Shoppingtown Mall; DeWitt, New York

Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York

The Syracuse area may be dominated by one very large mall, but there are two other substantially-sized malls that are still operating in the metropolitan area, and the Shoppingtown Mall (which has no relation to Westfield’s “Shoppingtown” malls) is the area’s second largest mall, with just over 1 million square feet. Serving Syracuse’s eastern suburbs, it seems to be struggling much like many other Syracuse-area malls before it.

Built in 1954 as an open-air center, Shoppingtown Mall was one of Syracuse’s first suburban shopping centers, with W.T. Grant’s, Woolworth, E.G. Edwards, Dey’s, and The Addis Co. as anchor stores. The mall was enclosed in 1975 along with the addition of JCPenney in the former E.G. Edwards space, and substantially renovated and expanded in 1991. Syracuse-based department store chain Chapell’s also entered the mall at some point. The last expansion brought Steinbach, a relocated Addis & Dey’s, and a new wing of stores. While I’m not entirely sure, I would estimate that the two-level portion of the mall that now houses Macy’s and the food court is the newest addition. Chapell’s was sold to The Bon Ton in 1995, and The Addis Co. and Dey’s merged into one chain at some point though I’m unable to find when. Kaufmann’s replaced them in their second location in the mall in 1993.

Former Bon Ton store at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York

The mall’s anchors today are Macy’s (until recently the Kaufmann’s store), Sears, Dick’s Sporting Goods, JCPenney, and a 10-screen Regal Cinemas. While the mall is bright and clean and sports a very unique and dynamic layout, Shoppingtown has very recently lost The Bon Ton, Old Navy, and Media Play as well as many smaller stores, especially on the long, sloped Sears wing.

Despite its commercial malaise, Shoppingtown is a very neat mall. Because it was added onto over time, it has a strange floorplan that can best be described as an “L” with an “X” hanging off one end. Part of the mall is two-level, while another part is on a rather steep grade sloping from the second floor down to the first.

Mall directory & floorplan at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York

I’ve attempted to organize these photos in a logical way, since there are three very distinctively diferent areas in the Shoppingtown Mall. Moving from right to left according to the mall directory, this first group of photos are the indoor and outdoor shots from the two-level portion of the mall, with Macy’s, JCPenney, and the food court:

Macy's at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York Two-level portion of Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York Food court at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York

Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York Macy's store at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York
The second set of photos were taken in the long, one-level wing stretching between the former Bon Ton store to the former Old Navy store, across the central portion of the mall:

Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York Eckerd at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York JCPenney at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York

And the third set is from my favorite wing of the mall, the long wing stretching from Dick’s Sporting Goods, past the former Old Navy and Media Play stores, and down to the Sears store. This entire wing is on a steady downhill slope from Old Navy down to Sears, and you can see the grading if you look towards the edge of the mall corridor, in front of the stores. Note also that there’s a basement courtyard with offices and a mall entrance in the middle of this wing. Two teenagers were actually down there making out–which is quite a testament to how quiet it was in this part of the mall on a Saturday afternoon–and I briefly considered taking a photo until I remembered I was a kid once… not that long ago. I’m not a bad person, so I refrained.

Sears wing at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York Sears wing at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York Sears at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York

Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York Looking away from Sears at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, New York

Author: Caldor

Jason Damas is a search engine marketing analyst and consultant, and a freelance journalist. Jason graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a minor in Music Industry. He has regularly contributed to The Boston Globe,, Amplifier Magazine, All Music Guide, and 168 Magazine. In addition, he was a manager for a record store for over two years. Currently, he focuses on helping companies optimize their web sites to maximize search engine visibility, and is responsible for website conversion analysis, which aims to improve conversion rates by making e-commerce websites more user-friendly. He lives in suburban Boston.

42 thoughts on “Shoppingtown Mall; DeWitt, New York”

  1. Very cool layout. I wonder why that Sears wing is so dead though?

  2. I went there a couple of years ago. Very bizzare design, several uses that fill the dead spots (public library branch being one) that aren’t in regional malls very often, and struggling since the new ownership has sat on its hands while the time is ripe to revitalize the place.

