractors and liked the white rabbit and turtle pictographs on the black throttles.

    The original color scheme in the sunken area under the largest skylight was red orange carpeting and dark brown painted rails. All the brickwork was kept waxed and polished. Immense tan cylindrical planters with little trees were scattered through the mall.

    A store called “just pants” in white lower case italics had a tall arched entry surrounded with a gigantic simplified pair of pants and cowboy boots. The pants were such a dark blue in such a dimly lit mall that they didn’t make much of an impression despite their bold size. The store was replaced with “Jean Action” with an unlit sign.

    My family referred to deerbrook as “the mall of dying shops” because it never really thrived. There were times when it was more than half empty from Venture to Marshalls. Venture had to have silver poles guarding the mall entrance to prevent shopping carts rolling down the slope to Marshalls.

    The janitor was expressionless and looked like Saddam Hussein. He’d be a gold mine of information since he worked there for many, many years.

    Memorable store list:

    The 5-7-9 Shop (petite women’s clothing)
    Ask Mr. Foster travel agency
    Bally’s Total Fitness (detached)
    Bed, Bath & Beyond
    Best Buy

    Blockbuster Video
    Bookstore who’s name I can’t remember
    Brunswick Deerbrook Lanes bowling alley (detached from the mall across the rear parking lot), featured weekly in local crime reports
    Capt Yorke (tobacco shop with a very cold drinking fountain just outside using an ivory white plastic lever with incised characters resembling “E B C D.”)
    Deerfield bank

    Fannie May Candies
    Gamer’s Paradise (Dungeons and Dragons era / Early computer game stuff)
    General Cinema I – II – III
    Hickory Farm
    Hunt & Peck (clothes)

    Illinois driver’s license office named after the secretary of state
    Jewel supermarket
    Just pants
    Kaehler Luggage
    King’s Lane (men’s clothing)

    Kinney shoes
    Kuhn’s international delicatessen
    The Magical Mystery Tour (a short-lived magic trick / costume shop with a wall of Halloween masks)
    Marc’s Big Boy restaurant (detached)
    Marshalls

    Montgomery Ward
    Osco Drug
    Payless shoes
    Service Merchandise
    A spaghetti restaurant with crazy decor that was really popular with everyone in elementary school but went out of business in less than 6 months

    Spiegel
    Turn-Style
    Venture

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  29. I think my heart skipped a beat when I saw those old post lamps in the vintage shots. Words elude me.

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  30. Contrary to what was posted above, I was at Northbrook Court when it first opened. Neiman-Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Sears and I. Magnin were the anchor tenets. Sears was replaced by JC Penney which was later replaced by (Marshall Fields) Macys.

    Neiman-Marcus use to have a restaurant on the upper level. They also sold prepared foods on the main level. When [i]Ordinary People[/i] was being filmed they used Neiman for a few shots. I was there that day and saw Robert Redford and Mary Tyler Moore.

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    John Reply:

    On Northbrook Court anchors, Mark’s got it much closer than Justin did – there were no failed early anchors. The mall opened with three anchors – Sears, Nieman-Marcus, and Lord & Taylor. The fourth anchor slot was open and landscaped in such a way as to court another anchor. Maybe around ’79 or so I. Magnin came in to that fourth slot. Sears closed 12/24/03 and I lost the best home-from-college job imaginable. Penney’s didn’t open for six or eight months after significant rehab, as my old back room space became sales floor. When Fields came in they gutted much of the earlier structure and added the third floor.

    This thread has brought back lots of memories, both of NBC and Deerbrook. Thanks, everyone!

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  31. Yes, all true. I actually didn’t know about Ordinary People. I haven’t read through this whole thing, but it also worth noting that Weird Science was also filmed in Northbrook Court. The Sears building was utlimately torn completely down and replaced by Field’s 3-storey structure.

