Pekin Mall (East Court Village); Pekin, Illinois

Pekin Mall sign in Pekin, IL

This is one that started it all for us. During 1998 and 1999, Caldor and I took road trips on many weekends throughout the upper midwest. It started out by exploring various cities, often driving around aimlessly. Eventually we wanted to get out and stretch our legs, so we’d look for public places we could walk around, people watch, get food, and hang out. We weren’t terribly familiar with these cities and we were both teenagers at the time, so we didn’t really know where to go to get our feet wet. So, we turned to the places teenagers are known to flock and went to local malls in the cities we visited.

At first we didn’t really know what we were doing, but eventually it became systematic. We’d look at a map and go from mall to mall, driving around, looking at anything that looked interesting. Neither of us had more than very limited experience in the areas we explored: mostly the suburban and urban milleu of middle America. The experiences were simultaneously riveting, if not a little frightening. We encountered many different characters at the malls, saw malls in different physical as well as economic conditions, and got a taste of local flavor in every place we went. Without really categorizing them as such, we discovered what would later be categorized as a “dead” mall. We became amazed at the disparities we saw between large, successful, packed malls and old, dated, or for whatever reason emptier malls. We began to realize that many don’t even realize the differences or, if they do, they don’t really consider them. We found them fascinating, and started to contemplate the bigger picture. This blog is essentially the culmination of our explorations, our discoveries, our ruminations, and efforts in putting together a semblance of understanding in the retail puzzle of America.

Pekin Mall is the first remarkably dead mall we visited, in January of 1999. Located at the end of the commercial strip headed out of town on East Court/IL Route 9, Pekin Mall was an enclosed mall of about 500,000 square feet. It obviously opened sometime in the 1960s or early 1970s, but I’m not exactly sure. It was anchored by Bergner’s, JCPenney, Hobby Lobby, and Big Lots, and shaped like a carat. When we approached the mall from sad downtown Pekin on Court Street, it looked spectacularly dated on the outside, but nothing, I repeat, nothing could have prepared us for the inside.

We entered through Bergner’s on the east end of the mall and walked into the main mall and suddenly timewarped into someone’s psychadelic, drug-induced trip from 1972. The floor tiles were this shiny mix of off-white, deep blue, purple, and what can only be described as puke green. Horrifically, the tiles alternated colors so a striped pattern repeated the mismatched color scheme throughout the entire mall. I’ve never seen anything like it, and haven’t since (thankfully, I was born in the 80s). Strangely, the mall also seemed rather dimly lit, despite the manmade lighting and the very cool mod-70s windows carved into the ceiling for natural light.

However, I’m afraid that’s only the beginning. These 3 foot long, vertical rows of christmas lights (?!) hung down from the ceiling every so often, glistening against the visually assaulting, unholy kaleidoscope of colors on the floor. Every store, open or not, was horribly dated. Several stores had untreated wooden storefronts, which seemed to be popular in the 1960s or 1970s. The Fashion Bug’s font was very strange and old, and purple. The Deb shop’s sign was this neon green color, but you can be sure the store had the very deep purple carpeting and all the various trapeze-looking apparati which hung down from the ceiling to display all the latest fashions. The Waldenbooks, or should I say Walden Books, was one of their original mall store designs, built vaguely to look like an old bookstore on some urban street. It had the horrible dark green carpeting and the chandeliers common for Waldenbooks during this time. As an aside, I think these stores are more aesthetically pleasing (sans the carpeting and maybe the chandeliers) than their current bland design. In addition, one former vacant store was full of 2-3″ mod 70s green shag carpeting and another store was being used as a gymnastics studio. Imagine the disassociation therapy the kids will have to go through in order to enjoy gymnastics again!

I won’t ever forget the smell from that day either. During our visit was this bizarre fair in the mall, which consisted largely of card tables with various knick-knacks, Native American wares, and people. They were smoking pipes, cigars, incense burning. All mixed together with the musty old mall, it was a very strange, offensive smell.

As for the stores, I’d say well over half were vacant during our visit in 1999. The handful there weren’t dazzling or upscale by any means, as far as for actual shopping and utilitarian mall use. I’ve already mentioned most of them, actually. Add Payless, Radio Shack, GNC, and that about rounds out the major players that were in Pekin Mall in 1999-2000.

As for the mall’s entire history, I’m a little unclear. Like I said, the mall probably opened sometime about 1970. It had not received any sort of renovations, ever. As for its recent history, I know that a Sears once stood where Big Lots and Hobby Lobby are, but it closed in 1993. The Hobby Lobby didn’t have access to the mall either; it was walled off. The pictures featured with this entry were taken in the Summer of 2000 (They’re vintage!) but the mall is in mostly the same condition as it was when Caldor and I visited in 1999.

During 2001, the mall was sold and the development company announced huge plans to redo the mall as (what else?) an open air power center, read: strip mall. However, due mostly to lack of interest, an honest effort by the company to come through on their promised plans to redevelop the horrid mall failed. So the mall sat, and all the while the mall emptied out completely. During my last visit to the mall in January, 2002, the Hobby Lobby wing of the mall was entirely shuttered.

It was not until late Spring 2002 that the mall finally came down, in pieces. The original Bergner’s anchor remains, and the new development is called East Court Village. Surprisingly, few items exist on the internet to document the mall’s recent history and transition. East Court Village doesn’t even appear to have its own website. JCPenney announced it would be leaving the development and closed their doors in 2002. However, Goody’s Family Clothing appeared to take their place in 2004. Big Lots and Hobby Lobby still anchor the west end of the redeveloped strip mall. I’ve actually not been back in some time. How is it doing? Leave some comments or E-Mail me and let me know.

NEW: Check out a recreation of the Pekin Mall directory and site plan, put together by Kurt Schachner. (PDF)

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Added 8/20/2006:

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244 Responses to “Pekin Mall (East Court Village); Pekin, Illinois”

  1. This mall is so horrible, it’s cool. What a time warp!

    Check the interior picture of the Waldenbooks again. I see chandeliers.

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  2. OMG, they had a LUMS! You have got to be kidding me. What I wouldn’t give to have seen the inside of that relic!!!

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    Brandy Reply:

    @Kirb, lol you couldn’t. It was so dark, you needed a flashlight to see your food.

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  3. Agree with Steven on this mall. So ugly, yet so cool. It’s the tiling…..that is the ugliest color scheme I’ve seen.

    Lots of very outdated storefronts too. Not sure what LUMS was, but I recognized Claires, and that retro-looking Walden Bookstore is clearly from the mid-to-late 1970s, before K-mart took over the chain in the ’80s and shortened the name to “Waldenbooks” (Which too, will disappear as stores are rebranded ‘Borders Express’). There’s an even older storefront at a mall here in Wisconsin, I tried to get an image of, but it turned out severly blurred.

    Again, great pics.

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  4. What was/is Lums comparable to? I discovered there are a few currently open, but little more about the chain itself. I know we had one here and it was just a family restaurant type deal, much like an older Perkins or Denny’s.

    It is the ugliest color scheme I’ve seen to date. I don’t know what they were thinking.

    Matt, is the old Walden Books storefront in Sheboygan’s Memorial Mall? I saw one there too; it might be the only other one I know of?

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  5. Concord Mall in Elkhart, IN has a Waldenbooks that looks like that if I’m not mistaken.

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  6. [...] Both the outside and inside of the mall are currently a hybrid of both very dated and modern decor, which unfortunately seem to be fighting and that’s not good.  Outside, the anchors and most of the mall facade look ancient, which I think is cool but I’m sure puts off a few shoppers here and there.  You know the type, they don’t walk into a place unless it’s glassy, shiny and sterile looking as a hospital.  It appears, though, that Sears did update their logo with their very new logo.  Going inside, the floors were dominated by pink tiles with purple borders, carpeting with a kaleidoscope of colors (none of which really matched), and peach colored railings.  The ceiling was this mesh-looking latticework design, and sodium lamps hung down from it to light the mall (aided, thankfully, with some natural lighting and lighting from the stores).  All in all, the design scheme inside the mall seemed somewhat schizophrenic and didn’t work at all for me.  Maybe it works for you.  For another strange color scheme, see my earlier Pekin Mall entry.  [...]

  7. Original anchors at the Pekin Mall were Bergner’s, JCPenney, Sears (the Hobby Lobby), and Kroger (Big Lots). There was also a cinema and plenty of restaurants inside the mall including one of the last of the old Lums franchise.

    JCPenney actually closed their store at Pekin Mall in the late 80′s and reopened the same year that Sears closed sometime in the early 90′s.

    It’s amazing to see the old mall is still hanging in there. I used to there on occasion with my family as kid, when it was a “live’ mall, and it looks EXACTLY the same.

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    Jeff Schurman Reply:

    @Jack Shell, I grew up in Pekin , and there was never a Krogers at the Pekin Mall . It was an A&P grocery store . Also , for a few years after the mall opened , they had guys dressed in old time outfits that rode the bikes with the huge front wheel and little back wheel , up and down the center of the mall . All the way from Bergners to Maraclr Mart . Oh yeah , Miracle Mart was where Sears used to be , and was one of the original anchor stores of the mall .

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  8. ……I’m a native and current resident of PEKIN>>>>>>This is the correct history of the mall…opened fall of 1971. It was the first enclosed mall built in Illinois outside of the Chicago area………original anchors..bergners-penneys-murphy mart-and the A&P supermarket.>People came from a 100 mile radius it’s first 2 years. Then every city down state got a mall. sales dropped ,the mall was to large for a town of 40,000 sitting 10 miles from peoria…..It had a 20 year decline…………today it is a shell of its past. A few stores are attached to Bergners and the hobby-lobby end is mostly dollar cities…..penneys sits vacant with a lot of dirt mounds around it……it has a new look even a new starbucks………….. but retail has changed forever since wal-mart. Sears is back in town but freestanding……….everything is free standing any more. and the green color was called citrus green but we called it Pekin mall green.

    .it’s gone so if you still want to make fun of it you’ll have to do it in your dreams………………………………………………………….

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  9. I’m only leaving a reply to say that you should take a look at this post again–I found some *lost* Pekin Mall photos and added them onto the bottom!

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    Joel Reply:

    @Caldor,

    Anybody ever have pictures of that weird mural that was painted at one end of the mall? It was like an adam and eve kind of thing – I would love to take another look at it if someone had a photo – should not be lost to the dust.

    Thanks, Joel.

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    Sharon Reply:

    @Joel, Did you ever get a picture of that mural? I would LOVE to see it as well!

    Thanks,
    Sharon

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  10. Man, this mall was definately a LOT more dated than many other old, unrenovated malls I’ve seen pics of! Too bad it’s gone now, since I currently go to Illinois State University(perfectly in the heart of Central Illinois, and close distance away from several midsize Illinois cities), and probably would’ve made a trip specially out here to see this mall for myself!! (albeit it being slightly out of the way of Peoria)

    Ah well, I’ll just have to do more research now to find a somewhat close “dead mall” for myself to visit, as I’m planning to rent a car, and would love to run into one of these sorta malls along the course of my trip. *sigh*

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  11. I worked for Zales Jewelers in the late ’90′s and there was a store in Pekin Mall. (I believe it may have been Gordon’s Jewelers previously.) I’ve never been there, but I remember my district manager and the store manager at the time saying how horrible the mall was, and that they were tearing parts of it down. I can see from the pictures how right they were. =) I’m not positive, but I think the store was closed after Christmas 1999 or early 2000.

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    Jaime Reply:

    @Laura,

    February, 2001. I was one of the last remaining employees of Zales of Pekin. It closed after the Peoria store was off and running.

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    Melissa Reply:

    @Jaime, I believe we worked together at that same zales in that horrible mall.

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  12. It’s amazing the condition it was in before it was demolished.

    Just by looking at those pictures of the interior it looked complete brand new.

    weird.

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  13. About the new pics you guys found….I have not seen a ‘Deb’ storefront like that since 1997…the store at Wausau Center Mall had that same appearance. They quit using that green colored sign and switched to white or fuscia around the time the location at my hometown (Forest Mall) mall opened. We got the latter color.

    Thanks to Deb coming out of bankruptcy in the late 1990s, they finally had the cash to remodel all their remaining old stores, and open new ones. A lot of stores that looked like this, closed in the mid 1990s.

    I recall those stores vividly because it was one of those that my mom shopped at a lot when I was young.

    So now this mall is gone huh? All in the name of progress….and giving us another ‘big box’ or ‘lifestyle’ center. (boooo!)

    I wonder, who designed the mall originally anyways? The ugly floor tile colors and geometric patterns scream ‘We were ‘A Simon mall’ ‘ to me.

    (Not a knock on Simon Property Group, it’s just a common design theme I noticed among their older malls)

    Oh, and yes, the Walden Bookstore I spoke of is indeed at Memorial Mall in Sheboygan, another dying enclosed mall that a renovation hasn’t seemed to help bring out of its hole. That was another mall that was never updated until different owners took it over in 2003, but I’m afraid it’s too late.

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    Nichole Reply:

    @Matt, it was a Simon mall design

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  14. In the Bergner’s pix, that is the 1960s-70s Bergner’s script and notice there is no red asterisk to the left of the name. I believe the asterisk was added in the 1980s and then added to Carson Pirie Scott around 1990 when Bergner’s bought that chain. After Saks conglomerated Younker’s, Herberger’s, and Bergner’s, the asterisk was added to those chains as well. I guess we’ll wait and see if Bon-Ton adds it to the rest of the Bon-Ton stores.

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  15. [...] Northwoods Mall, Peoria’s only enclosed mall, opened in 1973 along War Memorial Drive near Interstate 74.  In many ways, Northwoods Mall also typifies mid-tier malls in middle America.  It is a two-level straight shot between anchors Sears and JCPenney, with a Macy’s at center court which was a Famous-Barr location until September 2006.  Many national mid-tier mall chains such as Spencer’s, Waldenbooks, American Eagle, Abercrombie, and Victoria’s Secret are represented.  Northwoods has always been successful and asserted dominance over the other enclosed mall in the Peoria metro area, Pekin Mall, which closed after years of struggling in 2003.  [...]

  16. What a hoot. I grew up in Pekin (near the mall in the Sunset Hills subdivision) and I was 10 years old when that mall was built. We went there on the opening night and even though it was 35 years ago I remember it well. The only store we actually bought anything that night was in Tiffany’s Bakery. The place was jam-packed for the opening.

    I moved away in the early 80′s after college and when my dad passed away several years ago, among my stuff still at his house were some scrapbooks that had newspaper clippings about the grand opening. It had pictures of a ribbon cutting ceremony (attended by the Illinois govenor, no less), plus a complete listing of the original stores. Lots of pictures too, pretty much a picture of every store. Alas though, I tossed those clippings out thinking that no one in their right mind would ever want to see that stuff.

    If my memory serves me correctly, a few original stores that come to mind as I walk from one end to the other are: Bergners (where I saw my first VCR in Christmas 1975 and they also had a restaurant in the store), a music store (can’t quite recall the name, it started with a “B”, Coach House Gifts, KarmelKorn, Penney’s, a candy store of some sort, Tiffany’s bakery, Brown’s Sporting Goods, Aladdin’s arcade, Sam’s Pretzels, Lum’s and the A&Ps that was mentioned above. Also a drugstore at that end that had a lunch counter and restaurant. Radio Shack of course and a record store which I forget the name. Sears did come along later and a close friend’s dad managed that store. My friend had a job there in high school and we met after work lots of time at the Ivanhoe bar at that end of the mall.

    Regarding Lums – there are a few still around if you Google it and they bought the Ollie Burger to sell in their restaurants. The Lums in this mall was one of the last establishments to go out of business.

    Thanks for the time travel back to my childhood, it was fun. I spent countless hours in that mall and sat on those groovy benches many times.

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  17. It’s caught it’s second wind! It’s now an open air type mall. With the Super Wal-Mart across the street it is now revitalized. Tractor Supply, and a couple of local Sporting goods stores. New buildings in the parking lot house a Verizon center,Starbucks, and a pizza parlor.

