American Mall; Lima, Ohio

American Mall pylon in Lima, OH

American Mall opened in 1965 along West Elm Street on the west side of Lima, Ohio.  Anchored by northwest Ohio-based full-service department store The Andersons and Value City, American Mall is listed as having about 450,000 square feet according to the International Council of Shopping Centers directory

The design of the indoor portion of the mall is a straight shot from the western anchor The Andersons to Value City.  Until 2003, a Phar-Mor location anchored near the middle of the mall but it closed when the entire chain folded.  According to deadmalls.com, there are also a handful of other stores and a Regal Cinemas. 

American Mall’s decor is rather spartan with some interesting features.  First, the floor is an M.C. Escher-like black and white checkered design throughout the mall.  Second, the ceiling is encircled by an inlay of lights that emanates this green orb-like glow onto the ceiling and the sides of the mall.  It’s really unique and kind of creepy, like you’re inside the set from some extra-terrestrial themed movie or something.  The seating and decorations are also very old, and there are small plants and trees throughout the length of the mall.  Another truly unique feature of the mall are the Television kiosks.  There were two of them when I visited in the Summer of 2005; one featured CNN and another featured WLIO-TV 35, the local NBC affiliate.  Kind of neat, huh?

As of recent, there is speculation that the Cafaro company who owns and manages the mall is going to shutter the mall and convert it into a lifestyle-type center, much like Easton Town Center in Columbus on a smaller scale.  The mall has been on relatively hard times in recent years, with a large rate of vacancy.  The stores actually in the mall number relatively few and of them, even fewer are national chains.  One of them is actually called Butterfly Love and appears to sell T-shirts and knick-knacks, and has a very homemade-looking sign.  Competition from nearby Lima Mall, which has all the traditional mall stores and department store anchors Macys, JCPenney, and Sears, has taken a great deal from American Mall.  More simply put, Lima, with a population of 40,000, cannot support two enclosed malls.  Perhaps the original developers thought Lima would be able to support two of them because of its distance from larger cities.  Lima is a little over an hour from Toledo, Dayton, and Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Too bad it didn’t work.

The pictures below were taken in June 2005.  As always, any and all comments are appreciated.

American Mall in Lima, OH American Mall TV kiosk in Lima, OH American Mall Value City in Lima, OH

American Mall in Lima, OH American Mall Butterfly Love in Lima, OH American Mall The Andersons in Lima, OH

American Mall TV kiosk in Lima, OH American Mall crazy green ceiling orb in Lima, OH American Mall in Lima, OH

American Mall Value City in Lima, OH American Mall former Phar-Mor in Lima, OH American Mall Andersons in Lima, OH

202 Responses to “American Mall; Lima, Ohio”

  1. The Phar-Mor space was later briefly occupied by a “Super Goodwill”. Yes, even Goodwill got bit by the supercenter bug.

    I can’t really imagine Value City and Andersons both being the original anchors.

    Also note that the mall is rather far from the freeway; looking at maps it doesn’t look easy to access.

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    Mark Reply:

    @Bobby,
    Actually both malls in Lima are the same distance from the highway but seperated by about 3 miles North and South of each other. So the distance from the Highway is a moot point….Just bad location after the Lima Mall was built with many more stores and a much larger footprint for stores to come to. And the center alone would support twice as many opertations then the American Mall size.

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    Blake Reply:

    @Bobby,

    Andersons was not an original anchor. There used to be a Burlington Coat Factory at the same spot until the late ’80s…I’m not sure that was even an original “anchor”.

    Andersons didn’t come in until early 1990s.

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    James Reply:

    @Blake, original anchor at that end of the mall was Montgomery Ward

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    Emil White Reply:

    @Blake,

    The original Store before Burlington Coat factory was Montgomery Ward.

    Lima is big enough to support two inside malls. At one time Lima had Threeinside malls.

    Lima Mall, American Mall, Eastgate Mall. Eastgate Mall was patterened after the city of Lima, with hallways becoming city streets. Eastgate turned the mall into two or three larger box stores.

    Lima and Immediate suburbs boast about 80,000 souls. Lima’s trading area is about 450,000 people.

    Emil White, Lima, Ohio

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    mick Reply:

    @Bobby, Montgomery Wards at one end with Pangles and McCorys at the other end was Bailys the movie theater and Krogers, also Rogers

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  2. I don’t think those anchors are original to the mall either. Perhaps they were originally, and it also looks like the ‘Anderson’s’ space was redone within the past 10 years or so. The Value City space looks like it wasn’t ever touched, save for the signage. Hopefully someone else who caught this post and lived in the area long ago, may know.

    I can just see that eerie green tint in the pics here. That was one of those faults with the old lighting fixtures malls used to use. (Nowadays, new lighting is halogen or those kinds that give off that ‘natural daylight’ glow). Mercury-vapor always gave that eerie blue or blue-green hue to a mall interior.

    I went to Carefour’s website, and found a map of this mall also. Literally empty. I wouldn’t be suprised if they do tear this down and box it up, as you hinted at. I’m not the biggest fan of boxes, but there’s not much other use, retail-wise, since all the major chains jumped ship to the bigger, newer mall.

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    Mark Reply:

    @Matt,
    Neither were the original anchors..As written above in the orginal story. I lived just 5 blocks from this mall when it was built and I remember most of the original stores. The Main stores were Montgomery Wards, Pangles, the movie theater and the one at one end (which much later became Value city) I have to search my memory for but will get back to you on that one. It had all the typical stores such as Spencers, pretzel shops, Video arcade (which was in those days Artari machines, pinball machines and the like) and other small shops of those days.

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    scott Reply:

    @Mark, kings was the other store

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  3. Ah shoot. I meant to say that, perhaps the anchors were orginally two that have since moved to the newer mall you hinted at in your post. My bad. My fingers got ahead of my mind.

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  4. The Andersons store was a Burlington Coat Factory until 1989; apparently it was another store before that.

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  5. I couldn’t imagine anyone ever shopping at this mall, but apparently it and Lima Mall were built around the same time and complemented each other for quite a while before Lima Mall expanded (it goes through a department store anchor, but we’ll save that for another post) and became dominant.

    Also, neither of Lima’s malls are convenient to I-75, which is strange. I’m guessing I-75 came after the malls or right about the same time, as planning now would certainly dictate them being on that side. Both malls are on the west side, as is the major strip, along Elida Rd. The street American Mall is on, Elm, is actually a major street despite what the maps indicate. It becomes more important downtown and is actually OH routes 65/117 for a bit.

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    James Reply:

    @Prangeway, my recollection is that the competition between the American and Lima Malls was actually very intense for about the first 5 years. As you state, when the Lima Mall expanded in the early 1970s, the competition ended. Still the American Mall continued to be an attractive center for quite a few years thereafter. The anchor stores were yawners (Montgomery Ward at one end and various discounters at the other end) but the stores between were, in the early years, pretty sharp.

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  6. I was born in Lima and grew up in NW Ohio. Much of our shopping was done in Lima. I am told by a Limaland native (oldtimer) that I-75 went through the Lima area beginning in 1957, which would have made it one of the early Interstates under construction. That’s understandable, coming through Detroit, Toledo, Dayton, Cincinnati, and on through to Atlanta and Florida. This, of course, doesn’t answer the question as to why both of Lima’s malls were built on the west side in ’64/’65.
    I’ve lived in Illinois for over 20 years now, but it wouldn’t be the Christmas season if I didn’t return to my roots and drag my wife and kids out to shop where so many childhood memories lie… the Lima Mall, and yes, we usually make a token appearance at the not-so-illustrious American Mall.
    Wasn’t there a Montgomery Wards where the Anderson’s is today?

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    Joe Landwehr Reply:

    @Glenn,

    My recollection is that the Malls were build on the West side of town for a couple of reasons:

    Land was cheaper here than out by I-75

    Suburban sprawl favored the West side

    In the ’60′s there was talk about an I-75 “Business Loop” around Lima which would bring Interstate traffic to this area.

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  7. Montgomery Wards was the first store but what was at the other end. I think it was Kings

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  8. Mike Luchini is correct those were the anchors to the American Mall

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  9. Reminds me of another Cafaro Mall i’ve visited-The Sandusky Mall in Sandusky,Ohio. While there is a Macy’s,Elder-Beerman,
    T.J Maxx,JCPenny,and Sears,the mall is still small & not very well lit just as the American Mall isn’t either.

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  10. as a child of the 80′s i modeled in anamerican mall fashion show for burlington coat factory. complete with a dance troup lipsynching ‘cool it now’ by new edition. i wish i was making this up. this mall was already dead in the 80′s.

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  11. The original anchors were Montgomery Ward (with “You’ll like Ward’s” imprinted into the outside entrance doors and the other store was Well’s. Well’s was a discount store and was bought out or replaced by King’s about 1980 or so. As kids we liked to say “Well’s smells and Rink’s stinks,” Rink’s being another discount store. There was also a Kroger or a Pangle’s supermarket in the mall…certainly unusual to see a grocery story in a mall today. Recently the mall entrace to The Anderson’s was closed. The American Mall has always been the second cousin to the American Mall…whoever owns it must be losing tons of money as it is as dead as it can be. Too bad.

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    James Reply:

    @Robert, “Wells smells and Rinks stinks”. Wow, does that bring back memories from my Lima childhood. In my old neighborhood, in the North End of Lima, the full saying was “Wells smells, Rinks stinks, Grants has ants and they all follow The Leader”. Grants was in Northland. The Leader, of course, was the downtown store that relocated to the Lima Mall when it opened, even maintaining both a mall store and a downtown store for a few years.

    I’m thinking the Rubens family (which owned The Leader) must have coined that old childhood saying. :)

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    Terry Reply:

    @James & Robert…….Main St Leads to Wells. Remember the pet shop they had? It had monkeys there! It also had a soda fountain where you could rest and get a snack ! Northland used to be The Place for fireworks too !!

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    Mark Reply:

    @Robert,
    Actually the American Mall was built and open before the Lima Mall ( I suspect you meant that one when you said second cousin). As a kid living in that area we always thought the Lima Mall after is opened was too far, too busy with older and high wealth, and was simply not fun.
    But that was then and now that mall stinks also.

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    Keith Reply:

    @Robert,
    Actually, there had been two grocery stores in the American Mall at one time. One was the Pangles store where I was a carry oput in the late 70′s, early 80′s…but it had been there quite a while before I was hired in. We actaully had a conveyor belt that sent the groceries out back where we could load them into a pickup spot out back behind the store. We would give people cards with numbers on them corresponding to bins that had their bags of groceries in them. At the other end of the mall and on the other side was a second grocery for a while, and I believe it was a small Kroger store back then.

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  12. This mall went to seed . The parent company is a disgrace to honest business. The mall manager was a total a-hole to everybody he could be, was fired and then rehired out of desperation. His brothers work with the local sheriff’s dept and the local pd. Wouldnt surprise me if something very illegal was going on at the good ol american mall..take it from an ex employee!

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    Mark Reply:

    @robert,
    Ha I bet I know which old employee this is :) But any rate it is just simply a lousy mall owner, not the manager of the mall specifically. The mall owner I agree is a disgrace to Mall properties and is a lousy businessman in my opinion.
    He had the opportunity to keep The Anderson’s as the anchor store even if it went to a smaller food type store, which is not what that company wanted btw, and he refused to make the move with the economy of retail being run by the likes of the store killer WAL-Mart!

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  13. As a Lima native I can say that the mall has always been Lima’s “dirt mall”. I don’t think it has been worth much of anything since the 70s. Really the only reason the mall hasn’t folded already is due to the popularity of Value City, The Andersons and the Buffolo Wild Wings that are located there. They recently built a huge Regal Cinemas movie theater right next to the mall. It is very modern looking and very strange in contrast to the old look of the American Mall exterior. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did eventually demolish the mall.

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    Mark Reply:

    @Steve,
    No the dirt mall did not start until the sons took it over. Then it started to go down hill, but came to life after The Andersons rebuilt and occupied the west end. But the mall owner (the reason for The Anderons finally leaving) still just sits on his duff and does nothing for the place. Any mall he runs is probably absolute trash. But most malls have issues now days.

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  14. Definitely agreeing with the “dirt mall” label. I only go out to the American Mall now when I wanna see a movie, it’s too depressing to actually go in. Although I really wonder what should go there instead, I haven’t been through there in a long time, and I’m not much of a Lima-goer anyway, but I definitely think the American Mall has outlived its purpose.