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  32. By the way, one of the movies that DID shoot at Deerbrook Mall, which is very rarely noted, was the cult horror film “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” The shooting was done outside, in the back of the mall. Henry, the main character, waits to for a teenage drug connection, who he then makes a sexual advance to. I disliked film immensely, but if you watch it, know that it’s incredibly violent. But you’ll get a brief glimpse of the rear entrance which used to be right by the mall entrance to Venture (the door opened to a corridor which had pay phones and bathrooms. This led to the mall, about three or four storefronts down from Venture).

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  33. I use to work at the Turnstyle in Deerbrook from 1973 to 1975. We would sometimes go to drink beer (you could purchase beer and wine in Illinois at the age of 19 from 1974 to 1979) in the Brunswick bowling alley after work.
    I recall that there was an ice cream parlor (Baskin-Robbins?) right next to the mall entrance to Turnstyle. I also recall a pet store on the east side of the mall near the center and a small short order, sit down resturant which I beleive was in the center of the mall near the movie theater. There was a tux rental place across from this to the south. There was also a liquor store to the south of the Turnstyle main exterior entrance. The liquor store did not open into the mall.

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  34. A brief update: Swung by the mall to grab some groceries at Jewel, get a manicure at Pretty Nails (the last store open at the southwest end near the movie theater until 2006-ish), and wandered inside.

    TJ Maxx, as usual, was absolutely bustling. And the fountains are on! A picture update to come.

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  35. I used to go to Deerbrook Mall often in the 70’s. I recall Turnstyle anchor store, and also Montgomery Wards. I worked in several stores there over the years, like Wards,Venture, Fannie May, and the ice cream shop Breslers (next to Venture). I remember that Musicland was across the way from Bresler’s. Then there was a t-shirt store in the mall, Honey Bear Farms store, a Just Jeans store, Kinney Shoes, an eye glasses store. The spaghetti restaurant that was visible from the street and right next to the main mall entrance was I think called The Spaghetti Works.

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  36. Hi Prangeway – Speaking of Lincolnwood Town Center – I would consider it more of an urban mall. Though technically in Lincolnwood, it’s literally across the border from Chicago, not quite North Shore but not quite Northwest like Woodfield. Since Old Orchard went upscale in the early-mid 90s (?), some patronage was diverted from LTC, as OO is only about a 15 minute drive northwest and offers some much nicer stores (Nordstrom, more upscale clothing stores, and a theater.) LTC is a good mid-scale mall, though. One of the anchors used to be a Penneys, which is now a Kohl’s, the other is a Carson Pirie Scott, and the other stores are a mix of popular chains (Gap, Old Navy, Express, American Eagle, etc.) It gets some crap for being the “ghetto mall” of the north suburbs, but I have a soft spot for it!

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  37. I remember that ice cream place. Directly across from it for a time was a novelty store called Magical Mystery Tour. I bought a rubber Ayatolla mask there for Halloween around 1979/80 (gotta capitalize on those hostage situations when they come!). This store later became a KB Toys, I believe. If KB didn’t take it over, it was very close by.

    The Musicland, if I’m not mistaken, was another storefront over on the same side. I think it was past that corridor with the bathrooms that led to the back of the mall. I remember sitting on those red tiled swoops or arches that went around the entrance. By the ice cream place was a woman’s spa/gym called Gloria Marshall.

    The pet store was Noah’s Arc and it was by the end with the theater. Across from that was a little coffee shop that I used to go to after movies with friends. I also remember walking by here one Halloween (after visiting the haunted house they had set up in the mall) and seeing a long line of weirdos dressed up in lingerie to see midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (this must’ve been a Halloween special event?)

    A saw many movies here including: Hero at Large, The Muppet Movie, Love at First Bite, Star Wars, Modern Problems, Project X, Risky Business, Up the Creek, Oh Heavenly Dog! Police Academy and Creepshow 2 (yes, I’m aware that several of these films suck).

