With the probable distinction of being the only mall in the world named after underwear, Hanes Mall is the largest mall in the Piedmont Triad and one of the largest in the state of North Carolina. Hanes Mall has five anchor stores and nearly 1.5 million square feet of retail space on two levels, and is itself the anchor to a large retail district on Winston-Salem’s west side.
Hanes Mall opened in 1975 with three anchor stores (Belk, Sears, JCPenney) on two levels, and was about half the size it is today. The mall expanded to nearly double its size in 1990 with the addition of two more anchors and a food court. This expansion was partially a response to nearby Greensboro’s Four Seasons Town Center adding a third level and its own food court in 1987, and also to the announced development of the brand new Oak Hollow Mall, which eventually opened in High Point in 1995.
The 1990 expansion at Hanes Mall was unique due to spatial constraints affecting its placement. It had to be built on the other side of JCPenney, and the end result for shoppers is that the mall goes “through” the middle of JCPenney. This curious setup exists at several other malls, such as Golf Mill Mall in suburban Chicago and Northridge Mall in Salinas, California. I can never tell if the arrangement is advantageous or unwelcome by the anchors themselves. On one hand, the increased volume of foot traffic allows them to market to a captive audience, but on the other hand there are a significant number of people coming through the store who have absolutely no intention of shopping there. The loss figures are probably a bit higher, too.
The expansion also added a brand new food court, as well as anchor stores Dillard’s and Richmond-based Thalheimers. Dillard’s was actually signed as Charlotte-based Ivey’s until just prior to the store’s opening, but opened as Dillard’s due to the latter acquiring the former that year. The Thalhimers anchor became Hecht’s in 1992 when Thalheimers was purchased by the May Company, who owned Hecht’s and merged Thalhimers into Hecht’s. The Hecht’s then became Macy’s in 2006 when Macy’s acquired May Company and merged all of the May plates into Macy’s. The original three anchors have remained the same since the mall opened in 1975.
After the Hanes Mall expansion, the original mall received the designation ”north mall” and the 1990 expansion became known as “south mall” – both in marketing literature and on signage. Today, Hanes Mall is a dominant fixture in the Piedmont Triad, and has held its own against competition from the nearby malls in Greensboro and High Point. In fact, its greatest competition is probably SouthPark Mall in Charlotte, 80 miles away, due to its upscale mix of stores not found in the Piedmont. SouthPark actually overtook Hanes Mall for the designation of largest mall in North Carolina when it completed its most recent expansion, adding Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, in 2006.
We visited Hanes Mall in September 2005 and took the following pictures – including a “vintage” Hecht’s still in operation. Feel free to add your own thoughts and experiences to the comments page.