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  18. UPDATE…….Steve and Barrys have taken a portion of the Penney building…….And it was a SIMON mall until they drove it into the ground….Also Deb shop did open a new store next to the hobby lobby(murphy mart/sears)…..It nice to know Pekin Mall can be know for it’s retail cache’……………………………………….Block & Kuhl…….Now that was a grand department store……………

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    PekinChick Reply:

    @Block & Kuhl, I loved going to Block& Kuhl’s as a kid and having lunch at a window table in the upstairs restaurant. My mom’s friend was a hostess and we always got good seats. Had the clown upside down ice cream cone. Always saw Santa there. My last memory of the store is shopping for my wedding gown there.

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  19. I thought Goody’s took the old JCPenney?

    Now, what was Block & Kuhl? Was that in the mall?

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    Trina Reply:

    @Bobby, Goodys took the old Jacks building across the street. Which has now been taken over by Dunham Sports. Steve and Berrys took half of the JcPennys and the tractor supply store took over the other half. I never heard of Block & Kuhl and have lived in Pekin over 20 years.

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  20. Goody’s went accross the street in the east court village 2. (thats another story)………the Penny building has been split into 3 store……… Steve and Barrys -tractor supply and a 3rd store to open in 2007..To me the strange thing about this new center is they split it into 2 parts with a new 2 lane road running thru the middle where the center court use to be. and where does the road lead……well all roads lead to WAL-MART………………………… Block &Kuhl was a chain of store started in Pekin in 1865….their flag ship store was a 7 story beauty located in downtown Peoria…..Carson Pirie Scott of Chicago aquired the chain in the 1960′s…………..A interesting footnote…..Pekin Malls 3rd anchor was Murphys out of Indiana..Carson attempted to be the 3rd anchor in the mall but was block by the P.A. Bergner chain…Block’s and Bergner’s both had there flagship stores in downtown Peoria directly accross from each other…and were very competive…………….and thus no Carsons (Block & Kuhl) ) ever appeared at the Pekin Mall……………

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  21. So Pekin Mall WAS a Simon mall (known back in 1971 as Melvin Simon & Associates). Figured as much, and a good guess on my part. The tiling gave it away, along with the overall ‘dimness’ of the place. They used the same striped/geometirc patterns, just different color schemes. While Pekin used white, blue, violet and ‘puke green’ (don’t look at me….PrangeWay started it. :-P ), they used the same patterns here in both Forest Mall in my hometown of Fond Du Lac, (I forgot the colors though), and Memorial Mall in Sheboygan also used White, but traded the ‘cooler’ colors for orange, beige and brown…another ugly yet retro color scheme.

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  22. Quite an ugly mall. In a way the green and blue tile is interesting, they add color to an otherwise blane space, the thing that really makes it gross are the zigzags and blobs in the pattern that start to make you dizzy.
    appriciate all the work put into this site. My career field is design, and I find inspiration many places.

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    bill just Reply:

    @JohnRuskin, It truley did make me dizzy when I lived there in the mid 90′s.

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  23. An E-Mail comment from Kara:

    I’m a native of Pekin, and let me tell you a thing or two about Pekin mall.

    First of all, you got the decor head on. The whole thing got closed down to become a strip mall circa 2002–it was fantastic, Bergners had his whire mesh over where the entrance to the mall was, and you could look in on the slowly rotting mall.

    Pekin Mall had a movie theatre, waaay back in the day (about 16 years ago). It also had a pretzel store where they put the pretzel on a stick and DIPPED it in cheddar cheese. I have never found another pretzel store where they did this.

    It’s turned into a scary strip mall now, with a lot of pointless crap. The best part is that they ripped the mall apart only to build something the same fucking size that didn’t share A/C with the next store.

    Pekin Mall is generally regarded as a joke in the town, although its death did cause some small local businesses to pop up, like a used bookstore. I think it’s rather interesting that a town of 30,000 has exactly ONE bookstore, a used one. Pekin mall had no current bookstore.

    ALSO– being as you were there in the 1990s, you missed the best part of Pekin. The high school mascot was the Pekin Chinks for years. Yes, Chink, as in someone from China. We had he Chinkettes (cheerleaders) and the Chink Rink (iceskating) and this went on till about 1982, I believe. Stores in Pekin still sell Chink memorabilia.

    That’s Pekin for ya.

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    Fancee Reply:

    @Prangeway,
    The chick rink was roller skating…on route 98

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    Janice Reply:

    @Prangeway, OMG I grew up and lived at the mall in the mid 70′s. Also lived at the chink rink. I loved the colors they were super cool at the time and it was a nice mall. The big circle flower bed in the center was a fountain originally. I have a pic of me with a clown who was there for an event going on that was in the newspaper right next to it. The pretzel place was the best!!! I used to get the pizza pretzel they dipped the face of it in sauce and sprinkled parmesian cheese on top. You are right noone has pretzels like that nor does anyone have karmelcorn as good as theirs was. Also used to go to themovies alot. It reall was happening in the late 70′s early 80′s. When I used to go visit my friends in Pekin after we moved to Florida always had to get a pizza pretzel. Memories

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  24. wow, what a old place,

    used to go there when I was a kid, sure is a shame but that area is very depressing….

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  25. Stumbled x this site a couple weeks ago – now im having dreams/memories in the middle of the night. I was from Groveland – so this – in its day – was our only close shopping/event option in the 70′s (even prior to Peoria’s mall). My mom’s friend was a beauty counter lady at JCP’s – I remember us going there when it opened to see “the mall.” That middle section when it opened was a fountain/planter i believe. A lot of the mall was not finished. (early 70′s). Here’s what I remember: Bergners (even had real live reindeer outside during xmas in a cage and that nasty talking plastic Bergners xmas tree that scared us as kids – used to yell “sing along”) used to go in, turn rt to customer service to cash checks etc., anyway, JCP’s, Sears, really don’t remember the A& P, Fashion Bug, Deb Shop, Claire’s, Coach House gifts, Alladin’s arcade, Lums (oh i could wrt a book on that one), Lucas pizza, Sam’s Pretzels (my fav to this day), Baskin Robbins the orig. 31 flavor store, bakers shoes?, NOahs ark pet store, CEFCU (credit union for CAT), Tom McCanns, Murrays shoes, Baubles & Beads kiosk (way back in its early days), Walgreens, some record store, GNC, fannie Mae (center local) and became or was a gold/jewelry cheap storefront (again could be confusing with Peoria NorthWoods mall), Brown’s sporting goods, x from that was a hair salon-Regis or Great Expectations, Waldin bookstore (now we’re going back towards Bergners) 5-10-15-20 girls clothing, Christian Bros. western wear, STUARTS!!, Swiss colony, Zales jewelers (i was too young to buy jewelry so ??) Karmel Karn and Orange Bowl for sure, Pekin Mall Cinema, some Kiosk down at the Sears end that made those hot-press 70′s tshirts which you would file thru trays of what you wanted like old lps to print on thos 2-tone t-shirts, The Ivanhoe bar (no windows and really 70′s dark…(too young but went older years about 20+ yrs back) , a jean/levi shop i cannot recall. Here’s the one to remember tho – there was a Sambo’s restuarant in the parking lot by the highway. Thats going back some time. I know there’s more – but thats all i could come up with – with some help of a few friends .. they that thought i was nuts for even asking. Have more PM stories as well – maybe some other time. Even a murder story!!! good ole Pekin! oh just remembered a music/sheet store type place down by Bergners….

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    kathy, k-de Reply:

    @kelli, did they ever solve that murder? that was the one where they found a woman dead in the trunk of her car, right? or was there another one? i worked at lums. if anyone remembers the “flasher” at halloween…that was me!

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    Janice Reply:

    @kelli, In the day it was called Hot Sam’s My fav was the pizza pretzel mmm

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    desiree Reply:

    @kelli, i was wondering what the murder story was? i have been trying to search it but nothing comes up, was it a woman that they found in her car? it happened in like to late 70s early early 80s? if you could get back to me that would be great! my email is meandt_2003@yahoo.com

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    Jim Reply:

    @kelli, you forgot Radio Shack which was between the Lum’s Restaurant and JoAnn Fabrics, Walgreens drugstore and the Walgreen’s Restaurant which was next door to the Walgreens that featured a lunch counter and was dimly lit, T-Shirt House kiosk in the middle of the mall outside of Lum’s/Walgreens/Alladdin’s Castle. Also some optical place when you first walk into the main entrance of the mall — I think a Bard Optical?

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    Jim Reply:

    @kelli, The music store was Byerly Music. There was also a music store named Sam Goody right next door to the Radio Shack I believe.

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  26. I reside in Pekin. The old mall is gone and the new place really looks good. The area has really changed and many, many more stores are coming on line in the area.

    In its day, the Pekin Mall was a very nice and modern place. As time went on and the larger cities nearby opened their malls, our mall slipped and just was never taken care of or modernized.

    Seeing the old pics really brought back some good memories.

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  27. Despite maybe 100 visits to the Peoria area, somehow I never managed to visit Pekin Mall until today.

    The responses have been a little confusing, but here’s what I noted today: The Bergner’s building is still intact and occupied (by Bergner’s, obviously). It still has the ogiginal dark brick decor on the outside. The JC Penner wing as mentioned still stands, and is occupied by TSC/Steve & Barry’s. The third original anchor is occupied by Big Lots and Hobby Lobby. All (or nearly all) of the inline mall space has been knocked down and replaced with mundane looking strip mall stores, the majority of them on the Bergner’s wing. There’s a Claire’s, a Deb, a Hallmark store, and others. Big Lots and Hobby Lobby only have a couple new stores attached to them. Steve & Barry’s don’t have any new stores attached, but there’s room to add some. Its easy to drive all around the now-three separate sections of the former mall, and you can spot where the old parking lot ended and was added onto with new asphalt. Oh, I mentioned the old Bergner’s store still is unpainted dark bricks – well, nearly everything else is painted beige. The TSC store is painted white. Behind the old anchor areas are unpainted as well. The beige must have been thrown on there to try and “blend” in the new 2002+ architecture with the old 1970s stuff.

    I mentioned the mall recently to a guy who I knew grew up in Pekin. He said most Pekin residents eventually grew to hate the old mall; since it was arranged with three dead-ends, shoppers had to turn around and go back when they reached the far ends of the mall. At least a two-story mall would have offered different stores on the walk back to the car, but he said this one was just awful if you happened to be parked back at the far end of the mall.

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  28. I live near Pekin, IL. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to the mall but I know it’s been in decline for some time. It’s disheartening to see someplace that was once so crucial to that community shutter and close.

    However, I thought it was going to be remodeled after the new mall in Peoria, IL…here’s the website: http://www.theshoppesatgrandprairie.com/ which is an “open air mall” but not in the strip mall sense like it was posted previously. This open air concept is a mall, you just have to leave the store (go outside) to go to the building next door. The Shoppes in Peoria is huge with lots of stores like Old Navy, The Dress Barn, Just Jill, etc. The company that built the Shoppes was supposed to do the same for Pekin….don’t know what happened.

    I live in the East Peoria area and I think the decline of the Pekin Mall was due to Peoria mall and Blommington/Normal malls. I spent most of my teenage years at all of those malls, never considered Pekin an option, even though it was closer than Bloomington. I think the lack of development and store updates/turn over prevented it from becoming a “top of mind” mall for locals. Chances are if you didn’t live in Pekin, you probably didn’t make the trip to the mall.

    I do remember people used to go there to get their kids pictures taken with Santa Claus around Xmas…it used to be a big deal, a tradition every year for some families. It’s sad that had to die.

    I’m going to be in Pekin this weekend as a matter of fact. My youngest has a softball tournament. I was trying to do a google search to find out if the mall ever got rebuilt so I could take my oldest daughter there between games to hang out and look for clothes.

    I might take some snap shots if I make it there and email them if someone posts me an email address so I can email an update.

    Also, I remember when the mascot for Pekin HS was the Chinks. It’s now the Dragons (chinese dragon) and they have a heck of a softball program. Of course Pekin also has a public perception problem in our area (Central, IL) in that it has a recent history (15-20 years ago) of being racist…not just toward the Orientals but mostly the African-Americans. I know people from Pekin and not one of them is racist…but the perception that Pekin is a racist community still persists, somewhat. It’s gotten better, but it had a real problem a few years back.

    Maybe that’s why the mall died.

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  29. Pekin Mall was the big thing in the 1970′s. I remember walking out to see it from the North side of Pekin. All the business owners from DownTown said it would ruin them, and it did. They couldn’t compete and wouldn’t move out to the higher rent district. Luca’s Pizza had great Calzones and sliced Pizza. The ivanhoe was a great hang out. I actually met my wife at Walgreens resturant across from Lum’s in 1976. She was having tea, and i was just getting out of the Ivanhoe, drinking that pure Pabst Blue ribbon they had on tap. The mall was ugly, stinky, and the biggest thing to hit Pekin since the Santa clause house on Court street.
    You have to remember that Pekin was a sleepy farm town, the biggest thing to come out of Pekin Illinois since Abe Lincoln travelled through was Senator Everette Dirksen. For those not familiar… google him.
    I worked at National Shirt shops, Noble Shoes, Kinney Shoes was next to Zales Jewelry. I can remember the first time Simon’s management hired police to control the amount of kids in the mall and started a curfew. That was in the mid 70′s. It was a cool place to be from…

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  30. Thanks for the pictures! I worked at Lums for a couple years in the early 90′s and it was nice to see the old mall again.

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  31. I grew up in Pekin. I left in 84 going into my Junior year of HS. The mall was our hangout, and I can’t believe the pics. Yes, when I go back, and look at where the mall once was, all I can think about is how depressed that area is now compared to when I lived there. I loved the Luca’s pizza by the slice by the way, thanks for the memory.

    –JMo

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  32. memories…like the corners of my mind…

    OK the denim shop was called the Denim Den. Very hip place to by your jeans in the early 80′s.
    JoAnn Fabrics also had a store down by Lums.
    and the Hallmark store was called “Stay and Touch”
    OOOH and Swiss Colony, which always had free samples of cheese and sausage. that was the first store on the left as you came out of Bergner’s.
    The music store was right across from that. What was the name of that store?
    and then a women’s clothing store that sold “Chic” jeans. and a men’s clothing store across from that that had a fireplace in it.
    i think it was a chain, there was one in Peoria. sold a lot of Bill Cosby type sweaters. OH it is on the tip of my toungue….i think it started with an “R”.
    and what about the huge mural on the wall leading out to the parking lot the middle of the mall? huge pink and purple telly tubby looking monster thingys…anyone have a picture of the mural?
    we used to buy our G.A.S.S. shoes at Kinney shoes. Great American Shoe Store. they we brown suede and all the rage at Broadmoor Intermediate School. as were their Adidas knock off tennis shoes. The granimals used to come to Bergner’s, i have a picture sitting on one of their laps.and I would LOVE to see that talking Christmas Tree again. where do talking christmas trees go when no one wants them anymore?
    Bergner’s had a hair salon in the back near customer service.
    i went to a movie with a boy for the first time at mall cinemas.
    we saw GUS the football playing mule or something it was a disney movie.
    Good Times, Good times.
    it used to thrive. kinda sad to see it crumble.
    so long Pekin Mall, you have been good to us.

    [Reply]

    Jim Reply:

    @Deb, The music store was called Byerly Music. It was to the right when you walked outside of Bergner’s and next door to the Kinney Shoe store.
    The man’s store with the fireplace was called something like “Regis” or “Regal” I think….

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    jackie davis Reply:

    @Jim, The shoe store next to Byerly was Murray’s shoe. I worked there for four years. Kinney’s was down in the center of the mall across from Penny’s.

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  33. i have lived in pekin all my life, which isn’t very long, and I remember when i was a kid and used to go to that mall…now that they have changed it, i couldn’t even remember what it used to look like…i can’t believe i liked going to the mall…it was hideous!