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  38. I remember that ice cream place. Directly across from it for a time was a novelty store called Magical Mystery Tour. I bought a rubber Ayatolla mask there for Halloween around 1979/80 (gotta capitalize on those hostage situations when they come!). This store later became a KB Toys, I believe. If KB didn’t take it over, it was very close by.

    The Musicland, if I’m not mistaken, was another storefront over on the same side. I think it was past that corridor with the bathrooms that led to the back of the mall. I remember sitting on those red tiled swoops or arches that went around the entrance. By the ice cream place was a woman’s spa/gym called Gloria Marshall.

    The pet store was Noah’s Arc and it was by the end with the theater. Across from that was a little coffee shop that I used to go to after movies with friends. I also remember walking by here one Halloween (after visiting the haunted house they had set up in the mall) and seeing a long line of weirdos dressed up in lingerie to see midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (this must’ve been a Halloween special event?)

    A saw many movies here including: Hero at Large, The Muppet Movie, Love at First Bite, Star Wars, Modern Problems, Project X, Risky Business, Up the Creek, Oh Heavenly Dog! Police Academy and Creepshow 2 (yes, I’m aware that several of these films suck).

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  39. Wow, I remember eating at the Marc’s Big Boy (which was detached) with my mom, dad and sis. God how I wish they were still around the Chicago area. I have been wanting to go to Michigan to get my fix, but somehow I don’t think it would be the same.

    Big Boy is one of the dying breeds of restaurants and for some reason Denny’s continues to survive even though they are very similar :(

    Thanks for the great site! These pics are the inspiration I needed to go and photograph my hometown’s current establishments.

    If I had my way, retail would get back to the way it was 20 years ago. I can’t stand how refined and crappy stores are these days. So many have the exact same merchandise and no differentiation.

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  40. I used to go there all the time as a teen..around 1973-75. I think our favorite store was Stuarts? It was a clothing store for teenagers.. good deals. Also worked at Turnstyle & Wards. Big Boy had the best hot fudge sundae ever, and Brunswick as a big hangout. We used to play pool and bowl. Fun times!

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  41. I was in there this past Friday to stop in and see if TJ Maxx had any cheap watches. They did not. TJ Max is the only store open on the inside. All of the stores are in the Plaza or Strip Mall section.

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  42. Wasn’t the old spaghetti restaurant called, Noodle Works? With a train car in the middle of the restaurant… I had my 6th birthday party there.

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  43. I used to work at that Great Indoors a few years ago. Sears must have lost a ton of money building that huge store and the underground parking garage (which was almost never used) and the customers never came, least not in the numbers needed to support that concept.

    On a side note, there was a great Italian barber shop in the creepy/deserted indoor mall. I wonder if it’s still open…

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  44. This mall is pretty much deserted now. Anyone know what stores are inside?

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  45. the pet store was noah’s arc, but i think the name changed a few times. any ideas?

    i also remember there being a quenchers. the italian hair cut place was connie pagonno and i think its still there

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  46. Is this mall worth visiting? I mean for the dead mall part of it?

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  47. There was also a tanning salon with a real retro entrance. Very old school, palm trees, the whole deal. I was a realy little kid, 6 or 7 years old but i remember the ice cream shop, I thought it was King something?? This was in the early 90’s. The book store was exterior called Crowne Books.

    The interior had a cool style, gamers paradise was really cool.

    I wish it was still all open. Cool place to wander around.

    The blockbuster was huge and had a cool playground.

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    Brumbalow Reply:

    Just throwing my two cents in, another store not mentioned above was (Moondog’s) Comicland, a rather large comics store adjacent to the corridor that led to the back entrance of the mall. It closed circa 1994.

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  48. Deerfield was the most depressing mall in the world growing up. Nice to see it’s only gotten more so.

    However, Gamer’s Paradise was fun to browse. I got all my old D&D books there.

    I saw Back to the Future there a bunch of times.

    And there was a great comic book store there, as well as a decent CD store in the late 80’s.

