Maple Hill Mall; Kalamazoo, Michigan

Maple Hill Mall in Kalamazoo, Michigan

When Prangeway and I were taking a lot of road trips in 1998 and 1999, I was always trying to convince him (him being the, um, the one who owned a car) to go to the other malls in a lot of the random midwestern cities we visited. It seems that each time we tried, we hit pay dirt. Kalamazoo was a great example.

The Maple Hill Mall was located on route 43 on Kalamazoo’s west side, separate from the more successful and larger mall in Portage, on the south side. Built in 1971, Maple Hill Mall was the dominant mall in the Kalamazoo area for some time before the 1981 opening of Portage’s Crossroads Mall. The two malls coexisted for some time, but Maple Hill Mall went into decline in the 1990s. Apparently there was a plan around 2000 to try and revitalize the mall, but the loss of both Steketee’s and Montgomery Ward sealed its fate. Maple hill mall was also directly across the street from former Westmain Mall, about which little is known. Perhaps our readers can clue us in.

Maple Hill Mall in Kalamazoo, Michigan

For some reason, we found ourselves in Kalamazoo quite late in the evening, and visited Maple Hill Mall several hours after it closed for the evening. Since everything was closed, the place seemed eerie even then, even though it was reasonably well-tenanted at the time. The anchors then were still Montgomery Ward, Steketee’s, and Target, plus there was a very bizarre Office Max store whose footprint stepped obtrusively into the mall itself (check thefloorplan at the bottom of this page to see what I mean). We waltzed around the vacant mall for a good ten minutes or so before a bike cop (!) came wheeling out of nowhere around Office Max’s poison corner to tell us that the mall was closed (obviously) and that we should leave. This was early 1999.

It’s unsurprising that the Maple Hill Mall was demolished and replaced with a power center in 2004; it was obvious even seven years ago that the poor old place had become a weak player and that it had lost its prominence. We didn’t take any of our own pictures, but thanks to Labelscar reader and commenter Bobby, we have an eerie set of pictures taken before the whole thing was knocked down. The whole set of pictures from his visit is available on his site Forgotten Michigan, along with a more complete history of Maple Hill Mall.

Maple Hill Mall in Kalamazoo, Michigan

97 Responses to “Maple Hill Mall; Kalamazoo, Michigan”

  1. Seems like a pleasant enough mall, but having too much competition will kill anything off. Losing those anchors couldn’t have helped either.

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  2. An old boyfriend of mine used to live in the area, and I’ve been by that mall many times (in 1999-2000) as a result. He said that Maple Hill has been dead for years, and that Westmain was pretty much right behind it. There’s a LOT of dead retail space in Kzoo, probably because Michigan is the western end of the Rust Belt and its cities are faring pretty poorly as a whole. IIRC, the population has dropped significantly in recent decades as various factories have shut down or scaled back. A lot of people who stayed in the area (usually white-collar workers) moved south to Portage, to the point where it’s almost as populated as the city itself, and the Westnedge corridor is the only commercial strip that hasn’t deteriorated. Both Westmain and Maple Hill are on the west side, and while the colleges have done a lot to keep that side of town relatively stable, it’s not the “hot” part of town. The same could be said for the downtown pedestrian mall. I think the killer tornado that cut through downtown in ’79 or ’80 couldn’t have come at a worse time, because it only exacerbated the usual downtown flight, and the area barely had a pulse by the time I visited.

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  3. While a trend exists around the country eliminating the need for smaller, enclosed malls in favor of the stalwart behemoths like Crossroads, I doubt Kalamazoo could ever have supported three enclosed malls and kept them all successful without one reverting to an outlet/discount format or the like. In nearby Grand Rapids, several more smaller enclosed centers have given way to in-line big box development with exterior entrances. Jackson, a city about an hour east of Kalamazoo, currently supports 2 malls and both seem to be clinging to life. It would have been nice to have kept Maple Hill though.

    Does anyone know anything else about Westmain Mall? It was right across the street from Maple Hill, a prime example over overmalling. What were its anchors? Was it demolished or just disenclosed?

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    Amy Reply:

    @Prangeway, Westmain Mall was demolished. JCPenney was the anchor store and it also had Little Chick, Foxmoor, a movie theather, an arcade, Judd Knapper….There is a new shopping center on the property which houses Kohls, MC Sporting Goods and there’s a Lowes.

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    shane Reply:

    @Amy, ya i saw top gun at the west main mall movie theater.also later me and my friends used to break into pretty much abandon mall at night.These guys i used to hang out with somehow busted one of the doors so it would stay open.there was no security or anything,but the electricity was on and we’d hang out in the bathrooms which were big public ones and smoke cigarettes and talk shit ,once almost all night.crazy memories now.

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    Roxie Reply:

    @Prangeway, Actually, Kalamazoo did support 4 enclosed malls and one outdoor mall, for almost two decades, give or take a couple years, hence the nickname for the city during the 70′s to early 90′s, “Mall City” We even have an ambulance service by that name in Kalamazoo…We had the outdoor mall in downtown Kalamazoo first, then West Main Mall opened and right behind it was the Maple Hill Mall and a short time later the Southland Plaza reopened as the Southland Mall and after that the Eastland Mall…this all started in 1959 with the outdoor mall, the others in the early 70′s…I believe first and foremost it was the economy of the time that started the downward decline of these malls then the opening of the “super” mall of Crossroads in the early 80′s…smaller malls became to expensive to run, rent & utilities were high…all of these malls, with the exception of the downtown mall, which is really like a plaza anyway, have since become plaza type retail areas and seem to be flourishing, again…Me, personally, I always prefer the mall, then you don’t have to deal with the weather…don’t like going in & out of stores when it’s to hot, to cold, to rainy or to snowy, which really is almost always in Michigan…anyway, that’s the short version of the history of our fair Mall City

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    Roxie Reply:

    oooops, that would be East Towne Mall not Eastland, that was a mall in Grand Rapids at one time…

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  4. It’s too bad we are loosing the smaller malls. I enjoyed them, if anything, during the rainy season and heat waves. Granted, they typically weren’t malls you’d just hang out in, but they did offer comfort.
    Scott

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  5. First, thanks very much for the link to my page! The floorplan link won’t work though – Angelfire won’t let you link to images. Might wanna fix that.

    To answer Prangeway’s question about Westmain, I know that it was anchored by Osco and Hills, and also had a theatre. The mall remained enclosed long enough to see Hills switch to Menard’s. The mall was demolished in the late 1990s as Menard’s moved down the road; a Lowe’s and supermarket were built on the site.

    There was also an East Town Mall on the east side of Kalamazoo on Gull Road (M-43). As far as I know it had no anchors except for a theatre, and appears to have been disenclosed.

    Jackson’s Westwood Mall isn’t exactly clinging to life – it has all the big chain stores like Victoria’s Secret, f.y.e., American Eagle… whereas Jackson Crossing (a former strip mall that became enclosed) has mostly big box, discounters and lower end retailers. I’ll try to get to Jackson Crossing sometime.

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    Amy Reply:

    @Bobby, Westwood Mall the exact replica of Maple Hill Mall-I went there today and stepped back into the days of shopping at Maple Hill-it really made me sad!

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  6. Oh yeah, I forgot – A strip mall next to Crossroads Mall in Portage, called Southland, was briefly enclosed. It seems to have had Kresge, Cunningham’s, and Kroger as anchors, as well as Gilmore Brothers. Currently it’s a big box center with Barnes & Noble, JCPenney Home Store, and Kohl’s among other stores.