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  34. What a trip back in time. I too, remember the opening of the Pekin. I worked at Sears through high school in the late 70′s. I moved away in the early 80′s to attend college and have never been back to the Mall. I now live in a city in Northern Colorado. The Mall here is not a place that I take my family to very often. Gang violence is common. Seeing your pictures reminds me of a much safer and simple time when we could go to the mall as teens and safely hang out. The colors of the Pekin Mall don’t seem so bad through my eyes.

    [Reply]

    PekinChick Reply:

    @terri, I agree that when it was newer the decor was up-to-date and when the mall was full of people the color scheme seemed far more subdued. It’s easy to look back and say “ugly” but the original design worked at the time. It was the failure to update that was unfortunate.

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  35. Pekin Mall was not the first enclosed mall in Central IL. Eastland Mall in Bloomington opened in 1967 (/www.ishopeastlandmall.com/shop/eastland.nsf/index) It is still a top on the line mall. Lincoln Square in Urbana is probably older than that. We have been lucky in Central IL that many mall are still alive and well. Pekin, Lincoln Square and College Hills Mall in Normal are the exceptions. Hickory Point Mall in Forsyth (Decatur) may be on a downward slide however.

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  36. Lincoln Square actually kept a few tenants and transformed into some sort of artsy-fartsy “urban village” as explained here.

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  37. Gary said,
    ON December 2, 2007

    I was considered a ” MALL RAT ‘ Living after school until close at the mall.
    everyone that worked there seemed to know me. At age 16 I got my first job at the mall. K B TOYS. What a fun place to work on Friday nights. I worked there from 1988 to 1993. The Mall was booming on Friday nights with teenagers. Then the Mall started to chase the teens away and after that the mall started to decline.After CEFCU left I remember KB Toys selling a total of $10.61 from open to close. What a busy day! Today they have ruined our mall and the history of fine shopping in Pekin.

    [Reply]

  38. Gary said,
    ON December 2, 2007

    I was considered a ” MALL RAT ‘ Living after school until close at the mall.
    everyone that worked there seemed to know me. At age 16 I got my first job at the mall. K B TOYS. What a fun place to work on Friday nights. I worked there from 1988 to 1993. The Mall was booming on Friday nights with teenagers. Then the Mall started to chase the teens away and after that the mall started to decline.After CEFCU left I remember KB Toys selling a total of $10.61 from open to close. What a busy day! Today they have ruined our mall and the history of fine shopping in Pekin.

    [Reply]

  39. I am a Pekin naitive. My first job was at Pekin mall in 1989. Endicott Johnson shoe store…I loved looking at the pics on the blog and reading some of the comments….really brings back alot of memories from my childhood too! Priceless……I loved the talking plastic Bergners xmas tree…and I do remember some colorful murals that were painted on the wall near Lucas pizza.

    [Reply]

  40. I am originally from Pekin. Those pictures are exactly how I remember the mall from 20 years ago. Seeing them brought back so many memories from my chidhood. I had forgotten about so many things like the talking Christmas tree, I too loved it. Oh and Lucas pizza was so good. I can’t remember the name of the music store that was across from Walgreens either. I do however remember my Grandfather taking me Christmas shopping there and letting me pick out whatever I wanted. I got the Tiffany album and a Def Leppard tape, I was so excited. He paid for it and as we were leaving the store, the alarm system went off. I was so scared. They had forgotten to remove the security tab from the album. My two Grandmothers loved Lums so we ate there whenever we visited the mall which was frequent back then. I saw E.T for the first time at the theater there. I was just back there for a visit at Thanksgiving and we went to Bergners. I didn’t see the talking tree though, :-) It was a little different looking but for the most part, things were the same. Thanks again for the memories!

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  41. FWIW, Cross Country Mall in Mattoon and Village Mall in Danville are also other malls still alive in central IL, albeit struggling, if my memory of those 2 serves me correct. I’m surprised to hear that Hickory Ridge Mall in Forsyth(Decatur) is struggling, since I thought the opposite was occurring with that mall.

    Bobby is also right too, about the Concord Mall Waldenbooks in Elkhart, IN looking similar to the one in Pekin Mall:
    http://www.concordshoppingmall.com/photogallery/storefrontpopup.tpl?photo_idnum=1098129741326562&pic=a&photo_store_id=1028

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  42. Oh please someone come up with a picture of the naked fat cartoon monster mural from the main entrance area!!?? Any pictures of when the mall was thriving would be so very neat to see! I spent so much time at the mall as a teen & young adult. All my friends worked there. It was just a great place to hang out.

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  43. The Bergner’s in Pekin still, for the most part, has the same decor it did when it opened. I think it’s pretty cool. It looks almost modern nowadys. I love the neon sign underneath the side entrance with the old Bergner’s logo and their original hours. How retro! The Also, the Bergner’s logo is the one Bergner’s used from 1960 to the early 70′s. Soon after the Peking Bergner’s was built, I’d say around 1975 or so, Bergner’s changed their sript in the logo slightly, and added the red symbol. Around 1986 bergner’s changed the script in the logo to what it is today. Many people aren’t aware of Bergner’s being from Peoria. It was established in 1889 as
    P.A. Bergner & Co. by Peter Alan Bergner. It’s the only department store still around that started in Peoria.

    [Reply]

    Boston Reply:

    @Bergner’s, they actually remolded in the summer (2013)..it looks better than it did..

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  44. To Bergner’s: Check out the old Bergners sign at Eastland Mall. The store was added in 1974, so the sign probably dates from then. It is very hard to see since Famous Barr was built in 1999, You have to go across Empire St to K-Mart or McDonalds and look in between Macy’s and the main entrance. Bergners is on the far side of the mall and only a small portion of the store can be seen at this angle. For vintage sign lovers, it is worth it.

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  45. Isn’t Bergner’s most-updated logo the one used across all Northern Group (Boston Store, Carsons, Herbergers, Younkers) nowadays?

    Boston Store and Carson’s had look-alike fonts as well n the early 1970s – early 1990s when owned by Federated. Seen them both in old phone books and ads all the time.

    The ‘six hexagon’ symbol was a carry-over from Bergners then?

    I tell you, the history of how the current ‘Northern Group’ department stores came together is one that confuses me.

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  46. To Chip: Neat, I live in the Peoria metro area and usually don’t make it to Bloomington. I’ll have to make a special trip there to see it. It most likely would be the same logo as in Pekin, because Bergner’s still had the same logo in 1974. Recently, after eating at the riverstation downtown, I was pulling out of their parking lot, and I saw the old Bergner’s logo on the side of the FirstBank parking deck. Originally, the FirstBank deck was the deck for Bergner’s downtown store.

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  47. To Matt: Yes, the logo used by all of the northern group stores use the Bergner’s current logo. Yes, the red symbol comes from Bergner’s and so does the current script. Also, the stores are not the “Northern Group Stores”, they are owned by Bon Ton Stores Inc. You see, Bergner’s bought Carson’s and Boston Store in the late 80′s. In turn Bergner’s went bankrupt and was purchased by Proffits Inc. in the mid 90′s. Proffits Inc. soon became Saks Inc. and Saks Inc. recently sold all of its stores, except Saks Fith Avenue, to Bon Ton Inc. I hope this clears things up for you.

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  48. But somehow the Proffitt’s stores converted to Belk. Then there’s the defunct Southern chain Parisian which all became Belk, except for a few sold to the Bon-Ton, which owns everything else. All of the Carsons/Boston Store/Elder Beerman/Bergner’s have the red symbol except The Bon Ton. I’m really confused now.

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  49. To Jonah: OK, here’s how it works, Proffits Inc. was the parent of Proffitts department store. Proffitts Inc. ended up buying Parisian. So at the time, Proffitt’s Inc. owned Proffits, McRaes, Parisian, Bergner’s, Younkers, Boston Store, Carson’s, and Herberger’s. A few years later, Proffits Inc. bought Saks, and renamed the comapany Saks Inc. Saks Inc. gave Bergner’s, Boston Store, Younkers, Herberger’s, and Carson’s the Bergner’s red logo and script. A few years later, Saks Inc. sold every store except Saks Fith Avenue. Proffits, McRaes, and Parisian were sold to Belk, and the rest were sold to Bon Ton. Prior to Bon Ton’s purchase of Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson’s, Herberger’s, and Younkers., they had purchased Elder-Beerman. Bon Ton gave Elder Beerman the same logo as the rest of their stores, but for some reason didn’t change the Bon Ton’s own logo. I know this is a lot of info, but I hope it helps.

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  50. I loved Bergner’s! Not that I don’t still like it, but it has changed from what it used to be. It’s really just Bon Ton with a Bergner’s sign. What ever happened to traditions like the talking Christmas tree, or their restaurants? Their old script logo? I love to go to the Pekin Mall or (East Court Village I guess nowadays) Bergner’s mostly for nastalgia. The store looks so much like it used to. It’s got to be the only Bergner’s left like it. I mean it’s like the 3rd store opened in the chain.

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  51. Sally- I know! The Bergner’s in Pekin is so cool! I think my grandpa told me that it is the 3rd oldest in the chain too, so I think your right. It’s sychedelic.

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    B&K Reply:

    @Justin, THE PEKIN BERGNERS IS NOW THE 2ND OLDEST STORE IN OPERATION (OPENED SUMMER OF 1972) WITH SHERIDAN VILLAGE IN PEORIA THE OLDEST BEING BUILT IN 1957.

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  52. That all makes sense to me now how the same consistent logo among all the ‘northern department store group’ stores came to be. Thanks to Bergner’s for explaining the history of Proffitts/Saks too, as I see how the history of the numerous chains that later were absorbed into either Belk or Bon-Ton evolved over the years. I never knew either that the logo of Carson’s, Herberger’s, Younkers, etc. was modeled off of the Bergner’s logo, since I could not determine in the past whether the same ‘northern dept. store group’ logo throughout their chains was from Carson’s, or one of its several sister dept. stores.

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  53. I’m 99% sure that Firestone is a former Penney’s Auto Center. Am I right?

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  54. You’re right. That’s definitely an old JCPenney Auto Center. With a gas canopy, no less.

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  55. Thanks for the history of the chains (Boston Store, et al).

    Also, if I’m not mistaken, most (if not all) Penney’s Auto Centers were given over to Firestone by the early 1980s when they dropped automotive and other ‘hardline’ merchandise.

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  56. Firestone took over a majority of the old JCPenney Auto Centers, but not all of them. In malls where a Firestone was already nearby, the Penney operation was usually closed. Also, Firestone did not take any of the locations that were physically attached to the main Penney store. In those cases, the Auto Center was converted to storage or sales space.

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  57. I 19 years old and have lived in Pekin my whole life. Although I don’t remember the early stores, looking at the pictures of the mall with my boy friend brought back a lot of young memories! We actually were at the “East Court Mall” tonight, (if you can even call it a mall!) and it was really neat to look at the old pictures, and be reminded of our towns old crappy mall! :) We wish they would turn whats out at east court into a mall again!

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  58. Luca’s calzones, The Denim Den, The Orange Bowl, Lums, Stewarts, Sambos, Murphy’s Mart with the lunch counter (my mom worked there before we moved away), the iron-on T-shirt shop… it all comes flowing back now. Not quite like fine wine but none the less, pleasing in some crazy way. I think my iron-on Tshirt log was Rocky Balboa….

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  59. This comment was sent to us via e-mail from Erik Heuck.

    Erik Heuck to raschendel
    show details Jan 9 (1 day ago) Reply

    I recently found your site for the old Pekin Mall. I am from Pekin and can tell you quite a bit about the mall. Currently development is stopped at the mall site, there are about 15 stores there now and still many empty spaces. The mall is completely outdoors now. The current anchor stores are still Bergner’s, Hobby Lobby, Big Lots and two new ones Steve and Barry’s and Tractor Supply. S&B and Tractor supply are located in the old JC Penny Building.

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  60. I have many good memories of the Pekin Mall. I was one of the mall rats of the late 70′s and early 80′s. There was always something going on. Whether hanging out with friends, going to the movies, or checking out the attractions – I especially enjoyed the cars shows and boat shows – it was a great asset for the community. I cannot understand how we let it die.

    The new mall configuration is not pedestrian friendly. If you want to go from one end to the other, you must drive. There are few sidewalks and no direct walkways to use. A road has been built through the original store entrance which splits the shopping center in two. It’s now considered an outdoor lifestyle center, but that’s a stretch.

    I miss the Pekin Mall.

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  61. Cullinan Properties screwed this place up. They did such a great job at the Shoppe of Grand Prairie. GP funtions as an actual outdoor mall, which pedestrian walkway in the center of the place, NOT UGLY PARKING LOT. ECV is an divided strip plaza. They did the same thing at College Hills in Normal. Torn down the mall, build a road through the center of the property dividing the anchors. Fill the space with a parking lot and make it impossible to go to all the building without getting runover by a crazy Central IL driver. College Hills in still half empty after it was re-developed.

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  62. I miss LUMS!

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  63. I remember the mall well. I worked there right out of high school in the 70′s. I know…dating myself and that mall. I worked in Walgreens Restaurant! Yes, Walgreens had a restaurant right across the mall from Lums. Back in the Malls hey day it had alot of good stores. I remember Sew Fro, Christian Brothers, Deb shop, Denim Den and it even had a Wicker store….brieflly. My husband actually worked there as part of Mall security/management back in the 70′s. I met him when I was a waitress at Walgreens. I miss the mall and wish that Pekin could some how have managed to hang on to it instead of the sad little things we have there now.
    No matter what, I will never forget those shiny floors. No matter how bad that mall looked those floors were always shiny.

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  64. I went to Bergner’s Sheridan Village store in Peoria recently, and frankly, I’m rather upset. The store isn’t doing very well. There were hardly any people there! The store was old, and really needs updating. Now, if it was a Tuesday night or something, it would be understandible. But, it was Saturday! The Sheridan Village Bergner’s used to always be bursting at the seams with people on Saturdays! Now instead of bursting at the seams, it has fallen into deep disrepair, and no one was there! And to top it off, there are almost no stores left at Sheridan Village! I really don’t know how much longer the store will last.

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  65. Thank you for a wonderful walk into my memory’s past.

    After the mall opened, I loved going to the Pekin Mall with my mom, sister, and girlfriends. During the early to mid 70′s, the mall was the only place for teens to go to socialize outside of school. I think today’s kids are truly missing out on this part of growing up.

    Walgreen’s had the cosmetics we could afford along with a super lunch counter.

    Our family would go to Lum’s after church on special Sundays.

    Lucas pizza was a must stop, after scool, for either a slice of pizza or a cheesy calzone.

    I remember seeing “Jaws” at the Pekin Movie Theater with my high school flame. I buried my face into his arm when the huge toothy shark turned to us! There was, also, the movie “Mother, Jugs, & Speed” that my dad took the family to without first knowing how “adult” it was. hehe

    Of course, I always did all of my Christmas shopping at the wonderful gift shops. Wish I could remember the name of the shop down the steps from the popcorn shop, because it was my favorite.

    You could count on a delightful scent of fresh popped popcorn and caramel corn at the Karmel Korn shop. yum

    Not sure how the tellers at the CEFCU credit union worked with the constant smell of delicious popcorn smells next door.

    When I was a junior in high school, I applied at a clothing store no one has mentioned, the Paul Harris shop. I worked there until I went away to college. I loved this store with the mirrored tile facade and trendy clothes. They, also, had the hippest musack.

    My sister worked several shops down the way at Chadband’s Jewelry. She was the first girl at Pekin High to wear a 12 carat gold fingernail! (She had to work to pay for that baby!)

    During college, I came back at breaks and summer to work at JC Penny’s jewelry counter.

    It was during this time in early 80′s, that I saw the beginnings of the downward slide of the mall. JC Penney’s had roof leaks that were not being repaired! Personally, I blame the mall management’s greed for the demise of this wonderful mall. As the roof continued to decay, more and more profitable shops moved out and into the new two story mall in Peoria.

    After college, I left this area for almost 20 years. I was surprised to find smaller malls in Ohio were fairly similar to Pekin’s mall. In the late 90′s, I moved back to Pekin and re-visited the Pekin Mall. I walked the quiet hallways to visit Walden’s books, take my daughter to the gymnastic school, and look at my boarded up past. It was so unbelievable!