    Anyone know the name of that comic store?

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  49. I used to shop there all the time growing up, especially for back-to-school. We’d go to the Marshall’s and a Famous Footwear that was at the front entrance (to the right side, I think).

    I remember that mall as always having a distinctive smell (not a bad one, more like a clothing-y one), and we were fascinated by the fountain as kids.

    I think the last movie I saw there was Blair Witch (I think I was in college and home for a visit).

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  50. So has anyone figured out what the Marshalls used to be?

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  51. I used to shop at this mall in the early 90s with my mom and sisters.
    I remember seeing “A midsummers night dream” at the general cinema. I totally think they could have kept the cinema open as a 2 dollar cinema that shows older movies or something. Its such a waste that its still there and not being used.
    I also remember we got our pet rabit at the mall and ended up having to bring it back because it bit my sister. lol
    I hate how they made the interior smaller and I miss the huge blockbusters that used to have a playground and entrance to the interior part of the mall.
    I think this mall has so much potential! They just need to open up the cinema again and more cool stores inside!
    Also the picture of the interior of the mall many years ago looked so cool! They should have kept the old lamps!

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  52. My wife had a back surgery in 1993, and had gone to post surgery therapies at Health South in Deerbrook Shopping Center in Northbrook, IL.

    She got the therapy from a very tall and good therapist who brought two young kids and left them at the baby sitting room at an athletic club while she worked.

    Now Health South is closed and we don’t know her name, so anyone who got treatments in this place by her, PLEASE contact us or post in this column. WE ARE DESPERATE! Thanks a zillion! Yoshi

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  53. Anyone know what have happened or where Health South in Deerbrook Shopping Center moved to?

    It was doing business in 1993.

    Thanks! Yoshi

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    Julie Reply:

    @Yoshi Sekiguchi, The only one left in Illinois is in Rockford

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  54. I love all these pictures. Thank god for this site.

    Anyone remember that delicious hamburger/hot dog/gyro place in the outdoor storefront area right across from Funcoland…I think it was called cookers or something.

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  55. I remember hanging out here quite a bit in the early 90’s. I even worked (very briefly) at the movie theatre. The inside corridor actually ran all the way back to what used to be Blockbuster (now I think it’s Office Max). There wasn’t an empty suite in the mall. It was packed with stores. There was even a Pet Store on the corner lot by the movie theatre. I loved this place. I use to enjoy sitting in the cozy area by the water fountain and just people watch.

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  56. The old Service Merchandise store was wrecked and then the now defunct Great Outdoors was built TJ Max was a Marshall’s and before that it was another store . The movie theatre was originally a two theaters and then it was divided into 4 smaller theaters.

    There was a Turnstyle store at the North end of the mall, which later became a Venture store, which later became what us now Bed Bath and Beyond and Office Max or thereabouts.

    There used to be a restaurant across from the pet store and next to the theaters. Other stores Just Jeans, Fannie Mae and a toy store.

    The Illinois Sec of State office had space in the front of the mall in late 70s, where Boston Chicken was, Blockbuster. Then the Sec of state office moved to the back of the mall, south west, then to it’s current location.

    The health club to the south was the automotive dept. of the Montgomery Wards store.

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  57. There was also a dance studio in Deerbrook mall in the 1970’s, near what is now TJMaxx. I took jazz dance lessons there.

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    @jt Reply:

    @Paige, Rhythmics Dance Studio

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  58. @TenPoundHammer, magnus
    half of the marshalls used to be a book store not sure about the other part.

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  59. billymac72 has it right.
    loved going to this mall.it had a beautiful Interior with the brickwork and fountain,lampsThe mall started to die when venture closed down,and sportmart and the other stores closed the access to the inside of the mall.It still can be saved, they just need to make it an indoor mall again.

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  60. Hi..

    I used to love this mall…(still do)

    They had Gamers Paradise, a gaming store with all kinds of stuff, think lava lamps, board games, computer games…

    There was a chocolate store, Franco mints or something across from TJ Maxx.