    Also, while neither mall is very conveniently located, the American Mall is definitely more out of the way, only people with jobs on Elm go down Elm.

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  15. Wow, if a mall can’t even hold on to Burlington Coat Factory, I dunno how this one stayed alive for a decade and a half plus!!

    I also love how 2 stores in this mall are called ‘Butterfly Love’ and ‘Wig City’. For some reason, that really cracks me up a lot! (and of course, lmao) Anyway, from the very little I’ve read up on Lima, OH(which isn’t a lot), I safely can definately guess(and it seems to me) its a very small market that never really was meant to support more than 1 mall.

    BTW, is the movie theater at this mall a seperate building and outlot from the mall, or is it actually attached to the mall. I somehow have a hunch that it isn’t attached to this mall, but maybe I’m wrong for guessing that, since there are no pics of the theater that was built in/or near this mall.

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    Mark Reply:

    @Allan,
    the Regal Cinema owns the property they are on, as does the new Beer Barrel next to it, and both are not attached to nor affiliated withe the mall which was smart on their part.. The Beer Barrel is one of the best restaruants in town and is packed everyday.
    Just a side note here the mall owner owned nearby properties and others around there and all have problems getting those properties.

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  16. The television kiosks too also remind me, very strangely enough, of some of the older(and unrenovated) Greyhound stations from I guess the ’70s and ’80s, where you put quarters(I believe) into the TVs, so you can watch TV for a few minutes(though I know the ones in the mall aren’t coin-operated). Not to mention I’ve seen pics online that definately confirm there are some Greyhound stations to this day that actually still have the coin-operated TVs!

    And don’t ask me why it reminds me of those Greyhound stations I’ve read about, it just strangely does remind me of them, somehow.

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  17. Allan: It’s a separate building, it’s within the same vicinity, and you think the theater traffic would draw over to the mall, but it absolutely does not. While the Regal 12 is always full, the mall parking lot is sparse and depressing.

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  18. Update as of Today: Roger’s Jewelers is no longer there, Butterfly Love has moved, one of the urban stores has turned into Matis Mart or something similarly named, Wig City and GNC are still holding strong, and then there’s a place called Treasure Chest. Some kind of sunroom sales place, too. That’s pretty much it, though. The arcade is still there but I saw no sign of the barbershop. Also, The Andersons closed off their mall entrance. I imagine the task of guarding that entrance from quick thefts was outweighing the benefits.

    So basically, the American Mall continues to atrophy. I have photos, here’s a few:

    http://www.casting-call.cc/junk/american-mall1.jpg
    http://www.casting-call.cc/junk/american-mall2.jpg

    I was scared to take more since the owner of Matis Mart didn’t seem too happy with my girlfriend coming into his store to make fun of his merchandise, so after those two I basically hightailed it to Value City. A fun adventure, nonetheless.

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  19. Oh and I almost forgot, the Watch TV kiosks, along with all of the other kiosks except for a lone ATM, are gone. 90% of the remaining businesses are gravitated around the entrance to Value City, and who can blame them?

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  20. I was born and raised in Lima and remember Monty Wards and Wells as the anchors. Also there was BOTH a Pangle grocery store and A Kroger at the same time back in the 70s. My mom always hit both and we would drive the car to both locations to pick up the groceries outside.

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  21. Some of you have said the American Mall was a mistake because the population of Lima cannot support two malls. Not true. According to Wikipedia, “Since the 1970s, Lima has become a prominent retail center in the State of Ohio. In October 1992, The Lima News reported that Lima and Allen County were number one in Ohio in retail sales and purchases. Moreover, a 1992 Survey of Buying Power revealed that Lima ranked first in the state in retail sales per household.”

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  22. I’ve never seen a city of 40,000 (that wasn’t a suburb of a larger city) which could support two enclosed malls. I’m also skeptical of how that statistic is worded; clearly, Cuyahoga County, Franklin County, Hamilton County, and others would have more “retail sales and purchases” than the county Lima is in because of sheer population. And, isn’t “retail sales and purchases” a redundant thing to say? I tend to take anything Wikipedia says with a grain of salt.

    However, if the gist of what it’s trying to say is true, it’s interesting albeit 15 years outdated. But I still stand by my claim. In comparison to nearby larger cities, Fort Wayne can only support one mall, and Toledo at ten times larger than Lima only has one successful mall (Franklin Park). So I guess I’ll have to disagree on that one.

    A more telling overview lies in overall demographics of the area. The population has receded by over 10,000 since the 1970s due to Rust Belt decline, and median income of the city is only $27,000 with 23% below the poverty line. That doesn’t really scream purchasing power to me.

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    James Reply:

    @Prangeway, I believe that the correct statistic is that Allen County (where Lima is located) has the highest PER CAPITA retail sales in Ohio. This is indicative of Lima’s status as the only City of any size in rural west central Ohio. It is basically a “market town” for the rural folk.

    As for the median income statistics, I have to believe the median income for Allen County as a whole and in the neighboring counties is far higher than the median income for the City of Lima. The City of Lima’s neighborhoods are quite old- the City has not annexed any residential areas in generations. Nearly all of the residential development in the past 40 years has been in the townships outside the city limits. The newer neighborhoods in the unincorporated areas adjacent to Lima are where the middle class in the area actually live. Their incomes would not be included in the median income statistics for folks actually living within the City limits.

    I’m not suggesting that anybody would mistake Allen County for a hot spot of wealth, but I am suggesting that it is not quite as down-at-the-heels as the median income statistic for the City of Lima would suggest.

    I would agree that it is difficult to believe that a City the size of Lima could ever support two enclosed shopping malls (not to mention the strip plazas at Northland and Eastgate), but in fact both malls thrived for a time. The American Mall has bit the dust, of course, but the Lima Mall continues to do good business. Another interesting bit of Lima retail history is the fact that Lima actually had branch department stores, just like the bigger cities. The Leader Store was a reasonably upscale department store that for about 10 years or so maintained both a full service store in downtown Lima and a full service store in the Lima Mall (presently Elder Beerman or Bon Ton or whatever they call it).

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    Mark Reply:

    @James,
    You hit it right on the head James. The surrounding area makes Lima a wealth of income for Retail. There is simply no where else to go but Lima unless you live to the north and can go to Findlay, or to the south and you can go to a somewhat propsering area of Wapak (not to say Wapak is a wealth of retail just prospering better) or farther south to Sydney or Dayton.
    Although Lima is only 40,000 they have three huge job incentives from out of town people who shop there after work. The Hospital is the counties largest employer of over 2,000 people, and they have a large refinery, and the Lima Tank plant (which builds the M1 abrams tanks for the military and is the worlds suppplier of that model and others only they can build and maitain.

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    James Reply:

    @Mark, it is true that Lima in more recent years has faced more retail competition from some of the small towns in Northwest Ohio as Wal-Mart and other big box retailers have discovered Wapakoneta, Van Wert and other burgs. And, I believe Findlay has a Sears and a Penneys. The thing that may be keeping Lima a retail star in the area is the Lima Mall. It has more of the specialty retailers that you won’t find in those small towns and, perhaps most importantly, the Lima Mall has a Macy’s [formerly Lazarus]. Not gonna find a Macy’s in Wapak, or even Findlay.

    Macy’s may seem as common as Wal-Marts in Chicagoland (where I now live), and people in Chicago are still sore about losing their Marsahll Fields to the Macy’s name, but I have to believe the big city lure of a Macy’s department store must make a difference in northwest Ohio. Even if you work at a dead end job and live in a trailer in Beaverdam and never actually buy anything at Macy’s, the rural folks likely attach some status to shopping at the “mall with the Macy’s”.

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    Rich Reply:

    @James, Findlay used to have a Macys. It had been a branch of Toledo-based LaSalle’s (which Macy had owned since the 20′s). Te conversion to Macy’s didn’t take (it was a more fashion-oriented approach) and all of the former LaSalle’s closed in the 80s. They also were in Bowling Green and Sandusky.

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    Scott Reply:

    @James, You forgot Westgate, & Clocktower Plaza. Btw I was born & raised in Lima, OH.

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  23. I’d like to see the numbers. Virtually any county with or near a major city in Ohio would have greater levels of discrentionary income than Lima/Allen County. As a shopping destination, Lima probably does better than most cities its size because places with really big malls like Ft. Wayne, Toledo, Dayton & Columbus are relatively far away and a sizable proportion of the population in Lima’s hinterland would find those places off-putting. the agricultural economy in that part of the state is relatively strong so that , despoite population losses, the economic base is fairly stable outside the city (which has had a long decline). It’s also not far from Findlay, which is quite prosperous, although I’d guess more oriented to Toledo. Still, it’s not like a city of 40,000 that you’d find in a truly isolated place like the Great Plains and two malls would be a stretch.

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  24. BTW, most Ohioans of a certain age mostly know Lima as home to the state hospital for the criminally insane.

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    Mark Reply:

    @Rich,
    actually Rich that hospital was a large employer here but is no longer open. When you wrote your note it had been closed for almost 4 yrs. Anyone from Ohio knows that Lima was the main builder of the largerst production of Train engines (a specific type in those days before we were born) and the best Military Tank in the world. Unless of course there is no knowledge of your surroundings then you might think it is just a nut house town because of movies and crazy articals.
    Not being sarcastic but Lima has had and still has some very awesome techonolgy for such a small town. But that ends when there are gold diggers tearing it apart like it has had for some time now.
    Like any other small town the worst devistation to that small town was it’s allowance of Wal-Mart to come to town and then later the selliing off of ones the countries leading Refineries

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    Rich Reply:

    @Mark, I went to college up the road and still never heard about anything other than the hospital for the criminally insane and the refineries.

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    James Reply:

    @Rich, the economic engine in Lima these days, as with many “post-industrial” cities, is the medical community. St. Rita and Lima Memorial Hospitals are the largest employers in Lima. They are larger medical facilities than one would expect for a City the size of Lima. The explanation for these seemingly disproportionately large medical facilities is similar to the explanation for the out-sized retail facilities in Lima. Lima is the only city of any size in west central Ohio and acts as a medical services magnet for the rural and small town folk.

    The hospital for the criminally insane closed a few years ago, after a long slow down-sizing. But that’s old news. The refinery- dating back to the 19th century- keeps smokin’ away…

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    Lima Bean Reply:

    @Rich, We didn’t house the criminally insane, we had a TB hospital, not insane.

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    Joe Landwehr Reply:

    @Lima Bean, there most certainly was Lima State Hospital, a facility for the criminally insane. It was downsized with the addition of Allen Correctional Institute & Lima Correctional Institute on its property north of Lima. For years it was the largest poured concrete structure by volume in the country; the Pentegon was 2nd.

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    Rich Reply:

    @Joe Landwehr, here’s a brief history: http://www.asylumprojects.org/index.php?title=Lima_State_Hospital

    There are cities that embrace their history as hubs for psychiatric institutions, like Middletown, CT which still has a facility for the criminally insane and the hospital made famous by Clifford Beers’ “The Mind That Found Itself”. Mansfield has recognized its old “license plate academy” as a movie location and historical site.http://www.mrps.org/

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  25. The American Mall is by far not the more popular mall but I would have to say that its not dead my wife and I go there about once a week and the main reason fr putting the regal theater there they say was to revitalize the mall and most of the stores their are local which has a kind of quaint quality also butterfly love has a bigger customer base han you may think being a store that sells hemp clothing incense old rock and roll memorabilia considering that within the last year 3 “Tobacco Accessory” shops have opened in Lima

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  26. So funny to see the American mall being discussed by people around the world! The American mall was not always as bad as what it is now…There used to be a dollar movie in there in which went out of biz. There was Pharmor in which was popular it folded and that’s when this mall really became a joke!
    Soon after Pharmor lost it’s huge space in moved a “Super Goodwill” Ridiculous imagine fold out tables covered in cloth’s.But in a huge space that housed a grocery,video rental,Pharmacy, 1hr photo, and your ever day retail products…

    There was a Baskin and robins A pizza parlor a Ashley’s home gallery. Now the only real business is Mainly Value city which has been the same since I was a baby and I am now 21. Andersons which joined the mall in the early 90′s and wig city which is a popular hair store…

    I know people who have rented space there and they say the rent is horrible! It is more than actually renting space in the popular Lima Mall.
    Shoe Carnival recently skipped town and moved close to a strip by the lima mall… Recently Regal Cinema’s built a huge theater near by in which the mall hopes to attract new business. But um, who goes to Value city or wig city before a movie? Seems the mall is hopeless without better direction.