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  7. West Main Mall (named smartly becasue it was located on West Main Ave.) was actually the first enclosed mall in the metro Kalamazoo area. Opened in 1969 (the year of my birth) Maple Hill opened 3 years later. Not overmalled, but at the time, the ONLY malls in the whole area. Southland was still an outside entrance mall only, and the whole Westnedge strip was just coming into place. WM used to have a very impressive main center fountain. Was part of the logo for the mall for years. The setup was odd. The mall was shaped in a “*” design. The center of the mall was the fountain, with spokes fanning out like a *. In later years, when Maple Hill was still a viable enclosed shopping destination, but after Crossroads opened, WM fell on hard times. In the 80′s, an arcade whose name escapes me at the moment, and the 10 screen theatre were all that was left. The grocery store…first a Jewel/Osco’s, the later a local chain (Hardings, which was bought by Michigan retail giant Spartan Stores based out of Grand Rapids) might still be there today, but don’t hold me to that. I havent been back in the area in a few years. I dont ever remember the Hills becoming a Menards while it was there, but the Hills was a Zayres before being a Hills. I thought the Zayres turned into Hills, but I could be wrong. There also was a Secretary of States office (Michigans version of the DMV, and more) and a Godfathers Pizza chain.

    As far as the area and dead retail space, its all relative. The TGIFridays has been there for some time, and MH has grown into a power center with some success. Just down West Main, or M-43, is both a Meijer and a Walmart, soon to be a Super Wal Mart. The retail focus is just shifting about 4 miles down the road. The West Main/Drake road area is just too small for todays retail climate. 220,000 sf stores need more space and parking, and that is at a premium near the former WM and MH sites. The Lowes on the old WM site takes up the entire area that used to be a mall! Everything is bigger these days.

    As far at the pedestrian mall downtown, its back open to car traffic and a much ballyhooed return, and is busier than it was when it was a foot mall. A new 12 screen theatre and residential devolpment is driving the resurgence.

    For the record, the population of Kalamazoo city proper is 77,145, and Portage (where i grew up, and remembering my dad taking me to the grand opening of Crossroads when i was 9 in 1980) is 44,897 so the above post stating

    “A lot of people who stayed in the area (usually white-collar workers) moved south to Portage, to the point where it’s almost as populated as the city itself, and the Westnedge corridor is the only commercial strip that hasn’t deteriorated.”

    isnt exactly true. Portage, while housing the Westnedge strip (or “mini 28th street” from Grand Rapids) is still 33,000-ish people from overtaking Kalamazoo.

    The history of Southland Mall is similar to WM. Opened in 1963, had all the stores you mentioned in the last post. Enclosed in the 70′s before Crossroads, it became a power center in the mid 90′s. SS Kresges was there till the mid 80′s, plus the best little hotdog/soft pretzel stand in the world (at least to a 9 year old) it had no name, just great dogs n prezts! The kroger became MC Sports (which is still there) and the Bilbos pizza opened in the front parking lot in 1986.

    The Grand Rapids comparison isnt a fair one. Currently the population the GR metro is 771,185, while Kalamazoo countys is 238,603. i think an extra 500,000 odd people can support 3 enclosed malls. (Rivertown Crossings, Woodland and the former EastBrook, which has had extensive renovations in the past 10 years and now is “Eastbrook Town Plaza” or something like that) 2 of those malls are on the busiest retail corridor in the state, and the street with the most eating and drinking establishments in the world (28th street) so,

    “I doubt Kalamazoo could ever have supported three enclosed malls and kept them all successful without one reverting to an outlet/discount format or the like. In nearby Grand Rapids, several more smaller enclosed centers have given way to in-line big box development with exterior entrances.”

    while not a direct comparison between GR and Kalamazoo, there just isnt the population in Kalamazoo to support the all the former malls.

    a 4th enclosed mall, yet never with the size, the resources or the pull of the other 3, was East Towne Mall. The anchors were a Kmart and an A+P (later a Save a Lot) grocery store. The only, and i mean ONLY thing the mall had going for it was a 6 screen theatre, the biggest in the city for about a 15 year stretch until the 10 screen was built at WM in the early 80-’s (on a side note, i had my first real date at that very theatre, with a very ugly girl whose name i dont remember…Maria…maybe Marla…dama..i dont remember) Along with West Towne Mall on the opposite end of town that had a Kmart as well…a Radio shack, a Save A Lot and a Bowling alley. (Harpos) that is still there, but the name has changed to University Commons or something like that.

    Sorry this was so long, but this is where i grew up. Some of this was fuzzy, but i think most is pretty accurate. Happy Malling!

    p.s. i got to your site from a story in todays (1/2/07) Minnesota Star Tribune about a mall in a suburb (Roseville) closing its theatre! Small World!

    Craig

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    Rick Reply:

    The arcade name was The Fun Factory

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  8. Actually, Grand Rapids had EIGHT enclosed malls at one point.

    * North Kent Mall – Opened 1970 with Wurzburg’s (now Kmart), Kresge (closed when Kmart opened), and Montgomery Ward (now Dunham’s and Dollar Tree). Torn down in 2000 for a Lowe’s.

    * Kentwood Village Mall – On 44th @ Kalamazoo. Opened in the 1980s with a Kroger (later a bowling alley). Never did well. Now offices.

    * Rogers Plaza – Opened 1960 (some sources say 1959). Featured Kroger, Kresge, Cunningham’s, and Wards. Turn Style (later Best Products) was added later. Now features AJ Wright, Family Fare, MC Sports, Big Lots, Harbor Freight, and Office Max.

    * Centerpointe Mall. Opened 1967 with Wurzburg’s, Woolco, and Steketee’s. Now mostly occupied by big box tenants, still holding its own against Woodland Mall.

    * Woodland Mall – opened 1968. Originally featured JCPenney, Sears, Kresge (now mall space). Hudson’s (later Field’s, now Macy’s) added later.

    * RiverTown Crossings – The super regional mall, opened 1999. JCPenney, Kohl’s, Younkers, Sears, Macy’s (the last Hudson’s to open), Barnes & Noble, Old Navy.

    * Grand Village Mall – Small 1970s mall on Chicago Dr. in Grandville. Featured Witmark Catalog Showroom and Rite Aid. Now a church!

    * Breton Village – Opened 1961 as a plaza with a Kroger supermarket. Enclosed at some point. Very small (25 tenants) but upscale, features D & W Supermarket, Rite Aid, and several high end shops. Unique little “niche” mall, still doing pretty well today. Anyone know if this mall once had other major stores?

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  9. Oh yeah, more about Westmain Mall. Its original anchors were WT Grant and Federals (a Detroit chain). Penney’s later took the former Grant’s, and Federals was converted to Zayre. Zayre became Ames, and then Menard’s, and I think it’s now Kohl’s. JCPenney later became Jewel Foods, and I believe that it’s now Harding’s. At some point, part of Westmain mall was “De-malled” for a Hills store,which ironically opened AFTER the Ames closed! The rest of the mall has been torn down for Lowe’s, but I believe that the former WT Grant and Federals spaces remain, as does the former Hills (now MC Sports if I’m not mistaken). Early on, the mall also featured a Kroger, and possibly an Osco Drug.

    I checked a 1993 phone book for Kalamazoo, and all I could find for Westmain Mall was Harding’s, Hills, Osco Drug, theaters, arcade, and a cosmetology school (!).