    The one thing that did withstand the mall’s decline were the shiny striped floors. If only the original architect / contractor had put this durable flooring on the roof, who knows what could have happened!! :)

    Lastly,as for the interior design and colors of the mall, it was modern to us. This mall did NOT warp our design perception. I am now a successful corporate facility interior designer with a large local company. All I have to say is: “Did you realize color and design are cyclical?” Again, “citrus colors” are “in”! :)

    Thank you, again, for this stroll through time! I plan on sending this link to all my Pekin friends!

    KmG, PCHS class of ’77

    P.S. The mall location has gone through a drastic transformation, and it is much better than it was a few years back…..but, it will NEVER match the 70′s Pekin Mall.

    [Reply]

    dds, class of 77 Reply:

    @Kim m G,

    Thanks for noting that the colors were not truly warping.. When the mall was new, I thought it was a magical, beautiful place! It was the 70s after all.

    And I agree about the cyclical nature of color and fashion. I travel quite a bit and note that many of the new, trendy hotels are decorated with those bright orange, lime and sunny yellow colors!

    [Reply]

  66. Hi, I’m 12 andI used to go tumbling in that building.
    It was so amazing when it was open.
    But some of my tumbling lessons were on Sundays when it was closed.
    It was kind of creepy but cool because all of the stores had those metal bar door going across them and all the halls were dark.
    It was amazing.
    I live in Pekin, yes, but now that the mall had broken up, the stores around the area aren’t getting as much business. I’m glad I was able to find this were I can see what it used to be.
    Thanks.

    [Reply]

  67. The name of the music store outside Bergner’s that no one else seems to remember was Byerley’s Music. They sold records…[remember those?], sheet music and musical instruments. Their big store was in downtown Peoria.

    At one time I think Lum’s was a locally-owned chain. They had the restaurant in the Pekin mall, and one on Knoxville Avenue in Peoria.

    The mall also had a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream store. They used to wash the 3 gallon ice cream cartons and place them in front of the store for people to take home FREE! Two of those cartons held all our scarves and mittens in the coat closet.

    [Reply]

    Georgia Peach Reply:

    @LA,

    My parents bought the ice cream store franchise when the mall first opened in 71, the fall of my freshman year (we did not live in Pekin but in a town about 15 mi away). It was a Bressler’s 33 Flavors. My entire family worked there or spent time in the mall while we were working. We wore white nursing uniforms from JC Pennes’s, ate Patty Melts from (Walgreens or LUMS) on our lunch break, shopped at Paul Harris for clothes, bought our sporting goods from Brown’s (I worked at Brown’s in the Northwoods Mall one year during summer off from college). My mother made all the cakes (ice cream and combo cake and ice cream). We always washed out the ice cream tubs and set them out front for people to take. For some reason people loved them! We bought music at Byerly Music and the store outside JC Penney’s was called Orange Julius if my memory is correct. (or maybe it was Orange Bowl as someone else suggested) They served orange smoothies. I remember all the other stores mentioned. Upon my high school graduation my parents sold to the owners of Tiffany’s bakery. The sale paid for college for me and my siblings. The mall was good to us. The store looks so retro and hideous now but it was new at the time. The pictures are so familiar it is eerie. There was a photo store (where you could get portraits done) in the middle of the mall outside of Bressler’s. Our classmates worked at the shoe store across the mall aisle from us. Cannot remember whether it was Nobles or Kinneys. Thanks to the author of this article for the photos! Thanks to all ice cream fans for my college education!

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  68. I used to work at Camilles Cafe back in 2004 (After the whole Strip mall conversion) Camilles is located where id say Fashion Bug Plus used to be im not sure tho i know if was after the ramp right before Deb’s. But in order to take the garbage out you have to walk through the old mall up towards bergners and out that side door! the inside hasn’t been touched, the same ugly blue green tile scheme is there and everything! Bergners has now put a wall up between the old mall and its store but its still cool to see the old mall is still sitting in all its retro glory!

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  69. I live in Louisiana, but have been there a few times as a kid. I remember the Orange Bowl, they had good pizza and some orange icee drink.

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  70. I lived in the Pekin area (Marquette Heights) from ’72-’85. Back then, the mall was the only shopping in the Pekin area except for the K-mart which was nearby. I know the shopping in that area has really changed since ’85 but had no idea the mall had been torn down.

    One of my best memories of the mall: In ’82 I won a Chevy Citation from a prize give-away that JC Penneys had. If you ordered from their catalog, you were automatically entered into a contest. To make a long story short, I won the car. It had to be ordered from a local Chevy dealer. When the car came in (months later) it had to sit in the mall in front of the Penney’s. It had a big sign on it saying I had won it in their sweepstakes. When it finally came time to take the car home, we had to go there as the mall was closing and wait until the mall was completly empty. Then they wanted my husband to drive the car up a ramp, down the hall to an exit large enough to drive a car through it. I said I wanted to drive it out. The mall people didn’t want me to because it was a stick and they were afraid I would drive it thourgh a store window. Well, I convinced them that I knew how do drive a stick and off I went driving through the mall. An experience I’ll never forget. (By the way, the car was a real lemon and I hated it.)

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  71. My parents had a Citation from before when I was born until I was about 7. Most of my memories of it involve not being able to see over the dashboard, but it seemed to be kind of a lame, cheap car. I was actually kind of embarrassed of it because it was a weird swoopy shape and not sporty at all. I guess if it was free it wouldn’t matter, but it sounds like quite an adventure nonetheless.

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  72. Thanks for the memories, I was born and raised in the outskirts of Pekin, and I remember shopping DownTown going from store to store at Christmas time, all of the decorated store fronts, and I even visited the Santa House on the court house lawn. Now those were the days! Then the Mall came to town and that became our place to shop. The thing I miss most is the old Down Town Pekin.

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  73. It was a shame to see the Mall go down the tubes, You could do almost ALL your shopping there at one time.. I myself do not like what they have done with it. But what can you do.

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  74. I kinda remember opening day. The Cardinals pitcher,”The mad Hungarian,Al Hrabosky was at the Sears dept.I had a polaroid picture with him and he autographed it. I still have it today. I remember buying 45′s at Bergners.Aladdin’s Castle was great.I remember when AMF bought out Harley Davison and Browns Sporting Goods sold them.31 flavors was the best ice cream,bubblegum was the best.Lucas pizza was good.I guess back then for a kid from a small farmer town it was an exciting place to go on the weekend. It’s to bad the property wasn’t up-dated and maintained.

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    Steve Reply:

    @Todd,
    Still have my polaroid from that day, it was at JC Penneys though not Sears.

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  75. I worked at Murphy Mart for the last two years they were at the mall. It was a lot of fun to work the checkouts by the restaurant and the opening to the rest of the mall. When there weren’t customers you could watch what was going on down the mall. I used to love the candy bins at Swiss Colony. They had like 6 bins of candy named after alcoholic drinks. Anyone remember that? I also liked the year they had the huge merry-go-round outside of Penney’s. I had to ride it! The Music Shop was down by Lums. It may have been a different name before that. I loved the mall. It was so big and had so many stores with such a variety of things to shop for. I got my first pair of Calvin Klein jeans from the Denim Den for $45.00. It was so outrageous! I miss the mall.

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  76. you have no idea what these pictures have done for me. I grew up in Pekin and that being said, i grew up at the mall just like every other kid. I was completely shocked when i moved back to the area in 2006 after being gone for only 6 years to see how much it had changed!! What a relic though. I remember saying that once Alladin’s Castle (Arcade), Kay-B Toy Store, and the small 2 screen movie theater left the mall, it would crumble. Did it ever!! Now it is basically a Hobby Lobby, Big Lots, Bergner’s, a Dollar Store, and a Camille’s food stop. The pictures you put on here have brought back quite a few memories. The closed/glittery store you have on here was a 5, 10, 15 store….yes, that’s the name…basically cheap clothing….and those ramps were awesome to every kid on the planet….dated as it may be, it truely was a place where a lot of childhood memories were made for a lot of locals here in pekin.

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  77. while i’m thinkin about it, this is one more casualty of Wal-Mart…..what a shame……it’s just breaking my heart to know that my kids will never get to see this stuff and experience what it was like when it was at its best.

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  78. My family moved to Pekin when I was only 4 years old, right about the time that the mall opened. It was the very first enclosed shopping mall I ever remember, and it was quite the place as I remember it. My family would often go there on Friday nights – we’d eat at Lum’s or the Pizza Hut by K-Mart and then go stroll around the mall or see a movie, so it was a good place in my own memory. My family left Pekin when I was around 10 years old or so, back in 1977. Back then Pekin Mall was THE PLACE to be for all kinds of things – it was great to grow up there back then.

    Some things I remember about Pekin Mall:

    Cub Scouts would have their Pinewood Derby tournament there, in the atrium near JcPenney’s. Was involved with that for a few years. In that atrium I remember a Claire’s Boutique, a Zales, and a Hallmark store (something & Stay or Stay & something?). I forget the store that was on the other corner. Kinney Shoes was also near there.

    The wonderful smells that always emanated from Tiffany’s Bakery – mmmm! Have never been able to find that smell again! Cinnabon is close but it’s not the same!

    KARMELKORN, in that area near the turn to Bergner’s where they had the stone walls! I believe that was near Denim Den and a Magnavox TV store, where they always had the neat remote-control digital color TVs first.

    I think the music/record store near Radio Shack and Lums was either Mr. Music or Musicland. Byerley’s was the music store near Bergners where they always seemed to have a guy playing one of the organs.

    I remember a Tux place near GC Murphy Mart – was it 20th Century Formal? It was on the corner in front of Ivanhoe’s bar and across from Orange Bowl.

    Alladin’s Castle arcade was next to Lums I think (was it between Orange Bowl and Lum’s?) Across the way I remember Walgreen’s store and Walgreen’s grill. The grill had chandeliers with the bouncing orange candle flicker lightbulbs. And the drugstore had those funny little gates with the “In” light on them that would sometimes flash. Brown’s sporting goods was over there too – one thing I remember about that place, besides the obvious sporting equipment and games, was their green carpet that had a weird tile pattern that made the store seem LOOOOONNNGG! Further toward JCPenney, I also remember a wig store up near the corners by the big ramp. Somewhere near that wig store I also remember a photography kiosk in the middle of the mall (was it called Children’s Photographer?) Then I remember a tiny little pretzel store – was it Hot Sam’s?

    I liked the movie theater too – I remember seeing two movies there especially – American Graffiti and The Apple Dumpling Gang.

    Now the anchor stores – Murphy’s always had Tijuana-style muzak playing, and they had a big toy department in the corner at Christmas time and they had signs and footprints leading to it all over the store! In the front of the store they had a deli/lunch counter kind of like K-mart used to have, and they had these weird wall patterns near the ceiling (some combination of green paint and daisy flowers if I remember right).

    JCPenney was a big store as I remember it, and they had a big sporting goods and electronics area (where they sold Jokari), a candy counter, and an area with records. I remember buying several 45 singles there as a kid…

    Bergners also had a special toy department at Christmas time, near the back, and Santa always came with his real reindeer. And that talking Christmas tree… Gotta love that!

    Another thing that sticks in my mind was ALL the SHAG CARPET that was in nearly every one of the stores (except for Brown’s!) When 9:00 rolled around you’d always hear every store whip out their vacuums and you knew it was time to head home soon!

    I remember the place always being somewhat crowded most every Friday night. It was a fun place to go, and I’m sad to see that it died.

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  79. With all these responses, I can’t believe noone has mentioned what game they used to play with that green and blue (to everyone I’ve ever talked to before it was blue…) striped floor.

    Every kid I know who grew up in Pekin had some kind of game for hopping around on those stripes. To me, the green was alligators and the blue was water – and I could swim so I opted for the blue.

    I’m glad to hear that behind the walls, the green and blue tile is still there. What a great site this is, with great memories!

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  80. A few other things I remembered since I posted – Did any of you who were 5-10 yrs old in the early to mid 70′s remember trick-or-treating at the Mall near Halloween? I remember when most every store would give out candy or toys to kids in costumes and my sisters and I would bring our friends along and spend a night going through all the stores and filling up our candy bags full a few days before we’d actually go out in the neighborhood on Halloween night. I remember the mall being PACKED during those times.

    The other things I remember were the sidewalk sales where the stores would have racks and displays in the mall areas with all kinds of specials. The place was always VERY crowded then – I remember that because one of my sisters got lost once!

    Now that I think, JCPenney also may have had a restaurant situated somewhere near the rear parking lot entrance. At least a hot-dog counter or something like that. For those who didn’t know what Jokari was, it was a precursor to racquetball that you played outdoors, where you used wooden racquetball paddles and took turns hitting a rubber racquetball that was connected to a weight by a bungee cord. My friend’s older brother had one.

    The favorite thing that my Mom would pick up for us from Tiffany’s was this long caramel/pecan danish. My friends from Michigan call a similar thing an “alligator” but I don’t remember us calling it that back then. I also liked the big chocolate chip cookies, but not as much as that danish! The other things I remember about Tiffany’s were the white uniforms complete with white hair coverings that all the workers would wear, and of course, the tiffany-style lights that were just like those in ‘Cheers’…

    Another thing I now remember about Murphy’s is that they also had a small pet department (gerbils, birds and fish), where we’d often replenish our fishtank and get new toys for them. I think somewhere in the mall was a pet store too, I just don’t remember its name or where it was.

    I think shortly after my family moved away, Murphy’s became Sears. At the time we moved, the grocery store next to Murphy’s was still A&P, and that store was never directly connected to the mall. I do remember Sambo’s but we never ate there. We would eat at the Steak N Shake though that was midway between K Mart and the Mall.

    I do also remember one other big shopping area in Pekin at the time we left – and it was pretty new too. They put in a new, huge Vogel’s grocery store and plaza by Parkway Drive, and that place actually had a mini-enclosed shopping mall with a We R Toys (before Toys R Us), Godfather’s Pizza, Thrifty Drug, and other stores. I just remember that the Vogel’s grocery store was one of the biggest I’d ever seen in my life, and they had these really unique cash registers with round conveyors. Anybody else remember that place?

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    Janice Reply:

    @Jeff, Totally remember trick-or treating and sidewalk sales! my fav hot sam’s pizza pretzel oh but I loved the orange julious at the orange bowl with a slice of pizza

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  81. Thanks for the memories! ;D

    Kathy & Jeff Overpack
    (LCHS Class of ’82 & PCHS Class of ’79)

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  82. I obtained microfilm prints of articles from the Pekin Daily Times, dated August 2nd and August 4th 1972. These were courtesy of the Pekin Public Library (thanks!). Both articles were about the opening of the Pekin Mall. It also included a site map showing all the original stores and their locations.

    Unfortunately due to the microfilming process most of the articles are of very poor quality, and one is almost unreadable. Posting scans of the copies I got would be useless so I am going to transcribe what I can read and post it here. This of course eliminates the pictures, but really those aren’t of much help.

    Anyway, as a teaser here is the store list (sans the diagram for now). I could read this list pretty well so it’s as complete as it gets. The blank entries were blank on the sheet (they probably weren’t rented out at the time the mall opened).