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  27. American Mall needs a new twist before it can become a new second-tier mall. Needs big box stores and a new name.

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    Mark Reply:

    @Jonah Norason,
    Yeah Jonah and the new twist will never happen unless the current owners sell it off for someone who has care and want for success.

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  28. I grew up in Lima and moved away for college a few yesrs back. I remember going to the movie theater inside the mall when I was a kid mid 80′s early 90′s with my sister and mom. It was great because the mall would be closed except the theater. So I thought I was a big guy since I got to go into the mall “after hours”. We went shopping at Phar Mor all the time. It was still in business when my wife and I moved away, we were both surprised to find it closed coming back to town to visit. Also there was a great arcade in one wing of the mall called Superman (anyone correct me if the name is wrong but I believe it is correct). I loved Burlington Coat Factory and was shocked when that went out. Value City always seemed dirty even when the mall actually had stores to shop in. I actually took drum lessons in a music shop in the early 90′s. Also those green lights in the ceiling are not original. They are rather new to the mall. We moved in 2003 and they were not up yet. The mall now is mainly used for older people to walk around. I was also surprised when two of the three newest movie theaters closed down and merged into the huge theater next to the mall. Very stupid placement (they raised ticket pricing up to 9 bucks a person) unless they know something the public doesn’t.

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    Mark Reply:

    @Josh,
    Yeah buy your tickets online, where you can get them for 6.50….but that is not the movie theaters causing those prices (but I am sure they are happy to take it) it is actors and actresses and the movie industry at large.

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  29. I work at a popular retail store in the Lima Mall and I have seen how customers will wait for an item to go dirt cheap for weeks until they will buy it. Once in awhile we will get people that will pay full price, but most of the people in Lima with money drive to Columbus or Ft. Wayne to shop. People complain about not having good stores, but they are the ones that want a pair of jeans for $2. Its hard to attract stores when people’s income is low. Its a tough one.

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  30. What the mall needs is some new management – with new and innovative thinking. I personally contacted the mall office (several times) wanting to rent one of the empty stores but no one has ever gotten back to me – and it has been several months.

    Cafaro has said they are not longer considering revamping the mall – but that could change if the anchor store they are after reconsiders.

    I too have lived in Lima all my life. I remember the mall being built (used to be a cow pasture!). I would really like to see some new life breathed into the mall – but I think that may requre a change of managment.

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    Mark Reply:

    @Lucy,
    Not sure what BS Carfaro was trying to sell to you Lucy, but I work for that anchor store and the company never turned them down for the offer to stay. Cafaro would not let it remain the store that is and wanted a much smaller store (105,000 to 35,000 square feet size difference). And then when Cafaro sat on their duffs for almost a year without any maintenance (and that means nothing maintained, trash cans filled and dumped all over the place) and no movement towards doing anything for the new promise of a shopping center the company pulled the plug. The anchor store was the last to occupy the mall after all others were either forced out or left do to Cafaro’s ncompantance and absolute lack of care for the future of the mall as a whole.

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  31. I have always refered to The American Mall as the “Black Mall” ever since I saw a comedy routine by Chris Rock that went something like this You notice every town has 2 malls the white mall and the mall that white people used to go to. The only thing in the Black mall is baby clothes and sneakers….. With Value City and its wide selection of baby clothes and the fact that it used to house shoe carnival and urban world I think its pretty apropriate. Remember Paraisans that place was great. My mom could get loaded and go shoping at the same time. Bw 3s just isnt the same its a bit too upscale for my tastes and not to mentin that ever since the smoking ban I dont go out to eat. Hopefuly the state of ohio will get the idea and change this asanine law. I remember when you could smoke anywhare on the concourse. Walmart is also killing small malls like this one. I dont go to the mall much anymore I can get just about anything I need there.

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  32. Might be a bit off topic, but someone mentioned Sandusky Mall. I made a visit there a few days ago, and it certainly is interesting. It’s mostly national chains, many that seem to be up to date for storefronts for the most part, a few vacancies, all anchor spots are there, some food options, but no food court, a TJMaxx and soon-to-be Borders is coming, in that whole “we can’t find smaller chains, let’s fill up 5 spots with a junior anchor” thing. A few spots to check out:

    -A vacant Foot Locker storefront, which was the old wooden one. Right in center court.
    -A still-operating Finish Line that keeps the original logo (w/the “balloon” lettering).
    -An odd FYE signage, which appears normal, but has a blue neon backdrop to it, making me wonder what was there before.
    -A vacant storefront with filmstrips on the doors, possibly a suncoast.

    I probably should find a forum/message board rather than a blog to post about this.

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  33. Speaking of Suncoast, I saw one mall near where I live(Lincolnwood Town Center in Lincolnwood, IL) where a store had reopened in the space of a former Suncoast store, and barely any conversions had been made in terms of the paint scheme of the interior!

    And at another mall too that I visit from time to time, Golf Mill in Niles, IL, a similar thing was done in the deader north wing of the mall(north of the Sears, and by where Target and Kohl’s both are in the mall, for anyone who’s somewhat or vaguely familiar w/how that mall is layed out), and a Value City Furniture Store was placed in the space of about 3-4 storefronts several years ago. However, the mall is currently under renovation, so I’ve been busy trying to get pics of the older + unrenovated parts of Golf Mill that are left. They’ve surprisingly renovated it at such a fast rate, that I sadly was unable to get pics of how the old center court area of the mall used to look like(though luckily, I was able to find some old pics of that, after doing a ‘lil internet searching). At least from doing this mini-project, that I have some decent pics that I might try to email to labelscar at some point(though not as many either as I would’ve liked, due to the fact that I try to keep my interior picture taking on the d/l, as to not get caught by security). Much easier to do exterior pics, without question…

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  34. I grew up in Lima (born in 74) and remember this place when it actually did a good business. In fact, we’d visit this mall because it was a) closer to home, b) the traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as over by the Lima mall, c) the stores tended to be national but budget-conscious.

    I remember there being a 2-screen theater. I don’t believe anything ever went in there after it closed. The last movie I remember seeing there was Return of the Jedi.

    It also used to house a musicland, which is what the shuttered store with the large green signage background above the gate used to be.

    They’ have two televisions in the hallways for years, but the lighting is new. I seem to recall a “seating upgrade” they did in the late 70′s early 80′s involving a brown tile structure in the middle of the mall.

    Anderson’s (a lawn/garden type store with some hardware leanings…sort of a mini/discount Lowe’s of sourts) used to be a Burlington Coat Factory, and a Montgomery Wards before that.

    I know a grocery store was in there at one point (local chain Pangle’s? Or maybe it was an A&P). I do remember they had a conveyor belt that you could use to send groceries out to your car.

    I believe where Value City is used to be a discount chain…King’s perhaps. I don’t remember. I know Lima had a Rink’s, but I think that was closer to the Lima mall, in the plaza where Toys R Us is now.

    A Radio Shack store closed (Lima used to have 3 or 4) and became a software store for a while.

    I rode my bike there often as a kid to visit the Aladin’s Castle arcade. This mall also housed a great italian restaurant (now a BW3 I think).

    The funny thing is they’ve just built a movie theater next door to the mall…seems interesting that we say how a city of 40,000 can’t support this or that. The mall had 2 screens which closed, then years later a new theater opens next door! Value City does a decent business as does Anderson’s, but the sad truth is there’s virtually nothing in the middle. What few stores there are generate little interest. A shame, since this mall once compared well with the “big” mall (Lima mall).

    [Reply]

    LH Reply:

    @Andy,

    That Italian Eatery was called Parasson’s ,a close childhood friend was a manager back in the late 80′s like 87 or there abouts.
    I dont exactly when the food establishment went out of business but it must have been soon after that mage was transfered to Canton Ohio to the other restaurant. Then sometime it became BW3′s now it is all gone.

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  35. I grew up in the Limaland area, born 1960. There was a movie theater in the middle of the mall. Christmas time both the American Mall and Lima Mall would be packed with people from all over Ohio and Indiana.
    The Phar Mor location is now a Sports Clinic. They help Students get into shape for school sport and do some physical therapy.
    The did have a report on Lima News that the Mall was going to be remodeled. The owners are in talks with new stores to come in once the remodeling has been done. This was last summer. So far I have not seen any activity in the mall to confirm this.

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  36. The word on the street is that as long as all goes as planned, at the beginning of the year Penney’s will start drawing up plans to build behind the mall and the present Penney’s location will be turned into a food court!

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    Mark Reply:

    @Sara,
    where the heck did you hear that from…..lol JC Penneys has never said anything about moving to the American Mall not once. They could not even fit into the present mall let alone the footprint that the Mall owner is suggesting. The suggestion for the new place has no building over 35,000 square feet that is like JC Penneys Womens clothing department and nothing else.
    Unless your suggesting their present mall location which they would be a fool to do that since that mall is the next target for wipeout since Wal-Mart is still intending on building a Super Wal-Mart on Allentown road Which means the ending for the Lima Mall all together when the stores at the Supercenter take their business away.

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  37. I was born in Lima (1973), and moved away about 8 years ago. For as long as I can remember, this mall has never been “bustling” per se. However, I do remember it being a little more lively.

    The eighties/early nineties weren’t too bad a time for this mall, though it was never deemed the crown jewel (the Lima Mall), it had its fair share of activity.

    Back then the draw was Value City, Phar Mor, Shoe Carnival, the movie theater, and the legendary Parasson’s Italian Restaurant (located in what is now occupied by Buffalo Wild Wings, on the Value City side). This restaurant was there from (I believe) the early 80s-mid 90s. Back then, people would go to a movie (in the mall, at the supposedly haunted 2 screen theater) and then catch dinner here. Anyone who lived in Lima during this era most likely has fond memories of the savory bread laden with foamy garlic butter…mmm. I worked there for about 2 years in the late 80s, by then, it had already started down its path to decline…but people would still line up out the door to get in on weekends. Many would list their name for the wait, and cruise next door to the arcade, a place where I spent more than a few lunch breaks. Those were the days when you might actually have to circle ’round the parking lot a couple times to find a good spot on a cold, rainy day.

    As for the mentioning of Lima not being able to support two malls, I’m not so certain I agree. I’ve always seen Lima as the “Northwest Bargain Capital of Ohio”. Most of the industrial businesses, which Lima was built on, packed up long ago, leaving it a retail/medical hub which serves many of the surrounding counties. The maps are speckled with many little cities/townships which don’t have enough people to support even one mall…so they make the pilgrimage to Lima for a day trip.

    I think the biggest problem is the poorer demographics can’t afford to spend much (keeping few others than just bargain stores alive), and the wealthier prefer to travel to Columbus/Ft Wayne/Toledo/etc. Because of this, Lima is probably not the most attractive market for big boxes, or a lot of major chains. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Lima even has a Starbucks yet, which says a lot about its reputation in the eyes of the retail industry. Hopefully someday some balance will be found.

    It’s been a few years since my last stroll around the mall, perhaps I’ll make a point of revisiting the ghosts that once haunted the corridors.

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  38. Talk about funny. We had just moved to Lima in 2003 and around Christmas stopped at the “other mall” in the American Shopping Center it was wierd they had a “take your picture with Santa” area set up. My youngest was 5 and he went to see Santa reluctantly. After he went through they gave him a package of Hostess Snack Cakes like you get at the Hostess Bargain Store. They had a big basket of different snack cakes. Go figure kids that was the high point of the trip for my son. They also had a paintball place to play paintball that has long gone.A while later one of the larger stores was taken over by a Physical Therapy/ Training Center that has recently vacated. Talk about some bizarre things going on in just a sdhort time.

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  39. It’s too bad they don’t turn both malls into business/housing developments and focus on making an outdoor/mixed use mall in downtown Lima similar to Crocker Park by Cleveland. I remember the good ol’ days when City Center in Columbus was the hip place to go. That mall never really worked very well because the only reason you want to go downtown, is to see all the pretty buildings and walk along sidewalks with people eating outside, etc. City Center was all indoors so most poeple just switched to Tuttle Mall since they had free parking. Too bad, really.

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  40. Has anyone been to this mall lately? The mall is blocked off near where the theater used to be. There is no access to the mall from the Andersons to the place where they have boarded the mall. The barricade is made of sheets of drywall that run from floor to ceiling, you can tell that it is a temporary barrier by the craftsmanship (I hope that’s what it is)

    One store employee said they heard that area was going to bulldozed. Another employee said that there was a major retailer going in that area.

    Who knows? Seems like a major waste to me.

