While it’s not necessarily the best time to take pictures of malls (too busy; people get in the way), the Christmas season can be one of the most fun times to go shopping. Even when I worked in retail management, and found this to be the most stressful time of the year, I kind of enjoyed the hustle and bustle and the way that so many people (bar the miserable crankies of course) were in such a good mood.
That’s why I figured I’d share this set of photos taken the weekend before Thanksgiving at the Freehold Raceway Mall in Freehold, New Jersey. This huge, cavernous, super-regional mall (truly the most dominant player for all of the Jersey shore and the southeasternmost New York suburbs) was completely decked out for the holidays and packed to the gill with shoppers.
The 1.6 million square foot Freehold Raceway Mall is anchored by Macy’s, JCPenney, Sears, Lord & Taylor, and Nordstrom and is managed by the Macerich Company. The mall opened in 1990 on the site of former stables for the Freehold Raceway, located directly across the street. According to Wikipedia, the JCPenney store was originally supposed to be a Hahne’s location, but the chain went out of business during the mall’s construction. The mall was built in phases, with its final anchor, Macy’s, opening in 1998. Also according to Wikipedia (which is of course not always the most reliable of sources, since someone could just as easily write that Freehold Raceway is anchored by the CarrotTop All-For-a-Dollar Bonanza), there are two current proposed expansions for the mall: one would add a sixth anchor and a parking deck between Macy’s and Nordstrom, along with a hotel, and the other would add an outdoor “lifestyle portion” (wow, how 2006 of them) with restaurants, a major bookstore (gee, which one?), and space for 15 other tenants.
The Freehold Raceway Mall also laid waste to a far smaller mall several miles to the north. The Manalapan Mall was a small mall that housed a Steinbach’s store and 25 other small stores. Plans originally called for a second expansion to hold a total of 100 stores, including JCPenney and Macy’s locations, but the mall was never completed due to financial problems. Steinbach went out of business in the mid-late 1990s, and was replaced by Value City, but the remainder of the mall was later cleared in favor of Target, Wegman’s, Marshalls, and other big box retailers.
To me, Freehold is more than a bit reminiscent of the similarly expansive Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury, Connecticut, with its long corridors and high ceilings. Due to its relatively recent vintage, it’s not a terribly unique mall, but it certainly does well, and these are definitely pleasant pictures to fetch your eyes upon. The Christmas-y photos were taken by me in 2006, the others were taken by Prangeway in 2001. Enjoy!