    *******************
    ROOM MERCHANT
    1 Bergner’s
    2 Byerly Music
    3 Murray’s Shoes
    4 Coach House Gifts
    5 Walden Book
    6 Gantry’s Men’s
    7 Thies Magnavox
    8 Singer
    9 Johnson’s Men’s Shop
    10 Karmel Korn
    11 National Shirt
    12 Kinney Shoes
    13 Zale’s Jewlery
    14 Fashion Optical
    15 Regal Shoes
    16 For get me not
    17 Stuart’s
    18 Butler Shoes
    19 Hot Sam Pretzels
    20 General Nutrition
    21 ABC Kiddie
    22 Breaker’s Way Children’s
    23 Walgreen’s Drugs
    24 Christensen’s Lounge
    25
    26 G.C. Murphy
    27 A & P Grocery
    28 General Cinema
    29 Orange Bowl Refreshments
    30 Aladin’s Castle Amusements
    31 Proposed Restaurant
    32 Proposed Restaurant
    33 Proposed Restaurant
    34 Music Box
    35 So Fro Fabrics
    36 Brown Sporting Goods
    37 Nobil Shoes
    38 33 Flavors Ice Cream
    39 Motherhood Maternity
    40 Wig Shop
    41 Tiffany Bakery
    42 Dutch Mill Candies
    43 J.C. Penney
    44 Claire’s Boutique
    45 Garrott Jewlery
    46 Lisbon’s
    47 “Mall Offices, Merchant Association Offices, Restrooms”
    48 Mangel’s
    49 Chaband Gifts
    50 A.J. August
    51 Allen’s Vogue
    52
    53 Swiss Colony
    54 Children’s Photographer
    55 Sambo’s Restaurant
    56 J.C. Penney T.B.A.
    57 Goodyear

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  83. OK, thanks to labelscar.com I’ve posted a redrawn copy of the mall site map. I had to redraw it due (again) to the poor quality of the copy I received, but it was good enough to put this together. I used a scan of the original title block and Pekin Mall logo. You can find it here:

    http://www.labelscar.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/mall-chart.pdf

    Wow, looking at that map makes it seem like it was just yesterday the mall opened, but at the same time it seems so long ago.

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  84. Wow, Kurt, thanks for putting the map up!! That sure fills in a lot of blanks for me! Here are my thoughts:

    The 3 “Proposed Restaurants” I believe all became part of Lum’s.

    Walgreens as depicted on the map included both the store and the restaurant.

    Maybe that big empty store near Bergners became a pet store?

    I think the men’s clothing store with the fireplaces was Gentry, not Gantry. I could be wrong though.

    Denim Den later located across from the narrow hallway from the restrooms and admin offices I believe. THAT became a big store for the designer jeans crowd!

    I knew the ice cream store wasn’t a Baskin-Robbins but I remembered it did begin with a B though… Your map triggered it for me – it was Bressler’s 33 Flavors!

    Christensen’s lounge later became Ivanhoe. The unnamed store right next to it was 20th Century Tuxedo I believe.

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  85. Thanks for the map. It really helps that someone makes maps now, now that commenter “Bobby” is gone.

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  86. Here’s an updated link for Cullinan Properties East Court Village:

    http://www.cullinanproperties.com/Retail/Portfolio/EastCourtVillage/east-court-village.asp#

    There are some pictures on the site, and at least one shows just the edge of Bergner’s (an original anchor store).

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  87. Make sure that you take a look at the Gallery with updated pictures…

    http://www.cullinanproperties.com/Retail/Portfolio/EastCourtVillage/Beauty1.asp

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  88. Wow this was like a trip down memory lane. I miss the slices of pizza you could get at Luca’s. And the 5, 10 and 15 store that was a name from my past that I had completely forgotten about.

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  89. The music store across from Walgreens was JR’s. It was where I bought Ghostbusters, my first cassette tape. I remember my grandpa buying me my first piece of Michael Jackson memorabilia from the Iron on T Shirt store. My best friend’s parents owned the Photoggery, and we used to run around the mall after closing time. A slice of Luca’s cheese pizza and Mr. Pibb only cost $2.34. It was where I saw a slew of childhood movies for the first time. Popeye, Annie and E.T. Couldn’t beat the sticky floor. Lums for dinner with the grandparents, chocolate pudding with a tiny bit of whipped cream on it!
    I worked at Stuarts in college, learned there that I could never work in retail!
    Skee-Ball at Aladdin’s, the pay phones outside of Foot Locker. The 5,10,15,20 Place!! Ahhhh!! The perms at Regis stinking up the place. Hot Sam on my lunch break…..geesh!!
    Funny thing is, I was never allowed to hang at the mall. Only when I spent the night at a friends…how harmless that seems to me now compared to what teenagers are doing (I know, I work with them everyday!) Ohhh! And Original Cookie! Village Plantation, when it was on its downfall…Thanks for this blog!

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  90. i remember that mall like i was there yesterday. i remember how my friends and i always wanted to skateboard in there because they had 2 wheel chair ramps that were huge with a tiny staircase on each side. i bought my wifes first emerald ring from that zales in 94. cant forget the double carousel that was brought in every christmas sat in the opening right by claires. but what i remember the most about the mall (besides the countless fridays i spent there) is the part that wasnt connected my brother used to work at the movie theater which also owned the drive-in on route 98 so i spent time there as well. no matter how ran down the mall was tose ugly floors also seemed to shine. somethings should never change.

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  91. i remember as a kid walking 5 miles to the new mall. as a teenager taking my girl to lums for supper. that mall has raised a many a kids. it was the coolest most happening place of the 70′s with exception from a head shop named petrious’s.
    it was great to go there and not being offended by seeing a white girl with a colored. as i remember we got the dagos and germans and peoria got the niggers. we even use to have a sambo’s resteraunt next to the mall. i think it is a denny’s now

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  92. WOW Brad,
    We are all having such good memories about the mall. I can tell you that I was truly enjoying everyone’s memories, the different times, changes of the stores through out the years. The Pics, the colors, the connection! I was able to connect to alot of memories that brought back good feelings, great experiences and then BAM….your statement took it all away.

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  93. I agree Joann. Some people just never get it.

    I stumbled upon this site as I was Googling the Walgreen’s restaurant. I was in Pekin over the weekend and got into a discussion with my little brother (34 years old now) about the old mall. He didn’t believe me that the restaurant was there before Walgreens expanded.

    The Mall was THE place to be in the 70′s and early 80′s. I grew up in Sunset and my friend and I rode our bikes there several times a week. We would get our candy at the Walgreens and then see both features at the movie theater. We would go shopping with our allowances and babysitting money…spending countless hours in the record store (JR’s) and eating at Lucas pizza. We hung out at Aladdin’s with our other friends…it was THE place to go to see the boys and flirt! I loved Tiffany’s bakery, Karmel Korn (it always smelled so good!) and Fannie Mae fudge! We also bought t-shirts at the iron on store, rock candy at Swiss Colony, OMG…. and the Orange Bowl. Whenever my mom took me to Regis to get my hair cut, we always stopped for Sam’s pretzels (that was quite a while before pretzel places became a staple in malls) and I used to gross her out by getting grape sherbet or bubble gum ice cream at the ice cream place! She always did her shopping at the A&P…it was where Big Lots ended up.

    I remember my friend and I gazing in the dark windows at the Ivanhoe and thinking some day we’d be grown enough to go in there. Well, they moved and I not only went in there, but I worked there, too. Before that, I worked at KayBee toys (during Christmas and the year of the Cabbage Patch kids craze…was I nuts???!!) and I worked at Lum’s as well. I remember my regulars coming in after their morning walk around the mall. The evenings may have been the teenage hang out but I loved watching my seniors hang out in front of Lum’s and Walgreen’s in the morning!!

    I agree it was a crazy color scheme but did you ever go into someone’s home during the 70′s? Bold patterns and colors were all the rage back then. Of course, I never could explain the mural of naked blobs…but I remember we would go into hysterical giggles when we noticed that someone had stuck gum in strategic places. My biggest thing about those crazy alternating colors was I had a game that I couldn’t step on the green tiles..only the blue. It drove my mom crazy. C’mon I was a little girl back then!

    People can think what they will of the Pekin Mall, but for those of us that grew up in that sleepy little farm town, that Mall was connected to some of our fondest childhood memories!

    PS Does anyone remember the game board that was set up like Monopoly…but it was “Pekinopoly” …or something to that effect? It had a bunch of pictures around the board (if I remember right) of the inside of the Pekin Mall in its early days.

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    Katie Reply:

    @TJ,
    I have the board game still! Not sure what to do with it now!

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  94. My family has a copy of Pekinopoly. =P It does indeed have a picture of the inside of Pekin mall.

    Brad there sadly summed up what a lot of people in Pekin are like, really racist. =/ I can verify, myself being from Pekin, that not all people from there are racist though- I’m not and have friends of all races.

    I grew up in Pekin and it was in junior high when they started tearing the mall down. My greatest memory is they used to bring in a German carousel that was simply BEAUTIFUL and set it up piece by piece inside the mall outside of JC Penny for Christmas. It reached nearly to the ceiling of the mall and had several hundred hand carved horses. I remember first seeing it when I was either seven or eight… The last time it was there was when my now 12 year old brother was 4, so about 1999. I may have photos of it, and if I do I’ll scan and upload them. I looked forward to riding that carousel every single Christmas.

    When the Aladdin’s Castle, Lums, and movie theatre shut down, and the Walgreens moved across town, there was no reason to go to the end of the hall, save the long hallways that the janitorial staff still waxed and mopped. I would go there with my friends, take our shoes off, and we’d sock-skate all over it for hours. Ahh, I miss it.

    I also frequented the bookstore every weekend; every two weeks I’d have enough allowance to buy a new book and I’d go there and pick up a new one. It’s simply ridiculous that the only bookstore Pekin has is the used bookstore. I love Bookworm Books and go there frequently, but for god’s sake, sometimes I want to buy a new book without waiting a week or so for my special order to come in! When I buy a new book, I usually intend to read it, or at least start to, that day, not a week later. I have to drive to Peoria to get any- and Peoria has three bookstores that I know of, a Border’s in Grand Prairie, a Waldens in Northwoods, and a self-standing Barnes and Noble out by the Best Buy and Target.

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  95. Thanks Megan!! Apparently I do have a better memory than my family. They told me I was making the game up. Sadly, I have no idea what happened to it over the years. I wish I’d kept track of it because, as a Pekinite, it would be a neat collectible. It’s funny how as children we don’t see the significance of things and as adults we hold dearly to them.

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  96. Though I’m a bit younger I still remember going to hang out on the weekends and having a good time watching movies (loved that place). And I remember as a kid and walking around… but it was the blue you couldn’t walk on b/c the blue was water (green was land) and you would drowned. I remember my wife first told me she would go out with me there. She also worked at the Zales before they closed; it was the only store at one end of the mall. But anyways thanks for the memories. Love the Blog!!

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  97. I grew up in East Peoria in the late 70s and all through the 80s. We used to hang out at Pekin Mall all the time. I remember going to movies there on saturdays. There was an arcade right outside the theatre entrance and next to “The Orange Bowl” (giant slices of paper thin pizza for $1) The name of the music shop was originally “JR’s Music” the chain was owned by the Helstroms in East Peoria. In the 90s most of these were sold off to become Co-Op Records. My parents liked to eat at LUMS every Sunday after church, and I could wait to go to JC Penney’s or Sears and try out the new Atari 2600

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  98. Boy, this really brings back memories. I grew up in the Pekin Mall. My friends and I were out there every day. I asked my wife out for the first time, in the old Sears, almost 34 years ago. We never really thought of it as an ugly mall. But you have to remember, this was in the 70s. There was quite a bit of wild colors at that time. Green was one of the most popular colors around. Looking at the photos and the map, kind of makes me sad. I don’t like the new mall nearly as much as the old one. Oh well, I guess you have to go with the changes.

    Thanks everyone for bringing back the memories!

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  99. My! My! My! If anyone wants to film a 70′s mall movie, This mall is it! What weird mall! Although i remember seen pictures of Brownsville’s dead-as-dust :( Amigoland Mall (Maybe a next addition to Labelscar?) anyway, Simon owned that mall too, so when I saw the pictures I immediatly thought “Simon Mall!” :)

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  100. Man I remember the Pekin Mall! Fondly, embarrassingly and nostalgic all at once. I grew up in the 70′s in Pekin (in Sunset Hills) and Greg, Jamie, Todd (and later Chris) and I would walk or ride our bikes to the mall.

    For some stupid reason I was not allowed to go the mall and hang out. I would always sweat it out if I saw someone my parents knew (which in the thriving populated metropolis of Pekin, was just about every time) – so it was always an adventure – yet I did it several times a week. I can recall when there was nothing near the mall – then came some bank, and some development across the street (I think it was a lumber yard and McDonalds).

    There used to be a “JR’s Music” which sold both stereos and records. They used to have the albums displayed #1- 50 (I think it went that high). I used to always check to make sure Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was still on the chart (now we have the internet). It was at JR’s Music that I bought my first album(s) #1 and 2 – Sammy Hagar’s Three Lock Box and Billy Squire’s Emotion in Motion.

    Across from Kinney’s Shoe store, briefly was a waterbed store. I remember this, because it was my first experience utilizing “lay-away.” Where you paid a little bit each time you went to the store, and upon final payment you got your item. What a jones, I bought waterbed bumpers for 45$ and it took almost 2 years to pay it off.

    Aladdin’s Castle was where my paper-route money went on weekends (as did my feeble attempts at hitting the few girls that were there). Tron was my game – I didn’t really like it, but I was decent enough at it that I could make the game last long (which was important, I had to conserve my quarters). Between games it was off to the Orange Bowl for an awful piece of pizza that I dutifully ate, then over to the pharmacy (which I don’t remember being Walgreens – I think it was Woolworths) where I’d buy two packs of skittles and go to the movie. Then to top off the night, when the movie was over and I had to call my mom to pick me up. I would “screw” the phone company by calling collect to my mom (which was our secret code) and she’d refuse the call. Boy did we show the phone company who was boss.

    I have such great memories of the Pekin Mall (how about that logo) – the toy dept at Bergners (near the glassware), the creepy pedophile guy at Beverly music playing the organ and grinning, the free samples at the Swiss colony, “Dave and Ernie’s Lums”, Brown’s sporting goods, But there is a void too, I never went into “Diamond Dave’s” -and I also wondered what was that like.

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  101. Diamond Daves (that is, Diamond Daves Taco Co.) was sort of a mix between a bar and restaurant, not unlike your Applebees of today. Their menu consisted mostly (in the early days) of what they called ‘Tex-Mex’ meals. (They did have some American faire as well like burgers and fries).

    They used to have such a heavy presence in the Upper Midwest, especially in small to mid-sized malls within all but the largest cities. They rarely ever put themselves into a more ‘upscale’ mall.

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  102. IIRC, there was also a Musicland but i may be confused. I worked at Lums from 90-92 or thereabouts. The Ivanhoe was a total dive with a darkly lit ambiance-perfect for a beer bar in a mall! (at least when I went there underage with my parents–in the afternoon!). Hot Sams=awesome, sadly Aladdin’s Castle closed late 80′s ish. Friday nights were pretty amazing with the amount of high school kids hanging out, sober and otherwise. I never got into Lucas ‘za, but I suppose it had its merits. I was a Monicals (sp?) kinda guy. I did shed a tear when I came back to town post college for a visit and the mall was gone for all intents and purposes.

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    bill just Reply:

    @SMB, i LOVED Monical’s! is it still there?

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  103. I worked at that mall for over 20 years at the Waldenbooks. I was lucky enough to get out a few months before Waldens closed them. My friends there told me of how the company treated everyone slike garbage while they had to close up their store. Typical of a company to expect everything from their employees, yet dump on them in the end.

    Also, we kept getting the runaround from the company that bought the mall…so it never seemed to us that they tried to do anything except make excuses for not fixing anything…for several years people in the stores there were unsure of havimng a job. Again, corporations are only in it for the money.

    I will say I had some fun working there…and the chandeliers? Our store was one of the last with those, and they looked really cool at Christmas when we had ‘em gleaming and decorated…

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    bill just Reply:

    @Kim, do you know Janet Just? my cousin’s wife, worked there.

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  104. Wow this has been an interesting read.

    I was born and raised in Pekin and still live there. I bought my wifes engagment ring at Zales in 95′? I remember the bathrooms at the theater were upstairs all by themselves (kindof freaky for a kid). We had our after prom event there, where we stayed there all night and played games and ate. The talking x-mas tree at Bergners was a hoot. I used to climb inside of it and freak my mom out as she was frantically looking for me. Alladians Castle was the first place that I ever saw skeet ball. That candy store down on that end of the mall that had hundreds of different types of candies. The Halloween nights there were awesome, every store would hand out candy and the cops would have an exray machine there so that our parents could check our candy for razor blades and needles. Anyway….thanks for the trip down memory lane.