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  41. Ok, the view from a person born in Allen Co. way back in 1944–yes, I’m OLD! :) I was born and raised here, lived in a lg. metro area out of state for 8-ish years, and moved back, but not because I didn’t like it there, or because I missed Lima–I moved back due to circumstances, and due to family, etc. Now–get comfy–this is long!
    I-75 was built in the mid-50′s, as someone stated before. The reason the 2 malls were built, according to local ‘legend’ , is that the Cafaro’s, owners of the American Mall, and the Debartolo’s, owners of the Lima Mall, originally were partners in the American Mall project, and expecting approval for Eastown Rd., north/south road near the mall(s), to be extended thru from W. Elm to St. Rt. 117, and all of it to be widened to make it a major thoroughfare/outer loop. The partners got in a major disagreement about something, (unrelated to the Eastown Rd. thing) and Debartolo’s pulled out and built the Lima Mall to ‘get even’. The Eastown Rd. project mysteriously got tabled by the county commissioners (again, according to ‘legend’) and in fact, is just now being completed!
    As for the original anchors at the Amer. Mall, I know the W. end was Wards, and the person who said Welles was on the east end is probably right–at least I know they were there in the late 60′s. There was a local store called the Luggage Shop (high end merchandise), and 1 or 2 shoe stores, jewelry stores, Abrahms (regional women’s clothing chain) and the above mentioned theater, Baskin-Robbins, and more I can’t recall right now.
    Elida Rd., where the Lima Mall is located, seemed to be the first area to ‘explode’ with a ‘burger row’ and assorted restaurants and retailers., and W. Elm St. at the American Mall apparently didn’t have that appeal/demographic/sheer numbers.
    In 1970 Lazarus came in to the Lima Mall, and the concourse from Penney’s to Lazarus was built by the Lima Mall. However, the original lease signed by Elder-Beerman (which was the locally owned Leader Store when the mall opened) had stated that no other dept. store carrying their brands could lease at the mall. (Again, that is local ‘legend.’) However–and this IS factual–Lazarus (now Macy’s) OWNS the ground it stands on and the parking area around it, and is not a member of the mall association. So, Debartolo’s really DIDN”T lease to an Elder-Beerman competitor–they SOLD land to them!
    As for Lima’s # 1 status in retail, we (and now sometimes Findlay/Hancock Co.), hold that position because we have the highest retail spending PER CAPITA in the state. We are, after all, the biggest thing in the middle of nowhere, and we serve 9 or 10 counties for retail, restaurant, medical needs, etc.
    As for the American Mall’s future, in the last 1-2 years they’ve announced that they’re going to refurbish the mall and re-open as a ‘lifestyle’ mall. No leases are being renewed for stores who don’t fit in with that plan, and thus there’s been a larger than normal ‘exodus’ in recent months. F.A.S.T, the fitness center, renovated the former Orchard Hills Raquet Club, and moved there because they’d grown out of their space in the mall–so that’s a good news type of move, and apparently the location worked ok, although they said tonight on the news that they’re finding their access to 75 to be a big plus.
    So….why aren’t the malls near I-75? No local legands about that, but my guess is that it just ‘happened’. Back in the 60′s there weren’t as many planners working on organizing retail growth, etc. And the bottom line was probably a big thing for the 2 families that originally acquired land for the 2 malls–they’re notoriously cheap! Both malls need refurbished and parking lots fixed, etc., but both charge very high rent, nonetheless!
    Through my connections in the business world, I know that Target has been ‘sniffing around’ Lima for at least 15 years, maybe 20! They look at land, say they’re coming in, then they’re gone–over and over. So apparently their market studies say they should be here, but they want cheaper land? With every passing year, land on the west end gets higher and higher–so I guess when it gets even higher, they’ll want in? LOL We also have occasional rumors about Best Buy, and some others, but so far no dirt has been moved. (Oh, by the way, we’ll be getting a Walmart Supercenter on the west side–on Allentown Rd.–in another year or so. They were supposed to start on it this fall, but delayed, probably due to the shaky economy and borrowing situation. But they own the land, so they’ll eventually have to do something or sell it! We’re getting a couple of new restaurants this year, but that’s a tricky situation, in an area that has SOOO many restaurants! However, if they operate right and have the right expectations, they do make money! Panera is one of the new ones coming in, and right now I can’t think of the other one.
    I’m tired of typing, and you’re probably tired of reading, so thanks for wading though this!

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  42. If my early memories are correct, when the American Mall opened the original two achors were Montgomery Wards and “Baileys”. Baileys was a discount department store that did not last long. About a year later Wells opened in it’s space. WIMA used to advertise, “Market and Main lead to Wells”. A movie theater was also an original tenant.

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  43. Thanks to Jane for her lengthy but excellent post. Since I last posted (Sep. ’06), I have returned to visit Lima at least 3 times. Sadly, I haven’t even bothered with the beleagured American Mall, even though we almost always find ourselves at a nearby Kewpie Burger enjoying another Limaland tradition.
    I had almost forgotten about the grocery store(s) in the American Mall. There seemed to be a liitle uncertainty by those who posted as to how many or who they were. I can’t remember if there was a Pangle’s Master Market there, but I do seem to remember shopping at A & P there circa 1970 (I was 9). The Lima Mall did have a Pangle’s next to where The Leader store was, and that space is now part of Elder Beerman and the public restroom area (it always smelled like fresh cinnamon rolls in there and Mom would often buy some for the trip back to Paulding.)

    As far as Lima’s ability to support two malls, I remember it as a bustling industrial town into the early 70′s. Although it lost several thousand people over that next decade, Allen County’s population is still around 107,000 I believe. It appears to me like a lot of people stayed close to home, but the upwardly mobile haved moved out of the city. I know Lima has annexed some adjacent areas (including my first home in Perry Township), but it will take more than that to ever get the city back above 50,000. Its refocus as a business/medical hub is step in the right direction. The point is, I think the buying power is there to support a good “second banana” mall when you factor in the adajcent counties that may not want to travel an hour or more to shop in a bigger city. Of course, though, you have to provide a good product.

    Like others here, I remember the American Mall as a pretty happening place throughout the 70′s. I think I first began to notice its decline in the early 80′s. It seems to me that the needed ingredients are new management, a facelift, and an aggressive marketing plan. I’d hate to see this place demolished before its time. Even though the American Mall is dead (for now), the part of town its in certainly isn’t.

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  44. Value city is now announced that they are closing. Anyone remember the flower place by the arcade ? My grandma used to by her lottery tickets there!

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  45. The Value City in American Mall is closing (maybe it already is closed).

    So now I wonder: If part of the mall is being bulldozed, is it the part that includes the Value City on the end, or is the part between Anderson’s and the sheetrock wall near Value City? The exterior of the building shows deterioration everywhere so I can’t tell from that.

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  46. Value City has closed, they had a while back. I was there today and it appears the Butterfly Love, Wigg City are closing.. (appears). There is still GNC and one other store running. Also the icecream store is gone again. I go by the mall a lot, its not hard to get to really and people use to walk around it while waiting for there movie times to get close since they built the new theater right there. But now everyone just stands in the theater and waits or gets ice cream across the street.

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  47. Well, rereading the comments about this mall just now, I see I was definitely wrong in thinking the Lima, OH market was too small to support 2 malls. It obviously could at one time, although this mall has declined too much to be viable today.

    Too bad to hear that a section of this mall has already been sealed off by drywall, and about what Andersons did w/their mall entrance. I see it’s inevitable this mall will very soon be ‘de-malled’, especially if there are hints that some big box chains are investigating the idea of opening stores near this mall.

    I also wanna thank Jane for her post about the history of this mall, since that fills MANY questions I wondered about the history of both Lima malls.

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  48. Sad to hear that Value City has closed, and a little surprised, too. I hadn’t been there for a couple years, but it always seemed to be fairly busy. On the other hand, (now living out-of-state) I was usually just there during the Christmas shopping season. So I may have just been seeing the holiday surge.
    As for the American Mall itself, maybe this signals the end.

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  49. Oh, and by the way… Jane, we need you to keep us out-of-towners up to date. Please post any new news or “legends” you might hear.

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  50. I remember the two theatres that were inside the mall. They were long and narrow like shooting galleries. But, on weekends they did business. They are just hollowed out shells today. They sold all of the equipment. I cannot understand why Regal theatres built at that location when they had two other theatre complexes in better locations. And downtown Lima, in the square, has room for a new theatre. All the hotels there are retirement homes and these people don’t have cars to get to the Regal theaters. There used to be many theaters downtown,. The Quilna, on Market, the Ohio on High Street, the Lyric later the Ranger, on Main near High Street. The Allen in the square, later Baker’s bar, the Sigma in the square, later Cinema 1 in 1972, and the old State Opera House behind the bank building. Down south Main Street at Kibby, was the Majestic. All gone exept the Ohio now a dance hall with all of the theatre seats removed. It was Lima’s largest and fancierst theatre. But, poor parking caused it to close as a theatre. The Square used to have parking for over 100 cars but now covered in concrete with a stupid flag pole in the center. They tear down houses for a better view of the stadium but cannot restore the downtown Square, which, like the mall, is DEAD!

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    Scott Reply:

    @Bill Dakota, That’s not why Regal Cinemas built near the new building near the American mall. I do know, an employee at Cinema 12 told me why they built the building there, & they did not move into somewhere else around the city. It’s because Regal Cinemas owns the building & the land near the American Mall, they rented the buildings when they were at Cinema 7, & Cinema 1,2,3 & Eastgate Cinema. Now the building that was occupied by Cinema 7, is now occupied by Northwestern College for the students to use as an activity center. And that is why Regal Cinema 12 is near the American Mall.

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  51. I remember when the American Mall went up as well as the Lima Mall. Both were busy and yes, Lima is a big retailer community as stated earlier. We’ve lost a lot of industry, but we have great retail stores and medical facilities of which I recently retired from St. Rita’s. RE; the person who couldn’t believe we don’t have a Starbucks, Starbucks did open a shop inside St. Rita’s about a month or so ago and is doing a great business. Every time I would go by or occasionally stop in to get a coffee capuccino or frapuccino, there would always be a line of a couple of people ahead minimum!!! They expanded their hours in the first week of operation as well. So if you’re in the Lima area, go to 730 W. Market St. to St. Rita’s (just west of downtown Lima off of North St. and Market St.) to get your Starbucks!
    I remember Wells at one end and Montgomery Ward’s at the other. There also was John Newton’s that had the upper scale (for Lima) of children’s clothing.
    I had heard several months ago that that the plans by some company was to leave Anderson’s (which by the way is a great store which I never understood why the smaller merchants didn’t locate near that end instead of the dirty Value City) and then start revamping the rest of the mall, first starting I thought with the stores between Anderson’s and Value City. Eventually it will be another Easton (Columbus), The Greene (Dayton), etc. but they are going to do it in stages.
    Another great addition recently to Lima not mentioned is the opening of Panera Bread at exit 125 right off I-75 and SR 309 which is always packed. There are 2 other stores that were built with the new Panera building, but nobody knows how anyone will find a place to park as the lot is almost completely full with just Panera customers now. I was told that a Cold Stone Creamery was to go in next to Panera. If so, they better buy the old Frisch’s building next door for parking!!!! I was told that Cold Stone Creamery was supposed to go in the revamped American Mall, but I hope there is one next to Panera as I can’t think of anything better than to have a salad and bread at Panera and then go next door to Cold Stone for ice cream!!!!! They are also completing another Panera Bread basically in the parking lot of the Lima Mall. So while Lima has been hurting, we still have some good growth during these hard economical times. Hopefully the revamp of the American Mall is true and more jobs will be available in Lima. Plus maybe it will draw other businesses eventually… and maybe a new industry. Oh, we do have a new ethanol plant which you can see as you travel on I-75 around Lima’s east side. Hopefully Lima can regain some of what she lost over the last 20 years!!!! Including people!!!!!!!!!