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  10. The name of the arcade at Westmain was The Fun Factory. I believe it was a regional chain, now defunct (there was another one in Grand Rapids.) If my memory is correct, the Harding’s building is the only part of the original structure still surviving. By ’93, the mall was indeed absent of all retailers besides the six mentioned above; there were some local churches that used a handful of the abandoned spaces for their services. There was also an upper level consisting of mostly vacant office space, although some were still occupied at least as late as the late eighties/early nineties.

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    glacialhills Reply:

    @Paul, I know that a navy recruiters office was also in the upper level in 1989 as that is where I signed up. The west main mall had a most definite upscale flavor in its hay day, Having multiple sunken gardens with little fountains along the main promenade with Marble,plants and fancy wood and stone benches and a huge (like 25 feet high and 40ft around)star fountain at the south end that shot water out each spike and had multi colored lights that changed.

    My parents always liked west main mall over us kids because it was fancier and more relaxing with more old and traditional clothing and shoe stores, but us kids all liked the Maple hill mall across the street that had hipper trendier stores.

    Once the fun factory and the movie theater opened at wm that changed and in the end The west main mall was the dating destination in the mid 80′s.

    I remember taking a walk though the west main mall for the last time right around 1989-1990 and in just that short of a time frame it was basically gone, and it was like an Armageddon movie, all the stores were closed, the mall was dark and spooky, The big fountain was removed, there were homeless people sleeping in the sunken garden areas and all along the side corridors and in the corners with the smell of urine scent where there used to be smells of hot pretzels and scented candles.

    I only wish I would have taken some pics when it was still around. Funny that when malls are in there prime, security would not allow any photography. Now they are just a memory.

    I would love to see some pics of the MH mall and west main mall at their peak if anyone has them and bring back those happy memories of my childhood.

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  11. Looking at the floor plan for West Main now, it looks like the former Hills, the Harding’s, and the Kohl’s (nee Federals) space are all intact. Those spaces all seem to fit the footprint of the old West Main Mall.

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  12. I remember the West Main Mall very well. It opened in 1969 as the area’s first enclosed mall. The WM did very well til Crossroads Mall opened in 1980. Then, stores started to close because the Crossroads did much better in business, like JCPenneys; it opened in 1976 after Grants closed and did well til they closed in 1985 because the Penneys at the Crossroads was much bigger and did better in sales then the WM. The space was took over in 1987 with Jewels, then Hardings now Kohls. The last comment was right, the Kohls and Hardings are the only 2 parts that are original to the mall. The Lowes that is there now used to be part of Zayres and the “7″ screen UA Westmain theatres. The movie theatre was orignally a 1 screen from 1969 til 1979 when UA bought it out and expanded to 5 screens( the 4 new screens were like the original auditorium); then split the 4 added theatres and made them to 6 in 1984; making it 7 screens. I didnt really like those theaters because they were NOT in stereo like the original auditorium. For some reason the theatres closed in 1999. Now today, as I said earlier it now is Lowes. Today when you walk into Kohls, that used to be the old Penneys store. As growing up in the 1970′s that was the mall to go to(Maple Hill too) and to this day i miss that mall to some extent.

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  13. According to a friend who worked at the West Main UA for a few years, the theater’s owner was bought out by the mall’s then-owners, who were keen to demolish what was left of the building. According to him, the theater was still doing steady business at the time it shut down, although I think that the Kalamazoo 10 ‘plex had gone in across the street by then.

    Does anyone here have any info about the Fun Factory arcade chain?

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  14. I don’t hace much information on The Fun Factory, but I can tell you that it was your typical arcade of the day and had a carousel in it. I was actually hoping that someone might have more information on Southland Mall when it was an enclosed mall. I remember going there quite often as a child nad I can remember all of the stores pretty well, but my mom nad I have a blank spot on a store that we used to frequent. It was at the end of the mall across from where TJ Maxx used to be. It was some sort of a five and dime type of store. That pretzel/hot dog stand was the best by the way. As for East Town mall the anchor grocer at the end was a Family Foods to the best of knowledge, and the one other store that was somewhat of an anchor was a Perry’s Drug store, which was later acquired by Rite Aid. East Town also had another theatre called Final Curtain that was a dinner theatre. They also boasted a large two story book store, the name of which escapes me at the moment. There was also a waterbed store and an Olan Mills portrait studio, as well as the original cake and candy lady’s store. Ahigh end jeweler was also on the other end of the mall closer to the Kmart entrance.

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    Bryan Reply:

    @Kira, G.L. Perry Variety Store. was the best thing about the Southland Mall. That was the name of the five and dime store. My mom and I shopped there all the time. Also Baskin Robins 31 flavors. The song for the store went… G.L. Perry Variety Store have we got something for you.

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  15. I’m told that East Town had A & P as its grocer.

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  16. By the way, KIra…. I think the dime store was Kresge. I found an archived blog page regarding Southland; unfortunately the Wayback Machine didn’t archive the pics on the page.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20050410033701/http://www.dioretix.com/blog/archives/000019.html

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  17. East Town to the best of my knowledge and my personal resource never had an A&P. The A&P was in Parchment and attached to the A&P was a Ben Franklin Crafts. The A&P later became Sae A Lot and Ben Franklin stayed on for a short while but it closed shortly before the Ben Franklin store on Westnedge Avenue. The Ben’s retail space has been filled recently be a Family Dollar. East Town had a store that carried kitchen cabinets and fixtures, there was a clothing store right next to it. As the mall stared to lose tenants an arcade came in there as well. Now as for West Main mall Zayres became Ames but Hills was in a different location. If you were in the mall with your back to Zayres and looking down the corridor on your right you would have had Gantos Boutique, which later moved to Maple Hill, and down that same side of the corridor was a restaurant that was possibly a buffet, a GNC and possibly one other store and on the very corner was a hosiery store. On your left side of the corridor was a dance studio, an upscale women’s store, something like a Talbot’s would be today, and as yuo came down to the end of that side of the corridor you would see the Fun Factory, which also had it’s own entrance from the outside. Now if you were in the center of the mall, where the fountain used to be, it was later replaced with a stage, you would see the theatre, next to the theatre was a clothing store, which may have been a Fashion Bug, next to that was an indoor putt putt golf. Further you had a store that sold bathroom fixtures, there was one or two other stores there and on the very end was a Tot To Teen Village. It had a separate room for reading times and it had a giant castle play area with slides and lots of toys for the kiddies to play while mom shopped. Across from the Village was a shoe store and a Hot Sam’s Pretzel, as well as a book store. On the corner of that aisle was a Fanny Farmer chocolate shop. Now the last corridor where the Secretary of State later went in had a tanning parlor, a jeweler, and a couple of other stores that we can’t seem to remember. As for the outside retailers, Hill’s etc, most of those spaces no longer exist. The entire mall was torn down with the exception of the Hill’s location because Harding’s was in that location at the time, and Lowe’s was built on the old property. Later Harding’s rebuilt their store and Kohl’s came in a couple of years later. MC Sports is the newest addition within the past year. So any of the old Hill’s property is most likely gone.