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  105. Before the mall Block and kuhl may remember downtown.That was great in it’s day.I worked for Libson’s as a porter and on breaks went to Luca’s for a torpedo.Santa started downtown,moved to the mall,and has come full circle back in front of the courthouse in Pekin.Many things may come and go in this communitty of ours but one thing is for certain the memories continue forever.We like our parents try to relive those days so that our children get a glimse of a time when life was a little slower.Look at us today,our communitty has grown by leaps and bounds.Anyone remember the Dragons Den it was in the old Sambo’s after the Marigold Restaurant.We still have Santa downtown in a little house.Thanks for the Walk…..Scott.

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  106. SMB! Who are you? I worked at Lum’s around 90/91 as a dishwasher/busboy/cashier.

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  107. The only thing i miss from the old mall would have to be Walden Books and Alladins castle…without walden there are no good bookstores in pekin!!

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  108. This page is a blast from the past….. Graduated in 1977; The drinking age was 18 years old. We used to hang out at the Ivanho – a bar located on one creepy end of the mall.Visiting home from the University, We staggered out of the mall way too many times. There was nothing else to do in Pekin Il. A nice town to be from – far from. LOL. i would like to visit again for old time sake.

    PS: until about 1975 or 6 the High school was home of the “PEKIN CHINKS” !!

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  109. I grew up in that dreary town….where entire families did not leave the county for generations. These pictures make me extremely happy that I now live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’ll take a cat. 3 hurricane any time!

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    Janice Reply:

    @Mary, omg what age are u? I grew up there and live in West Palm . who is this?

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  110. I grew up in that dreary town….where entire families did not leave the county for generations. These pictures make me extremely happy that I now live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’ll take a cat. 3 hurricane any time!

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  111. This is fun! There was also a theatre in that mall – easiest to access from the backside of the building. And who can forget the ORANGE JULIUS!!!

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  112. I grew up in Bartonville in the 80′s, so Northwoods Mall and Pekin Mall were each about the same distance from our house. Northwoods was okay, but Pekin Mall always seemed more relaxed and comfortable. We often parked outside Walgreens and walked through it to get to Lums for the evening meal.

    When the mall was on the decline in the early 90′s, I remember a store called The Flathead Cat that was open for a short time. It was a novelty store similar to Spencer Gifts. To this day, The Flathead Cat is one of the more interesting store names I’ve ever seen. I believe it was located near Lums.

    One evening following a meal at Lums I was sitting on the bench outside next to my grandpa when he pointed out that the seams in the floor tiles weren’t straight – at that point I realized he was a perfectionist – and realized where I inherited that trait.

    The ramps were always fun as a kid. Each time you came to one, you had the choice of taking the ramp or taking the stairs on either side. It always seemed like only adults walked up or down the stairs. Later I wondered if the stores located behind the ramps were disadvantaged because the ramps would bypass some of the smaller stores and you had to turn around to get back to them.

    The lighting in the main part of the mall always seemed inadequate. As more stores closed, parts of the mall grew so dim and isolated that you felt like you could be mugged and nobody would ever know.

    Now it seems strange standing in Bergner’s where the entrance to the rest of the mall used to be. It’s a solid wall now, but if you close your eyes you can imagine the sights and sounds that used to come through that entrance.

    I do miss the Pekin Mall and what it represented to me – a simple, carefree time as a child in central Illinois.

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  113. So many of the above facts are incorrect! Yes, original anchor stores were: Bergners, Pennys, Murphy’s Mart (I worked there in hs) and a grocery store where Big Lots is now. I also worked at Libson’s (women’s dress shop) where the Deb Shop later moved into. I also remember the Karmel Corn, Theis Magnavox, Swiss Colony, Mahling Shoes, Baker’s Shoes, Gentry’s, Singer, Allen’s Vogue, Murray’s Shoes, Stuart’s, Coach House, Christian Bros, Ivanhoe’s, Walgreen’s (with restaraunt), Sambo’s, Dutch(?) candy store (prior to Fannie Mae?, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the Jr. clothing store that was in the spot prior to the Denim Den! Can anyone help me? It started with an “m”. I lived at that mall when it opened around 1971-72 and also worked there while in High School. Please, let’s start a list of the original stores and take it from there! It has been driving me nuts since my daughter & I started playing this game this past summer. Please help! I think I’ve given it a good start.

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  114. My bad! had I read ALL of the blogs first, I would have seen that someone actually had a complete store list for the proposed mall. However, it was a BAKERS SHOES, not Butler and across from it, I remember a MAHLING Shoes store….where you have a Nobil Shoe store. Wonder which one came first? I loved it anyway. Big large glass display cases on either side of the store entrance, just like shoe stores used to be. Thanks everyone for the trip down memory lane on a boring day!

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  115. Ahh, the memories you have returned to me. I grew up running around the stores of this mall, and thought it was the coolest place ever. If I remember correctly, I cried when they heard they were closing it down. The place, though rundown by the time I even started going, was still the closest thing a lot of us small town kids got to a mall, with too-cheap parents to drive all the way to Peoria to visit Northwoods.

    It wasn’t actually until I saw the pictures that I realized just how hiddiously ugly the place was. Oh well, many great child hood memories still exsist of the place.

    Oh, you forgot that at one time there was a movie theatre. And Lums was amazing.

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  116. Speaking of Lums, I’ve recently did some digging around the news archives of my local paper again, and found out they got up into my town, as well as Manitowoc and Appleton.

    Didn’t know they made it up to my neck of the woods, Wisconsin. They must really of built up a national presence that went ‘poof’ as quickly. They all disappeared from my region by 1980.

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  117. There was a Lums by the Metro Centre in Peoria at one time. Never went to the place. Sounded like it was similar to Big Boy’s to me

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  118. I spent many days at the Pekin Mall in the early-late 90′s as a kid and a teenager. I remember going to birthday parties at Alladin’s Castle, and then going to watch a movie at the cinema and sneaking in candy from the Walgreens across from the theater. My father worked as a teenager at JC Penney’s and my aunt worked at Tiffany’s Bakery. My family would eat at Lum’s every once in a while, also.

    Thanks for posting the pictures, it brings back alot of good memories!

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  119. I remember trick-or-treating in the mall as a kid! I got my ears pierced in the Claire’s. My daddy bought me my first diamond ring in the Zales! I remember that I for some reason loved the old-timey kind of brick that was laid in the entrance to the Walden Books – between the tile of the rest of the mall and that dark green carpet of the store. Even if we weren’t going into the book store, I had to walk on that brick! I miss Hot Sam’s pretzels and Lum’s. And does anyone remember the $1 re-run movies that they brought into the theatre, probably around 1999-2000? I remember seeing Star Wars: Episode I there about a dozen times! Haha. Thanks for these pictures. What fun!

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  120. oh my goodness!
    i’m 21, born and raised in Pekin IL and reading this has been quite a trip!
    I remember getting my ears pierced at Claires. The piercing station was in the front right corner of the store, right in the middle of the mall, next to JC Pennys. It felt like everyone in the mall was watching me (all 12 people). I got a grape sucker because I didn’t cry.
    I also remember being very young and only being able to touch the blue tiles. We’d wait in the center hub for my mom to finish at her boring stores and we’d trace those zigzags back and forth and back and forth.
    In 2006 I worked at the new Claires in the “East Court” strip for about 8 months and it was the coolest thing: to take the garbage out you’d have to walk through part of the old mall. The Bergners storefront is still intact, frozen in time. Some of the new stores a little farther down (like Camilles and Rue 21) have to take their garbage up one of the old ramps to get to the dumpsters. Sadly, the tacky floor tiles have been removed, but it was always creepy to take garbage out. Like walking through a ghost town. So many memories..

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  121. I really want a picture of the mural too! That was one of the absolute best parts!!! They must have painted it by the time you visited and took pictures.

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  122. The pictures posted on this blog are great, and the review of the mall is dead on! I worked at JCPenney’s for a couple years and quit shortly before they closed in 2002. From the day that I began working there everyone was constantly worrying that the store was going to close. The store was rarely busy, and the plans for the “new mall” sat idly for so long that any chance of survival was lost. The sad part was that we were only using less than half of the original JCP building. The closed portion (that used to have the portrait studio and other long gone departments) was only being used for storage, and was a bit creepy looking. It was fun to explore though. I wish I had taken pictures of it. All in all, it was a pretty sad excuse for a department store, but we had a pretty fun crew and we made it work.

    Having grown up in Pekin, I can never remember a time when the mall was busy. The movie theatre could bring in a good crowd every once in a while, but not regularly. My friends and I usually opted to go to the Morton theatre instead. Our family went to Lums quite a bit, and sometimes we went there for lunch breaks while I was working at JCP. We had one of our after prom parties at the mall. I miss Hot Sam’s! You just can’t get pretzels like that at a mall anymore. The cookie place was pretty good, too. As kids we used to play the game with the ugly floor tiles; blue was water and green was grass. We also used to race down the ramps and stairs. I managed to get myself lost when I was really little. I walked out of KB Toys thinking my mom had already left. I can still remember frantically walking from one end of the (deserted) mall to the next. Someone at the salon by Walgreens ended up taking me in and gave me a balloon. I have pretty vague memories of Sears. There used to be a McDonald’s themed area in the kids’ clothes section. That monster mural was great! Then they had to go and replace it with some fish.

    The new East Court Village isn’t terrible, but I really don’t consider it a mall anymore. Stores like Famous Labels, Steve & Barry’s, and even Cici’s Pizza have already come and gone. There hasn’t been a regular bookstore since Walden Books closed. If people really wanna go shopping, they go to Peoria or somewhere else.

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  123. Please stop bashing the mall…I guess it is typical of the Internet that there seems to be a bias of negativity in many posts.

    It was just a building after all, and it served its purpose.

    I have good memories, pleasant memories. It was a good place to be a kid.
    There weren’t any gangs or drugs then. It was a relative time of innocence back in the 70s and 80s.

    Did anyone else grow up in the Sunset Hills area? I would like to talk to you, if possible.

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    Janice Reply:

    @JR, I grew up in Sunset hills. I’m class of 98

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    Janice Reply:

    @Janice, oops meant 1988

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  124. JR, I grew up in Sunset Hills, from 1967 to 1979. Contact me at pchs79 “at” gmail “dot” com.

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  125. Byerly Music was the music store by Bergners. There was a Jo-Ann’s Fabrics and a Brown’s Sporting Goods.

    Pekin has been in severe decline for years because of Caterpiller’s constant strikes and the closing of several plants. It’s a shame but like George Bailey said in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. “I’m gonna shake the dust off me from this crummy little town and see the world!”. I’m now in Indianapolis where opportunity is abundant.

    I graduated from PCHS in 1979 and haven’t looked back…

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  126. I have lived in Pekin practically all my life and the Pekin Mall was one of my favorite hangouts at a teen. The Mall was always booming with activities including indoor car show, boat show, craft show, and more. I remember hanging out with friends after school and on the weekends. There were NO empty stores which made shopping a blast. I loved Lucas Pizza, Radio Shack (which I believe became JR’s Music), Hot Sams, Coach House, Swiss Colony, Stuarts (which became Paul Harris I think) – too many great stores to name them all.

    I read alot of bashing on the blue & green tiles but they were great! The blue and green tiles on the floor were always fun for me and my brothers – we would each pick a color and the goal was to stay on your own color which was pretty tough to do when you got to the ramps. I think the one who chose blue had to take the stairs! We had a blast – that was our form of cheap intertainment.

    I enjoyed the Cinema and would go see movies on the weekends with friends. When we were young, we were a little freaked out having to go upstairs to use the bathrooms at the movies – it seemed spooky because no one was ever up stairs. We practically ran back down stairs when we were finished.

    I really miss the old Pekin Mall. I have alot of great memories of the mall and it is really sad that the owners just let it go down hill. It needed new ownership and proper management to keep it going. I’m not sure who thought an outdoor strip mall would be a good idea in central IL but they should have re-thought that idea. It was 8 degrees out today . . . who in their right mind would go shopping in these conditions at a strip mall??? Outdoor malls are a better fit in states that don’t have harsh winters . . . it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out! If people don’t get out to shop, sales are down, profits are down, and stores can’t survive.

    I believe that Wal-Mart is a major factor in the ongoing decline of Pekin. When the Super Wal-Mart moved in MANY stores have since closed their doors. Wal-Mart is big on pushing companies to give them rock bottom prices and they ultimately pressure the manufacturers to cut corners and cost to meet the prices Wal-Mart is willing to pay. What happens to stores that want to sell good quality products?? Wal-Mart puts them out of business by selling cheap knock-offs. It’s sad really. We have way too many empty buildings because of failed businesses. We really need to bring QUALITY back to Pekin. The old expression “You get what you pay for” is very true!!

    I love this town and would love to see it come back to life! :-)

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  127. This is for “Deb”….I think the store that was a Hallmark shop was called
    “Stay IN Touch” …not Stay AND Touch. If memory serves… and sometimes it doesn’t :o)

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  128. Was the Bergner’s two stories? The old logo on the Bergner’s is the same on the store in Decatur/Forsyth’s Bergner’s.

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  129. The Bergner’s was not two stories, only one. I don’t believe there were any stores that had two stories. I have a very vague memory that there was some sort of loft or raised area in the clothing section (in the teen or young person area) but I am not sure.

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  130. I used to work in this mall as a teenager. There was a Walgreens right across from Lums, and I worked there many years. The mall used to be THE place to be, with lots of great stores, a cinema, and even a bar! I loved this mall, with it’s green and purple tile, outdated store fronts and ugly carpeting. Looking at the pictures brought back a lot of memories, and I’m almost sad it’s not the same old Pekin Mall.

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  131. Thanks for taking those pictures it brought back alot of memories I know the mall was outdated but it’s kinda like home it comfortable. I also want to remind you,that People smoked in this mall for years and as most of us know that smell never leaves. It’s funny to think of that now but you would see several husbands waiting for wives, daughters sitting on those round benches smoking just wasting the time. This is the image burned in my minded not the flooring, windows or lighting just people going through everyday life either working ,shopping , meeting up with friends or rushing to get that last minute item. It served its purchase Thanks Again for the great memories!!!!!!

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  132. i loved that place! those pictures just made me remember so much!! and the pretzel place was my favorite place!! yumm

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  133. WOW.. I was born and raised in Pekin, but moved away in 83, I was in grade school when the mall opened, Im now 44 yrs old. it was the HOT spot to hang out in the 70′s and early 80′s.. SO many great memories meeting friends and hanging out there.. My favorite place was that pizza place on the corner.. I forgot the name, so if anyone remembers it please post it, its gonna drive me nuts now.. But that mall was SO awesome.. Again , GREAT memories !

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  134. I just remembered, it was Luca’s pizza

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  135. I worked at Kinney’s Shoe Store all four years of high school (1977-1981) with my friend Dianne. It was the deadest mall I’ve ever seen. We used to call the public phone across the mall and if someone answered it we would tell them we were from candid camera and ask them to do stupid things. Some of them even did what we asked! What a riot. We had a lot of fun, but even then we thought it was pretty ugly!

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  136. i also grew up in pekin and was in the mall several times.i used to act at the theater that was next to bergners for a long time.the name of the pizza place on the corner was lucs or something close to that. i know they had the best slices of pizza.i think the owners of the mall made it worse they never did anything to make it better and once the stores started leaving the mall went to peices.i seen a lot of stores come and go.