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  52. UPDATE: It was May 19 and I was home to decorate graves prior to Memorial Day. I paid the American Mall a visit, but almost wished I hadn’t. It was worse than I thought.
    As I believe was mentioned earlier here, the Anderson’s now stands alone at the west end with no access to it from inside the mall. What little else remains is at the opposite end, and it had the feel of a mausoleum on a slow day. I seriously doubt there more than 10 people in this end of the mall, total. Aside from the mall office, there were about six businesses open there and then the main corridor was sealed off with a large wall. In probably four of these places, no employees could even be seen, as I’m sure they were playing solitaire or catching a nap. The arcade featured a few ancient video games and some well worn carpet. After a quick trip to the restroom (which I don’t think has changed a bit in 30 years, except for looking older and being in need of some maintenance), I spoke to a very nice lady who was working at the GNC. After waiting for a customer to check out (the only customer I saw in the whole place), I quized her about the American Mall’s future. Her understanding was that plans are for it to become more like a traditional shopping center with the rear wall of future tenant stores being extended into the former center corridor and exterior entrances only. She thought that the concourse area at this end might remain. She did make it clear, though, that she had heard a lot of different things and could not be sure, but this was the latest buzz and she had heard it more and more recently.
    We shared a couple memories from the mall’s glory days and I thanked her for her time, although she seemed to have plenty to spare. I have to admit that I left feeling a little sad, kind of like visiting a dying friend in the hospital when its too late for them to know you’re there or appreciate your visit.
    For those former American Mall patrons who have followed this blog, I’ll wrap up this post with the one thing that made me smile that day. Although nobody was watching it, there was still a TV kiosk. On it, of course, WLIO 35, which I’m sure was being picked up by an antenna with an analog signal. Ironically, analog broadcast TV is in its last days, too.

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  53. Does anyone remember the name of the Shopping Center where the Christmas Parade alway started. My buddy and I were trying to remember something like Nothern Shopping Center. And is it still there?

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  54. You mean where Market Street ended at the north end? I think it was called Norhtland.

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  55. You’re right, Steve, it is called Northland Shopping Center and it is still open, none of the original stores are still there, and alot of the actual buildings have been torn down. Most recently, Rite Aid was as the west end, close to West St and then there are several empty lots and then there is a Dollar Store of some kind and Rays grocery store and then there are several more stores leading around to the bowling alley, Northland Lanes. It has been there from the beginning and really hasn’t changed that much.
    I am headed out to do some shopping and plan on stopping in the American Mall to see if there are any stores at all open now, the last time I was in there, probably a month or so, GNC was, of course, still there but only a few small stores that looked like they could close any day now.
    Will give you all an update.

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  56. wow! i stumbled onto this site, what memorys. i was born in 59 and grew up in lima,been living in the detroit area for almost 25 yrs now. i remember the american mall, mont. wards, and the wards auto care center in the parking lot. bought a couple of tires there when i was 17. wells, rinks, roosevelt school, lima senior, the kewpee. wil have to stop by lima sometime .

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    Scott Reply:

    @bill, Roosevelt’s gone torn down. As is the old Senior High.

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  57. I love lima, Oh thank you for starting this blog!!! I can talk lima all day everyday. Does anyone remember what happen to the Mini Dip? It was a little ice cream place run by this very attractive girl. She a knock out!!! I’m sure she has since move out of lima and went to some big city like Chicago. She’s probably married or at the very least dating some amazing man there. I’m not bitter or anything i just loved those fudge dipped cones!! I miss you my little lima bean!!!!

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  58. Hags,
    I’m not the attractive girl you’re talking about, but I am just curious, where was the Mini Dip, I have lived here all my life and don’t remember it?
    I love nostalgia and the type of person that hates to see a business or building being torn down that has been here forever.
    I graduated from LCC in ’66 so I have seen alot come and go in Lima.

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  59. I was the mall secretary in 85-86. Cafaro stated at that time that the mall was paid for long before that period and any money that came in was pure profit. I know he was older at that time so I am not sure if he is still around.
    Cafaro owns Northland and is not in a big rush to renevate that either. I would like to see someone buy that land and refurbish the 2 properties. I don’t think that is going to happen until something happens to raise the incomes of the residents.
    I have family in the area that has offered me a home without charge but I still could not live there. The only place that I know that you could make a decent living is Ford. They are not doing a booming business themselves.
    I hope some person reads this and takes a popular business to Lima to provide JOBS not shops.

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  60. BW-3 will be leaving the mall by the end of the year and building a new location up the road on Allentown. Wig City is also moving, and has a store in a strip mall across the street from the Lima Mall.

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  61. Just a note… someone mentioned quite a ways back that they didn’t remember anything in the movie theater in the American Mall after it left… it was the arcade/laser tag place for a while. Originally the arcade (well, originally for me… I’m younger than some people here, born in 1982–but I have solid memories of the American Mall when it was somewhat decent) was the Superfun arcade over by Parison’s. That was a great arcade, better than the Lima Mall’s. The first place I played Super Mario Bros.!

    I always preferred the American Mall, it didn’t have all the stuff as the Lima Mall obviously, but you could find lots of cool things at Phar More and Value City and Anderson’s (although I do remember a time before Anderson’s was there, vaguely), a music store, a toy store, a book store… a few other food places besides Parison’s and then BW3′s.

    It’s a shame it declined when it did, too. Value City closed about 2 months after I moved into that area. Of course, not much else was left, but at least Value City would have some good deals. Now all I’ve got is Anderson’s and BW3s, which is also soon to leave. My last visit there was creepy. I went to get stamps, only to discover they don’t even have a stamp machine anymore. There was no one in any stores, just a few random creepy looking homeless-looking guys sitting around on benches starring at me like I was invading their home, and some woman shouting curse words really loudly while another lady tried to quiet her down and lead her out. Heh. So much for all my happy memories there.

    No idea why they built the new Regal theater by there… and even if they wanted it there, why not leave at least one of the other two closer to the Lima Mall open?

    Anyway, anyone remember Brothers Four grocery? I remember my mom taking me there as a kid, across from the American Mall. …and it’s not American Mall related, but that reminds me that the K-mart on Allentown used to also have a deli that we got ham from.

    Something else came to mind as I was reading through all this, I forget now… ah well. But indeed, I hope they do re-inovate the area. It’ll never be what it once was but I’d love for it to be something worthwhile and not just the empty cesspool it is today.

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  62. I was in the American Mall the other day for Tuesday night BW3s karoke and Wig City is outta there already. They are across from the Lima Mall. What happens when all the stores are out? Will they just leave it completely empty and let people break in and vandalize it and be an attraction like the old Lima TB Hospital? Its getting crazy. I know alot of people are wanting to know whats going to happen.

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  63. check out http://img517.imageshack.us/my.php?image=32278582he3.jpg… its an image of the American Mall set up.

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  64. Sorry I accidently put …. on the end of the link… its supposed to be http://img517.imageshack.us/my.php?image=32278582he3.jpg

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  65. Tom Shak!!!!!! WOW! I loved the chip chop ham from the K Mart deli!!!! My gramma used to buy it for me. It was my FAVORITE! All those picnics at Grand Lake St. Mary’s and Indian Lake with that ham! YUM!

    I vividly remember the American Mall. I actually remember King’s going out and Value City coming in. They also had Poley’s Big and Tall, Odd Lots, and the $9.99 Stockroom at times. An original anchor was a furniture store, but I can’t tell you that name of it.

    My mother worked at the Sweden House which was the original restaurant before Parassons (which by the way still operates restaurants in Akron).

    I remember Kinney Shoes, Thom Mc An, Montgomery Ward, Aladdin’s Castle, Seeing Footloose in the mall theaters, Baskin and Robbins, John Newton’s and Carter’s, Readmore, Orange Julius and Hot Sam, Lerner, and that great sandwich shop that was down across from Phar Mor. Musicland, and Fashion Bug…..

    [Reply]

    Blake Reply:

    @Anna, the furniture store was Town and Country.

    [Reply]

    Debbi Reply:

    Anna, thank you for the post. I have been racking my brain trying to think of the furniture store that was there and you are so right. I worked at Wells in the 70′s and there was little restaurant right outside of the entrance of Wells where we would go for our breaks. It only had a few tables and chairs but it was basically the hangout for Wells employees for their breaks. And then we would go down to Monkey Wards for lunch they had a small restaurant at the southwest end of the store, which ended up being the deli or close to it for Anderson’s when they were there.

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  66. Actually, Wig City is still open in the American Mall. The family-owned business has also opened up another location across from the Lima Mall (right next to Sylvan Learning Center and where Pier 1 used to be). The lady at this new location was hoping to draw more people in, but they do still have their store open in the American Mall, too….well for now anyways! Crazy thinking about what will happen when everything goes out of that mall….good memories from there. I saw The Addams Family there before the theater closed, and also played Laser Tag once on a school fun day. Baskin Robbins was my favorite, and I think I cried when they closed it down. But my greatest memory by far was eating at Parason’s!!!!!! Such wonderful food for the family. Ahh the memories….

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  67. The one end of the mall where the andersons is now was montgomery wards the other end where value city was and nothing now was kings . there are no original stores in that mall I jhave lived here all my life and could proabably tell you every store that was in that mall at one time or another .m The mall is closing in a few months here and being tore down. I believe the plans are to rebuild a strip mall. not sure I have heard alot of rumors…yes still live here..lol I like this town and probably will never leave

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  68. Really it’s closing and being tore down? This is the first time Ive heard this news. I hope its true. I was there on the 25th for wing night at BW3 and I didnt see anyone in the mall at all. I really like Butterfly Love I hope they get another place going and not closing for good.

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  69. A fond memory when I was little is that around Christmas time they had animated holiday scenes, plus seeing a cartoon at the theatre was always a plus! lol

    Parasons was goooooood Italian food for the family (used to be in the BW3 location)

    Had a decent arcade once upon a time. A record shop to find the latest LP

    There is a Cinema 12 now, but there used to be the Sharon Drive-In across the road 1 of 4 or 5… all gone now

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  70. as i’m reading through these comments left by others, i remember so much. i remember montgomery wards, the theater, woolworth’s. my grandma and i used to go shopping there and eat at the cafe in woolworth’s. i used to live right acroos from it in mount vernon apts. i lived there durring the 1978 blizzard. so many memories. i also remember the sharron drive in. too bad so many good things have gone.

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  71. i almost forgot about parasons. that came later. they had the best veal parmasian.

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  72. I pretty much grew up in the american mall, my parents owned a kisok in the mall that was across from NY Learner, i think shoe carnival and pharmor was on the other side. It was called A & H Jewelers. I was there from 85′ to 95′ and saw the mall go through alot of changes. One of the first I remember was when burlington coat factory closed down, then the movie theater. I remember when andersons opened. I saw the mall in the mid 80′s when those car shows would come in for the weekend and the mall was so packed that I couldnt even get through the crowds of people without bumping into someone. in the 90′s it was pretty steady and alot of stores remained, then things started closing up like crazy, the movie theater , Abrahams? (clothing store between LEARNER and the movie theater) Jo Ann Fabric, Rite Aid , Phar-Mor, Circus World (Toy Store) closed up in 1995, thats when my parents closed up shop as well. We stayed in the Lima Mall, and we had a store in the plaza where Service Merchandise was (Hobby Lobby Now) In 2003 I moved back to lima and Managed the GNC at the american mall for almost a year. The mall was a ghost town by then…… I think about the mall alot and sometimes I have dreams about being there , because I spent so much time in my childhood there.

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  73. Well, the other shoe has finally dropped, Cafaro has shuttered everything except the Andersons:

    http://www.limaohio.com/news/mall_32491___article.html/most_few.html

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  74. I grew up in Lima but moved away in 1988 for college, but still consider it home. I too remember Wards and Kings and remember seeing Jaws and Grease at the inside theater. My Grandma lived on Elm Street about a half mile from the mall so I went there regularly with her and my Grandpa. Memories are what we’re left with.

    Were the malls primarily built on the west side because that’s where the money was. Not much on the east side of Lima

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  75. Maybe this was already in all these Mall memories, but ALBERS was the other original grocery in the American Mall, beside, I guess Krogers…Pangles Master Markets was never in this Mall. They had their store across the street and that became a New Life Health Spa…since closed, too.
    I am in contact with one of the union projectionists who worked the original theatre inside…before it was “twinned/shoeboxed”.
    He said for opening night, probably about 1964, after many days of checking sound, picture and after all the preliminary stuff (says Merv Griffin was in town & MC for this event?) the show began with an MGM cartoon…no sound! Film was moved to the other projector, projectionist found that the sound photocell or such had fallen off the machine…he dashed down to a hobby shop got some cement and the projector was ready for the next reel.
    The feature was a new (and pitiful) MGM spy spoof, long forgotten…remember this was the era of “Man From Uncle”, “James Bond” on and on, etc. Anyhow, the feature film (new print) had evidently spent some time in a dust bag or on the projection room floor…nothing worse than dusty prints on the big screen.
    They used new 35 MM Norelco projectors with great light output.