  3. The mall looks nice. I love the glass roof and the water feature in front of Penney’s. Too bad its struggling; I hope things pick up for them. I wonder why The Bon Ton went out. I thought they were a thriving chain?

  4. I preferred shopping here over the enormous Carousel Center. Bon Ton closed its store here and at Great Northern Mall then Media Play went out of business chainwide. The mall was doing very well even last Christmas but now seems to be hemorraging tenants so I am forced to shop elsewhere.

  5. Saw this mall off I-87 coming back from the [not-so] Great Northern Mall upon my recent trip to Syracuse-area. We were going to stop in, but my camera took a turn for the worse…

  6. The picture of the food court with the escalators in the foreground reminds me of a reversed version of the food court in Mayfair Mall in Milwaukee, WI.

  7. I wonder if this mall has the record for “mall that has seen the most anchors come and go”?

  8. The Sears wing is largely vacant due to the move of a couple of tenants to the newly revitalized Marshalls Plaza down Erie Blvd. from the mall. My wife worked at the Famous Footwear store in that mall for many years and often heard talk of the mall’s return to a strip (a.k.a. Lifestyle) center. The once popular Fayetteville mall on the eastern edge of town was successfully transformed into a Lifestyle center after an extended period of vacany. It now houses a Target, P&C Food market, Stickley and Kohl’s. There is also a T.J. Maxx store that used to be in the old Mall.

  9. Update on Shoppingtown Mall (with pictures!). Like other Macerich-owned centers, Shoppingtown is to become *gasp* (you guessed it) lifestylized under a proposed renovation!

    They’re awaiting town approval to do this renovation which seeks to de-enclose the Sears-Dick’s wing, which I was literally floored when I walked upon it and it’s lopsided, off-kilter grades. Sadly, the renovation or “lifestyling” sees an end to the totally groovin’ octo-ramp right before it. This explains why so many tenants have gone dark. It’s been a while since I had an architecturally bizarre mall experience.

    I feel your humanity there, Caldor which is why I shot a satisfying amount of images of the marvelous Sears wing. I’ll bet they were making out down near the library….

    Here’s my full gallery of shots taken just this past 22nd of May. I almost got snagged by security for taking one of the photos here but he oddly, after following me a bit, desisted. Enjoy!

  10. Thanks to all for the photos! I grew up hanging out at Shoppingtown in the 70s and saw many changes. I also got busted by security taking my own video tour in 1998. I was just finishing up so I didn’t care. I think the mall got too big and expensive – and of course the never-ending lousy central NY economy didn’t help either (let’s raise taxes even more!)

  11. Questions/comments: According to the official site, the Sears wing is super dead. In the floor of the area between where the other hallway meets and Sears is, there are 30 storefronts (includes outdoor-only storefront), C.J. Banks, Able II Driving School, Perfume Hut, Nail Trix 2000, Pools Brook Driving Range, and…that’s it! They don’t seem to be demalling it yet.

  12. That wing was largely vacant even in 2006 when these photos were taken. A friend of mine who lives in the area actually said the reason no construction has started is because there’s been very little interest in leasing for the outdoor lifestyle portion (which is unsurprising since Syracuse is one of the snowiest cities in America), so they haven’t had any reason to bother yet.

    Shoppingtown is a really cool mall, and the Sears wing is possibly the best part. It would be a shame for them to de-mall it, especially in a city that could use indoor gathering spaces.

  13. Furthermore, it’s weird why Shoppingtown never had a discount store (as all the New York/New England malls did, whether it be Hills, Ames, Caldor, Bradlees, or Kmart.

  14. Okay, my memories of Shoppingtown in the pre-Carousel era. It was hopping on the weekends. I was in college at the time, mid Eighties We even did a remote from there while I was working on the college radio station one time (it was in the sloping wing, everyone’s favorite, in front of Bob’s Big Boy). Yes, there was a Bob’s, as well as a Woolworth’s that looked like it hadn’t been TOUCHED since the mall opened 30 years earlier. I used to go down to their basement where they had a rack of vinyl record albums for a DIME (!) that I would pick through. Ten records for a buck, and I was a happy camper. They were all 10-15 year-old record albums too, that had probably been sitting in that same rack at that time.

  15. I grew up in the area and Shoppingtown was the best mallrat hangout for anyone who didn’t live directly in downtown Syracuse. Conveniently close to the DeWitt/Fayetteville side of Erie Boulevard and just the right mix of weird shops and old staples to keep people coming back. Probably the main killer of the sloping Sears wing in recent years was Media Play completely going under as a store chain. It cut the heart out of the entertainment/electronics sales in the mall and stores around it slowly started dying off like plants without water.

  16. I was at the mall today…just hanging out with my friends. I feel it would benefit you all to know that the Sears wing is now COMPLETELY Dead…

    It’s still a cool place to hang out due to the massage chairs available, the privacy, the cool architectural design and the carpeted floor.

    There’s a golf training center in an old store and Branch’s Driving School in the basement of that portion and that is IT for the Sears wing. There must be nearly 20-25 perfectly suitable store spaces which are now vacant. And what is sad is that nearly half of the stores which once inhabited these spaces have only moved to other more ‘lively’ areas of the mall.

    Sears thrives of course and believe it or not people still make the long trek from the end of the hallway to Sears even though there are NO stores along the way.

    I hope they revitalize the Sears wing and do not close it off/ tear it down, making Sears an Open Store…all the mall needs is a Solid Anchor Store in the old Media Play space and the area would revitalize.

  17. Any idea what was originally in the Old Navy and Media Play spaces? I’m assuming one was the Woolworth.

  18. I was out there today, and I just have to say that seeing the mall in its current state is really rather depressing. To walk down to the Sears wing just reminds me of how wonderful the mall was when it was at its prime, with Media Play and such stores still going strong.

    Does anyone know what they are doing? I read some of their renovation plans on their website, but the articles seem to be nearly 2 or 3 years old. Same with the pictures here. What are they waiting for? Eerie Boulevard is such a prosperous retail area, and you would think the owners of such a mall would make greater strides to move in businesses and get the shoppers coming back.

  19. Shoppingtown does NOT I repeat NOT need to be a strip mall !!! Way to much snow for a strip mall!! People want to be INSIDE.

  20. Booby, I believe the Media Play space was the Woolworth’s. Not 100% positive though.

  21. There is a typo in your introduction. You state that “EG Edwards” was an original anchor of Shoppingtown. The store’s name was actually EW Edwards and Sons.

    Edwards’ was a early 20th century chain, with three huge downtown stores in Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. I believe that the Edwards family was from Syracuse.

    The Edwards stores prospered through the mid-20th century, when they were sold to Almy-Gorin Stores of Boston in the 1970s, owners of several New England legendary stores, including RH White, and The Star Store. The downtown stores closed in all three cities (although I believe that they may have pulled out of the Buffalo area earlier than the 1970s).

    I do not know about any of the Edwards branch stores in Buffalo or Syracuse, but there were two in Rochester, at the Pittsford and Ridgemont Plazas. They continued to operate under the Edwards name until the early 1980s, when they suddenly took the Almy’s nameplate. The Pittsford store was completely renovated, but the Ridgemont store was not, a charming but dated reminder of what branch stores looked like in the early 1960s. By 1985, both Almy stores closed.

    There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information out there about Edwards in the research that I’ve done. But they were an important store in Central and Western New York, especially in Rochester and Syracuse.

  22. My dad grew up in the area and he said that when channel 9 first opened (WSYR now, but back then it was WNYS) they were located in the basement of the Shoppingtown Mall. My grandfather was an engineer for them. I guess there was some kind of massive fire that destroyed their studios there. I can’t find any info on it, though, aside from the wiki.

    Does anyone remember this? What caused the fire? How bad was it? Where were they located in the mall? In the Sears wing?

  23. I worked as an engineer at WNYS-TV 9 (later WIXT before changing to the present WSYR-TV callsign) in the mid-’70s when the studios were in the basement of the Sears wing. The station went on the air in 1962 and its main entrance was adjacent to the original Kallet Theatre, which was abandoned in 1968. I believe it was near the area later occupied by Media Play. A long stairway went down to the station from the interior of the mall; this was originally intended as public access to the theatre and the corridor had a window looking into the TV projection room.

    The fire occurred several years before I went to work there, but the facility was completely rebuilt and all damaged equipment replaced.

    More info on the Kallet Theatre here – you can see the old Channel 9 entrance in some of the photos:

  24. I remember the fire at WNYS. It was in late 1966 or early 1967. Shoppingtown was, at that time, an outdoor strip mall. WNYS was located along the corridor which now leads toward the Sears store. The fire had one very sad consequence. While WNYS was back on the air in just hours (broadcasting from WCNY in Liverpool for several weeks), all of the sets for the popular local Baron Damone show were lost and that part of Syracuse entertainment history passed into legend.

    There are some incorrect statements about the origin of Shoppingtown. The mall opened as a large strip mall in the eastern suburbs in the mid-1950’s. Dey Brothers, in the early 1960’s opened what they called their Store For Homes which initially sold only home furnishings etc. This was Dey’s first foray outside of the downtown area. By the mid-1970’s there was incredible growth in the DeWitt, Fayetteville and Manlius areas and the mall was reconfigured to an indoor mall. This explains why the corridor toward the Sears store (which had been that original Dey Brother’s store) is not level and follows the contour of what had been the walkway of the outdoor mall. Dey’s was now a full department store and E W Edwards opened their huge store in the center of the new mall. Today, that store is a J C Penny store and only in the last few years has the E W Edwards chandelier which stood over the escalators been removed. Chappells also opened a large store in the new mall. By 1980, this mall was home to suburban branches of Syracuse’s finest old stores. In addition to Dey’s and Edwards, the mall hosted The Addis Company, Economy Books, Wells and Coverly and Flahs. The mall was renovated again in the early 1990’s and there is another plan to open the corridor toward Sears and return it, once again, to an outdoor plaza. This mall speaks volumes about the rise and decline of local Syracuse retailing. For those of us who grew up in that great old city, it is sad to see all of the generic stores which one can find anywhere in America, standing in the place of wonderful Syracuse stores which, one by one, were bought out by the inane “bon tons” of this world. These local stores followed population shifts and trends and slowly their downtown flagships closed and then their suburban satellites were absorbed by generic stores and the great old names disappeared forever. This pattern was repeated in every city across America. How sad.

  25. This is a postscript to my post:

    Yes, the store that was for many years Media Play was, indeed, Woolworth’s in the original open air Shoppingtown. In fact, the configuration of the store never changed. The large staircase was a part of Woolworth’s and took one down to the toy department and children’s clothing.

    Dey Brothers, in what is now the Sears building, had a great restaurant on the first level toward Erie Boulevard. Known as the Old Erie Coffee Shop, it offered good food at modest prices within a Syracuse history themed setting.

    There are just a few reminders of how the original mall was configured. For example, the free standing bank near the Erie Blvd entrance just up from I HOP was actually attached to the original mall and was Onondaga Savings Bank. The Scotch and Sirloin restaurant has been a fixture near that bank for fifty years. The Kallet Theatre (It was a double theatre), now gone, stood across the entrance way from the Scotch and Sirloin, and were the first large movie theatres in the eastern townships of Syracuse. The next was Cinema East which stood next to McDonalds on Erie Blvd, just a few blocks from the mall. That, too, is gone.

  26. About ShoppingTown…I recalled that mall since it was a strip prior their enclosure in 1974 or 75. I think 75. Anyway, yes, Dey’s, Flahs, Woolworth and Co., etc were there for long time. I have a postcard I found and I will try to get it on here to show you the ORIGINAL appearace with the 50s cars.. You can spot some popular 57s in the photo.

    I remembered the way it was enclosured.. At first I thought I like that oozy comfort formal looking interior with faux low candle lighting, brick interior, carpeted. I love the carpet because it was easier to walk. I do not like malls with tiles.. My grandmother fell on the tile floor since it was too slippery. It was at that same front door location as shown in the photo.