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  137. The new East Court Village isnt so bad in 2009. Bergners is still there with Hallmark, Rue 21, Claires, and Payless and Camilles sandwiches on one side. Deals, Hibbett Sports, Sprint store,Hobby Lobb, and Big Lots on the other side.. The old Jc Penny Store is now partly a Tractor Supply Co. and until recently a Steve & Barrys. There is also a few new outbuildings in the old parking lot. A new Firestone auto, Verizon store, and CITI financial. the other building is now a Firehouse Pizza. They also added a Starbucks. There is also a lot of other new companies building in the area around the old mall. a new Steak and Shake, Sonic, Shoe Dept. Super Wal Mart, Radio Shack, and Game Stop

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  138. WOW!! what a long strange trip its been. I never realized how many great memories that old mall held for me. Everything from my birthday party at Alladins Castle and going school clothes shopping at Penneys, to buying my wifes engagement ring there. I’m a Pekin “lifer” and will always love that place. Its like a family member, sure there might be better looking ones out there, but this was ours. If ever there was a mall-rat, I was it. I spent practically every weekend in junior high and high school there. I think I even had my first kiss there outside the rear entance for the movie theater. To this day I’m still trying to find a way to buy that talking christmas tree. As I read all of the great posts I keep saying to myself ” did that, did that , went there” THe great thing about hanging out at the mall was that even though you could get into some mischeif, for the most part it was a safe place to hang out with your friends and get out of the house.

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  139. I’ve lived in Pekin for almost 23 of my 30 years, so reading this post and the comments brought back a lot of memories. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the obnoxious talking scale in front of GNC. (“Have you checked your weight today?”)

    Up to about 1990, it seemed like the mall still got a good deal of foot traffic, especially during the Christmas season. Two events in the early ’90s sealed the mall’s fate. One was the closure of Sears in early 1993. The other was the relocation of CEFCU (a credit union for employees of Caterpillar, the largest employer in the Peoria area). Many CEFCU customers would come in on Friday night to cash their paychecks and then shop in the mall. Once CEFCU moved across the street, all that foot traffic was gone and the money was spent elsewhere. Simon defaulted on the mortgage shortly thereafter; the mall was about to be auctioned when Cullinan came to the rescue (if you can call it that) and offered to turn it into “East Court Village.” There were always lots of rumors about a new tenant moving into the Sears space (none came until Hobby Lobby, circa 1999).

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  140. Wow, the last time I was in that mall I was prolly anywhere between 3 and 4 I really dont know, I am sixteen now though. I remember I got my ears pierced at the claires when I was 2. I kind of miss it, now I have to drive all the way to Peoria for a mall. Even though I probably would have drove out there anyway seeing as my prefered stores are Hot Topic, Spencers, and Pacific Sunwear. But now we have Big Lots, DEB, Rue21, Camiles Sidewalk Cafe, Claires, Bergners, Halmark, Deals, Hobby Lobby, Hibbet Sports, Payless Shoes, and I think there is a Sprint store Also there is a Tractor Supply and used to be a Steve & Barry’s kinda connected. Oh and I think the Goody’s went out of buisness if I’m right.

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  141. The mall was the place to go in pekin. That place was packed all the time in the 80′s. What’s wrong with green and blue. Don’t forget the footlocker where I always bought my Jordan’s. It would be nice if that mall was still alive and well. I remember going to cefcu with my dad. The mall did get boring towards the end though. It was like a ghost town.

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  142. o my gosh, those pics brought back sooo many memories! Im 17 now, but when i was little my mom used to take me n my brother to the mall every saturday. i remember when i was 7 i got my ears peirced at claires. i always got my hair cut at jcpennys, and my grandma would always take me n my brother to Lums. My dad and his friend worked at that Hobbies store and every friday night I’d go and hang out with him at the store and he’d pay me like $2 to clean the windows lol. I forget what store it was, but they carried beanie babies and every time i was with my aunt she’d buy me one. And i always had to ride on the ice cream truck or horse ride, it was good times:-)

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  143. Does anyone have any old pic. of the Pekin,il mall would love to have some.. Especially of the old mural in front of the j c penney hall way .. by lucus pizza. tahnks

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    Jason Reply:

    I was born around the same time the mall opened. I have some early memories of screaming in terror at that mural on the wall. It was frightening to me, but later when I was older I sort of gained a fondness out of this humorous fear I had of it. I would love to see a photo as well. My mom still lives in Pekin, and I am going to ask her if she has any photographs of it.

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  144. I found a bunch of pictures of the Pekin Mall, early-to-mid 1970s at the following link.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/38458498@N05/3539444576/
    Enjoy!

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  145. I used to work for the company that managed Pekin Mall right up to it’s closing. It was our company’s job to lease out the spaces, and physically keep up the building. It was a very frustrating job! The Walmart right next door was really the final nail in the coffin. The heyday for shopping malls is passed; especially with discount retailers and internet commerce stealing away their life blood.

    Another cool site to view dead malls is http://www.deadmalls.com

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  146. I actually remember this mall in it’s dying days when there were only a few stores left that were just barely clinging to life. It might seem off to say that while the ‘Pekin Mall’ has passed, it was likely for the best, in that in a town of 35 thousand it’s hard to keep a place like that full and the stores leased.

    East Court has been a wonderful thing for the town. On a weekend it’s hard to get a parking spot near the front of the shopping center. They’re are motels within the radius, Menards, Sonic, Denny’s, GameStop, WalMart… it’s become a major center of commerce in the city once more!

    The Open Air mall (or strip mall, if you must) has route 66, Deals, Hobbie Lobby (now flourishing, and a mainstay of the Court), Debs, Macy, and several other shops that are more retail. It’s breathing life back in a once decrepit area of the city that’s only a minutes drive to the nearest cornstalks.

    Inner parts of the city have perished in the process (Note Sears, and Kmart), but others have taken up near East Court from the move in that now more residential area (case and point WalMart).

    Pekin is obviously regaining some of credulity in that area as instead of major corporations fleeing from Pekin as if it’s some sort of illness, they’re coming into the area. My point on this comment is the addition of Starbucks and Sonic! The nearest large city to Pekin is Peoria which by large city standards can still be considered smallish in light of the fact that it’s 3 hours from Chicago and a modest 113 thousand. There was the nearest Starbucks, the nearest Sonic was about two hours away at one point.

    The proof that East Court and it’s area are attracting people to come into the local job market is a very good thing. It’s introducing more entry level jobs into the area which is good for the area in general. If there’s a restaurant near a bank, and that bank is near a strip mall, do you think 16 year olds are going to hesitate on blowing that money at gamestop or route 66? Consumption fuels consumers, it’s not a bad thing in moderation, (we ARE a capitalist society) that is a good thing.

    - Sarah C, Age: 15

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  147. There is alot of things about remembering the Pekin Mall but here is one that was never talked about. Pekin Mall had the safest place for me when I was little and my kids when I had some to go Halloween trick or treating. The line went all the way around the mall and you went one direction. Everyone was so friendly and no one had to worry about checking the candy and no one had to worry about someone taking your kids everyone watched out for each other. The last movie that played at the movie theater was Twister. My husband and I where getting ready to go in and watch it when the tornado alert went off for South Pekin being hit. That also was the last night they showed anymore movies. When they took the Pekin Mall down it was a very sad time. Most of the towns child hood memories went with it. Now the new one is to big of a pain in the but to go to. The store’s are to far apart and the parking is the worest ever. Its just so much easier to go to Wal-Mart. I wish we had he old place back it was alot easier to get around.

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  148. A few memories of the Pekin Mall:

    We lived in East Peoria, and took the pilgrimage to the Pekin mall at least every other Saturday! I remember fondly the Karmel Korn shop, which my brother always had a fit unless he got a bag. I remember the tacky floors but remember mostly that slight ramp near the middle of the mall. My brother and I always wanted to slide down that banister! Speaking of floors – does anyone remember the “Bunny Trail”–the mall put stickers of footprints on the floor leading towards the Easter Bunny photo op in the mall’s center.
    The Pekin Mall Cinema was a fancy night out for us poor folks! The last movie I remember seeing at that mall was “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute,” at which I had to sit on my mom’s lap because the theatre was so packed.

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  149. I grew up going to the mall. Always hung out in it on the weekends. It was ahapping place to be.

    The rumor was the rent was getting to high, for stores to say in there. But noones really knows.

    Dispite what it looked like, it was still a cool place to go, meet up with friends, and hang out.

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  150. Wow, thanks to everyone for their replies. The pictures and the store names all bring back very fond memories for me. I grew up in Pekin (PCHS Class of ’83) and remember when the mall opened in ’72. I remember my cousin and I getting lost there when we were little kids. At the time the mall seemed so big. Like many of you I wish there was a phorograph of the mural when you entered the mall’s main entrance. I remember it fondly. I remember all the old men sitting on the benches(what used to be the fountain) in front of JC Penny’s. I also recall in ’77 or ’78 while attending Broadmoor that I spent one night playing Monopoly all night long to raise money for MDA (I think). We had tables set up in the atrium in front of JC Penney’s. I remember all the stores Hot Sam’s, Waldenbooks, Alladin’s Castle (wish I had all the money back I spent there), the movie theatre, etc.. The mall was a great place to just hand out in the late ’70′s early ’80′s. Thanks again for the great memories.

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  151. Well if you ask me i liked the mall alot better the way it was than the way it is now.. thank you so much for sharing the pictures brought back a bunch of memories

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  152. Wow…thanks for the memories. I remember when my grandma used to take me to the Pekin Mall in the early to mid ’80s. I remember eating lunch at the Walgreen’s restaurant, getting a Dorothy Hamill haircut at Regis and my ears pierced at Claire’s. And who could forget those Hot Sam pretzels? I loved, loved the cheddar ones! I moved away years ago, but was still sad to hear that it had passed on.

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  153. Man, this brings me back. This is just the way I remember the mall. I was born in 1990 so i do remember when it was a little more lucrative, but these pictures really gave me something to laugh at. I remember in it’s last few years it was so desolate kids would roller blade in it! I wish it were still around, I would love to drop acid and hang out there all day.

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  154. I loved reading the comments. The Pekin Mall was a great place to be when it opened. I think it had most every kind of store a small midwest town would want, including a grocery store and theater. Byerly Music (I briefly took piano lessons!), Orange Bowl, the Sam’s pretzels, Walden Books (I don’t remember any weird chandalier being a problem…),Coach House, and Murphy Mart! The color scheme/decorating does seem a little eccentric, I guess, didn’t really occur to me then, just that it was a cool place to hang out. I know some Pekinites opted to shop in Peoria or Bloomington, which I didn’t make much sense to me. Today, Walmart has taken over, which I guess we’ve all come to accept…

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  155. I remember when I was in 5th grade Fabio was there signing autographs!!!! I got a signed pic of him and was so thrilled about it (I didn’t even know who he was at the time)!!! Did anyone ever mention the store “5, 7, 9″? It was across from Fashion Bug. My grandma was the manager at Fashion bug for almost 20 years when the store was moved across town. I used to run around the break room and go upstairs and play. Many great memories there :)

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  156. just wanted to say thanks for the trip back to memory lane. and across from the walden’s and i think where the gymnatics place was used to be an old Walgreens. it used to have have a diner in it that my grandfather used to run, before he opened his own place across town. the other truly creepy part that you didn’t get to experience was the old movie theater that used to be on the back side of the mall. remember going there as a kid and always hating it because it was so dark, scary and ominous. anywho, thanks again! :)

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  157. Looking at the pictures made me feel as though i had stepped right into them,the memories were that vivid.I too remember playing silly games with the flooring,of course we were able to be “saved”from the green tiles if we were close enough to green and blue round benches by jumping onto the blue section.I remember the smell of lums when i walked by,and seeing elderly gentlemen sitting across from it,waiting for there wives to be done shopping,while they smoked and relaxed.Playing ski ball for the first time.Sinking my teeth into a slice of lucas pizza.Being awed by the huge and slightly strange wall mural.Buying candy at walgreens to sneak into the cinema.Peeking into the Ivanhoe,impressed by its dimness.That silly tree that scared the hell out of people as they walked by it in front of bergners.Trick or treating there,how the line wound all the way around the mall.Sitting in lums,thinking it was THE most fanciest and best place to eat.Walking my but off from end to end,hoping to speed up labor when i was expecting my first child.To me these memories are precious,and times were quite different then.thank you everyone for sharing your memories.I have read every last one of them with a smile and a longing:)

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  158. Yes those pics bring back some really good memories of my childhood. My parents would drop me and my friends off on a saturday afternoon and we’d hang out all day until the mall closed at 9. TMH- i vividly remember buying candy at walgreens and sneaking it in to the movies. I spent so much time there as a kid that i still occasionally have dreams about it. You could have a blast all day there with 5 bucks in your pocket. JR Records, The Flathead Cat, Alladin’s Castle, Luca’s Pizza, Lum’s, The Orange Bowl…. too many to list….

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  159. An e-mail comment from Annette:

    Hey!

    My daughter came across this article through facebook and sent me the link. I was born and raised in Pekin, so I am pretty familiar with the Pekin Mall and actually worked at two different stores there during my teen years.

    Pekin Mall opened in 1972. Pekin had a mall before the much larger neighboring city of Peoria. Back in the day it was booming. By the time you saw it in 1999, JC Penney had already downsized from their once very large store. I believe they cut the store about to half the size of the original store. Where Big Lots is, originally was an A& P Grocery store that had moved from the downtown area to a much larger store at the mall. Also, where Hobby Lobby is was previously Sears, but actually started out as Murphy Mart, a general merchandise store much like Kmart. Both Sears and Murphy Mart used to open into the mall.

    Some other things you might find interesting: The Ivanhoe (a very popular bar) was located in the mall, Walgreen’s was once in the mall with a restaurant attached as well as a liquor store (the entrance was only on the outside of the mall, city ordinance). Lastly, Lum’s Restaurant, which was also quite a popular place.

    Hope you find this interesting as well.

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  160. I to grew up in pekin and remember going to the mall with my parents and grandmother. My sister and I used to play games with the ugly blue and green tiles as well. Blue was safe, Green was out (becuase the color was so ugly we didnt want to step on it).
    It really is to bad you didnt get to see the movie theater and of course that odd mural (who could forget it?) I have read most of these posts and remember fondly all of these stores and has brought back some good memories!!
    But most of all, I do remember the movie theater being creepy becuase it was to dark and having to walk up the dark stairs just to get into the bathrooms then walking back out and not being able to see anything. And I DO remember that Movie theater being packed… the last movie I saw there was “Space Jam” and the theater was so packed my sister had to sit on my parents lap.

    Great memories!

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  161. How about the original layout of the mall. Here it is. It is so early, some of the stores were unnamed.

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  162. These pictures break my heart as I was born and raised in Pekin. Alot of you have made fun of the mall, and looking at these pictures it is easy to see why, but believe me that back in its day it was a wonderful place to be. Yes the colors and patterns were much different then, from now, but in the seventies, yellow and green were “the colors.” Its completely gone now, all thats left is the memories of a better, happier time, and I quote Terri for what she said earlier; “the colors of the Pekin Mall dont look so bad through my eyes.”

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  163. I am posting a link to a video I took of the Pekin Mall during my last trip there. I knew they were going to be closing it, so I took one last trip through the mall. The video is a little choppy because I cut out the footage of my wife and daughter. Also, there is no audio.

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    Shawn Simmons Reply:

    @Shawn Simmons,

    link:

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    bill just Reply:

    @Shawn Simmons, thanks for the memories!

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  164. Wasn’t their a Magnavox store there? I remember going to the Cinema to see Jaws. Before they closed, the cinemas would play midnight movies.

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  165. This mall was my babysitter for a lot of my childhood. That Fashion Bug was oh so conveniently located next to the KB Toy store. The mall started going to pot when JC Penny pulled out the 1st time, then Sears in 1993, then Walgreens left when they opened a new store elsewhere in town. I miss Lum’s. That place has memories all it’s own. Thanks for posting this.

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  166. my memories are stumbling out of the Ivanhoe …….