    [Reply]

    Keith Daugherty Reply:

    @Paul L, Pangles was in the American Mall. I worked there from 1980-1983 when it closed down. It was near Montgomery Wards, and on the north side of the building. In fact there was a hallway entrance to the mall on the northwest side of the mall that separated Montgomery wards and Pangles Master markets. I was one of the carry-outs that use to ride the conveyor belt down to the back drive thru area. My managers names were Rick Pittenger and Alan Turwalde when I worked at the Pangles there. Just before we closed down in 1983, the name was switched, which Pangles was doing when closing their stores, to something else which sold our inventory down just before closing.

    There had also been a Pangles in the Lima Mall aslo.

    The New life Fitness center across the street from the mall on the south side had been built as a fitness center, it was once an American Health Fitness center..I was a member there at one time. As far as I know it hadn’t been a Pangles. However, yes..there was definitely a Pangles in the American Mall..I worked there from 1980-1983, and it had been there long before I had worked there.

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  76. I don’t remember anything about ALBERS but I thought PANGLES definitely WAS in the American Mall in the early 70′s. Kroger was also there at the other end and believe had the rollers that they would push the crates of groceries outside to the drive-up pickup area…or was that Pangles. Anybody else out there that can confirm Pangles was there?

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    Mark Reply:

    @Steve,
    Oh Pangles was definitely there across from Wards. They also were in the Lima Mall

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  77. The furniture store was Town & Country Furniture…an Ethan Allen gallery!

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  78. Pangles was the grocery with the rollers leading outside. My family shopped for groceries there every week in the early ’70s. The bag boys would put our bags in the green plastic bins and give us the white numbered tickets. We would drive up under the awning where the bag boys would take our tickets, find our groceries and load them in the car.
    Yeah, it was Pangles.
    Long after Pangles left the mall, Ray Pangle sold his grocery chain to himself, re-named it Ray’s and got rid of the union.

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  79. what happened to four brothers ? someone brought this up and there was no response, I can remember this being there next to k-marts for over a decade…There also was a speed shop on Elida Rd. called the big speed shop what happened to this ??? ther were some great times at the american mall but also there were some great times in Lima that have all gone away…Think about North street and and all of the people that used to hang out there to see each other…

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  80. Has demolition been confirmed? As I posted earlier, I had heard talk of a possible renovation and reworking of the layout of the original building. Does anybody know for sure if its going to be razed and when?

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  81. Jerry,
    It was the Brothers Four Country Store…owned by 4 Williams Brothers…although the grocery store is gone, I believe some of their offspring run The Old Barn out Back restaurant and Banquet hall on the same property southwest of the American Mall. Ironically, there was a “Three Sisters” clothing store downtown, anybody remember that?

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  82. Hello. I am a resident of Lima, and truthfully, since I moved here in the late 90′s, I am surprised it lasted as long as it has.
    But what I really wanted to talk about is paranormal stories and phenomenon. Has anyone else heard rumours of certain parts of the mall being haunted? I briefly read one post (by Kristina said, on October 13th, 2007) that also mentioned this rumour. Can anyone else recall something like this? (please be 100% truthful) ~~~
    I heard one story from a janitor who claimed to have seen the ghost of a kid in the Anderson’s store at night time while on duty. He then spoke to the kid, but he didn’t respond. When he went to go tell his co-worker, he turned around and the kid had disappeared. ~
    When I first heard that story, chills went up my spine.
    I know that sound bogus to some, and anyone can make up a ghost story. But suppose for a minute. What Kristina says certainly backs up other rumours passed around. Does anyone know the complete history of this place (or where I could find it)? Does anyone visiting here know what was at the American Mall before 1965? Was it just a field or was it houses?
    Thanks

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  83. Oh, and if anyone would like to email regarding that, please feel free to at jnashes@yahoo.com
    Thanks

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  84. Wow! As a former Lima-ite of 24 years, this is very sad to me. I worked at Montgomery Ward for 2 years, then went to work for Value City when they came in, and stayed with them for a little over 10 years, so a big chunk of my life was spent in that mall. The last time I was there, in 2003 I think, I went back and visited what former co-workers of mine were still there. I had been gone for 10 years at the time, and couldn’t believe that Parasson’s, Baskin Robbins, etc. were all gone! The place was just a shell of its former self. And now, I find out that Value City has gone bankrupt. It’s just all kind of sad. By the way, If Mike Luchini ever visits this site again, I used to deliver your newspaper and ride the bus to school with you. Time flies… :D

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  85. I used to work at Parassons from ’86 to ’89 and I Loved it. In fact if they didn’t fold up, I would prob still be working there. I loved the food, the people, and I adored Tony Parasson. When I hear a song that was on the jukebox at the time, my mind still goes back. Would love them to come back to Lima!!!!!

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  86. Although I have not lived in Lima for more than 30 years, I still have some family in the area and visit fairly frequently. I did grow up in Lima and I am old enough to remember a bustling retail-filled downtown and the opening of the two malls, the Lima Mall and the American Mall, which quickly sucked the retail life out of the downtown area. An oft-repeated occurrence across the country, certainly not unique to Lima.

    The American Mall and the Lima Mall both opened in 1965. Their location on the west side of Lima, far from Interstate 75, is not really surprising, as some have suggested. Interstate 75 curves around the south and east sides of Lima- areas which in 1965 contained industrial plants and residential neighborhoods on the lower end of the socio-economic scale. The area remains the same today, although many of the plants have been shuttered or demolished. Back to my point: the west side of Lima was in fact the logical place to build shopping malls in 1965, even if it meant losing out on potential I-75 customers.

    While the west side made a sensible mall location, the specific location of the American Mall within the western part of Lima never made sense. The American Mall is (was? not sure whether to use the past tense) located on two streets, Elm and Market, which are largely residential from about the vicinity of St. Rita Hospital / Baxter Street all the way to the American Mall. There is some commercial development in the immediate vicinity of the American Mall, but these streets were never commercial highways. In contrast, the other west side mall, the Lima Mall, which continues to be a commercial success, was built at the intersection of a major commercial highway (Route 309, formerly US 30-South) and a major north-south road (Cable Road).

    Speculation on why the American Mall was built where it was built: First, the Lima Mall may have grabbed the prime corner of US 30-South and Cable Road first. Second, another prime retail corner- at Allentown and Cable- was already taken, in the 1950s, by the Westgate Shopping Center (which, by the way, was wiped out when the malls- American and Lima- opened only to be “sort of” rejuvenated as a K-Mart in about 1970). Third, perhaps the Cafaro Company was hoping to capture the upscale residential shoppers living in the vicinity. Market Street remains to this day an impressive residential boulevard with a landscaped parkway down the middle. Lima’s west side has always been considered to have the nicer neighborhoods.

    Based on the original shops lining the mall corridor, the original intent may very will have been to make the American Mall an upscale shopping destination. The original tenants included a Town and Country furniture store (which I recollect was fairly upscale and another commentator had mentioned it was an Ethan Allen outlet), a Seven Seas Gift Gallery (where I used to purchase my Corgi collectible cars), the John Newton Store (a local childrens clothier), The Luggage Shop, Sveden House restaurant and the area’s first movie theater outside of the downtown area. No Tiffany & Co. in the mix, but this is Lima, and those were relatively upscale stores for the time (and place). The problem with this upscale intent may have been the anchors.

    The western anchor was Montgomery Ward, a full-fledged department store, to be sure, but hardly upscale, even in 1965. The American Mall Wards probably closed 20 years ago and the entire chain went belly up about 10 years ago. Wards was replaced by a Burlington Coat Factory and by then the Mall was on a definite decline. Presently, an Andersons is in the Wards space and is perhaps the only bright spot in the American Mall retail complex, other than the recently opened Regal Cinemas in the eastern parking lot.

    The eastern anchor was originally- and very briefly- The Bailey Company, which was a department store out of Cleveland. I don’t recall much about the American Mall Baileys but it is doubtful that it was very upscale- the Baileys in downtown Cleveland was on that City’s Prospect Avenue, definitely a second tier shopping street. In any event, Baileys was quickly replaced by Wells (definitely a K-Mart style discounter) and then Kings and finally Value City, which is now closed. Today, there is no eastern anchor.

    So, you had a mall located away from major traffic at the west end of primarily residential streets, with two mid-price to discount type retailers as anchors and a corridor of upscale retailers with little in common with the two anchors. Perhaps it should be surprising that the American Mall lasted as long as it did…

    [Reply]

    Rodney Reply:

    @James,
    I recall our family always entering from the Montgomery Wards west side, the toy department and walking past the televisions towards the main mall concourse and Bewitched was playing – had to be late 60′s. At any rate, the Pangles was always bustling to the left/north side. On the south side was a McCrory’s as I recall (a toy/hobby store). There was also an interesting Furniture store next to it that actually had an upstairs.
    Towards the later half of the 80′s I enjoyed working at the SuperFun arcade and having a great lunch takeout from Parrasons.
    As of today I’ve heard the Anderson’s is closing which, I think, is the last store there.

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    James Reply:

    @Rodney, I had not heard about The Andersons closing. That would be a real shame if true. I wonder if they will reopen elsewhere in Lima?

    I do not remember a Pangles at American Mall, but my memory could be faulty. I do recall the Pangles at the Lima Mall, where, after you finished buying the groceries, they put your groceries in these bluish-green plastic tubs, placed them on a conveyor belt to an outside “dock” and then you drove your car around to pick them up at the dock.

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  87. Good insight, James. I was one who openly wondered about the lack of interest in building near the I-75 corridor, but you have correctly pointed out the obvious reasons why that wouldn’t have been a good choice. One possibility might have been the area along Harding Highway which is still a strong retail strip. Of course, it was also pointed out that the east side wasn’t where the money was (or is) and it is primarily fast food and discount outlets.
    In my defense, I was four years old when the malls opened, so I guess I’ve had it in my mind that there may have been some interest in revitalizing adjacent areas to the then relatively new freeway. Honestly, though, as far back as my memory goes, nothing much has changed there, as James pointed out. My early childhood neighborhood in Perry Township (just inside the southest “corner” of I-75) has deteriorated from a decent working class area to something much less now, it appears.

    During my recent trip back home, I had to drive past (and around) the American Mall. I suppose just to see her “lying in state.” Sad.
    Thanks, James, for your historical perspective and analysis.

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  88. A couple other quick random thoughts…
    I totally agree that the Lima Mall was absolutely put in the right location. A strong 44 year history bears that out.
    Sad to see Northland Plaza the way it is these days. I remember going there when I was very young, in its heyday.
    Will 20th Century Lanes ever become 21st Century Lanes?
    I think the American Mall needs to update their website, check it out.

    http://www.american-mall.net

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  89. Northland Plaza- now there was a strip center. It predated both enclosed malls in Lima and, as Glenn noted, it is in sad shape today. More activity than the American Mall, but that’s not saying much.

    I don’t remember when Northland opened- I’m old, but not that old- but I do recall Northland in its hey-day, which was pre-mall and continued into the mall era as well. I’m guessing Northland opened in the very early 1960s.

    For enthusiasts of mid-century modern architecture, Northland was a gem. The simple clean lines of the “International Style” clad in glazed brick of various pastel colors. The bowling alley & lounge was (and still is) covered in mint green brick. The Wells Store (Odd Lots now?) was sky-blue brick. One grocery store (Pangle, now Rays) was clad in pink and the other (Krogers) in sunny yellow (if memory serves me). The stores in between were all clad in brick of assorted pastel colors. In fact, the Northland colors were similar to the soft automobile colors of the time (Remember the coral pink T-bird? I recall an uncle with a 1961 aqua blue Chevy station wagon) and also the appliance colors of the era. Before the Avacado and Harvest Gold craze of the late 60s & early 70s, many appliances were pastel pink, light yellow, sky blue and pale mint green. Just check out an old Better Homes & Garden magazine from the era- you’ll see what I mean.

    Northland was definitely “of the era”.

    In addition to the mid-century modern vibe of the architecture, Northland was a gem for its assortment of stores. I don’t recall any shopping center with so many dime stores: WT Grant with its “Skillet” grill, Woolworth (closed when Lima Mall opened), GC Murphy, Cussins & Fearn and, of course, Wells Department Store (really not much more than a very pumped-up dime store). With that many dime stores, Northland was a great hangout for a kid of the 1960s. And don’t forget Frueh’s Bakery- with those “filled sticks”.