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  18. Very cool to see this coverage on the Kalamazoo area malls. I stayed up there a few years for college (and may go back at some point). The former West Main Mall site I think still retains the name on their plaza, which has a Kohl’s, Hardings (a larger one), MC Sports, and a Lowe’s. What year did the West Main mall close? I am still stunned there were actually 2 enclosed malls in that area. Since that area of Kalamazoo is so close to the universities compared to the Westenedge/Crossroads area, it is doing fairly well. Plenty of stores and chain restaurants around. I am fairly certain that there is still a sign up saying “Maple Hill Mall entrance” at the stoplight near the movie theater. I started college shortly after it was torn down, so I don’t have any memories of Maple Hill, but it just comes off really odd to me, and all the shopping I’ve done around there, that an enclosed mall was around just a few years ago.

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  19. Looks like where “Rue 21″ is now was an original entrance to the mall. The other entrance went to GNC and a few botiques.

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  20. Where Rue 21 now sits was an entrance to the mall. It was mainly an empty short corridor, but as you entered you had Zales jewelers to your right adn Wards was on the left. This entrance was directly facing the other entrance that was at the back of the mall where the restrooms were located and the stairs up to the main offices.

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  21. Anyone with any ?’s about Westmain Mall should email me. I started working there in 1979 and left about 1990.I used to change the marquee and set up for many shows. I worked at Bresslers, Fun Factory and in Security. I went to many a Christmas Party, met my fiirst love, my first wife, drank my first drink and probably lost my viriginity there.As well as lost my first friend (death) God do I have some stories.I actually have a tie tack from the old place. Really …Any ?’s email me.

    Micheal randall
    Charelevoix, MI

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    James Kestner Reply:

    @Micheal Randall,
    Is it you?
    Mike Randall from the Movies at westmain.
    Let me know…jfkestne@grpress.com

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  22. What’s your email, Michael?

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  23. Just wondering about East Towne/Gull Crossings mall. I can’t believe I didn’t know about it and try to check it out when I lived in Kzoo. From looking at Mapquest, it appears to be still standing (it’s on Gull and Sprinkle), but when did it shut down? It looks very small, almost dumbbell shaped, what was the square footage or store capacity. Is any part of it still operating? This is a very interesting artifact, and if I go back to Kalamazoo in the near future, I might have to gawk.

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  24. Hi Boomshakla, I am no expert on the mall btu I did grow up on that side of town and I remember parts of it. As for the footage of stores and when it shut down exactly, I can’t tell you. I can however tell you that it was a small mall compared to the others. It contained a couple of clothing stores, there was a bookstore at the end by where the movie theatre is, and there was a dinner theatre in there as well. It also housed an Olan Mills and a jeweler, a Perry Drug store, a store that sold dried flowers or something of that nature and a waterbed store. The front of the mall that you see now is not what it used to be. The very center is where the entrance to Perry’s was and the rest was all the back doors to the stores to the mall. The grocer on the end was a Family Foods and Kmart was the other big anchor.The movie theatre went through a few change of hands and at one point it became a 99 cents theatre, where everything was only 99 cents. It was shut down quite some time ago but has recently been reopened. I remember that after the mall was pretty much gone, a church group came in to one of the store fronts for awhile but they did not last, and the last time i went in to the mall, which has been over a year, the old arcade spot was being used by a seedy looking tattoo shop. I am not sure if this was any help to you, and I welcome anyone to add to this, I am just giving old memories of mine.

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  25. I remember all of these malls. I was born and raised in Kalamazoo. I remember Eastowne had the Eastowne 5 movie theater, which had a sports bar type restuarant across from it called “The Final Curtain”. The Final Curtain had the best damn nachos in town, I swear. The movies started to be 99 cent sometime, not sure when they made that switch. There was an arcade that opened up later down the hall from the movies, don’t remember the name of it. There was also a Karate place and a Walgreens in the actual mall. Outside of the indoor part, there was a grocery store on the north end, I think it was either a Spartan store or a Hardings. Then at the south end out of the indoor part, was a K-Mart. Then they had a little outdoor strip mall in the parking lot right in front of the K-Mart, all I remember that was in it was a Little Ceasers and a movie rental place and a Big Boy Restaurant was nearby.
    Ok on to West Main Mall…I remember this one too. It had West Main Movie Theater, Fun Factory (which I loved as a kid), Zayres/Ames, Gantos, a Karate place and I think they had a Regis salon or something like that in there. Remember how big the stage was in the middle of the mall…I was like “DAMN” lol
    Maple Hill Mall has already been covered for the most part. but do yall remember the Video Arcades of Maple Hill. Most don’t. There was a old arcade when the mall first opened up. It was right when you walk in the front doors near the Hot Sam. On your left, it was the first store. Then when that one closed down they opened another arcade further down the mall, near Meijers/Target…forgot the name of that one too.
    Ok I’m gonna finish this when I get home from work….lol

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  26. I was born and raised in Kalamazoo, so I know all of these malls.

    First off, there’s Eastowne. Eastowne had the movie theater. At one point, it became a 99 cent movie theater. Across the hall from the movie theater was this sports bar type restaurant called “The Final Curtain”. They had the best nachos in town. Later on, a video arcade was opened right down the hall from the movie theater. The only other places I remember being open in Eastowne was a think a Radio Shack, Walgreens, and a Karate place. On the Outside Part of Eastowne, there was either a Spartan store or a Hardings on the North End, and a Kmart of the South End. In the parking lot in front of the Kmart there was a smaller outdoor strip mall, all I remember they had was a Little Ceasers Pizza, a video rental place, and an Elias Big Boy Restaurant was nearby.

    Then, there’s West Main Mall. They also had a movie theater, an arcade called Fun Factory ( I loved Fun Factory as a kid), Zayres/Ames, Gantos Boutique, a Karate place, and I think a Chic Cosmetology. That’s all I remember was in there.

    Then, across the street of course is Maple Hill Mall. Everyone has basically covered Maple Hill Mall, but hardly no one remembers the arcades of Maple Hill. When the mall first opened up they had an arcade right when you walk in the front entrance closest to Hot Sam’s. The arcade was right when you walk in, first store to your left. Then when they closed that arcade down, they opened another arcade further down the mall near Meijers/Target. Don’t remember the name of either one. Oh, and Maple Hill had one of the first Sbarros Pizza I’ve been to. And they had a pretty good ice cream place in the mall, forgot the name. I think it was placed in the space that Gantos used to be in. Then of course they had the movie theater in the parking lot behind the mall, it had like two theaters in there. lol

    Then, there’s Southland Mall in Portage. All I remember about this mall is they had a piano store, a TJ Maxx, and that’s all I remember.

    Crossroads Mall has changed alot. The area that changed the most was the food court area. In the 80′s, the food court had an arcade, it was right near the back entrance, to your right when you first walk in. There used to be sooo many punk rock guys in there, my mom would never let me go and play video games in there, even with her being there. lol
    Then the food court had a Elias Bro. Big Boys, most people don’t remember that. Yes, it was a full restuarant. Then I remember they had a Arby’s. I think the Arbys was replaced by a Orange Juilus.
    Ok I think that’s it…I’ll post more later if I remember anything else…any questions just ask…

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    @Tiffany, the High Wheeler was at Maple Hill for a while-originally on Westnedge. There was Meijer Square-no groceries and before that it was Turnstyle

    Remember when WMain had Duffs? It was a buffet that rotated.

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  27. Someone asked about the five and dime store in Southla nd. It was call GL Perry Variety Store.