    We got our puppy from the pet shop in there, Dennis Rodman was there and my Dad used his Bulls credit card in his honor.

    There were 2 shoe stores Chernins or something independent.

    There was a vitamin shoppe across from the pet store. Also there was an optical shop, and I feel like there may have been a luggage shop….

    There was smith research, they paid you for market research.

    Ohh, blockbuster was a big one facing the outside and had an inner door, lots of movies and laser discs!

    There was a service merchandise where the large store wonder is….

    Obviously a movie theatre, and nail store right there…

    Some kind of lemonade and pretzel or cookie place by gamers paradise…

    And a “Babbages” which used to be amazing,
    But was bought by GameStop.

    This is bringing me way back!

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  61. The changes continue at Deerbrook Mall. I heard there’s a redevelopment plan in place for the mall. With Wonder!, Best Buy, and the Bally’s Club in the outlot closing, the whole south end of the mall is vacant. I heard the plan was to redevelop that section and move the north end tenants to the south end and then redevelop the north end. The plan includes getting rid of the indoor part of the mall, which really is what set this mall apart from the others in its heyday.

    Still remember the pet shop. Mom wouldn’t let us have a pet so we’d vidit the store as often as possible.

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  62. this was a fascinating history. thank you for all the work and the many comments also! many great memories of night at the cinema, then waltzing to candy shop, gamers paradise, noah’s ark and the odd diner-deli i don’t recall name. One key note, I believe most or all of mall is located technically in Deerfield, not Northbrook. Seems odd but border not actually Lake-Cook road, as might expect. Tax revs to deerfield per deerfield review. Overall, fascinating to think of how DB mall reflects growth of area and US overall from 70s to ’00. what next? too much commercial real estate. many big box category killers closing. the irony, first killed category and peers, then killed selves ultimately. I personally think major oppty for redevelopment but should stay mid-range (not NB court) or low-end. stores such as Old Navy and restaurant such as Chili’s would make lot of sense. many of these 10 miles or more away for closest. also, more local shops and storeowners plus pop up shops. need to be much more creative in next leg, also more destination, service reasons to visit. I actually think tearing it all down and building more a “lifestyle center” style indoor-outdoor with true walking, paths, street style only concept that could be enormously successful but need time and vision for next 5 years to re-build. happy holidays DB shoppers!

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  63. I was the last manager of Magical Mystery Tour. I worked there during college. It was one of the best, most fun jobs I ever had. Sadly the rents were too high to keep the store running. Management wouldn’t repair the broken security gate, we got broken into twice during my stint. I miss the fun.

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  64. Our family moved to Northbrook in 1971 and Deerbrook Mall was a very busy place then. Turnstyle was an alternative for back-to-school shopping if you didn’t want to go to Golf Mill and Sears, as was the Montgomery Ward store. The bookstore was called Walden Books- bought many a Little House on the Prairie book there. The haunted house they set up every year was always a big hit, as was Santa, whom was set up in one of the “pits” that was a sunken area that was carpeted and you could sit on the brick built-in ledges/seats. My dad worked at Wards part-time at night so about once a week we’d all go to the mall around 5 when he got off from his day job and we’d eat at The Red Balloon, which later became Marc’s Big Boy and then we’d shop/run around all night til grocery shopping time at Jewel, then be done and ready when dad was off around 9:30. Big Boy is also called Shoney’s in the South, and is still in business with the same basic menu and “Big Boy” sandwich- which is 100x better than McDonald’s Big Macs! Anyway- as a teen I worked at Thom McCann Shoes right across from Kinney’s and by the fountain. You should have seen Black Friday at Deerbrook Mall back in the day- would put Walmart to shame it was a madhouse!!!