    Finally, at the west end of Northland, near West Street, was the “Paddle” Restaurant. A great example of “googie” architecture of the era. Those who recall the “Paddle” should look up “googie architecture” in Wikipedia and they will see what I mean. A coffee shop for the space age.

    Of course, the Paddle is lnog gone and big chunks of Northland have since been demolished or poorly remodeled and the whole scene is pretty sad… but back in the day…

    [Reply]

    Ronni Reply:

    @James, Boy, does this ever bring back memories. I used to go in that Cussin and Fearns with my dad when I was 5 or 6, and one time, I stuck my fingers down in a furnace filter and got fiberglass all embedded in them. Hey, there was a Top Value stamp redemption store right next door to it. And my first job, as a 16-year-old, was at Frueh’s.
    Just before one got to Northland, on Main Street, was a Lawson’s milk store, too. And then just past Northland was a root beer stand, but I can’t remember the name of it.
    Thanks for the memories!

    [Reply]

    Mark Reply:

    @James,
    Don’t forget they had a top value trading stamp redemption store,,,and I think they had the green stamp store too

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  90. More musings on mall sites in Lima…yes, Glenn, the only plausible east side site for a mall would have been Harding Highway at I-75. Unlike the other I-75 interchanges, there were no junk yards (I thinking of Findlay Road) or questionable neighborhoods- in fact, the Lost Creek / Country Club Hills area adjacent to Harding Highway was (and probably is still) considered fairly desirable. I recall, however, my parents’ stories about how the land on the southside of the Harding Highway between I-75 and the fairgrounds was for years tied up in some family. Something about maiden ladies who wouldn’t sell the farm. In 1965, the land on the south side Harding Highway was not even available. It was not until the 1970s that the land was freed up and, by that time, the west side malls had been built.

    The Harding Highway land became available too late in the mall-building craze of the 1960s-1970s and ultimately was developed by discount retailers and fast food franchises.

    No doubt a boost to the Perry Township tax base, but hardly any kind of development to wax nostalgic about…

    [Reply]

  91. I believe Glenn is correct that the I-75 interchange with Harding Highway would have been the most likely location for an east side mall in 1965. The immediate residential area is middle class, with the Lost Creek and then new Country Club Hills area. And of course access to all of the I-75 and 30-South [now 309] traffic would have made the site attractive.

    The issue, I recall, was that all of the land on the south side of Harding Highway between I-75 and the fairgrounds was owned by some old-timers who refused to sell the family farm. Eventually, the area was developed in the 1970s, well after the west side malls were up and running. Perhaps the family that owned the land finally died off or got an offer they could not refuse. In any event, it was too late then for a mall development.

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  92. Umm ! , Frueh’s bakery-filled sticks…but only if the Bon-Ton on South Main street was sold out :)

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    @Steve, this is off-topic (the topic being malls) but I don’t recall the Bon-Ton. I do remember Frueh’s Baker, Corwins (in the Lima Mall) and especially Clemens Bakery with the best sugar cookies bar none.

    [Reply]

    Mark Reply:

    @James,
    Clems was best bakery, and Bud’s pizza was the best pizza bar none.

    [Reply]

    Steve Reply:

    @Mark, Never heard of Bud’s, where was it located? I thought Bub’s on Spring St. ..later Chucks and last I saw Cimi’s had the best pizza in town.

    [Reply]

    Ronni Reply:

    @James, Bon Ton was just north of St. John’s, and we went there after Mass with my grandma, having wheedled her into buying doughnuts.
    Wasn’t Clemens in the Lima Mall, down by Pangles?

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  93. Every person I talk to says The Anderson’s now owns their part of the American Mall but the auditors website says different.
    I think when Walmart was going to build a super Walmart across from Tom Ahls Dealership, the Anderson’s was interested in purchasing WalMarts old building (on cable rd) but then Walmart decided not to build in their new location due to resident complaints, the Anderson’s got stuck with the American Mall once again. Its like a ghost town at the American Mall. I walked by yesterday and its crazy how all that money is just wasting away sitting there. They need to either tear it down or fix it. Hopefully the city won’t just let the abandoned mall sit there and rot to the ground like the old TB hospital

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    Jenny Reply:

    @Jennifer,

    The American Mall (nor the Lima Mall for that matter), are actually within the city limits of Lima. The end of the Lima line is on Blackburn, which is a street that runs North and South right behind the new Regal Cinema. I believe the correct zoning for this area is American Township.

    I do agree that I hope they do something with it soon – It’s certainly an eyesore.

    [Reply]

    Mark Reply:

    @Jennifer,
    Not sure who these people are that are telling you that The Anderson’s own their part but they need to get their facts straight. They don’t and never have!
    They have leased the store from the Cafaro company since day one. Now thanks to the lousy business that Cafaro is they are now leaving and 138 jobs were lost (including mine).
    And with the soon to open Eastown road there is nothing for that area until Super Wal-Mart blemishs the land there, and then the rest will also go down the tubes around there.
    And also the issue of The Anderson buidling or buying a new store will never happen unless all of Lima starts to support them being there in some way or another. There is not room for two malls is not the issue people it is there is no room when there is Wal-Mart in town on both sides.

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  94. Please update on the mall….Grew up in Huntsville, Ohio… I personally loved going to the value city, and always wanted to go to B&R for ice cream, (mom never let me) We would go to the mall occassionally…It was always interesting for me when I was younger because it was so different than a regular mall…havent been to Lima in years..after I figured out when I got a license that Columbus was basically the same drive, and more options…Thanks for the memories…Im only 25 but still loved reading about its past, before I was around!

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  95. @James
    I could be wrong on the location (S. Main) but pretty sure the Bon-ton bakery was on Main Street. After church late in the mornings on Sundays, my dad would run in the Bon-ton and often come back to the car empty handed because the donuts and rolls were picked over…the backup plan was always Frueh’s. Can anybody else help with info on the Bon-ton?

    [Reply]

    Jenny Reply:

    @Steve,

    The only tie to this area for Bon-Ton that I know of is that Bon-Ton is the parent company that purchased Elder-Beerman in the early 2000′s. Bon-Ton is headquartered in York, PA and is primarily on the upper East Coast. To my knowledge, there was never a Bon-Ton retail store in this area or in this part of Ohio. Elder-Beerman was headquartered in Dayton, OH until they were purchased by Bon-Ton.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon-Ton

    For a bakery, the only one that I currently know of is the Old Barn Out Back Bakery, but I’m also on the young end of the spectrum so I don’t know what may have been there before. Sorry I’m not much help with that!

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    Steve Reply:

    @Jenny, Yea, I’m talking late 60s…apparantly it was probably a family run business rather than a chain….or maybe not spelled Bon-ton.

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  96. On the subject of bakeries, does anybody recall if the American Mall ever had a bakery? The Lima Mall had Corwins (a full bakery on one corridor of the mall and around the corner a coffee counter), Northland had Fruehs and I vaguely recall a bakery in the old Westgate Shopping Center- Washington Bakery?

    [Reply]

    Ronni Reply:

    @James, American Mall also had a Frueh’s Bakery, right down from the McCrory’s.

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  97. Wow, even though this discussion has often drifted off the main topic, it is fun walking down Limaland’s memory lane. Now, more random thoughts…

    Thanks, James for filling in some of the gaps in my memory on Northland Plaza. Was there ever a Western Auto store in there? (Back when they were more of a general merchandiser.) I seem to remember Grandpa taking me somplace on the east end of the “L” near the bowling alley and buying a little plastic wading pool or some-such. I was very little, though, circa 1964-65.

    Does anybody remember a downtown A&P store? Or near downtown, I think. Grandma and Grandpa did most of their shopping at Pangles, but I remember the wonderful smell of fresh-ground coffee at the A&P. The recent Jerry Lewis Telethon got me thinking about that, as A&P was one of their corporate donors. I thought A&P had gone under years ago, but according to their website, it looks like they still have a couple hundred stores on the east coast, between Philadelphia and Hartford, CT. And, by the way, the MDA Telethon just wasn’t the same without Ed McMahon, was it?

    I can’t honestly say that I remember when the south side of Harding Highway between I-75 and the fairgrounds was competely vacant, but I do very well remember it before the car dealers, hotels and the tons of fast food joints. I go as far back as when there was Pangle’s (right?) in that center at the confluence of Harding and Bellefontaine (still Ray’s now, I believe). I think K-mart was one of the early tenants out there, too. I kind of miss that old railroad overpass just south of there on Greely Chapel Rd., which caused the road to narrow down to about a lane and a half to go under it. You had give way to the guy who got there first, or else! Those tracks and the trestle, like so many things, have given way to time and progress. I seem to remember horses being kept in one of those wooden-fenced meadows near that intersection, also.

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    @Glenn, I do remember the A & P store downtown. It was at West Market and (I believe) Pierce Street, near the West Ohio Gas Building. And, yes, the wonderful smell of fresh ground coffee permeated the store. My Saturday morning routine was swimming at the Y and then stopping at the A & P with my mom, which was right around the corner from the Y.

    In the Chicago suburb where I now live, there is a grocery store in the center of town, that’s been around for over 100 years (although not in the same building). It is small just like the old A & P on Lima’s Market Street, and with the old-fashioned store hours- no evening hours, no Sunday hours. I drag my wife to this store because, I say, they have a really good butcher (they do), but the real story is that I go to this store because it reminds me of Lima’s old A & P.

    Another long-gone Lima grocery store: the Pangle’s on Latham Avenue, just east of Cole Street. Anybody remember the “cookie machine”?

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  98. James- I don’t remember any bakeries in the American Mall, but not certain about that.

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  99. The Anderson’s is now in the process of liquidating their inventory and they’re closing the Lima store in the American Mall. The mall is now officially DEAD!

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  100. Sad, but not surprised that the Anderson’s is finally baling out. I guess she’ll be 100% vacant now.

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  101. Happened across this website by accident but wow, all the memories! I have more memories of being at this mall than the Lima Mall. I can remember the Wards store and the grocery that was located down there also. I was thinking it was an A&P but I could be wrong. It did have the conveyor to the outside. I always thought this was an interesting idea. I also remember the Wells store at the other end. One thing that sticks out is that they used to have the “pay” toilets in the public restroom. I think my first and only experience with those! The movie theater was probably where I first saw a movie and I can remember seeing one of the “Smokey and the Bandit” movies there. Although I can’t remember visiting it much, I do remember the Baskin and Robbins ice cream store. Too bad to see it all go!

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  102. I Have always been a Walmart shopper and I have heard for a year or two that there will be a Super Walmart store opening on Eastown rd., however, there are no signs of it beginning to be built. when will this take place and how long will it take to be built? I know a lot of Lima people are opposed to a new store opening, but I think it is a great idea. Any
    news on this subject yet? It is now November, 2009.

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    @Carol G., the economy has probably impacted Walmart’s expansion plans, so I am guessing that’s why a new Eastown Road Super Walmart has been placed on hold. I recently read in the business section of the Chicago Tribune that the growing unemployment rate has impacted discount retailers more than high-end retailers because unemployment is higher among blue collar industries.

    I’m wondering, too, if Lima really needs yet another Walmart. If the Eastown Road Walmart is built, then rich farmland will be paved under, while the existing Walmart on Cable Road will likely go empty. Too bad the existing Walmart could not be expanded instead, thereby saving some farmland…

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  103. Coming back home to NW Ohio this weekend for a Christmas visit. We’ll make our annual shopping trip to Lima, and the kids are looking forward to a Kewpee burger and a ride on the escalators at Macy’s (it’ll always be Lazarus in my heart). Of course, I will feel compelled to take a quick cruise past the American Mall. It will seem weird with not even the Andersons still there.

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    @Glenn, I live in Chicago now and, yes, when I travel back to Lima for the holidays we always have to stop at the Kewpees: my two teenage sons insist on it! And of course it is a nostalgia trip for me.

    I don’t know how long it has been since you have been to the Macys in Lima, but the 3rd floor restaurant was closed this year, which I think is a real shame. It was a favorite lunch spot of my mother and many others. Too bad the big national chains like Macys feel compelled to take away the things in the department stores that make them unique. Now, the Lima Macys is like any other department store.

    Regarding the escalators, I am old enough to remember Lima before the Lazarus opened. Before Lazarus opened, the only escalator in town was an old rickety one in the Newberrys store in downtown. This escalator went one way-up. One had to use the stairs to go down.

    [Reply]

    Glenn Reply:

    @James,
    Perhaps we should start our own “Limaland Memories” website. But if you’re like me, you certainly don’t need one more way to divide your time!