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  167. Wow, it’s crazy looking at those pictures… I remember going to that mall many, many times as a youngster in the 70′s. Growing up in East Peoria, that was the place to go for quite a few years. I have memories of going to Bergner’s during Christmas time and they had the ‘Talking Christmas Tree’ there that you could walk up to and it would talk to you. Karmelkorn, Hot Sams, the 33 flavor Ice Cream shop…. Alladin’s Castle. Lot’s of good times there as a young boy. Looking at those interior shots I have distinct memories of pretending my hand was a race car and “jumping” off those smooth wooden railings on those ramps and stairs. When I saw those pictures it was like being hit in the head with an instant and very vivid memory. Pretty crazy. I also remember seeing Smokey and the Bandit at the cinema.

    Thanks for posting those photos. Nice to see that the mall got documented before it was torn down. Time flies…

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  168. I also grew up in Pekin and have many fond memories of the mall. On a friday night it would be so packed! There was a joke-type shop called Flathead Cat across from Walgreens, next to Lums, where we would hang out. Then down to JR’s Music shop (which later became Sam Goody) to buy cassette tapes! I also remember taking guitar lessons at Flores Music next to Bergners. I had forgotten about The Ivanhoe, I never got the chance to go there! I remember playing pool and video games at a pizza place near the main entrance, but can’t remember the name of it…

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  169. The name of the music store no one can remember the name of was Byerly Music, which later became Springer Music if I remember correctly.

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  170. One of the best memories of my life was at Pekin Mall! I was about 20, and a total Halloween junkie. Hocus Pocus was coming out at theaters, and I could not get any of my friends to go with me. So I took my nephews, like 6 & 10 at the time. We went a few hours early and roamed around the mall. We ate at one of the restaurants, got ice cream, I bought them something with TMNT on it, maybe a record, then we went to the movie. They had the place DECKED out for the opening of Hocus Pocus. All these awesome decorations and studio propaganda stuff. It was cool! We got drinks, popcorn, candy and settled in. The movie was good and my nephews were fairly quiet through the whole thing. We were having so much fun we stuck around at the mall for another few hours for video games and more shopping. Then we got into my 68 mustang and took the long way home to Washington. After that, Saturday afternoon movies were our regular deal, until they got too old to think that hanging around with their Aunt was fun. Bummer! I still love afternoon movies the best.

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  171. I just spent an hour reading thru all the comments – I can’t believe I’m loosing beauty sleep for this! I worked for Swiss Colony from ’77til 81. There were evenings even back then when you never saw more than a dozen people walk past or into the store during my 5-9 shift. I loved taking my breaks down at Luca’s pizza or trying to beat my high score on the Playboy pinball machine. Always had friends to meet up with who worked in other places in the mall. On the slow nights when no managers were around, I remember how some of us would stand out near the front of the stores and yell back and forth at each other – no cell phones needed! And the Trick or Treat nights were so much fun! Thanks for the smiles!

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  172. I remember well the Pekin Mall…I worked at Coach House starting in 1976 (one of the more shop-lifting spots caught a few)2 days after my 16th bday. Worked at Paul Harris (which turned into Paul Harris Budget) Worked at Byerly Music and taught there (piano and organ) along with Larry Folgerberg, Dan Folgerberg’s Dad) then worked at Walden Books. Loved that place! Remember eating at Lums (remember the Weinerwald Chicken?), Orange Bowl,Walgreens Restaurant, Bergners Restaurant, Karmelkorn, Luca Pizza. don’t forget Swiss Coloney! Shopping at Allen Vogue, Denim Den, Lisbon Shops, Johhson Brothers Men’s Store, Murphy Shoes, Kinney Shoes, Stuarts, I remember Tiffarny’s Bakery which later was replaced with a Breyers IceCream then the Photogery went in that location. So many Many memories, most all good, warm fuzzy growing up in Pekin Memories!

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  173. As a little girl I LOVED the floor at the mall. I would try to skip and jump around so that I only ever let my feet touch the green parts of the floor. When I got a little older a friend and I would get dropped off on a Saturday, with 5 bucks each, and we would spend all day deciding how to spend it. I would love to see a picture of the mural again. In defense of the chinks, it was another time, and it was not used as a derogatory term. Why would a high school allow that. Peking china was our “sister” city. People often say if you dug a whole through the center of the earth from pekin, you’d come out in peking china. In more modern times the mascot was changed out of respect. People collect chink memorabilia for nostalgic reasons, not to be disrespectful.

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  174. What a great website! I’m a Pekin native from over 25 years ago. I spent many hours in that mall, including getting arrested for stealing a bag of peanuts after hours from the candy store in front of JC Penney’s. Hi Maureen!

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  175. Bergners is still in the original building and the bathroom in the back still has the same retro look that the mall used to have! It’s like a time warp going in there!

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  176. Wow-I’ve looked for pictures from time to time of what our old mall used to look like and haven’t been sucessful finding any. I am so happy to have found this site to come to to reminisce. I am 28 years old now and grew up in this area my whole life. I still reside here. I miss the old mall. I loved it. I am flooded with memories as I look through these photos….i used to run along the circular bench seats while my mom was in Claire’s…Deb was a popular place to shop in high school with all the hottest styles. I believe there was a 5-7-9 women’s clothing store too. I too like alot of others on these comments remember the Pizza Pretzel at Hot Sam’s. The color scheme of the mall was great…you definitely don’t see that anymore. Everyone’s making fun of it but for that time I’m sure it was Top Notch decor!! : ) Whenever someone speaks of the old Pekin Mall or I see photos I just feel a way I can’t even describe. I miss that mall….I wish we could have it back only the stores would stay open this time. It’s a fond piece of my childhood that I love to remember and doing so makes me feel young again. Does anyone remember the store “Flat Head Cat?” Very cool! It was a prank/jokester store. Sold tricks and gags. There was also a 50′s diner type restaurant on the corner across from Zale’s on the hall that lead to the Cinema and how about the record store next to Jo-Ann Fabrics call JR’s maybe?? Was there also a Montgomery Ward before Sears?? The way the mall is now is just not the same. Whenever I drive through it or go there I still think of the way it was. My favorite stores are Bergner’s & Big Lots….just because they bring back the memories. They are the only ones that feel like your still in the great old Pekin Mall when your in them.

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    bill just Reply:

    @Michelle M., is the downtown area the same? i’m talking the Arlingtong bar. i used to live across the street from it, above the lawyers.

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    bill just Reply:

    @bill just, Arlington bar, sorry, fat fingers!

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    Michelle M. Reply:

    @bill just, Well The Arlington rings a bell to me. I’m unsure why. I’ve never been. I’ve heard the name mentioned by others though. I’m not sure it’s still there. I tried googling it but found nothing. There are still some corner bars downtown so I’m wondering if they maybe changed names. I could be wrong though…it could be there. Do you know? I’m 28 and never been one to go out very much lol. I’m more of a shopper haha. I’d say the downtown area has changed a lot though in the past. It’s gotten some new things and a lot of the older things are still around too. I recently saw an article in the Pekin Times Newspaper saying something about some more renovations downtown that might be soon to come. I hope so….I’d love to see some good shopping down there. I love a good main street shopping scene! Are you out of this area now?

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    bill just Reply:

    @Michelle M., i live outside of Chicago about 35 miles NW now.I lived in Pekin ’94-’99. the Arlington was on the corner of 98? and main?. I lived on Ellizabeth, above the lawyers office with my girlfriend. Went to the “hole in the wall” too. My cousin, Drew used to own Tailfeathers taxidermy till he died last year. That was out on Broadway leaving town. I only lived in Pekin a few years, but I fell in love with the place. The town I live in now is actually smaller! We were so close to the couthouse we could hear the prisoners screaming alot. We were right behind the newspaper building at the time. They always gave away their pallets. Time change, i guess.

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    bill just Reply:

    @Michelle M., just liiked at a map; i think it was on the corner of court and 5th.

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    bill just Reply:

    @bill just, looked at a map!!

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    Michelle M. Reply:

    @bill just, Yea I was going to say it was on the corner of Court St. and Rt. 29 which is pretty much the same as 5th.

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    bill just Reply:

    @Michelle M., squeeze these together, using all letters, river raft too, use an “at” and think yahoo! I’ve got Bill’s email.

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    Michelle M. Reply:

    @bill just, Your last message confused me

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  177. Thank you all for the walk down memory lane! I’ve not heard any mention of the sugar cookies at Tiffany’s, just the cinnamon bread, which was absolutely amazing. I’ve never found sugar cookies that even came close in my 46 years.

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  178. Wow! What a post. Seeing that classic piece of Pekin real estate took me back to my childhood. I remember mom getting me a cherry coke (new at the time) at Hot Sam, picking out our Halloween costume designs at Joanne Fabric, seeing numerous movies at the theater, and of course, video games at Aladdin’s Castle. I wish I could go back in time for one day and relive those memories.

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  179. The small shop to the left of DEB, in the video, was a Coldwell Banker, and later, a photography studio.

    I was also part of the community theater that you can just barely see in one of the pictures. It was there from the early nineties on…

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  180. The Mall in its glory was fun and (in its way) magical, that made watching it slowly fall to pieces very hard. The roof leaked terribly even in the center lobby there were buckets catching water for everyone to see. Ceiling tiles stained and falling down, light bulbs burned out. As it spiraled into disrepair the old folks descended on it using the interior as a walk track. The last few years we called it the Pekin Morgue and the Green Mile.

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  181. I have so many memories… But I loved Christmas. A long time ago the lights would come up and down for Christmas, the music, the crowds, to a kid it was great. In the end the lights were always up. I say I miss it my husband says it was junk. Let me ask you…indoor or outdoor in the middle of December? Really?

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  182. I visited Pekin over the weekend. Here are a few pics of what the “Pekin Mall” looks like now.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49418561@N03/6419767199/in/photostream

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49418561@N03/6419768491/in/photostream

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49418561@N03/6419770331/in/photostream

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  183. The mall might still have been there and still be thriving if it hadn’t been for greed. Look at the Peoria mall. Pekin mall charged to much rent and would never fix anything. What a shame…

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    Zac Reply:

    @Randy,

    You hit the nail on the head. Pekin mall charged the same per sq ft as Northwoods mall in Peoria, which had more than twice the traffic.

    Even as many stores closed, they still wanted the same rent for new stores even though hardly no one visited the mall anymore.

    Clearly the owners were using it as a tax write off, nothing else makes any sense.

    Tis a shame, with the proper management, it could have survived.

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  184. The murder was a beauitful young mother named Peggy(Gray)Kearns

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    Kelli Knight Agles Reply:

    @Susan, Yes you are right – I worked for Atty Robert H. Jones in the 80′s until he retired in the late 90′s. This case was way over by my time. That case file i will never forget. Mr. Kearns ended up serving time evetually for other charges. He was quite a piece of work to say the least.

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    Miranda Reply:

    @Kelli Knight Agles, Peggy wa my grandmother I’ve never met my grandfather and my mom is an only child she was 9 when her mother was murdered and we are not the closest….. I would love to find more info!! I try and look but it just turns into a dead end. My email is mgrigsby08@yahoo.com please help me?

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    Miranda Reply:

    @Susan, Do you have info on this? She was my grandmother and I would live to hear the story! Mgrigsby08@yahoo.com

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  185. Anchor Stores were originalli Bergners , JC Penny’s , Murphy Mart , Walgreens , and A&P Grocery store . They also had the Cinema 1 and Cenima 2 , which were the theaters in Pekin at the time . Lums had good food , so don’t knock it . And it only looked dark from the outside .

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  186. My husband was on the demolition crew when the mall was change to outside access stores. He obtained quite a few “relic” from the mall and they now grace the decor in our 50-60′s basement. We have the oak railings that were on the ramps that we have as display shelves,the 1″ square mirrored tiles that were on the wall of the Paul Harris store now are on the wall behind our 50′s bubbler jukebox, the red and white lamps that were in the bakery store are above our glass block bar and many other odds and ends. As the saying goes, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure!

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  187. Peggy was my grandmother, wish I had the chance to meet this beautiful woman.

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  188. I love this page. Thanks for posting the photos. I remember this floor from the 90′s. I wanted to see it again to spark my memory, but my aunt said that it was no longer there. You’ve allowed me to revisit it this way. Thanks!

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  189. I am originally from Pekin and remember my mom taking me to the mall when I was little with her friends (she was a teen mother)… I have pics from when she took me trick or treating for my 2nd halloween (my first i was only 3 days old) I made a visit in 2007 and took my daughter to the ‘mall’ that is now there, I had been away from pekin for so long I didn’t know the original was no longer standing. I was very disappointed that she did not get to see the crazy colors on the floor that I LOVED as a kid (purple is still my favorite color, I really think that floor is why it became my favorite!). I showed my daughter the pictures on here tonight and she thought it was funny!

    I also remember her taking me to the Chink Rink on the weekends…I was so little she had to put paper in the ends of the toes to make them fit!

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  190. I don’t think I’ve seen this mentioned yet, but was it Stuarts that didn’t have doors on their dressing rooms to prevent shoplifting? (Like that would help, everyone was too embarrassed to look at anyone else!)
    Several folks have made fun of the decor, but it was definitely indicative of the time. The mural was right in step with Peter Max and the whole Yellow Submarine aesthetic. I loved it as a kid and think that if the mall had been maintained properly, it would be a fantastic time capsule.

    My family would have lunch at Sambo’s every Sunday after church and I had no idea at the time of the negative associations with African Americans. From the artwork on the walls and menu I just thought Sambo was from India. I was horrified when I found out later!

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  191. The original ice cream store that was in the Pekin Mall when it opened up was Bresler 33 Flavors, NOT Baskin and Robbins 31.

    Originally, Baskin and Robbins WAS in Pekin at Court St/Broadway and 7th Street in a freestanding building, BEFORE the Pekin Mall opened. This area had the roadway re-designed during that period.

    Question, does anyone remember the old lady that had a little popcorn and candy shack somewhere on Broadway around the OLD library location? Today it would be on the west side of the new library. What was the story with that little business and what was her name?

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    Kurt Reply:

    @William, That was King’s. Her and her husband, they sold more than just popcorn. I remember going there as a kid with my dad, her husband was blind and would ask you what bill you gave him for payment.

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  192. Walgreen’s restaurant (to the right) was called Wag’s. Wag’s was Walgreen’s attempt to stop putting lunch counters inside it’s drug stores in the 70′s. (Wag’s is also Mr. Walgreens yacht’s name)

    Also Miracle Mart was not in the Pekin Mall, ever! Miracle Mart was at Court St/Parkway and was replaced by Vogel’s Grocery Store when Vogel’s moved from their 2nd Street location (the old Vogel’s was cool).

    A&P was the original grocery store at the mall. They moved from 5th Street, across from Hole in the Wall Tavern (the old Walt’s French 1/4), to the mall on the backside of Murphy’s Mart. A&P had no internal access to the mall.

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  193. Aw! I miss the old Pekin mall…the memories as a pre-teen there :) They’ve definitely transformed it now. Currently, it’s a collaboration of a strip mall and free standing stores called “East Court Village.” It occupies the original space and has taken space across Court Street as well. Here’s what you can find in the East Court Village Shopping center as of 2014:

    Aldi
    Applebee’s
    Bergner’s
    Big Lots
    Bob Evans
    Claire’s
    Culver’s
    Deals
    Dunham’s Sports
    Firestone
    Fresenius Dialysis
    Gold’s Gym Express
    Hobby Lobby
    KFC
    Kirlin’s Hallmark
    Payless Shoe Source
    Pekin Community Bank
    Petco
    rue21
    Sprint
    Starbucks
    Steak ‘n Shake
    Tractor Supply Co
    U.S. Cellular
    Verizon Wireless
    Wendy’s

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  194. There is berqners, claire’s, rue 21, sprint, some pet store, deals, hobby lobby and big lots. Walmart is across the street. Starbucks is close to the mall.. a bunch of little stores are close too.

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  195. Bergner’s is still there and so it Hobby Lobby and Big Lots. Bergner’s recently remodeled. There is a Hallmark, some small clothing store, Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe, Petco and I believe a Dollar tree/Dollar store. There is a new smaller strip mall in the middle of the parking lot also. There is also a Culver’s and Starbucks in the the old parking lot. It has actually come a long way. Still doesn’t compare to the larger malls though.

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