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  28. The pharmacy at Easttown was a Perry’s not a Walgreens. The grocery anchor was a Family Foods at one time although it may have been something else at some point. The arcades are something that I do remember, there are two I used to visit a lot, one was Packet Change and I believe that was one at Crossroads and the other was Tilt which I think was the second one to open at Maple Hill’s. I may have that backwards though. I actually worked at the Sbarro’s in Maple Hill when I was in high school, but by that time it had changed a lot from when I was a kid. The Big Boy’s spot in Crossroads was later split and filled by Sbarro’s and McDonald’s before the food court overhaul. The old Arby’s spot was next to Orange Julius and was turned into a regular stoer that several fly by night kind of stores filled. Any one remember those Boardwalk fries? Or Hot Sams pretzels? They were the best.

    [Reply]

  29. As for Southland, it opened in 1960 as a strip mall anchored by Harding’s, Federal Department Store (Detroit based chain), G. L. Perry, S. S. Kresge, Kroger, and Cunningham Drug. It was enclosed in 1975, with Big Boy being among the stores added. Federal was later converted to other stores, and Harding’s switched to Family Foods before switching back. Kroger relocated to a superstore on the south end of the plaza, with the old Kroger evidently becoming Gilmore Brothers. By 1994ish, the whole shebang was reverted to a strip mall with Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, JCPenney Home Store (formerly part of the enclosed space), Kohl’s, MC Sports (part of the Superstore Kroger, which closed in the 80s), Office Max, Old Navy, Petco and TJ Maxx. Kohl’s took the site of the Harding’s/Family Foods and Kresge spaces.

    [Reply]

  30. We lived in that area for years and I’m having a hard time remembering where Westmain Mall was. I wish there were pictures. Anyway, does anyone remember the name of the childrens store in either WM or Maple Hill Mall . It was really neat it had a tree in the center of the store and it had an area for the kids to play in. If my memory serves there was a Schensules (forgive the spelling)Cafeteria fairly close to it. This would have been around 1973 or a little later. I also remember a jeweler Schumcker in the mall. Does anyone remember which mall these stores were in.

    [Reply]

    michelle Reply:

    @Mimi,

    I think you’re referring to Tot-to-Teen Village. When the mall was becoming deserted, but the movie theatre still open, we would walk around the vacant building. (For reference: Gantos Boutiqe was not @ WM Mall, but across the street @ Maple Hill Mall.)
    Tot-toTeen Village had a big tree in center of the store, It had red “brick” carpeting, and each area had it’s own theme. (Castle, Western town, etc.)
    They still operate a store in Kilgore Rd. in Kzo and the same charming accents remain in the store.

    [Reply]

  31. I shopped at both malls al the time Maple Hill and West Main. I wonder also when the West Main Mall closed up and the Anchor stores for it. that mall use to have a chilrens store in it that had fake houses and buildings w/slides that were damn fun. also a Organ store that I rember was always busy and had the woman out front playing one to “get you in the store” haha.
    when it closed I do not remember

    [Reply]

  32. The cafeteria was in Westmain, I think you’re close on the spelling.

    Westmain was at the SW corner of West Main St. (M-43) and Drake, about a mile east of the US-131 freeway, while Maple Hill was on the NW corner of the same intersection.

    [Reply]

  33. To the best of my knowlwdge the children’s store was a Tot To Teen. It also, I believe had a story room in it. Does anyone remember the indoor mini golf course at West Main? It had a course that ran right through the front window of the store front, it was always fun to watch.

    [Reply]

    stacey Reply:

    @kira, the mini golf place was called A hole in one

    [Reply]

  34. The Westmain Mall did have a Tot To Teen Village; but I don’t remember the name of the indoor mini golf course….lol. I remember when i was growing up in the 70s my grandparents would take me there on most weekends. I remember such stores in the mall like Fox Budd Jewelers, Gantos, the Radio Shack(Greens TV), Stanndards Music, Fanny Farmer, Chess King, and Bresslers 33 Flavors Ice Cream. Also at 1 time they had a Krogers grocery store(1969 til 1978) inside the mall. As for the name of the ice cream store in the Maple Hill, it was the High Wheeler.

    [Reply]

  35. High Wheeler was where the Family Bookstore is on Kilgore before it moved to Maple Hill Mall.

    [Reply]

    Jason Reply:

    High Wheeler had three locations running simultaneously for a while. The one on Kilgore, the one at Maple Hill, and one on the lower level of the Kalamazoo Center (now the Radisson Hotel),

    [Reply]

  36. Interesting discussion, folks. I’m guessing most all of you know about “vanished kalamazoo dot com” Great website with pictures, though the guy that runs it doesn’t spend too much time on it anymore. Wikipedia has a pretty good listing of Maple Hill Mall store chronology/history.

    Re: Eastowne. Just to fill in a few blanks. The grocery store on the west side of the property was a D&W for a short time, and then a county service agency. The movie theaters were owned (I don’t know if originally, but at least for a while) by the Jack Loeks group, which also owned the soon to be vacant Plaza 2 (Mr. B’s) building. Eastowne did midnight movies on the weekends that were popular with my friends. There was also a Powerhouse gym for a short while, and it was also in the same building that houses Main St. Pub, also for a while.

    Also, speaking of the Gull/Sprinkle area, I drove past the medical building on the N/E corner and remembered Rick’s Gym. Rick started out on Westnedge in that former school building at the crossover bridge. Then he moved out there, took a lot of people’s money and if memory serves me, skipped town around 1990.

    This is way before my time here, but does anyone remember the Meijer store on the north side that is now the mega church?

    [Reply]

  37. I don’t know where these pics came from; must be quite a few years old as the mall is closed. There’s only the strip mall in the front now.

    [Reply]

  38. Ref my August post on Westmain Mall and Assorted Maple Hill Mall posts. The first arcade in Maple Hill was callled Aladdins Castle. The arcade in WM before the Fun Factory was called Someplace else. It was across the hall from the community room and the bathrooms located behind Schunsel’s which later went out of business (RIP Jack) This was later replaced by Duffs which attracted every senior snowbird during the summer months. On the corner was Frames Unlimited next to the slowest Radio Shack I have ever seen. Vince Odenwaller and a girl named Joan worked there forever.

    Back across the concourse at the defunct J.C. Penney you had Bressler 33 flavors run by the Raose’s (sp) a Tux place which later became a hair cut joint run by Sue Bromley and split into Royal Optical. Around to the left was (old Kroger) later Trio Auto Part , Elaine Powers and across the hall Godfathers Pizza. The was a pet store that had relocated in about 1982 which was where Duffs went in. Around the corner was RCA Green Radio, a bank First Fidelity I believe, a western shop and Swiss pretzel followed by Tom Sawyer Book Raft a maintenance corridor, Thom Mcan and an empty little hole which was part of the Schunsel success Jacks Hideaway. In about 1981 82 Actionwear went into what I believe was a Singer sowing shop, next to Buds Jeweler next to Hallmark card shop and then Schmacker Jewlrey and on the corner was Fannie Farmer.

    If anyone remembers the stage they surely remember the dandelion fountain that was center court. It sprayed through hundreds of stainless steel pipes with lights and would lower the temperature about 10 degrees and was buckling the dry wall above.

    Someone had asked about the Mini golf. That was owned and operated by M&D management (5 Star MGMT) (the same people how owned the mall) and called Hole in One.It went into Cardinal Mens Store and was next to the old Lew Hubbard.

    On a final note, the Fun Factory was a chain from Hawaii owned by a great guy named Connie Fernandez I believe. When I worked there, 90% of the time was spent cleaning mirrors, glass cabinets, cocktail games (Galaga we only had about 15 of them) polishing brass and sweeping the carpet. Black slacks, white shirts and red vests. It beat my brothers Schunsels get up…The back lot was elevated and next to Elks Golf course. Every year I would drive down the back hill and have a golf ball take out the maint. truck windshield.

    Any specific ?’s email me at mickjay@charter.net

    [Reply]

    glacialhills Reply:

    @Micheal Randall, I still have some Aladdin’s castle tokens that I found in a drawer.

    [Reply]

  39. I would love to see pictures of WM and Maple Hill Mall in its heyday, Heck any vintage pictures of Kalamazoo not just malls. I am a sucker for nostalgia. I’ve lived in Kalamazoo All my life.

    [Reply]

  40. I have been trying to locate pics of both malls as Stephanie mentioned, and I have really had no luck yet. If anyone finds anything I would love to know. However, the previously mentioned http://www.vanishedkalamazoo.com is fun to peek at. I also found some old photos of the city and early history, not retail however, on the Kalamazoo Public Library’s website. There is also an extensive collection of photographs on the Portage Public Library’s website all taken by one man, and I apologize here, but I can’t recall his name. However the photos were fairly easy to find on the site, and there is even an old photo of the original store front of Bud’s Fox Jewelers in the old West Main Mall.

    [Reply]

  41. On a side note I believe it is the John Todd collection on the Portage Public Library’s website.

    [Reply]

  42. Thanks for mentioning the John Todd collection. Nice collection of pictures.

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  43. Oh wow… I must’ve visited that mall the year right before it was torn down. I ended up there with my parents when we were visiting K-zoo. They went to college there back in the ’70s and remembered shopping at that mall back then, so we stopped in. It was sooo creepy – it just had that deathly feeling of a dying mall, almost completely deserted. And the few stores remaining looked like they hadn’t changed their decor (or merchandise) since the ’70s or ’80s, Montgomery Ward especially. It was a very strange experience I won’t soon forget…
    We ended up going to Crossroads mall after that!

    [Reply]

  44. Hello everyone! just happened uppon this site the other night and throughly enjoyed it. It brought back some good memories! I grew up in Kalamazoo, as a matter of fact, my neighborhood was right behind West Main mall. We, my mom and brother, frequented both MH, and WM. just found out MH was demolished….O well things change I guess…., but the memories remain! Wow! MH Mall! I remember there was a Miejer at the west end of the mall, you could buy anything in there from gold fish to toilet paper. Now correct me if I’m wrong, was there not an “Elias Big Boy” restaurant at one of the main entances? We use to eat there alot. You could get a window view booth and watch the people walk in and out of the mall. We also ate at the hot dog stand Tiffany was talking about by the arcade, their dogs were the best. Remember the “Hot Sam” pretzel stand? My mom would KILL me if she knew this , but I used to fallow my brother by bicycle to that arcade….. Loved the Sbarros too that place was always packed! A few of my favorite stores as a kid were Circus World, needed those “wipper snappers”, and the “Plum Treat” . There was a “Gantoes” in the mall right? not sure if it was there or WM mall. My mom lived in that Gantoes. Does anyone remember the statue in front of the “Montgomery Wards” of a lady laying down? I use to tell my mom she looked like her….funny hu? There was also a Halmark store, and a store that sold like fresh cheeses , stuff like that. We also frequented the theater behind the mall , it had a space invaders game in there my brother and i were always fighting over. As for WM mall, I used to get my hair cut “Dorthy Hamill” style at a barber shop at one of the main entrances there, the name i don’t remember. Mind you this was like 1980…… Loved the “Tot To Teen” as a kid , that place was so cool! Yes the hug fountain, My mom would KILL me again, we were always riding our bikes to the “Fun Factory”. I lived on the cocktail miss pac man…. bought Pretty Ponys and Barbie Dolls as the “Zayers”…. Saw “Rambo II at the big theater there, when it only cost 4$ to see a movie…. . Like I said , good memories, may they last forever! Hope I didn’t bore anyone, ! And please forgive any miss spellings!!!

    [Reply]

    stacey Reply:

    @krista, By chance was the beauty shop you went to called Lasting Impressions? the only reason I say this is because thats where me and my mother used to go to to get our hair done and my mother and I became friends with one of the women who worked there.Her shop is now located off Portage road in the Millwood neighborhood

    [Reply]

  45. Thought i would add some about the West Main Mall. There was a shoe store in there for children called Little Chicks Shoes where my folks would buy my shoes as a child. I remember the JC Pennys there and the fountain in the middle. It’s been so long though that I have really forgotten how the mall was laid out. I know that after Crossroads opened, the WM began a pretty quick downward spiral. Does anyone know what year the WM mall was closed down to the public? I’m pretty sure that it was demolished in 2004.

    [Reply]

    Sally Reply:

    @Todd,
    The little chicks store! I forgot about that. It used to have a carousel like stage in there. I loved that place as a kid.

    [Reply]

  46. Does anyone know what will fill the rest of the huge chunk of land between the two sectors of the mall. I am hopping for a Barnes and Nobel or a Best Buy. Books and electronics, something that side of town still lacks with the Westnedge strip

    [Reply]

  47. I’ve heard nothing.

    [Reply]

  48. I think that lay down lady statue was or looked like it was sculpted in white?

    [Reply]

  49. The gap between stores is still there, and with this economy, I don’t expect anything there soon. (If K’zoo can’t support a Krispy Kreme, how do you think they’ll find something for the gap :)

    I think WM Mall had to have been razed around 2002, because I lived on the west side til’ 2004 and remember already shopping at the Lowe’s.

    [Reply]

  50. Thanks for that info. about WM mall. Do you know how long it was closed before it was razed? I remember being in there when there was absolutely nothing open. Godfather’s was closed along with the Fun Factory and such and I believe the theatre was still open but that was it I think. I think it was in the late 90′s but I’m not sure.

    [Reply]

  51. This is great. I am getting nostalgic for Kzoo. Again. I went to college at WMU from 93-97. I vividly remember the decline of Maple Hill.

    I went to the West Main Mall movie theater a bit during the first few years. And by that time the only things left in there from the mall days were the theater, and the Fun Factory. There were also a few offices and a Secretary of State that operated only during the day. The grocery store was still there (Hardings, I believe) but it didn’t offer access to the mall, so to most it didn’t even look like it was attached.

    I remember a few times I wandered out of the theater/arcade corridor to discover the empty enclosed mall, but never really did any full exploring. Which I’m sad about now.

    I also remember Easttowne Mall. It was already on it’s way down by the time I got there. My friends and I would drive out there all the time for the 99-cent movies and would kill time by walking around the mall. I don’t really remember anything good though. An arcade, church, and flea market type store, is all that stand out to me.

    [Reply]

  52. Does anyone have any pictures of the West Main Mall or Maple Hill? I vividly remember both.

    [Reply]

  53. I lived on the outskirts of town but in the general area for almost 30 years. I remember Fun Factory and had a stack of those pink tickets for years after it closed. I remember playing in the little playhouse with the slide at Tot To Teen (the Kilgore location doesn’t do it justice) and waiting for my mom to be done working out at Elaine Powers. I kind of remember the mini golf course and eating in the cafeteria style restaurant. I do remember Zayres and later on Ames, and Hills for a short time on the other side. I spent most of my Saturdays at Maple Hill though.

    I remember when one side of Meijer Square was also Jewel and learned the hard way that I couldn’t show my mom the book, “Superfudge” by Judy Blume unless she came into the store instead of me running out to show her. I spent plenty of afternoons wandering around and eating lunch in Sbarro’s or getting pretzel sticks at Hot Sam. I bought a long sleeved Coca-Cola shirt downstairs at Steketee’s some time around 5th grade. Our church used to participate in an annual craft bazaar held in the middle of the mall that my mom used to help out with. I do remember one year there was a house, I think a log style house, built in the middle of the mall and at the end of the summer someone was the winner and it was put up on their lot. There was some kind of contest for it but we are able to take a tour of it and I remember looking out over the mall from the 2nd floor.

    I saw plenty of movies behind the mall as well as over at West Main. I recall a Chicken Coop restaurant being in front of WM and when I was 4, I was running across the parking lot after dinner and fell and skinned my knee. There was also a zig zag shaped car dealership in the parking lot too, I think they’re on Stadium now. Harold Ziegler maybe?

    My family has a lot of history in Kalamazoo. My dad graduated from Kalamazoo Central and used to own a service station in the 60′s down on Burdick. He later worked at the Kalamazoo State Hospital and eventually retired from there along with my grandpa. My mom graduated from Portage Central and worked at Kresge’s (turns out she worked with my husband’s grandmother). My grandma co-owned Chicken Charlies and my parents had met there when it was Schwartz’s Drive In. After Chicken Charlies closed, my grandma bought a restaurant out in Richland that she had for over 30 years, The Stagecoach Inn. (now Blackhawk).

    [Reply]

  54. Great memory people! We must have had simple lives then! No internet, cable tv wasnt widespread, small movie theaters, no cell phones, had payphones, video arcades were introduced, vcr’s were new, video cams were new, home computers were big desktop models, wall phones w/ rotary dial. No wonder we had time to hang out at malls!
    What were the shops w/ red barn-looking fronts that sold cheese and sausage logs from refrigerated cases?

    [Reply]

  55. Hickory Farms.

    Does anyone remember the cool kid’s clothing store with the slide inside West Main Mall?

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  56. The clothing store was Tot To Teen’s.

    [Reply]

  57. Hey does anyone remember the first arcade they had at Crossroads Mall? It was in the food court when you first walk in the back doors on your right. Like right before you get to the Boardwalk Fries. The second arcade to replace the first one at Crossroads was on the bottom level right near the entrance of Sears, right next to the dollar tree (dollar store).

    [Reply]

    Jason Reply:

    Tiffany,

    If I remember right, the arcade across from Arbys and Orange Julius was called Circus Arcade.

    [Reply]

  58. Anyone have any old pictures of these Kalamazoo Malls, other than the ones that are already on vanishedkalamazoo.com? Please send them to me, Howardgirl2002@hotmail.com

    [Reply]

  59. Wow, do I have memories of Maple Hill Mall. My first job was at Hot Same in Sept. 1981 going into my junior year of high school. I got a job there when I saw the manager was someone who was the volunteer coordinator of a congressional campaign we worked on together. I transferred to the Hot Sam across town in the Crossroads a year later because it was closer to home, then returned to manage Hot Same for a little more than a year in 1986. I would be surprised if one of my customers was Derek Jeter who went ot high school right down the street.

    On one side of us was Orange Bowl. They served mainly pizza, hot dogs, and this soft serve orange sherbet type ice cream. I think it is safe to say now that we would trade food back and forth. Pizza and hot dogs for pretzels, not a bad trade. On the other side of them toward the main entrance was a t-shirt shop, then if I remember right there was a tux shop and then Aladins Castle. On the other side of us was a Popcorn Planet store that was so dirty, we had mice and cock roach’s coming over into our store.

    On the other side of the hall was a health food store (Apple something or other), a NuVision optical store, TE Murch’s sandwhich shop and a jewelry store. I’m going to stretch my memory on the stores that were in the mall when I was there. I remeber a Footlocker, an inexpensive kitchen gadgets store, a Zale Jewelers next to Wards, a Lickety Split ice cream kiosk down at that end, Hickory Farms may still have been there, Plum Treat gift shop, Waldenbooks, Payless Shoes, Steketees, Rite Aid, Seigel Jewelers, Regis Hair Salon, a card shop that I can’t remember the name of, Gilmores Department Store, Ganto’s Boutique, High Wheel Ice Cream (outside entrance only), Regal Florsheim Shoe, Circus World, Sbarro’s, Imperial Spors and Cutlery World. I know I’m missing a few stores, but that was the majority of them.

    I left Hot Sam to work at Things Remembered. This was originally a kiosk, but became an inline store in the wing where the mall connected with the Jewel/Meijer Square stores. There was a Record Bar next door (there logo looked like a Baby Ruth wrapper). This was pretty much THE TR store in the state. We had a terrific manager named Nancy Hacht and a fantastic crew (Cheyl Lynne, Pup, Sushi, Bon Jovi, Marlene, and Susan) Any time one of the other TR stores in the district was having a problem, we would be pulled into the other store to help. Westerm Michigan University was down the street, so during Rush Weeks, we sold a ton of beer mugs with Greek symbols to the sororities and frats. I even met and worked with my future ex-wife there.

    I had so much fun wiht other employees of the mall. Rick and Jacqueline at Imperail Sports were great. Rick always had to have his lemonade before work. And Jacqueline, what can I say about her. A short, great spirited girl with blond hair. Boy did I have it for her, but she was in a relationship and eventually got married to the lucky guy.

    Then there was Jeff the security guard. We were talking about sharing an apartment near campus, but it never evolved. I was working late one night when Jeff came by. He asked what I was doing after work. I didn’t have any plans, so we went up on the roof of the mall and threw a frisbee around. Man was that a fun time.

    Someone mentioned it earlier. One Chrismas, there was a promotion where they built a log cabin in the middle mall that was being raffled off. In the cabin, as I remember, Santa accepted the Christmas lists of all the good kids, and even the not-so-good ones. That promotion pulled in a lot of business.

    I’m hoping someone can fill in a couple of blank spots. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant that was on the south side of the mall by Ward’s when the mall opened. Also, what was the name of the restaurant that occupied the space before High Wheeler moved in.

    A lot of great memories. I hope that I won’t need to share my memories of the Crossroads in Portage anytime soon.

    [Reply]

    Tiffany Reply:

    @Jason,
    Yea I remember that High Wheel Ice Cream that only had a outside entrance to it. You would walk out of the doors closest to Gantos I think to get to it. Great memories you have Jason..thanx for that. : )

    [Reply]

    Micheal Randall Reply:

    This is a stretch but the two restaurants over on the M-43 facing side out the entrance were Greco’s and Big Boy. Grecos later became a grill but we all still called it Greco, the name escapes me at this time!

    [Reply]

  60. Was West Towne ever an enclosed mall like East Towne?

    [Reply]

    Tiffany Reply:

    @TenPoundHammer,
    Yea it was a indoor (enclosed) mall at one point.

    [Reply]

    Bobby P. (TenPoundHammer) Reply:

    @Tiffany, When was it demalled?

    [Reply]

    Tiffany Reply:

    @Bobby P. (TenPoundHammer), maybe around 2001 the West Main Mall was torn down.

    [Reply]

  61. Does anyone remember the statues/artwork of the tall men that looked like monks right outside the interior entrance to Steketees? I remember playing on them when my mom would shop in the store. We lived in
    Battle Creek and would always drive to Kzoo to shop because that was where you went to shop.
    this was before Lakeview Square in Battle Creek opened. Maple Hill was considered more upscale than anywhere else and its downfall came about 5-7 years after Crossroads Mall opened in Portage. And the old York Steak House restaurant in Crossroads had THE best chicken dinners for under $10 each. It was fabulous and was located on the lower floor away from any food courts, centrally located. My mom’s friends used to own the Blue Parrot Lounge upstairs when Crossroads opened. I remember leaving to go buy the new Men at Work ALBUM while the adults drank….weird are the memories , I guess.

    [Reply]

    Tiffany Reply:

    @Frank Pentangeli,
    Do you remember when Crossroads had a Elias Brothers Big Boy restaurant in it? I don’t remember the York Steak House so I’m wondering if that’s what the Big Boy space used to be in Crossroads. The Big Boy was in the foodcourt in the same space where they later put the McDonalds and Sabbaros.

    [Reply]

  62. I was wondering if anyone has had any luck finding and pictures of Maple Hill and West Main malls. I have had no luck at all locating any. If somebody has some or knows where to find them, I would be most appreciative.

    [Reply]

  63. Todd, if you poke around the Portage Public Library website, go thru the John Todd collection of photographs. There’s a shot of some West Main Mall store interiors. Beyond that, I don’t know of any others.
    There’s also some sky shots of farm fields that are now Crossroads, Meijer and several other major business areas that were literally farms fields back in the 60′s. There’s also some shots of Sears on Crosstown Parkway (where the Police Hq is now)

    [Reply]

    Bridgette Reply:

    @benson,
    I remember that Sears!! Playing on the escalator just popped into my mind as soon as I read your post. My grandfather worked there when my mom was real young. After Sears left and before it became police hq, it was Bronson’s Oupatient hospital.

    [Reply]

  64. How about the trips to the North Pole at WMM to see Santa!

    [Reply]

  65. I grew up in Kalamazoo. I worked at the East Towne Mall’s movie theatre, which at the time I worked there in the late 1980s/early 1990s had 5 screens. East Town did indeed have an A&P grocery store at one end, and a KMart at the other. They also had a restaurant in there in the early 1980s across from the theatre. It showed movies while you ate dinner. It was my dad’s favorite place. It closed after a fire and never reopened.
    I used to go to The Fun Factory and the movie theatre at West Main when I was in high school. The Mall was a ghost town, and large portions of it were gated off permanently, but it had greek inspired statues all through it in the middle of the aisles. I loved the statues as a little girl when my mother took me shopping at the Little Chick Shoe Store, where my white patent leather first communion shoes were bought. My brother worked at the mall later in high school as grounds maintenance crew, and talked about how decrepit the building had become. One of his primary jobs was going around setting buckets to catch leaks from the dilapidated roof.
    I’m a Harding, and the grocery store Hardings is also still family owned, not owned by Spartan Stores, although they do carry Spartan foods. Felpausch, another local grocery chain, was bought out by Spartan recently, and the name has disappeared from everything.
    I also worked in Maple Hill Mall one Christmas during college, and shortly before Steketees closed when the mall was still enclosed. I was an elf for the Mall Santa at Christmas. Even then there were lots of empty stores in the mall, and it was sometime in the mid 1990s. The space now occupied by Target was also once a store called Meijer Square. (A Meijer without the grocery section.) Then it was empty for awhile before Target came in.

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    Tiffany Reply:

    @Tracy,
    I was also born and raised in Kalamazoo. I remember that restaurant across from the East Towne Movie theater…it was called “The Final Curtain” and it had the best damn nachos in Kalamazoo at that time. lol Me and my mom loved that place.

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  66. I used to love the East Town on Gull Road, fastest DMV in southwest MI! Only the Kmart and a Chinese restaurant were open, not including the parking lot business.

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  67. @Bobby, before Jewel/Osco and Hills department store the Westmain Mall was anchored by Jc Penny and Zayre these stores were there in the 70′s before Jc Penny moved to its new location in the Crossroads mall and Zayre just went out of business like the rest of the stores in the mid to late 80′s.

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  68. I have notices that not one person has remembered or mentioned Spencer gifts in the MH mall right by Montgomery Wards! That place had THE best gag/novelty gifts!

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  69. I have lived in Kzoo most of my life and have many memories of all these malls. My grandfather bought my first “big girl” bed from Wards. My brother, dodging through clothing racks at Wards got a nice gash right through his eyebrow and still has the scar. Strawberry milkshakes at the Big Boy at Maple Hill Mall. Wasn’t that near Gantos?
    The first movie I remember my aunt taking me to was “Splash” at West Main Mall. When you came out of Zayre’s going into the mall, was there a fountain or something?? Definitely remember the slide in Tot-to-Teen. There were offices on an upper level, the recruiting office for the Air Force was there.
    Didn’t Mr. B’s start at Southland Mall before moving to the old Plaza 2 location?? My grandmother used to shop at the grocery store at the far end of the mall.
    We lived on the east side of town and spent much time at East Town 5 movie theater. GL Perry was the place to go for candy before going to the movie. I remember there being a fabric store (Joanne’s or maybe So-Fro) in the mall as my mom did a lot of sewing when we were kids. My uncle had a friend who owned a music store in East Town called the Bop Stop. Bought Madonna’s “True Blue” tape, yes tape there. He then moved out to Westnedge past Crossroads.

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  70. thank you so much for the memories! I was born in 1966. Went to G-A high school and spent a lot of time at these stores. I made my first “big girl” purchase of clothing at Gantos, I loved that store! Used to dread my parents taking me into sears! LOVED the High Wheeler, and Went to the Final Curtain before or after every movie at the Eastown Mall! It was the place to be on Friday Nights!! I worked at Crossroads Mall in its early days at Pets Plus, we had monkeys and alligators and snakes, it was awesome!!

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  71. Oh and downtown Gilmores had the best Santa ever!!!

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  72. Thank you – this has brought back so many memories. In 2000 I moved permanently overseas and just never made it back to visit. It’s a bit bittersweet knowing that the places where I have so memories are no more but I guess change is inevitable.

    I’m old enough to remember when the pedestrian mall in down town Kalamazoo was the place to go but the area was already beginning it’s slow decline by the time Maple Hill opened. Many of the big down town retailers moved house to the two malls which made it into almost a ghost town.

    When West Main changed owners in the 80′s it was already emptying out with only a few stores, the movie theater and various government offices keeping it alive. It was my understanding that the raise in rents and poor maintenance just made it unattractive to new businesses. By the mid-90′s it was pretty much a ghost town.

    Maple Hill fared a little better since it was able to keep many of it’s anchoring stores, even after Crossroads opened it still did okay for quite some time. Because it was smaller it attracted less people so many shops relocated to either Crossroads or one of the many strip malls (cheaper rent, usually anchored with a grocery store and Kmart). It was pretty much empty by the late 90′s.

    East Town was the combination strip and indoor mall that just never quite worked. The East Town 5 movie theater was the big draw along with the Final Curtain restaurant inside. For awhile there was a Godfathers pizza place. It just never gained a full occupancy. The A&P store didn’t last long once the Meijers opened down the street, so the only bigger retailer was the Kmart.

    Southland Mall in Portage was a similar set up with Highland Appliances and Hardings. Of course across the street was the Family Foods (which later moved to the Hardings location) and Burger Chef (before McDonalds/Burger King took over the city).

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