    Our trip to Lima this past Saturday is “mission accomplished.” I was sad to note, as you pointed out, that the restaurant has closed in Macy’s. Do you believe that I walked past that place dozens, perhaps a hundred times over the years, and never ate there? I always thought, “I’m going to have lunch in there sometime,” but never did. Wasn’t it called the Skyview Restaurant when it was first opened? I used to bug my mom (rest her soul) to eat there, but she thought it was too expensive.

    Also, I took my youngest daughter (7) up there where they used to have the big Christmas ornament display… it too has disappeared. If they moved it somewhere else in the store, I didn’t see it. We rarely bought anything, but they always had the coolest Christmas display. Yes, it’s all corporate Macy’s now.

    I don’t remember Newberry’s, but I do remember the Lima mall before Lazarus was added on. Our first artificial Christmas tree was purchased at JC Penney, and I remember having to go around to the back side of Penney’s to pick it up before the addition was begun, so I’m sure it was 1969. I believe Lazarus didn’t open until ’71.

    Are you the same James that earlier responded to my post about the smell of coffee in A&P? Please email me sometime at SgtGTNeal@netscape.net

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    @Glenn, I am the same one who remembers the smell of coffee at the old A & P…I wouldn’t be surprised if there is not already a nostalgic Lima website.

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  104. Wow…the escalators at Lazaras! That was like Disneyland for a 10 year old growing up in Lima! Remember the little opening about halfway up/down, where you could see others traveling the opposite direction. I do remember the long escalator downtown but always thought that was at Gregg’s

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    James Reply:

    @Steve, was there an escalator at Greggs? I don’t remember. I do remember the old-style elevators at Greggs, with the uniformed elevator operators. Greggs was a very fine store which managed to survive downtown for about 20 years after the Lima and American Malls opened. It’s a shame that we don’t have stores like Greggs anymore.

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    Steve Reply:

    @James, You are correct about the old style elevators. I remember them distinctly. How many floors were there?

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    James Reply:

    @Steve, I believe there were 5 floors, but I am not entirely sure. The building was torn down not too long after Greggs closed, in the late 1980s.

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  105. Looks like there may be real plans for redevelopment now:

    http://www.1150wima.com/cc-common/news/sections/newsarticle.html?feed=120919&article=6612392

    Could be interesting…

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    @Ohio Reader, thanks for forwarding. A not-too-ambitious retal strip anchored by a medical facility would make a lot of sense for the site. Let’s hope it goes forward and succeeds.

    [Reply]

    Glenn Reply:

    @Ohio Reader,
    Thanks for the info. Good to see something happening there finally. And it sounds like they are planning on utilizing all or part of the exsisting structure.

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  106. I was in Lima for a family birthday this weekend and drove by this mall. It was strange to see the mall totally dark while the mall out-lots immediately to the east of the mall were buzzing with activity. The Regal cinemas were absolutely packed, as was the adjacent “Beer Barrel” pizza restaurant. There is also a new roadway in the area- an extension of Eastown Road from Elm Street south to Spencerville Road- that should make access from the Shawnee area to the American Mall area super-easy. All of this bodes well for redevelopment of retail activity in the American Mall area.

    [Reply]

    Robert Reply:

    @James,
    I was in Lima this weekend and was told there recently was a news report on WLIO that a group of doctor’s were going to set up new doctor’s offices, a spa, workout area…like a big medical / health facility in the mall. Apparently this was broadcast earlier in January on the 6 o’clock news – fka the “News Journal” and now known as “Your News Now.” I asked if the mall would be mowed down and replaced with the doctor’s complex or if they were remodeling, if the mall has been sold, but none of those details could be remembered. Anybody see that broadcast?

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  107. LIMA — The first phase in the remodeled American Mall may not be a store or restaurant, but it is just what the doctor ordered.

    Equity Inc., a Columbus-based developer that specializes in medical facilities, has plans to build a 20,000-square-foot medical office building on the American Mall property, of which 10,000 square feet has already been claimed by tenants. The facility will sit north of the existing mall, facing Market Street. Construction is expected to begin in March.

    Scott Forrest, Equity vice president, said the company will build and manage the facility, but individual physicians will buy interest in the project, making them the owners. Dr. Christopher Lucchese was one of the first to buy in with plans to move his practice into what will be called the Complete Health Institute of Northwest Ohio.

    “If I want to invest in my future I want to make sure I have the greatest chance for success possible. This is a great opportunity for that,” Lucchese said.

    Lucchese leases space in the offices attached to St. Rita’s Medical Center. Increased costs and the need to expand, along with a desire to be in control of his own practice, prompted the move.

    “The way health care is you either have to be bought up by a hospital and be an employee or do what you can to be independent,” Lucchese said.

    Lucchese said two other practices, an internist and a family physician, have also signed on to move into the new facility. Forrest was unable to provide the name of those doctors. The company is also looking for other medical specialists who want to invest. If it gets enough to fill the first building, it’ll start working on a second.

    Eventually, Lucchese would like to see a complete health facility, including massage therapy, medically oriented workout facilities and even a café that would serve healthy lunch options.

    “We’re shooting for as many specialties as we can find to make this a comprehensive facility,” Lucchese said.

    The medical center would be the first phase of the long-promised change to the former American Mall. The mall’s owner, Cafaro Co., announced plans more than two years ago to redevelop the mall area into a lifestyle center similar to Easton Town Center in Columbus.

    The company has since altered those plans. In November, a Cafaro executive said the new plan was for an open-concept property — renamed American Village — that would include multiple buildings, including the medical office building. The company has been in negotiations with local restaurant owners along with national retailers about moving in as well.

    “We’ve had some interested parties that are waiting to commit to things. We’ve had the sense they were waiting for someone to go first, so this is a good start,” said Cafaro spokesman Joe Bell.

    For Lucchese, the idea of mixing a medical and retail center makes perfect sense. An obstetrics practice located at Easton is doing great, and he believes he will see the same success in Lima.

    “This puts the physician right in the center of the traffic. A patient can come in and their family can shop while they are waiting on them. In the end, it would have everything right there,” Lucchese said.

    [Reply]

    Glenn Reply:

    @Joel,
    Thanks for all that info. I am assuming that this project requires razing the existing structure and beginning fresh for American Village. My sentimental side wishes they could recycle at least part of it for its next life, but I realize that is not likley. Any firm timetable yet?

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  108. Hmmm. Well, the articles said the groundbreaking would be in March… I drive by every day basically… no ground breaking yet! But its barely April, so… well, we’ll see!

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  109. why dont they put this into a big box cventer with like TArget, Kohl’s, Best buy and Dick’s etc

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  110. It’s in a terrible location (backroads, far away from the main drag, literally no other retail that side of town — there isn’t even so much as a fast food in the parking lot!).

    I am VERY surprised, though, that there’s virtually no big box in Lima, not even a Target. It’s kind of like Bay City in that regard: decent sized mall, dead mall, but almost no big box beyond Home Depot and Walmart.

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  111. The original anchor on the west side was a Montgomery Wards.Not sure about the east side.Wards lasted till about 1980 give or take.Andersons is now gone,as talk will have it,pushed out by the owning management company.

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  112. The Allentown rd Dairy Queen coney footlongs… I’ve never had better. Sonics sorta comes close. It was BUB’s pizza(early ’70′s) before Chuck’s Pizza, but still same great taste. Westgate also had great pizza. My brother worked at Tamarac and would bring Bub’s home.(awesome). Anyone recall a place called Dirty Dan’s? parents took me there a few times for milk shakes. And was it Hefners’ Eldora? Pandora? for brown cows? I’m a grad of Horace Mann elem, West jr High, LIma senior and BGSU. In georgia now. Homesick for original limaland food!!!

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    Jan Reply:

    @Jed,

    those were the good ole days. remember the eldora and another one that had ice creadm, you could watch them milk the cows while eating ice cream my kids went to Horace Mann elem

    do you know if there was a big lots or odd lots at the american mall years ago

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    Robert Reply:

    @Jed,
    Was Dirty Dan’s on South Main Street downtown – where the fire station is today? That was a very, very long time ago! I remember going there as a very small child in the late sixties. Also, I do not recall Odd Lots in the American Mall. I bet you are remembering Value City.

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  113. if anyone reads this, could you please let me know if there used to be a Big Lots or Odd Lots at the American Mall in Lima Ohio. Big argument, I said there was, she said there wasnt, I would like to be able to say I was right.

    anyone please send email to address above if you have the anser

    [Reply]

    Glenn Reply:

    @Jan,

    dont remember any Big/Odd Lots there… not certain about that, though.

    [Reply]

    Heather Reply:

    @Glenn,
    There was an Odd Lots in the mall, right across from Andersons and the Kay? Jewelery store…remember fighting with ma and grandma about going in there then findng a bunch of cool toys…it was in the 80′s.

    [Reply]

    Glenn Reply:

    @Heather,
    Thanks, Heather.

    [Reply]

    pb Reply:

    @Jan,
    Yes, there was an Odd Lots store in the American Mall. I used to shop there when I managed the Royal Optical (right outside Value City) in the 80s.

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  114. Heh, I wa searching the web for something completely unrelated when I came across this site but I use to work in this mall back in the early 90′s and was born in lima in 74 so maybe this post will answer some questions. Kings was replaced with value city. Montgomery ward became burlington coat, then andersons. Pangle’s grocery became pharmore, then a fitness center for a small time, then goodwill. Parasons was replaced with bw3 and that has moved. There was a movie theatere (2 screens), a barber shop, a hair salon, a manicure store, kay and rogers jewlers, a halmark, radio shack, sabarros, deb & stephano man, an urban store called crossovers, shoe carnival, musicland, payless shoes, wig city, butterfly love, gnc, computers plus, software gallery, 2 arcades (1 of which had laser tag),baskin robbins, circus world (a toy store), a small local company that sold windows and siding, the deb store became a furnature store, software gallery became a store that sold trinkets and collectibles (don’t remember the name), there was a musical insturment store, I think it was baldwin music but its been a wile so again not sure, oh an a claire’s. Those are the ones I remember over the years which is prolly most of em’. At one point this mall did great business and rent for the stores was much cheaper than the lima mall for example one of the stores I worked in paid $1000./mo while the lima mall wanted $3500/mo for a slightly smaller space. I think the main reason both of these malls were built in their locations was that they were both close to shawnee,oh which is where most of the well to do families have lived in the lima area for generations. I also believe the main reason this mall has went through so much turmoil and been neglected was because directly across from the american mall on 1 side is apartments and on the other was rual housing. The lima mall on the other hand was surrounded by other businesses and many resteraunts so it pulls in more people and becomes the place to be for all other businesses…1st rule of business is location. I’m sure better management and marketing could have made a difference but for how long?…I have also heard rumors that the reason that the big cinema in town moved in there was becaust the mall management was waiting for tennant leases to run out and they were gonna tear it down and build a best buy and sonic on that property and it was some sort of joint venture but that was just a rumor and I never saw anything to credit it.

    [Reply]

    Glenn Reply:

    @Jeff,
    Ironically, I visited Lima the very day you would have posted this. So sad to see the place just sitting there empty.
    Thanks for the insight. I had moved away from NW Ohio by the time you worked there and had lost touch with a lot of those things. We would still stop there at Christmas time, though, as my wife always liked poking around in Value City.

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  115. I grew up in Bluffton and we would frequent the American Mall just as much as The Lima Mall. We had the tendecy to drive to Lima, over Findlay because the Findlay Mall didn’t seem to be too diverse in retail stores. Even after we moved to Findlay, we still made the drive to shop in Lima. I remember shopping with my mom and sister in several of the shops at the American Mall. Shoe Carnival, Value City, and my sister got her nails done a few times at the nail salon. My sister passed away after high school and a few years ago I went in for memories sake…I stumbled into the few stores that were left and found myself walking around recalling my childhood. My husband and I recently moved from Findlay to be closer to work and school, both of which are in Lima and I was sad to see the mall so deserted. I especially miss Andersons as they had a nice food and wine selection. The American Mall continues to be part of my childhood, and despite its dead state, it continues to remind me of the things that were once alive and well in my own life. The biggest of which was my sister and I am thankful for the American Mall as it gave me memories to hold onto and to pass down to my children.

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  116. Pangles was definitely the grocery as I remember going there as far back as 1967. I can vouch for the groceries sliding down the wheels conveyor out to parking lot. Pangles was next to original anchor, Monkey Wards.

    Other original anchor was either Wells or McCrory with Baskin-Robins at that end’s front entrance. