Wilton Mall; Wilton (Saratoga Springs), New York

Wilton Mall in Wilton (Saratoga), New York

To finish out the northern stretch of Albany malls, I offer to you the Wilton Mall at Saratoga (commonly referred to simply as the Wilton Mall), the largest and newest of the malls stretching along the Northway from Albany.

Of course, as you’ll see from these photos, I encountered the worst enemy of every mall photographer: an RV show. As a result, my pictures completely stink. At least you can see the fountains.

Wilton Mall in Wilton (Saratoga), New YorkOf course, Wilton Mall isn’t terribly entertaining, due to its recent vintage. Wilton Mall opened in 1990 on route 50, off I-87, with Addis & Dey’s, JCPenney, and Sears as anchors, and Steinbach would join not long thereafter. Today’s roster includes JCPenney and Sears, but The Bon-Ton has replaced Addis & Dey’s and Steinbach was replaced by Dick’s Sporting Goods. The mall is a large, bright, sprawling one-level center, highlighted by a large fountain in the center court–a relatively unique feature for a mall built as late as this one. Original plans for the mall originally called for a fifth anchor, rumored to be Montgomery Ward, who had an existing store at the adjacent (and smaller) Saratoga Mall. That store was never built, though, leaving a “ghost anchor” space at the Wilton Mall that still exists today, although rumor has it that JCPenney will relocate their store to that vacant space on the mall’s south side soon.

Of course, even if Wilton Mall didn’t rob the tinier Saratoga Mall of its Montgomery Ward, it did seem to rob it of its soul. The Saratoga Mall, which featured Jamesway and Service Merchandise (in addition to Montgomery Ward) as anchors in its lifetime, was squashed in the late 1990s by this behemoth, as I have illustrated in this intuitive diagram:

Wilton Mall versus Saratoga Mall: What happened?

Now it’s a big box center, of course. According to the website of the contractor who built the current center, the ol’ Saratoga Mall was ground up and turned into fill on which the new center was built. Ouch.

Today’s Macerich Company-managed Wilton Mall isn’t anything monumental, in part because scenic downtown Saratoga Springs–a tourist town, and one of the most desirable cities in the area–hosts many of the more upscale national chains, including Borders, The Gap, and Banana Republic. The Gap, as a result of their recent financial troubles, chose to close the store at the Wilton Mall rather than their store in downtown Saratoga Springs, which is saying a lot. As a result, the mall feels strangely lesser than it should, given that it’s clearly the major shopping destination for the entire populous (and relatively affluent) stretch of towns along the Northway from Albany.

Sears at Wilton Mall in Wilton (Saratoga), New York Wilton Mall in Wilton (Saratoga), New York Wilton Mall in Wilton (Saratoga), New York Wilton Mall in Wilton (Saratoga), New York

Wilton Mall in Wilton (Saratoga), New York Wilton Mall in Wilton (Saratoga), New York Wilton Mall in Wilton (Saratoga), New York Wilton Mall in Wilton (Saratoga), 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, PopMatters.com, 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.

53 thoughts on “Wilton Mall; Wilton (Saratoga Springs), New York”

  1. You have to give this place a little credit for still having a fountain and trees. So many malls don’t have them anymore. Also, The Bon-Ton’s mall entrance is reasonably attractive.

  2. ok, I’m confused. So, Bon Ton is still open? Because Wilton Mall’s website lists that space as a “leasing opportunity”.

    Also, you are very right indeed about the fifth anchor spot to become JCPenney. For years, there used to be a sign on the fake wall in front of where the anchor would have been exclaiming that Montgomery Ward was coming soon. However, as we know, this didn’t happen.

  3. These pictures are probably a bit old, as Bon-Ton is gone.

  4. These pictures are barely a month old. If The Bon Ton is closed, they closed very recently. If The Bon-Ton DID close, then it doesn’t seem to bode well for this mall… it had a few other puzzling vacancies (like The Gap one mentioned earlier; I know they’re in trouble, but this is the best mall in the area north of Albany).

    Also, re: the fountains–one feature across most of the malls in the Albany area is their large center court fountains. Even relatively unremarkable malls like this one or Rotterdam Square have massive, Olympic swimming pool-sized fountains, which is great.

