Universal Mall; Warren, Michigan

Universal Mall in Warren, MI 

Warren, Michigan, Detroit’s largest suburb by population, is located directly north of the city of Detroit in Macomb County.  As a result of the post-war industrial boom, Warren grew explosively from World War II into the 1970s, while the manufacturing industry around Detroit reached its peak.  People moved en masse from the city to these inner-core suburbs including Warren during this period as they got better jobs and made more money, and also because of white flight.  After the 1970s, however, Warren fell victim to suburban sprawl itself as even newer, more affluent communities developed to the north and west, and population has declined in Warren every decade since 1970.  Unlike Detroit, though, Warren has kept a steady, middle class base.  In fact, Warren is ranked first in the nation for resident longevity at 35.5 years, which has kept the community from falling into horrible disrepair like its ill-reputed cousin to the south.

Universal Mall directory in Warren, MIBy the mid-1960s, the suburban explosion had given Warren over 100,000 residents (compared with 22,000 in 1940) and the growth wasn’t about to stop, so retail developers eyed the city for a new, large-scale development to compete with other then-new Detroit metro malls like Northland, Eastland, and Macomb. Universal City, the mall which preceded Universal Mall, opened in 1965 at the corner of Dequindre and 12 mile Roads, in southwest Warren (the Oakland County community of Madison Heights is directly across Dequindre from the mall).  It opened anchored by Montgomery  Ward on the north end, and Detroit-based Federal Department store at its south end, with an enclosed section of shops linking the two anchors and a large Woolworths near the northern end as well.  In 1979, Federal closed its doors and became Crowley’s, another long-running Detroit-based chain.   

During the 1980s, even though growth had peaked in Warren about a decade earlier, an expansion was planned for Universal Mall to compete with existing area malls and newer centers which were emerging as category killers.  The new wing hinged off the mall’s center court to the west (toward Dequindre) and featured many stores culminating in a new anchor, Mervyn’s.  Following this addition, the mall was renamed and re-imaged (for the last time?) as Universal Mall in or around 1987. 

Universal Mall in Warren, MI

The 1990s were a period of steady decline for Universal Mall, culminating with an occupancy rate of less than 40 percent by the end of the decade as shoppers preferred Oakland Mall and other super-regional competitors to Universal Mall’s value-oriented and local retailers.  In 1997, Woolworths closed up shop nationwide, leaving a large vacancy in the northern part of the mall.  In 1999, the entire Crowley’s chain went under and the store, which was a Detroit mainstay for decades, was replaced with Value City in 2000.  In 1999 and 2000, mini-anchor stores A.J. Wright and Burlington Coat Factory opened in the mall as well, with Burlington replacing the dead Woolworths.  So far, so good. 

Universal Mall pylon in Warren, MI1999 also saw the mall’s ownership change hands, resulting in mild refurbishments to the three-decade-old facility while embarking on an intensive marketing campaign to let shoppers know of the updates.  By 2001, occupancy rose past 80 percent again and things seemed to be looking up for Universal Mall, as the new owners attempted to reinvent the indoor shopping mall’s concept – from mid-tier regional center to an off-price destinational and neighborhood mall.  The revival showed developers that the inner-core functional obsolescence of Universal Mall, and others like it, could be changed with a little tender loving care.  Once again, so far, so good, and the mall stayed buoyant.

However, the period of revival was all too brief, as 2001 was the beginning of several major, repeat blows to Universal Mall.  Long-time anchor Montgomery Ward shut their doors nationwide that year, including this store, which as of 2008 remains dark despite ruminations of renovation.  As a result, stores in this northern wing began closing, and in 2006 western anchor Mervyn’s departed the Detroit area, closing this store and causing vacancies in the western wing.  In March 2008, southern anchor Value City closed as that chain went through a round of bankruptcy closings, leaving Universal Mall without any of its traditional anchors (the theatres, A.J. Wright and Burlington Coat Factory are still open as of May 2008, but are located along the mall corridors).

Universal Mall in Warren, MI Universal Mall food court area in Warren, MI

It seems as though Universal’s days are numbered in its current state.  In fact, in June 2007 the state of Michigan OK’d a brownfield designation to the largely vacant mall, which will freeze the mall’s property taxes at current rates, so revenue gained from any redevelopment or renovation which betters the mall will go straight to the owners instead of through them to taxes.  These incentives should allow for the asbestos and lead removal at the site, demolition of the current structure and building of a new 600,000 square-foot retail center on the site.  The new center, which will not be enclosed, will feature some sort of strip mall-looking thing, a lone 100,000 square-foot anchor building, and a 48,000 square-foot theatre complex.

Universal Mall theatres in Warren, MIThe current decor at Universal Mall is archaeic: the cross-like design of the mall’s concourses, with each concourse culminating in an anchor (or movie theatre), is relatively simple, but the floor tiles, walls, and rows of windows near the ceiling are delightfully retro.  Whatever updates or rehab was done in 1999 must have been simple and very cosmetic (ie. a coat of paint, repairing broken things and cracks), as most of the structure looks quite a bit more dated, aside from the western wing which was added in the late 1980s. 

As of May 27, 2008, one of the western entrances to the mall was shuttered for redevelopment, and it looked like most of the handful of stores in the mall were also going out of business that week.  Some stores, including the mini-anchors and the theatres, had no such notice of closing anytime soon.  Also, the northern portion of the mall hallway after A.J. Wright to the former Wards was closed permanently for redevelopment.  Indeed the mall must be closing soon, as this photoset from December 2007, just six months ago, shows an operational food court and chairs set up for diners.  Today, the food court is completely empty and looks like it’s been prepared for pre-demolition. 

Universal Mall closing sign in Warren, MI  Universal Mall old Coney Island in Warren, MI

The pictures featured here were taken on May 25, 2008.  If anyone has any information about the redevelopment (I couldn’t find any current articles on the internet) or when the bulk of the mall is actually closing, feel free to drop a line here.  In addition, you can check out a few digicam videos we made which are posted on YouTube.  And, as always, feel free to leave your own comments, personal experiences, or memories that have to do with the mall in the comments section as well.

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70 thoughts on “Universal Mall; Warren, Michigan”

  1. The mural was on a plaster wall over a dead store, I think, in the former Mervyn’s wing.

  2. sigh…i really miss mervyn’s wing 🙁

  3. Was the Cinemark always a discount theatre? They have about 40 such theatres in the circuit that have 12 or more screens that became sub runs after a new complex was built.

  4. Cinemark was always a discount theater as far as I know.

    A friend of mine drove by here yesterday; he said there’s a sign up saying “Join Target…”, and they’re installing a new traffic light in front of Mervyn’s.

  5. I was under the impression that Universal Mall was closed already so to see that you guys went there last month is a big surprise. Anyway I have’nt heard anything about the re-development about it; and quite frankly I don’t think the new plans for it are going to be successful because the Metro-Detroit area is in a bad slump from the economy and prob the worse in the nation regarding that slump.

    I know that nearby Oakland Mall is doing okay but a friend of mine that works at the JCPenney’s there has said that business is slower and she has’nt seen much foot traffic in the mall. So I don’t see how this new development will fare any better.

  6. I’m kinda surprised to hear there was a Target sign near this mall. Are they planning to build a store connected to the site of this mall(once the redevelopment occurs), or just in the nearby vicinity of this mall?

    This was an interesting profile, since I’ve never read up on the total history of this mall until now, and I forget if this mall is mentioned on deadmalls.com or not. After I watched the videos that PrangeWay posted on youtube, I also found this video from 1986 of a boat show done inside this mall, in the Crowley’s/Value City wing of the mall(among several stores, you can briefly see where Spencer’s Gifts and Radio Shack were):


  7. Isn’t 16 screens a lot for a discount theater in the age of Netflex, cheap DVD rentals and quick DVD releases after movies are released?

  8. Allan M. There’s already a Target a half-mile from the mall, but it’s not in a very good location. Apparently, they’ll build the new Target on the site of the mall. I would also assume that, at the very least, Burlington Coat would stay where it’s at.

    And yes, this mall is listed on deadmalls.com. I was actually the one who found out that the south anchor was Federal before it was Crowley’s.

  9. I saw a movie here pretty recently, I’m thinking February or march. It’s a very creepy place to pull up to in the dark because the theatre is in the back and you pass all the abandoned parts, but there was an interesting pocket of stuff going on around the theatre and the haunted house (which is year-round by the way– we really wanted to go but had missed the last show). As shady as it looked initially, there were a lot of people there for the cheap show and it was fine, really. Of course this may have had something to do with the armed (!!) security guards– they would wait at the end of the show and be sure every single entrant exited just the way they said. The ladies restroom was right next to the guy, but he still made us walk all the way around. Something must have happened here.

    The inside of the theatre is crazy– very bright, op-art graphics everywhere. it looks like it was re-done in the early 90s. I half expected people with high-top fades and Hammer pants to pop up. 😉

    There was an empty arcade right next to the theatre. Some gentleman was diligently working inside on some carpentry task– this at midnight. There were also interesting side-businesses, like a man selling Afrocentric items on a small card table at the entrance to a candy store. Over all, I was glad to get to see this place while I could, but it was very neat how this small corner had carved out its little niche. I mean, a year-round haunted house next to a theatre and an arcade? Brilliant, at one time!

  10. ( I just realized a lack of clarity– the people and the armed security guards were there for the movies, not the haunted house, haha!)

  11. Didn’t realize that the Crowley’s store was once a Federal, so thanks for correcting me there about the history of this mall, Bobby. It doesn’t surprise me either that this mall was profiled on deadmalls.com, as I am forgetful at times about things.

    As for Burlington CF, I would think the same thing as you that it’ll stay in its place for now, until the de-malling is complete, and more than likely moves into the soon-to-built building. And speaking of malls that’ve been converted into lifestyle centers, and though this’d be a slightly tougher mall to profile as it’s been demolished for about 5 years(IIRC), Brickyard Mall in Chicago, IL would be a good one to someday profile here. Especially since Universal Mall(obviously) is about to go down the same path as Brickyard once did in the next few years.

  12. June 23rd, 2008 – I just heard yesterday from a church member that the local paper said that the mall was set for demolition today starting at 10am. We’re planning on heading there this afternoon to watch the bargain-rated movies… only 50 cents per person on Mondays when 3 or more people buy tickets together. But, we’ll see if any of the rest of the mall has/or is in progress of being torn down!

  13. I live across DeQuindre Road from the mall in Madison Heights. Yes, Mervyn’s is in the process of being torn down right now. (The newest building in the complex is the first to go!!) They have razed the outside walls and are about to tear down the west mall corridor.

    From what I hear, only A. J. Wright, Burlington and the Cinemark will remain. The new store will be a Target Super Center. I wonder what effect that will have on Kroger which is also in the same campus.

    Many of the original tenants of the mall were local Detroit area mainstays: Cunningham’s Drugs, Hughes, Hatcher & Suffrin, MeDevitt’s and Winkelman’s.

  14. Another of my local malls that’s dying or dead. I’ve been to this one many times from the 80’s on. I wish I would have made a wish in the fountain for the mall to stay open and thriving.

  15. They have begun demolishion on the mall. It’s going to be remade into a Lifestyle Center. Target will be relocating to the new center with a slightly larger store than the one a few blocks to the south.

  16. I was at the Cinama today. Only a few stores were still open & the mall was desserted. There was a fence around which is known as Mogemery Wards as thry get ready.

    There is a sign up saying “Mall Open during Construction”.

    I been wondering when they were gonna start do something there. Its sad to see all the changes as I grew up hanging out there in the 70’s. In the 80’s I worked at Crowleys. There was a little bar in the middle of the mall called ” It’ll Do “.

    Lotta memories in that place.

  17. I just noticed someone referencing the brickyard mall in Chicago, IL here. It isn’t profiled yet on labelscar, but does anyone have any pictures of Brickyard? I can’t find them anywhere.

  18. As a kid in the Late 60’s my Mom always took me here every Saturday after Grocery Shopping, she would take me to the Grill in the Mall just outside Woolworths. Later in the late 70’s I had a job at Circus World, wow to bad what time does.
    Question? anyone have some vintage photos? remember the Galaxy Mural outside? if you have pics, send them to me at amazentoys@gmail.com

  19. I grew up in this mall and saw it go through many changes. i have been away for some time and it was very interesting to see its documented changes. I didnt know it had gone down so badly. Its hard to believe it was once a hopping mall…

  20. Does anyone know what happened to the tile mural of the galaxy that faced Dequindre. What happened to Universal City is indicative of what has happened to all the retail in this country. Immediate greed and decisions based on only the short term rather than the long term. Its why one of the best malls – northland is now enclosed. Now someone has the bright idea to open air lifestyle center in an area that has extreme weather changes. Some one isn’t thinking. Also why would you build a 16 screen discount theatre complex when the old universal theatre couldn’t make it with two screens.

    Also what has happened to Universal is indicative of the stupidity of the decendants of the major retailers don’t want to take over the business. It then is bought by the competition in another city that shuts down the company to eliminate competition. Companies like Hughes & Hatchers, JL Hodson’s, Crowleys, Jacobsons, winkelman’s, Sweatheart bakery, Miami bakery, Kowalki’s and even Stroh’s beer. Now the consumer has no choices and there is no competitive pricing. All those places were local and now are gone. There is no competition and the stores that are left can charge anything they want. Competition is gone, local jobs are gone that at one time hired thousands now gone to other cities or are just gone. The consumer that is left is the one that pays for it. My first job out of school was working for the construction department for Winkelman’s. They employed at least 500 people at their main office on woodward. The company was sold out by the children and moved to Minnesota. All those jobs gone.

    Remember when Winkelman’s at Universal had a fountain all around their storefront. Remember the bird cages around the mall. The lunch counter in the center of the mall I think it was a part of Woolworths.

  21. I agree with those who think Lifestyle Centers are bad in Michigan weather. I have not been to Partridge Creek but my first thought when I found out it was an outdoor mall was something like “Who is gonna walk around there in the snow?”
    Apparently they have some sort of heated sidewalks or something but that doesn’t stop the wind. I think that the fad will run out after a few years. I just hope that Lakeside isn’t gone by then. I haven’t been to Lakeside in a while. Is it dying yet?

  22. I believe “lifestyle centers” have popped up because shoppers don’t have and/or want to spend hours shopping inside. I prefer the convenience of hopping in and out of one or two stores rather than finding parking in a large lot and then wading into the main entrance of a mall for the stores I’m interested in.

    Like ir or not but retailers have to keep up with changing demographics, tastes, “the next best thing”, etc. If our tastes and demographics never changed, Hudson’s would still be downtown. As much as I would love to see that happen, we all know it’s a fairytale. It would be cool to shop in older buildings with modern retailers (like this cool Home Depot in NYC: http://improveverywhere.com/2006/08/19/slo-mo-home-depot/) but Detroit isn’t Chicago or NYC.

  23. Thanks for the link; that is my photoset from December 2007. I’m surprised I haven’t read this until now, and I’m shocked that they were still letting people into Universal Mall in June. They’ve been talking about redevelopment forever…

  24. And regarding my pictures, I want to make one qualification on the food court picture. That perspective captures the most life there was in that court at the time. Out of 6 or 7 eatery spaces, only those two (and maybe one on the other side) were operational. The rest of the food court was dark and shuttered.

  25. I went to Universal City Mall the day it opened.

    I remember the bird cages in the mall. I remember the 1960’s Detroit sports heroes who sat in autograph shows.

    I most vividly remember seeing Mrs. Runey’s husband. She was my 5th grade teacher and we saw her husband shopping in the mall in a white T-shirt. Scandalous! When they were divorced soon thereafter, we blamed him for going out in public in his undershirt. Yes, times were certainly different.

    This mall was always the poor cousin to Oakland Mall. It really died in the late 1970’s, but the carcass took until now to completely fall.

  26. I’m sad to know that the mall is really gone… I remember it in the 70s, complete with the Galaxy Mural (incredible to a kid!!), the pre-video arcade games in the main corridors (like the mechanical coin-op baseball game), and the old Kresge store. Ah, how things do change.

    One thing that nobody seems to mention, though – in one corner of the parking lot for this mall there was a whole apartment complex (called Universal City Apartments, I think) that was only accessible through the mall’s parking lot and seemed like it might have been the beginning of a self-contained community. Live in the apartments, work and shop in the mall… I wonder what else might have been part of the original plan.

  27. A lady that works at the Target store on 11 mile and Dequindre said that they would be moving to the new location at Universal Mall sometime in June or July 2009. Then of course we will be left with another large vacant building along Dequindre.

  28. An outdoor mall in Detroit?

    Haven’t developers herd of something called “the snowbelt?.”

  29. Somehow, Detroiters survived before there were malls. The most vibrant shopping area of Chicago, even in the dead of winter, is Michigan Avenue.

  30. 1. Chicago is more like New York with shopping districts.
    2. Chicago is not in the snowbelt, unlike say Cleveland or Detroit.

  31. Yeah people in Detroit “survived” before there were indoor malls–but once invented we started shopping at them for a reason! In winter, they’re warm and in summer, they’re cool. And the parking is free.

    By the way, I drive by the new construction every day–and I just don’t know how they’re going to fill all those new strip mall outlets along Dequindre Road any time soon. I’m worried they will sit empty for a couple years at least.

  32. Is the mall still open? I have been trying to visit every thing around the detroit area that is struggling. these are mostly malls and other icon stores. I use to live in livonia and recently went by Livonia mall to find it gone and being replaced with a strip mall. This is just like they did with wonderlands mall a few miles away. I am now 19 and want out of Michigan! There is nothing left from my childhood and worse there are no more specialty shops such as camera stores etc. They need to keep Universal Mall a mall! we dont need any more strip malls with cookie cutter stores

  33. Wow this mall has so many memorys for me. Back in the sixies, I lived in south Madison Heights I was 12 years old and my friends and I used to walk to the mall and walk around we thought we were so cool. Then as a young adult living in north MH I used to walk with my two small children to the mall . I was so sorry when the stores began to close. Montgomery wards and then Crowleys, it was such a loss. I look forward to seeing the new mall open, I hope alot of businesses give this area a chance.

  34. i can remember seeing barbara bush at the mall.Also nixon was there when he ran for president

  35. I live across the street from Universal Mall and can not wait until the new construction is done. It will be nice to finally be able to have some stores in there. So far it’s looking pretty good and I’m very excited to see the final outcome. 🙂

  36. I grew up going to this mall seeing it as vibrant as it could be, it was a fun place to hang out with my friends and buy records,clothes or basically anything you wanted.i am fortunate enough to be the last person to shoot video and i also got to be one of the very last to roam all the wings of the mall before they were gone. It has been very depressing and hard watching it go over the coarse of the last year piece by piece and i feel like they took a part of my life away from me.I will never like the fact that a mall so vibrant was destroyed by a discount theater and a change in patrons that scared all the native ones away.The worst part is that disgusting bum magnet of a theater gets to stay open and thrive when it was a major cause of the down fall of the mall.I gew up in that mall when i went there there were never any homless all over the place and there were rareley any rude careless selfish masses of ignorant people just doing as they please and treating the place like one big garbage can.At one point there was a car or two stolen a day for over a month,homosexuals havng orgies in one of the bathrooms,gangs roaming the mall as if it were there gang teritory,people constantly getting caught trying to have sex in the parking lots and just an overall concentrated overload of direspect for the property and the good people who thought is was still a mall worth going to and guess what all of that stuff had in comon?when caught these many of different people doing different thing in different ways would always say i’m just here to watch a movie or i was just at the movies.My buddy was a security gaurd at universal mall and he is my source of information he workked there for a few years but quit because he could not take the stress of working there and dealing with the every day mess as he calls it so enjoy your over sized strip mall that will ultimately fail because that theater will still be there and yeah sure it will atract people for a while because it will look good and it will be new but give it a year and watch what happens.

  37. I grew up near 9 & Sherwood in Warren in the 1960s and recall Universal City fondly. My parent’s got their first ever credit card from Montgomery Ward’s at the mall, and us kids used to hang out there in the summer. It’s so sad to see how far Michigan has declined since I grew up there. Many of my friends and relatives still live in southeast Michigan. I hear about layoffs almost every time I talk to anybody back there. How is it that we let our country sink so far so fast?

  38. Ok, you all seem to remember a lot from this area. Next to Universal Mall, back in the 80’s, there was a restaurant that was so fun. It was called the Pied Piper Pizza Palace. Does anyone else remember it? It had a guy playing an organ who came out of the stage floor. I was about 5-ish and younger, so it may have been the late 70’s. That restaurant was crazy, they had long tables set up in aisles. It must have been an old school Chuck E Cheese, but back then, we were simply entertained by an organ coming out of the floor.

  39. I was an armed guard there about 5 years ago. They take the security seriously, because they have been robbed, a lot of fights, and a B threat back in 2005. Most of the guards there are actually in the process of starting a police academy or are in the military reserves. They’re not your normal lazy guards.

  40. @GPM, Do you remember the Pied Piper Pizza Palace?

  41. Cut through the “new” Universal Shopping Center Friday on my way to Secretary of State office. Target store is huge, Petco says opening soon, A.J. Wright and Burlington Coat are still there, as is the dead Value City/Crowleys/Federals. Lots of landscaping, but no mention other than Petco of anything else moving in.

  42. @Mindi,

    OMG, I TOTALLY remember that, and I’m so glad someone else does too. My husband and I are both from Warren, and we were trying about the cheeziness of ChuckECheese’s, when I asked him if he remembered that place, and he didn’t. I tried to explain it to him. I remember those long tables, the pizza, and the organ music, but not much else. I was born in ’74 if that helps time frame wise. Do you remember-was it attached to the mall? or near the mall? I know it was on the Dequindre side, but I can’t recall much else.

  43. Does anyone have pics of old universal? Like the birdcage that was in the mall? We are talking the late 70’s and early 80’s….

  44. Fro the late 60’s-early 70’s…I remember the kiddie rides near one of the back entrances, all the fountains, amazon jungle-like planted islands and huge bird cages. It was a major event going to the mall back then. I still have a box of shotgun shells my dad had purchased from Gell’s Sporting Goods

  45. I would appreciate any links to pics as well.
    Lots of old memories there.

    I grew up on in Clawson off 14 mile road on a side street next to the strip mall that use to have Montgomery Wards, Kresges and the old Saunders Bakery with the soda fountain! Spent a lot of time at the diner in Kresges eating french fries.

    Also remember the fountains at Oakland Mall. especially the one in the court in front of Hudsons. The resteraunt in hudsons on the second floor which overlooked the fountain.

  46. Does anyone have fotos of the Pied Piper Pizza Peddler? I would like to preserve the story of this wonderful little place with the big Wurlitzer organ, and Lance Luce, Ken the manager. The music was often wonderful. Please contact me at wecare@macombhistory.us

    This shopping center will not die. history shows it will just morf into new stores. Although many of us hate to see the enclosed part go. We loved shopping there in the winter as it was nice and warn with no show.
    Looking for old fotos and history
    Wesley Arnold historian

  47. @SEAN, I used to live in Chicago, grew-up in Cleveland and have made many trips to Detroit. The snowbelt doesn’t begin until the far Eastern suburbs of Cleveland. Most of Chicago gets about as much snow as most of the Cleveland area and there’s plenty of wind chill near the lake in both places. One of Chicago’s most successful upscale malls is Oakbrook, which is open air. Another is Old Orchard, also open air. their enormous costs and lack of flexibility. Northland and Eastland in the Detroit area were very successful for many years as open air shopping centers. Detroit is no picnic in the winter. People survived and shopped before malls. The inability of many malls to be viable over the long run is partly because of their enormous operating costs and lack of physical flexibility. Retail models that have long-term flexibility and low operating costs will be more attractive to developers for the foreseeable future.

  48. Just to update you guys..they demolished a big part of it but the left the movie theater (now a dollar theater most days) and pretty much made it into a strip mall. Theres a couple big name stores there and i do believe a grocery store? kroger i think?

  49. I grew up in the neighborhood right across Dequindre from the mall in Madison Heights. Just some random memories, the tile mural out front, the bird cage, Hot sams pretzels, Little Soul, the Cunningham soda fountain, the Coin and Stamp Hut, indoor car shows, the raised platform stage where I saw a gun quick draw artist, buying art supplies from Peppers, Christmas shopping, the coin operated baseball game by Hot Sams, the sunken grill outside of Woolworths, the fountain that ran the entire front of Winklemans, the 1960s triangle shapes in the floor that were covered over in renovations, seeing Bonnie and Clydes death car in a semi out front, my mom and her twin sister working at Juicey Lucy’s, my first job at Enzo’z pizza in the food court.
    That place was a big part of my childhood. My how time changes things.

  50. Actually, the original anchor store on the north side was not Montgomery Wards, it was Korvettes. When that store closed is when Montgomery Wards opened.

  51. I was part of the cloud busters model airplane club and we put on a show in the mall the year it opened. Great fun.

    My wife worked at Federals and remembers Brenda Lee coming in when she tried to make a come back.

    Pied Piper Pizza Peddler opened later than the mall and had both Lance Luce and Karl Cole. Lance is still around. I don’t know what happened to Karl.

  52. Hi all……
    I too grew up hanging out at Universal Mall….
    Years have gone by and I am wondering if
    anyone remembers Sanders Bakery? I was
    employed there nearly 30 yrs. ago. I am applying
    for a job that requires me to do a background to the age of 7yrs. old including places of employment. I will put the address of the mall but would like to include any and all rememberances. Thanks for your help……..Sooo sorry the place is a mess….:(

  53. Universal City was a huge part of my childhood. I remember my brother and I walking through Gell’s Sporting Goods and the whole store smelled like leather from the baseball gloves. Spencer’s Gifts was always a fun place to check out especially back when scented candles, black lights and lava lamps were such a big deal. My favorite stop as a kid was Circus World Toy Store, it always looked like it was jam packed with stuffed animals. I remember in the East Wing there was a Little Professor Book Shop and I believe that there was even a pet shop in that wing. The north entrance at Montgomery Wards was the were the pool department was and they also had a neat little cafeteria right there as well. I remember one Friday night probably around 69′ or 70′ that they gave a brand new corvette to a Vietnam POW on the stage by the coin & stamp hut. The baseball arcade by Hot Sam’s Pretzels was cool but there was also a very early video arcade as you came out of Saunder’s that had a steering wheel and gas pedal and you tried to drive through a black & white film clip of street scenes. Universal City was definitely a great place for a kid on a weekend or the summertime. At least it beat the heck out of to Hudson’s Budget Store on 12 mile & John R.

  54. @Mindi,

    I remember it well. When I was in high school a group of us would go up there and sing along. We became friends with the organist. I remember his playing of the theme and music from Star Wars would always get a standing ovation. Think his name might have been Lance. Anyway, our group was from Hazel Park High, with a few girls added from Madison Heights. We called ourselves The Mole Patrole.

    There is a place in Milwaukee that sounds similar if you ever want to relive your memories.

  55. @Jill,

    Please read my reply to Mindi. It was in a former Vic Tanny health club location, on the Dequindre side of the mall, separate from the mall itself.

  56. @Wes Arnold Local Historian,

    I have nothing but my memories of the Pied Piper, and Lance Luce, too. I remember him playing some great music, even playing along to old silent movies. I used to go up there as part of a high school group from Hazel Park High. The Mole Patrole.

  57. I remember back in the late 70’s going to the mall getting a giant prezel from the concession stand then sitting on the benches next to the huge pigeon cage near the center of mall. Not to mention my picture being taken with santa on the stage that was surronded by a mote filled with water. Going to spencers gifts looking at the black lights, posters and gag gifts then walking down near montgomery wards where there was a shop that sold organs and pianos. There was usually a guy that played the organs nice and loud just to get peoples attention walking by the shop, which it did. Ah. the good ole days. 🙂

  58. @ Patricia, I also worked at the mall montgomerywards I remember sanders kresge and others- did you get the job.

  59. @clayman,

    I’m SO glad someone else remembers the mechanical baseball arcade game!! It’s one of my early memories of that mall. I would have been playing it in the early to mid ’70s. Thanks for posting to this thread.

    BTW, I would really love to see any photographs of the old Universal City – anything at all, really, but most of all, I’d just love to see the old tile mosaic (galaxy mural) at the entrance again. Anyone??

  60. @Mindi,

    So sorry, Mindi – I don’t remember it, though the name really sounds familiar. I wish there were some pics somewhere of that place, as they might jog my memory a bit. It may have been a bit before my time, but I don’t know what years it was in operation. I was born in ’71, so I only caught a certain portion of the mall’s history.

  61. Does anyone remember the name of a little shop near Hot Sam’s at Universal back around 1970? It sold trinkets and costume jewelry and had kind of a head shop vibe, a tiny shop, almost like a kiosk?

  62. This mall reminds me of Tel-Twelve in Southfield. Both malls were anchored by Crowleys and Montgomery Wards. Both were poor cousins of other malls in the area (Oakland and Twelve Oaks). Both malls were turned into strip malls. Ironically, they were also both on 12-miie road. Every since I used to work at the short lived Circuit City at Tel-Twelve, I have had a fascination with malls.

  63. @Allan M., How fun! I got to see Leather Loft briefly in that video..I worked there 84-87 and may have even been working at the time of this vid!

  64. @Eric,My brother-in-law was the manager of Gell’s! I remember when Monkey Wards and the dime store were there and we used to go look at the birds while my mom shopped. Woolworth’s I think was the dime store.

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