Moorestown Mall; Moorestown, New Jersey

The nation is littered with places where two malls sprung up right next to each other — the post that sat at the top of the Labelscar homepage for *cough* uhh *cough* four months, the one right in front of this one, is an example — and in only rare case are both dominant. In general, one is the good one, and the other is the also-ran, making occasional strides towards being a legitimate peer by snagging a hot new anchor or having a more up-to-date renovation. The Moorestown Mall, which lives in the shadow of the amazing Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey, is one of these also-ran malls.

Moorestown Mall was opened in 1963 by PREIT, just 3 miles east of the Cherry Hill Mall on state route 38 in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia. A large, sprawling one-level enclosed center, the original anchor stores in the Moorestown Mall were Wanamaker’s, Gimbel’s, Woolworths, and Sears. For obvious reasons, only Sears remains today, and the mall has had somewhat of a revolving door of anchors throughout the years:

  • Gimbels became Stern’s in 1986, after owner Brown & Williamson sold off the chain. Stern’s remained at the mall for a short four years before leaving. The store was converted to “Ports of the World,” a new concept by Boscov’s ownership to covertly enter the Philadelphia market without anybody noticing (for some reason?). This silly experiment lasted very little time, and the store was converted to Boscov’s not long later.
  • Woolworth lasted in the mall in their junior-anchor space until their demise; the space later became a Vans Skate Park (one of the many attempts to draw more crowds to the mall with a destinational retailer) before failing and being turned into a Foot Locker and ultimately a Black Diamond Mountain Sports.
  • Wanamaker’s was absorbed into the Hecht’s nameplate in 1995, and the Hecht’s was ultimately converted to a Strawbridge’s (since this is the Philadelphia region, after all, so Hecht’s was somewhat of an anomaly here). This store was later torn down to make room for a new Strawbridge’s store and was converted to Macy’s in 2006.
The Moorestown Mall was partially renovated in 1986 but then suffered a devastating fire in the early 90s, that nearly killed it entirely. A Patch columnist recounts what it was like at the time:
I am sorry to say that the Moorestown Mall has always been the ugly stepsister in our family of local malls. Built in 1963 and only a few short miles from the Cherry Hill Mall, our mall has always suffered in comparison. When we moved to town in the early ’90s, the mall was a post-fire ghost town. There were rainy, wintry days when the “wooden playground” was not an option. I figured out pretty quickly that the mall was a great place to let the boys run. There was so little foot traffic that I could just let them rip and watch them as they ran towards Macy’s.
The mall received a new renovation in 1993/1994 that refreshed the look of the center significantly, adding atrium entrances and arched ceilings. This renovation was suspiciously similar to the renovation of Rhode Island’s Warwick Mall just a year or so earlier. Only a few years later, in 1997, the Rouse Companies purchased the mall and attempted a major upscaling and repositioning of the center, demolishing the existing Strawbridge’s store in favor of a new one in 1999 and adding Lord & Taylor as a new anchor in 2000, with their only location in South Jersey. Nordstrom was almost added as part of this expansion, but they ultimately opted to not expand to the area at the time.
The 2000s continued to be rough for the Moorestown Mall. The Cherry Hill Mall underwent a dramatic renovation and expansion, and a major outdoor big box/lifestyle center opened just a few miles to the east. The mall was again floundering and needed to be refreshed. A small renovation to add more pad restaurants and refresh the street-facing side of the mall began in 2008, and in 2011 the town of Moorestown voted to allow alcohol sales at the previously dry mall, allowing sit-down chain restaurants to open in the area. In addition, on December 22, 2011, Regal Cinemas announced that they planned to replace the existing 7-screen United Artists Theatre with a large, state-of-the-art facility RealD 3D, surround sound, and stadium seating. The new theatre will reuse much of the space formerly occupied by the Vans skate park and Woolworth.
The photos here were all taken in fall of 2006, so they’re six years old now. The mall today looks quite a bit different. Have you been recently? What has changed?
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41 Responses to “Moorestown Mall; Moorestown, New Jersey”

  1. I certainly don’t mean to be rude in any way, but that interesting profile above makes it almost sound like Moorestown Mall is a dead mall. If that is what Caldor is implying (which I am not sure he is), I would have to respectfully disagree: I think the Cherry Hill/Moorestown situation is very similar to the Short Hills/Livingston situation; both Cherry Hill and Short Hills are the dominant malls in the area, but Moorestown and Livingston (which have both long been on the B-list) are far from dead.

    Regarding the Boscov’s, I believe that the store just underwent a massive–and extremely regrettable–renovation, that completely stripped that location of its once retro personality.

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    Caldor Reply:

    @Max, no, no, definitely not a dead mall at all. Just on the perennial B-list. I should’ve probably pointed out that 3 of the 4 anchors are not repeated with Cherry Hill, so the mall serves a huge purpose for that reason alone.

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    Max Reply:

    @Caldor,

    Caldor, thank you so much your prompt response, and I sincerely apologize for misinterpreting what you wrote. As you astutely pointed out, the little anchor overlap between Cherry Hill and Moorestown is (in my opinion) by far the most compelling reason to visit Moorestown Mall.

    I guess that Livingston Mall is a little different from Moorestown in the sense that the former wasn’t always on the B-list. In fact, it was an extremely popular mall (and held its own against Short Hills) until the early-90s. Since then, however, Livingston Mall has lost much of its luster.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @Max, I think you ment that Livingston Mall & The Mall at Short Hills serve two different demographics in the same area. Same thing for Cherry Hill Mall & Moorestown Mall, but Macy’s is at both Livingston & Short Hills though.

    White Plains NY has something similar in that The Galleria has Sears & Macy’s while The Westchester has Neiman Marcus & Nordstrom. Interestingly enough, these two malls are only a ten minute walk apart at most. Try doing that on rt 38 or Morris Essex Turnpike for that matter.

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    mallguy Reply:

    @SEAN, Menlo Park and Woodbridge Center are also close to each other and serve a different demographic, as do Cherry Hill/Moorestown and Short Hils/Livingston.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @mallguy, Duh! Forgot about Woodbridge & Menlo Park.

    Oh! Speaking of Woodbridge, Boscov’s will be opening there in 2013 in the former Fortunoff. Could Boscov’s open in the former Fortunoff at Wayne Town Center or the Source in Westbury as well at some point? I mean Cheesecake Factory is litterally keeping that mall alive since Nordstrom Rack & Sacks Off 5th jumped ship & went to a new center adjacent to Roosevelt Field.

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    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I hope Boscovs would open somewhere you can drive not such a long distance from ROckland to get to Boscovs. I wish they would come back to Rockland. Get rid of Sears in Nanuet and bring back Boscovs.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, I can see Boscov’s at Woodbridge center, but not at shops at Nanuet. Now if Sears sells that store, then you may have an arguement.

    Speaking of Sears, the L. A. Times reports that sears spun off 1200 plus stores under a seperate company & stock (SHO) Sears Hardware.

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    mallguy Reply:

    @SEAN, If the actual mall were still standing (it was thrown down) I would think that would work and work well. Glad that Bosov’s is finally opening at Woodbridge…something had to finally go in there. Funny, I still remember that building when it was Hahne’s.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @mallguy, Believe it or not, I never herd of Hahne’s until I came to this blog in 2007. It must have been a fairly decent sized NJ chain as there weren’t any stores in the northern suburbs of NYC. I do know that several of them are now Lord & Taylor.

    I’ll bet that GGP gave Boscov’s one hell of a sweet deal to open in Woodbridge since that store was empty for so long.

    If anyone cares to know, there’s a Wegmans at 15 Woodbridge Center Drive, since Wegmans is a favorite around these parts.

    [Reply]

    mallguy Reply:

    @SEAN, Hahne’s was a wonderful store and I truly miss it! Their flagship store was in Downtown Newark on Broad Street (which has a deep retail history…nearby on Market Street was the flagship of Bamberger’s, which eventually was absorbed into Macy’s). After the riots of 1968 in Newark, they expanded to the suburbs (Montclair and Westfield) and eventually into the suburban malls. The Bridgewater and Garden State Plaza locations were the last to open. Hahne’s, sadly, was gone by 1990 after May purchased them in the 80s. The only Hahne’s that didn’t become Lord and Taylor were Woodbridge and Garden State Plaza.

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    mallguy Reply:

    @SEAN, Sadly, Hahne’s never made it south of Quaker Bridge or Monmouth Mall. A&S did, but pulled out of Philadelphia in the late 1980s. Those were two great department stores that I miss very much!

    [Reply]

    mallguy Reply:

    @Max, I agree Livingston Mall isn’t what it used to be and is having some slight vacany issues (specifically with a sit-down restaurant), but it’s still holding its own. It was strong enough to attract a Barnes and Noble, and the Macy’s and Lord & Taylor locations won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

    I still don’t think they needed the 2008 renovation and frankly, like it better the way it looked after the first renovation.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @mallguy, Livingston Mall outside of Barns & Noble & Lord & taylor is similar to the Galleria in White Plains, but Livingston is far healthier than the Galleria is. There’s 21 empty stores out of 150 at the Galleria, equating to a 15.75% vacancy rate. In adition there aren’t any sitdown restaurants beyond the food court. Most worrysome is that management offices are now closed to the public & the info booth was recently removed. You don’t see any of that happening in Livingston.