  5. Just checked, actually… The Bon Ton is still open. I’m not sure what the deal is.

  6. I have to say, the diagram with Mr. Yuk & the skull and crossbones cracked me up. …It sure gets right to the heart of the matter!

  7. Huh. Maybe there’s a glitch in the mall directory.

  8. Is that white tile peppered with turquoise and mauve squares? Umpf… that stuff is everywhere.
    The mall does appear to be maintained quite well. The cinema and large food court is what is popular right now. The should hold them over for a while.

  9. I think Steven and I were thinking along the same lines upon seeing this update; the planters and that Bon Ton hallway. I like the fountain and planters; two phased out elements in many shopping malls. That “straight ahead” thing seems a bit over explanatory too (but I still like it).

    I love that diagram too…

  10. The Bon Ton is most definitely still open — I was just there. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the carousel in the food court. It’s extremely popular with families, especially on rainy days.

  11. thanks for the clearing up of the Bon Ton situation.

    As for the fountain, it’s there because it’s a Wilmorite built mall(like Rotterdam, Danbury Fair, Shoppingtown, Great Northern, etc), and the same thing could probably be said for the planters and the carousel(although Rotterdam’s carousel was recently removed).

  12. The carousel was something that Wilmorite was doing in quite a few of their malls in that era, including Marketplace (food court added in late 80’s), Irondequoit (Medley Centre) (built in 1989-1990), and the Greece Ridge connection (done in 1993-1994), I do agree that it served as a lure, even after some of the malls became deadened (Irondequoit) in the late 90’s.

  13. I’ll bet the carousel idea sprouted from the Danbury Fair Mall, which actually had a double level carousel in it’s “fair” days. When they discovered how successful it was when they launched that mall in 1986, they had a wave of idea for the malls of their future. They figured they coined in on a marvelous idea and bring it right into a mall scape. After all, malls are most comprable as the modern day carnival or far I guess…

  14. The carousel at Danbury Fair was an explicit attempt at drawing a connection to the Danbury Fairgrounds which it replaced.

  15. Just a quick note on the fountain. It used to be much more impressive than it is today. Up until recently, the center fountain shot a jet of water a good fifteen feet in the air. You could see it from hundreds of feet away, and it kept the whole area noticeably cooler than the rest of the mall. Why it has been reduced to a glorified bubbler is a mystery to me.

  16. The ghost anchor is listed as a Leasing Opprotunity. Bizarrely, the icon is a second JCPenney.

    Old Saratoga Mall:

    If only the new owners of Saratoga Mall were more creative with the mall. The mall could be retenanted with smaller stores inside. Target could easily fill in the old Wards. Eckerd could get a new facade to the outside as well as an interior entrance. Barnes & Noble could fill in the old Service Merchandise, Jamesway could be cut through for an AC Moore and the Petsmart, with Staples at the end, an extension could be added, to house Home Depot and a few in-line stores, and the bank would be an outparcel. Then they could rename it.

    But they didn’t.

  17. I mean, seriously. Most mall redevelopers are merciful enough to keep an anchor and its building to carry over to the lifestyle center/strip mall. Grinding up a mall and its parking lot for FILLER? That’s not just adding insult to injury, that’s EVIL.

  18. Was it ever an *official* plan to connect it to Saratoga Mall? It seems like it could have been done, only if they kicked Jamesway out and relocated the Sears.

  19. Does anyone remember any of the stores that were in Saratoga mall? I have always been curious to know.

  20. This could be updated — the shiny new Penney’s has been open for a while now at the site where the Ward’s was once supposed to go. The old Penney’s is currently vacant (the rumor is that they might divide it into two or three smaller stores, since it had three separate entrances).

    Stores in Saratoga Mall, which I remember fondly: Ward’s (with awesome pea-soup-green shag carpet in the women’s section), Jamesway, Service Merchandise, Carl Co., a movie theater (whatever Regal used to be called, I forget now) (in the mall’s waning days, it became a discount, second-run theater for $2 a movie), Papa Gino’s pizza, Record Town (before the FYE renaming), Jo-Ann’s Nut House (candy store, moved across the road to the strip mall across from Wilton Mall), Fay’s Drugs… I forget a lot of them, but those were the biggies.