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  65. The Metra station behind the mall was built in 1996, long after the mall fell out of favor. As a kid I loved going to the Swedish Smorgasbord, not sure if that was the name or just the style. As a teen I saw Rocky Horror Picture nearly every weekend after finishing my shift at the Breslers Ice Cream on the other end of the mall. The TJ Maxx was a lot of different stores, all out of business but mostly women’s clothing.

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  66. Ah yes, back to school shopping at the Turnstyle, Stuarts, and Montgomery Wards. The tux rental place was a Gingiss Formalwear store, many a prom tux came out of this store. Movies at the cinema and bowling at Brunswick. Thanks for the memories, then worked at Northbrook Courts On Stage next to Lord & Taylor as a teen, fun times.

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  67. I grew up in Northbrook and shopped the 5 7 9 store at Deerbrook Mall. They had the cutest trendiest clothes, except I was not a size 5,7 or 9, but still liked to check out all the hippest styles, and occasionally I would find a size 11 to buy!

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  68. I remember going there as a kid. There used to be a pet store, blockbuster, and a store called Gamer’s paradise. There was a smoke shop with an Indian outside that my dad would buy us fudge from. I remember some shoe stores on the inside that went out of business. Only accessible from the outside was a hot dog joint, and across from it was a video game store called funcoland. I remember the Montgomery ward store before it became best buy. I was lucky to see it before the full decline as a kid. Unfortunately i am sure I am forgetting a lot. We have pictures with me and Santa in there. He would set up in that depressed area in front of Marshall’s and Gamer’s Paradise. I remember stores closing one after the other. Seemed to be independent stores like the pet shop that went first. The place kind of lost its character as more places closed and we didn’t go as often as it died. It was sad to watch I have fond memories if it! The movie theater only had 3 screens or something and was pretty small. I saw Jurassic park in there when it came out and the ninja turtles movie. It was a cool place and when I left around 2005 seems to be on life support. Seeing the pictures was a nice trip thank you!

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    Al Reply:

    @Al,

    Correction, I recall the service merchandise store not Montgomery ward. Also there was a really good burger place called buffo it something

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  69. This was my mall throughout my childhood… I could see Venture from my bedroom window. Countless hours of fun and many early mornings to sneak in and skateboard on the smooth floors. Thanks for the photos and all the posts. Please share more if you go them!

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  70. Anyone remember Rythmics Dance Studio there in the 80s?

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  71. Oh, I have such fond memories of Deerbrook Mall! I remember the frog fountain, and passing by the Jos. A. Banks menswear store on the way to the theater. I always thought it was a weird way to abbreviate Joseph. I remember our family buying things at Service Merchandise (and their little plastic clipboards with golf pencils), bowling at Brunswick, eating and shopping at Kuhn’s. In high school (DHS class of 1997), I worked at both Sportmart and briefly at Bed Bath and Beyond (they made us high school kids to work well after 11pm on school nights and that did NOT fly with my dad). Also in high school, my friend Chris worked at the Subway there and on Monday nights, several of us would study math together there. One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned (forgive me if I missed it) is the DMV that was behind the Service Merchandise. Let me tell you, taking your driver’s test there during rush hour will prepare you for anything Chicagoland driving tries to throw at you. Lol.

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  72. As of October 2014, the last tenant of the interior Deerbrook Mall, TJ Max, has closed. The interior mall is now completely vacant and locked. The Spirit Halloween store connected to the outside of the main entrance was packing up as well after Halloween. So sad to hear!

    I stopped in at least a couple times a year to reminisce and was last there over the summer to see it before it closed.

    They did have the fountain going until the end, pennies in it and all. I have a few pictures of it. The brick, fountain, lights, etc. of the mall walkways still look as they did 30 years ago (minus the pay phones) when I used to go to the mall and shop at Venture, go to Gamers Paradise, Fannie May the music and pet store and of course, the General Cinema theaters. They did keep up the interior of the mall quite well, minus all the empty shops-

    I will miss it. RIP Deerbrook Mall…..

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  73. I remember taking classes at Rythmics with Josie.

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