    [Reply]

    mallguy Reply:

    @SEAN, The Galleria at White Plains did not take advantage of its streetscape in the fashion that newer urban malls like Providence Place did and that was a mistake.

    Interesting point, the Hahne’s in Livingston Mall was the new flagship after the Newark location was closed.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @mallguy, Well said regarding The Galleria. Let me add that the intire lower level beyond XXXI Forever is dead & nothing has been done about it for a long time. Beyond the food court, the rest of the mall is headed for shaky ground.

    Interesting how Livingston, Cross County & Green Acres serve a similar demo as the Galleria, but don’t have the same issues & it goes well beyond a bad streetscape design.

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  2. It’s a shame that the main open area of the mall didn’t survive in its original form. I know malls everywhere get refreshed and original features disappear but the way the mall looked in the ’60s is beautiful IMHO – but then I am a fan of brutalist architecture!

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    mallguy Reply:

    @Pete Stean, I’m just happy that Moorestown Mall still has fountains!

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  3. I have a book that has some great pictures of this place in the 80s after it was remodeled in 1986. The concourses were PINK and very pink at that! Interestingly it looks like the mall has been remodeled since then, but the food court in these pictures and the green entrance isnt much different than it appears in this book with the pictures from 1987.

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  4. Welcome back!

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  5. Where was Nordstrom gonna go, if they had opened at Moorestown Mall?

    [Reply]

    mallguy Reply:

    @Michael S, Probably would have been in an expanded wing in the rear of the mall (there is room back there) Every Nordstrom that has opened in NJ has opened in either a new expansion of the mall, new mall or heavily renovated mall.

    [Reply]

    Michael S Reply:

    @mallguy, Where lord and taylor is, or some place else?

    [Reply]

  6. The last time I went to Moorestown Mall was 2010. It seemed to be holding its own and I rather enjoy this mall. They still embrace foliage and fountains, unlike so many other malls today. With Moorestown now allowing liquor to be served (this was BIG for them…long Quaker history in the town and they’ve tried, in the past, similar referendums and had failed), I predict some bigger things to come, down the road.

    It should also be noted that Moorestown Mall technically has its own exit off I-295 South, and it should be more directly noted on the highway.

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  7. I should also note that I have a picture of the center court fountain prior to the 1990s renovation. Even without the picture, I still remember it.

    [Reply]

    Graham Reply:

    @mallguy,

    Yeah the book I have has pictures of the food court and center court. The food court is exactly the same with the same fountain. The center court fountain looks the same in these 1987 pictures as it does in that 60s picture. I presume sometime in the 90s they updated that fountain.

    [Reply]

    mallguy Reply:

    @Graham, The center court fountain was updated with the 1990s renovation. The old center court fountain was pretty awesome…it went high and also had changing water patterns. The fountain near John Wanamaker was a little before my time though. The late 80s renovation took away the “brutalist look” of the mall and kind of reminded me of Garden State Plaza’s pre-1996 look.

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  8. It’s great to see Labelscar still alive. As a fellow blogger, I feel that “artisan” posts take a ton of work: I could put tons of work into a blog and only maybe get out a post every two weeks. More interesting is the fact that Carousel Center is FINALLY officially “Destiny USA”, though it’s not nearly the grandiose thing it was supposed to be (for now, at least). I remember reading about DUSA five years ago, and now it’s finally here.

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  9. Pseudo3D:

    I too appreciate Labelscar- as a self-proclaimed Mall Nerd, I appreciate the effort it takes to run something like this (and to harbour others like myself).

    Funny you should mention the Carousel Center…now I’m back in Ottawa, I have thought of doing the Carousel/Penn Can tour to Syracuse to see the rebranded mall. Especially since a lot of the marketing is aimed at Canadians.

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  10. The post and comments highlight the persistence of this small despite its b-level status, but no explanation for why it’s still around. Did it benefit from the decline of Echelon? Does it serve a growing area? What’s the town like–the decline of a mall locality sometimes plays a big role, although Echelon seems to have declined despite being in a desirable town.

    [Reply]

    mallguy Reply:

    @Rich, When compared to Cherry Hill Mall, it’s small, but in size, it’s probably moderate. (If you read down the NJ thread, MM is larger than Brunswick Square, a mall about 45 miles north of MM) A few years ago, Moorestown tried to go upscale when they opened Lord and Taylor and built the new Strawbridge’s. A few upscale stores opened in the mall, but when then Rouse bought them, they did so to protect Cherry Hill Mall, which they saw as having more potential because of its history of being the first enclosed mall on the east coast and larger size. I honestly believe Moorestown Mall has a better location than CHM (access from 2 highways and more direct access from 295 and the Turnpike. And until NJDOT addressed the 38, 73, 41 intersection, it was a pain to get to CHM from Exit 4 of the Turnpike) I’m going to blame Rouse on this one. Moorestown is a beautiful town and the mall, in recent years, suffered from Moorestown’s preference of being a dry town.

    Echelon Mall’s biggest problem was its location…it’s on 2 secondary roads kind of far from the main highways. I have a pretty darn good sense of direction, but before the age of GPS, I got lost getting there. The mall that benefitted from the decline of Echelon Mall was Deptford Mall (they gained Echelon’s JCPenney)

    And an interesting statistic, even being so close to Cherry Hill Mall, Moorestown Mall is in a different county (Burlington) Cherry Hill is in Camden County.

    [Reply]

  11. Thanks for your article, but please allow me to point out that PREIT did not build the Moorestown Mall. PREIT bought it in 2003 from Rouse, which bought it to prevent Nordstrom from opening there.
    Also, Sears is not an original tenant. It opened around 1972, after the old Sears on Admiral Wilson Blvd. in Camden shut down.
    Finally, I would like to throw in my personal memory of this mall from the early 70s…down the middle of the mall there were little streams that had ducks living in them. There was a Pathmark supermarket where the food court now stands. and in the Gimbels/Boscov wing there was something called “International Pavilion” which was a bunch of smaller shops and eateries along a series of narrow corridors.

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  12. Finally, a new post. Any plans to cross the Delaware? I’ve been hoping for a Granite Run Mall profile ever since I found this site.

    [Reply]

    Steve Reply:

    @md1000, I’d also like a Granite Run Mall post. I think its on its last legs – where else can you find a mall with a dinosaur museum? GRM has many empty spaces, and a plethora of “urban” stores. Come on, Labelscar. you need to do a SE Pennsylvania tour!

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  13. I’m so excited that you covered the Moorestown Mall. My husband and I actually frequent it quite often. In fact, we were just there this past Friday night. The mall is not dead. There are a decent amount of stores inside that are not bad to shop at. The anchors are good and there is a Gap, American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, etc…we like the Elevation Burger to eat at and there is a nice cafe that sells good desserts. Some of the stores are funny, though. Last year, the Borders Express closed down. In its spot, a kitchen store opened up. They didn’t change any of the Borders decor. A CVS has been closed for years. A bookstore opened up in its spot but the CVS decor is still there. There are a lot of weird little stores like this. We like to go to this mall instead of Cherry Hill because it can be quieter and sometimes we just like a change, but we frequent both malls. The mall is really beautiful, though, with all of the fountains and old fashioned decor.

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  14. I was at Moorestown back in 2005. It was ok…nice and normal, reminded me of a fancier Ocean County Mall.

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  15. I remember Borders Express that day I was there! THere was a skate park too…pretty cool. I remember coming out of Borders, and a guy asking about my PSP which just came out a month before.

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  16. Oh yeah, Granite Run is so strange. Our local radio station had a profile on it. My husband and I were curious about it since he knows I like dead malls and took a trip. We had heard the Hot Topic was closing and the Sam Goody was too and was 90 % off. When we went, those stores were no longer in business. I took a bunch of photos because there was some weird stuff set up and a lot of abandoned areas. They had a handful of stores such as The Limited and Victoria’s Secret, and also a nice soap store that sold homemade stuff. We ate at a Ruby Tuesday which was very popular that day. We did agree that the mall was awful though and vowed to not return. Down the road is the Springfield Mall, which to my knowledge, may not even be that much better.

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  17. I just visited Moorestown tonight. The Gap is leaving the mall. You know it’s a bad sign when Gap leaves. Gap has locations in all the other malls in the area except Burlington and Echelon, because they are DEAD. Even the awful Cumberland Mall has a Gap. This leaves Moorestown with its anchors and a few other okay stores like Hollister, Express, and Bath and Body Works.

    [Reply]

    mallguy Reply:

    @Faith, Gap isn’t in Bridgewater Commons or Brunswick Square either. I know what you mean about Moorestown Mall. The last time I was there, it was significantly quieter than Cherry Hill.

    I think it can rebound, as now that Moorestown lifted its liquor ban for the mall, there is a greater chance for destination chain restaurants to locate to the mall. Plus, the new movie theater will open later this year.

    [Reply]

  18. I visited Saturday afternoon (7/26/14) and there were only a handful of people in there. I only went down the Boscov’s wing because of a movie, but that end is looking a little sad. Every store from Pacsun down to boscovs is all going to be turned into a beauty school (I think Rizzeri?). Osteria and Distrito opened up, but they don’t back up to the mall so there still wasn’t any foot traffic there either. The new movie theater is pretty nice though. Hopefully there will be some new stores soon.

    [Reply]

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