  21. Also, might I add that Saratoga Mall was originally called Pyramid Mall. It was rebranded around the time that Wilton Mall opened, to try to snazz it up a bit.

  22. I remember the Saratoga Mall like the back of my hand. It was the mall I always went to as a child. Stores that M did not mention were Jonathan Reid(later a Bridal store), which had really shaggy red carpets which pretty much made it so you could not touch anything without getting a shock. There was also one of the old style Casual Corners in the mall near Montgomery Ward that had the completely wood facade. There had also been a Mister Movie that was later turned into a Teachers store(I thought it was funny that the old dirty movie section was turned into a little room where kids could play with puzzles). There was a Great American Cookie Company down near Montgomery Ward as well where my mom would always let me have a cookie. Other stores included a liquor store, kinney shoes, fayva shoes, Radio Shack, and a food court with one restaurant, Taco Bell(earlier Odil’s, Home of The One Nacho).

  23. i work in the mall i used to work @bon-shit and yeah if it takes a nose dive i wont shed a tear but this mall is all we have i work for an anchor store i wont say witch one but there is only one worth going to but keep the mall alive please let me make my paycheck

  24. also… anyone remember shooters? yeah you know what im talkin about where zummmies is …….what a cool freakin place when the mall was first built it was hot lots of good energy waitresses dancing on tabels

  25. They are having Arts, Crafts and Lifestyle Shows in the Spring and during the holiday season to help draw more crowds to the mall and stores. I still is a very well kept mall and is very clean..

  26. @bob,

    I have a large night club for rent near Cornell and Ithaca College. All set up with two bars and a theatrical stage and 25′ ceilings.

    Contact me..

    607-273-9462 X 8400

  27. This mall has seen a LOT of changes since this article was written. Most of which, for the better. While I loved the two entrances on the old jc penny, the new store is bigger, brighter, and nicer. Most of the mall storefronts have been updated to this new and shiny look.

    A LOT of stores shuffled around this year, to be more centrally located around the fountain. This was a GREAT idea as rotterdam square’s fountain area is deserted, leaving the mall feel lifeless even though most stores are filled. Anyway, these stores are Ye old gift shop, nearly all the jewellers, bath and body works. Spencers has moved next to hot topic in the food court.

    For the longest time I wondered why all these stores moved. Within a few weeks of writing this, shoe dept will be opened compromising almost an entire side of the Sears wing. Hopefully that can bring some life back, because that is always the most deserted wing of the mall.

    At&t, Sprint and Verizon all have nice new stores with glass windows near jc penny. Dicks and bon ton wings have mostly upscale clothing stores, so i never go down those.

    Now to the bad: the food court carousel that I used to beg my parents to pay for every visit is gone. Replaced with blow up bounce houses. The kids seem to like it but it takes away from the rest of the “shine” the mall now has, and makes the food court feel cramped.

    Much of the Wilton food court I used to know and love is gone: McDonald’s (replaced by trustco), Orange Julius, the arcade (replaced by Spencer’s), waldenbooks (now some hair place). Subway, sbarro, arbys and two Asian places are all that remain.

    The old jc penny building is sitting there, rotting (except for 2 months of the year is occupied by spirit Halloween store. This chain thrives on renting empty buildings for Halloween… Genius). The pet store, as a kid there was an ocean worth of fish in the back, a wall of dogs, cats, guinea pigs and all the supplies you could need… Gone and windows painted black.

    Macherich seems to think painting the windows black will make it less depressing. At least at their rotterdam square they sometimes put figurines and ads for other stores in the empty windows.

    But all in all this mall is headed in the right direction. Need to work on getting new food in the food court, and making empty stores less ugly, and continuing to update the look of the mall such as how the jc penny area and fountain area look. Hope they bring back the big fountain, and carousel! (yeah right). Finally, they NEED to get the old jc penny filled. Covering the windows with white paper is NOT acceptable!

  28. Amazing the changes that have taken place in just 2 months.

    Shoe Dept Encore is now open (where Spencer’s, as seen on tv, etc. used to be on the right side of the Sears wing). It is called encore because it is arranged in long rows, organized by type of shoe and you can see every shoe they sell in the store, from any location in the store. Much nicer than the regular shoe dept. and many other shoe stores like payless that have shoes stacked up to the ceiling. Fair prices, and great customer service even though It’s new. I bought dress shoes there. Also, you can window shop as you walk towards Sears.

    Side-note: Rotterdam square also had a giant row of vacancies in their Sears wing that now has a shoe Dept Encore. I’ve been there, and in fact it could be argued It’s a new anchor store due to its outside entrance! Maybe this can save that mall from its path towards death.

    Second side note: Sears/kmart announced they will close over 100 stores nationwide. Earlier in the year I was in Wilton sears and had the store to myself, but it seemed to be pretty busy during the holidays. So time will tell. Rotterdam has both sears and kmart, and kmart seems to be the more busy of the two so i would bet money that sears goes.

    Some clothing store called “city linkz” has filled the pet shop near sears. I predict failure, but I’m sure something will fill it after. They always blast bad hip hop.

    There have been empty storefronts covered by blue walls with doors near Dicks, boscovs, and ruby Tuesday for many months now. Not sure what’s going on there. But these are basically the only vacancies in the entire mall, except for the food court.

    Two temporary (for holidays) toy stores are across from old jc penny building: go! And toys r us express. The guy working at go! Says there’s no way he can afford to stay year round, but mentioned toys r us was considering it.

    The food court will soon be completely empty. The word is the owner of Arbys and subway didn’t pay rent, so the stores were shuttered the next day and those people lost their jobs. Same thing happened at rotterdam. Really mad about that because now I need to go all the way to wolf road for Arbys. What’s left is 2 oriental places and sbarro.

    The regal has terrible reviews on Google and probably should get the RPX treatment like clifton park if they want to survive in the long run. It’s just an ok theater right now. A theater expansion would be great here because that parking lot behind it is always near empty, since there is no entrance there.

    Finally the good news. I heard (and it has since been confirmed on the Wilton mall official Facebook page) a Planet Fitness will fill the EMPTY JCPENNY. It took 4 years but it is happening next spring!

    Finally this mall is getting back to that “everything in one place” sentiment. Which seems to be lost in many malls nowadays. Shop for clothes, Videogames, gifts, then eat dinner at ruby Tuesday, have an auntie annes cinnamon pretzel for desert, work off the calories at planet Fitness, then see a movie. Your entire day filled with activity while your car remains safely parked in the lot, NOT using up gasoline!

  29. Planet Fitness opened may 1. I got back here looking for pictures. I’ll take a few pictures next time I go. From what I could tell, they did not touch the outside of the old JCPenny. Interested to see if they remodeled the inside, and if they will use all of the entrances (two external and two internal).

    There was a carnival/fair in the parking lot last week.

    I called it. City Linkz is going. this store would do great in Crossgates, but not here.

  30. Good news…Subway is back at Wilton Mall.
    Last week, they reopened the Subway in the food court.
    Now all we need is a new eatery to replace the former Arby’s and the food court will be like it was before.

    City Linkz is also gone now.
    The Dollar store has moved to the former City Linz storefront (once the Pet Company).

  31. Great news about subway. That food court at Wilton was nearly abandoned.

    I’ve noticed that Arby’s is slowly moving out of ALL malls, not just Wilton. They’ve moved out of Rotterdam Square and Colonie Center. I haven’t been to Aviation recently but I would bet they’re gone there too. Now the only Arby’s in the area is a strip mall on Wolf Road. I go there because I love Arby’s… but don’t get me started about that Arby’s.

  32. Sorry… another thing worth mentioning is that “Healthy Living Market and Cafe” is going to fill the second half of the old JCPenney. Construction is underway.

    I haven’t been there recently (I moved) but I was at the Spirit Halloween in the old CVS once, and i think Toyzam is there now.

  33. As I earlier posted, Subway reopened in the food court back in late November.
    Recently, a new eatery called Fresco Wraps, moved in the food court, at the former Arby’s location.

    Finally, the Wilton Mall food court has been restored to the way is was, before Subway and Arby’s suddenly closed in late 2011.
    More shoppers are now coming to the food court, since Subway and Fresco Wraps opened.

  34. @E, Yeah Arby’s also moved out of Aviation Mall in early October.
    The Aviation Mall food court is pathetic now, only a pizzeria and chinese food court. THat food court needs major improvements.

  35. I also wanted to add that last week, Fashion Bug closed at Wilton Mall.
    (Fashion Bug was located towards the Dick’s Sporting Goods end of the mall, between the DMV and Famous Footwear)

  36. @Big Mike, I saw that coming. They’ve had blowout/clearance sales for many months.

  37. @Big Mike, I live down near colonie center now. I believe that same place opened here between Bettie’s Cakes and Oyishi Japan. But of course the Colonie Center Arby’s has closed too leaviing one vacancy. It’s good to hear Wilton Food Court is coming back though.

  38. I moved to Colonie, so I havent been to WM in about 4 months. I went back to get a haircut at the place I’ve been going my whole life. Not much has changed. The Fashion Bug is gone, replaced with Saratoga Boatworks. The Subway has come back under new management. There is a Wrap place where Arbys used to be, but it seemed abandoned. The two asian places and sbarro also seemed to be abandoned.

    I saw no one in Regal. Granted it was a Tuesday evening, but Bow Tie Cinemas is going to be rebuilding it starting in a couple weeks.

    The east entryway to the old JCPenneys is closed due to remodeling. The Fresh Market will open within the next month. The outside is starting to look really good, with a new facade. As the name suggests, this will be an “organic” type of place, with a deli and a cafe.

    Babbage’s (still with original 1988 signange) removed GBA, Xbox, PS2, Gamecube, and PSP games from their store (I guess this is happening across the country at Gamestops). They have moved the 360, PS3, and Wii U demo booths to the center. Thankfully the Game Xchange store still has these older games, albeit at a higher price.

    The fountain in the center seems to be higher than previous years, but nowhere near its 90s glory days.

    JCPenney (now known as jcp) has not updated their signage but I think that’s coming soon. The store seems to be less cluttered, and more than half the store is now in brand-name departments instead of normal departments. I like the update but some of the stuff didn’t have any pricing on it.

    Sears also seems to be less cluttered, but they’ve completely removed Video Games from the store.

    The dollar store is still in the ex-City Linkz ex-Pet Shop location but no one was in it as usual. The old CVS, still with original storefront is empty again until next October when Spirit Halloween comes back. The Go! Toys and Games was in its last day of clearance, about to leave another massive empty store for 9 more months. If anyone remembers what this store used to be (across from old JCPenney) please let me know.

    The Bon Ton Wing seems to be pretty abandoned. I would guess this store will close within the next five years. It doesnt help that the old “Ye Olde Time Gift Shoppe” is still covered in black tarp, plus a large vacant store covered over with drywall and horse pictures to the left of Bon Ton.

  39. @E, Just to follow-up, its not the same store in colonie center, just a similar place.

  40. I also heard that The Stadium is moving the former Dollar store location (currently vacant).

  41. @Big Mike, You mean the former CVS/pharmacy location. I really hope they don’t update the facade. The only other place left with an original CVS red striped storefront is Crossgates (and it’s still open).

  42. More changes to Wilton Mall.

    First, this past thursday March 21, Healthy Living Market officially opened in the old JC Penney store.
    I stopped in there to check it out..its like a small supermarket that mainly sells organic and gluten free food..kinda overpriced though, so I do not think I will be shopping there…..but still it adds a nice touch to the mall.
    Finally, the old JC Penney store has been renovated with a permanent store (other than Saratoga boat-works or Spirit Halloween, which were temporarily set up, so cheaply, that you could actually still see the old JCPenney departments inside the store).
    Its nice that they were able to split the area up to have both a Planet Fitness and the Healthy Living Market.



    In other news, Dick’s Sporting Goods is undergoing renovations, so they have its inside mall entrance closed off..They are making everyone enter Dick’s Sporting Goods at its outside entrance.