    Shoppingtown has gone through transformations a few times. It used to have movie theaters outside.. Just two large theaters.. 1600 seating per theater. Then they split into 4 in same theater and it looked terrible. The remodel was poorly designed.

    Then I believe it was Hoyts wanted to open inside the mall and they sure did. Replaced the lower level of the mall and some stores moved from that area to their current areas such as Burger King used to be in a space and now its in food court.

    Recently Pavone’s Pizza closed up in Fall 2009.

    Um, The basement has been expanded for the theaters but then again, they added a few more theaters in the basement.

    Yes Channel 9 was housed in the basement near the middle of the L section.

    The Original enclosure was Sears Wing and JC Penneys Wing then they added Chappell’s section. Then they added the Kaufmann’s Wing (Now Macy’s).

    Yes, they are in the works to remodel but they delayed because of Carousel problems. They said they rather to wait and see how Carousel is doing then figure out how they are going to do with the Sears Wing. They announced in 2007 to built a strip or open mall in the Sears Wing.

    The reason for the sloping wing on Sears side is because of the land itself is slopped. The original Shoppingtown as I recalled as a little boy before they remodeled in 75, they were slopped a little bit however the enclosure made it more slopped.. And they could not use tiles because of the slope! People would injure from falling if they placed tiles. I talked with someone who ran customer service of the mall and she knew history about that part.

    Fairmount Fair Mall had similar interior to ShoppingTown and was modeled after ShoppingTown!

    First Shoppingtown was founded by Egan Real Estate until Wiltmorite built Fayetteville Mall to compete against. They did the same with Camillus Mall against Fairmount. And The Great Northern against Penn Can Mall. They had years of bitter battle. By November 1, 1987 as I recalled that day (just broken up with a gf the day Egan gave up and sold the malls to Wiltmorite that I saw in the papers) I was on Egan’s side because they were here FIRST!!

    Now I can laugh at Witmorite because they sold off the malls, they lost!! After they sold Shoppingtown and other malls to various investors.. Shoppingtown went to mayrich (I think I may got the name wrong) of California, many of us got feeling and seemly Mayrich wanted to get rid of ShoppingTown (hence the delay of Sears Wing remodel) because Mayrich is a Californian developer with no knowlege of East Coast retail market method. It was just for money. I think.

  27. @Bobby, I know that the Limited/Limited Too occupied the
    Old Nave space before Old Navy. I’m not old enough to remember or
    know what/if there was anything before that

  28. @Bobby, I was old enough to remember the old old ShoppingTown (yes capitalized T) Plaza before it was enclosured as a mall. The former Media Play space was in fact Woolworth’s. That side of strip was original mall itself. I have a photograph in my other computer and I will have to transfer to this computer (not now, but later and you will notice all the original stores there that stayed during the rebuilt into the mall. That spot where Media Play was is currently a skateboard rink (not like a roller skating rink but it has ramps, curves, etc ). So, I know changes. I have old ShoppingTown store maps.

    I still like going to ShoppingTown since it is smaller, easier to get to stores than that crazy Carousel Center mall although I live less than 3 minutes drive to Carousel, I drive pass Carousel for the good old ShoppingTown or go to Great Northern. However, in more recent years, I go to plazas because my wife and I have plans or I have plans what to buy and buy it and leave like that.

    You know that Americans average just 22 minutes to shop? TWENTY TWO minutes! That is why they do not want to walk all that way to the specific store they plan to go. It is quicker with plaza. Yes, Syracuse is famous with the snow. But still, we all shop in plazas these days.

    Another reason for stores go out of businesses is because the chains out there lost money and pull out of malls that affected to other stores in malls. It worked badly like a rotten apple in barrel of apples!

    Please feel free to ask me any questions about any stores. i still have recollection of stores locations.. But also I have references–floor maps since 1970’s!

  29. @Kate, I recalled the fire at Channel 9. What I remembered vaguely was that it has to do with a grip or an engineer tripped some hot wire that caused a huge spark and caused fire. That is what I heard from people at the time. I am not sure. That is all I know. I can find that out for ya, Kate.

    After Channel 9 relocated, it became a small arcade there for a time. Then something else came and went just like that that no one can remember it. It is closed off now.

  30. To some of you wondering what was in that slot or stores, etc.

    In the Sears Wing:

    The Sears store used to be Dey Brothers.

    A Skateboard rink in the same slot where Woolworth’s first rooted there followed by Media Play.

    Dick’s Sporting Goods still still same slot.

    Before Old Navy’s, it was Limited and Limited Too.

    Ew Edwards which had the train for children to ride as I recalled (I was one of last ones to ride it!) was anchored where JCP is now.

    The additional of another wing was Addias’ & Dey’s (after Deys and Addias merged, they moved to their new location and Sears moved in the old Dey Brothers location.) It was sold to Sibley’s but Sibley’s did not come to ShoppingTown because it was already in the beloved abstrast modernism building at Fayetteville Mall. When Kaufamann’s bought Sibley’s, they shut down Sibley’s at F’ville Mall and settled into the Addias & Dey’s location until Kaufmann’s parent company were sold to Macy’s parent company and coverted all chains into Macy’s.

    Chappell’s was in their slot until it was sezied by Key Bank and sold to Bon Ton and Bon Ton converted into BT stores. BT closed as part of reconstruction downsizing leaving the Syracuse area only store remain open at the former Camillus Mall.

    Now at the former BT store is the relocated DeWitt Free Library with upstairs remaining empty.

    After Channel 9 moved to Bridge Street location, it became an arcade and then after that, something else briefly (perhaps it was for a Christmas season), then it remained empty since.

    More on other slots later. I will be back to explain the rest.

  31. I’m out in Syracuse every April and September and always manage to stop at Shoppingtown for a visit. I’ve noticed that at least two or three stores are gone every time I go. On the other had though, most of the Sears wing vacancies have been filled in with local businesses wanting to set up shop. The hallway is actually dubbed “The Community Wing” or something to that effect. So at least the management is finding creative ways to still get people in the door. The fountains in front of JCPenney have been filled in and plants now reside where the water used to be. The fountain at the elevator is still going strong though. Also in the food court, Taco Bell and Pavone’s Pizza are gone now.

  32. @Erik,
    I remember Media Play being the place to be. Music/electronics on the top floor and books/misc on the lower level. During summer vacation me and my friends hung out at Shoppingtown *all* day…its sad to know those days are *long* gone. And wasn’t Carousel built on top of a landfill??

  33. Does anyone remember the train themed little restaurant that used to be just down from JCPenney probably back in the 80’s? I believe the workers used to have to wear conductor hats.

  34. The old bon ton store in shoppingtown, did that cause a leak in the regal cinemas near theater 9 and 10?

  35. @Bobby, Sears is losing money not a lot of people go there and that means not a lot of peaople will go the stores by Sears

  36. Very recently Macys announced it would close its Shoppingtown location due to company downsizing Macys also recently closex its Medley Centre store Also Dicks Sporting Goods is deciding that since Kmart is closing its store at Dewitt Commons they’re going to have amuch bigger store there What does this mean for Shoppingtown? Mall management has to step up there game because now they have to fill 5 vacant anchor stores Poor Shoppingtown it really is a nice Wilmorite mall

  37. Going to Shoppingtown is such a depressing experience now. Even the smaller chains have fled. In the past couple of years we’ve seen Gap, American Eagle, LOFT, Finish Line, Pottery Barn and many others leave the space.

  38. So, my family and I recently moved to DeWitt. I took my 2 small children to Shoppingtown today because there’s tons of open space to walk around…because there are basically no stores left! Macy’s is gone, Dick’s is leaving, I wonder how JC Penney and Sears will hold on. It’s eerily deserted. I’d love to see it brought back to life, but it’s going to take hell of a lot of work and money.

  39. Does anyone know what happened to Dave Lane, who owned the Old Erie Coffee House? My husband worked for Dave when he was a grad student at Syracuse University and we’ve often wondered what happened to him. Nice guy!

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