    The Stadium sports store moved to its new location in the Sears wing..the store is much bigger now with more room for stuff, they even have small tables set up displaying sports memorabilia…hopefully, now they will be able to get even more sports memorabilia into the store, since there is more room.

    And finally, renovations of the CINEMA have begun. They have the old regal CINEMA covered over with sheetrock and are beginning to renovate the area for the future Bow Tie Cinema.

  43. The renovations on the Dick’s Sporting Goods store are complete…it has a new interior storefront..much different than its old one…

    Also wanted to note that Fresco Wraps (which moved into the former Arby’s about six months ago), did not last, they are gone and once again the former Arby’s is empty.

  44. I was there yesterday, for the first time in a long time. I barely recognized the place. I entered in the food court and walked around the mall counter-clockwise.

    The super bounce has moved from the food court into a storefront across from Planet Fitness. I think the store used to be Bath and Body Works before that moved only a few stores down. The Regal is gone and bowtie is under construction. Babbage’s which I think was an original tenant in original location, has closed. GameXchange is moving into that location. The store is overpriced. The food court is still sad – a chinese place, NY Grill, and subway are all people seem to go to. The other side has another chinese place and Sbarro. People don’t seem to go to the other side. There are three vacancies in total. Granted – the sit-down restaurant vacancy was taken by Zumiez, Mcdonalds was taken by Trustco Bank, and the one by Spencers was taken by a convenience store.

    The fountain actually seems to be a bit higher this year but nowhere near the 15 foot fountain it used to be.

    The jeweler across the fountain from Kay has closed. I don’t remember the name. H&M in the Bon Ton wing has closed leaving a giant vacancy. There are also two permanently walled-off vacancies in that wing, leaving just two stores – a clothing store and a nail place. I don’t remember their names.

    In the dick’s wing, the lone vacancy is Fashion Bug/Saratoga Boatworks. It’s a fairly large vacancy. The healthy market in the old JCPenney has placed dozens of tables outside, removing the planters which I believe every anchor store except Hoyt’s Cinemas originally had in front of them. At around 2pm Saturday, no one was sitting at the tables. The Dick’s remodel is certainly better, but still you cannot see the logo from the fountain – as is the case with Sears, Bon Ton, and Bow Tie. And the logo I believe is exactly the same as the Crossgates store which was built over 10 years ago. It feels dated.

    Finally on to the long stretch from the fountain to Sears. Not much has changed. Still one vacancy near Bath and Body works, and a permanent walled off vacancy near Radio Shack.

    I took a few pictures of the noteworthy changes: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bradye21/sets/72157629697601300/

  45. @E, a couple clarifications – I think Healthy Living removed the planters but am not sure because I didn’t take a picture. Regarding anchor store visibility – you CAN see Sears, Bowtie, and BonTon from the fountain area. You CAN’T see Dick’s because the mall takes a sharp turn to the right there. It doesn’t help that on the ceiling above the fountain they have “Old Navy” instead of “Dick’s”. Why? Old Navy is not the anchor! I also want to mention that Ye Olde Gift Shoppe seems even more cluttered than before. I felt as if I squeezed through the front entrance I would never be able to find my way out.

  46. Ruby Tuesday is gone, and the comic store that was next to it moved downtown.

  47. @M, Probably Hoyts – that was what most of the now Regal theaters were.

  48. Wilmorites original plans for Wilton Mall included Montgomery Ward as a fifth anchor and they built the store Wards chose to stay at the Saratoga Mall however and this left a “ghost anchor” as Caldor called it I think a local grocery store opened up in half if the store

  49. I visited last week, a lot of changes going on. Shoe Dept Encore is moving to Bon Ton wing, NYS DMV moved there as well and there is a new store filling the former H and M. A new large store by Dicks. Everything to the right of Sears down through ex-Ruby Tuesday will be a Homegoods. On to the negatives. Radio Shack (original tenant in original location?) is closing. I don’t think the Fountain will be coming back on anytime soon. The food court is not rebounding and the new theater appears to be struggling.

  50. @E, Hello E you’re right Radioshack is going out id business nationwide the food court has Subway and Arby’s but nothing else of course the theater stinks and HomeGoods is junk and the “ghost anchor” is a local grocery store from Vermont

Leave a Reply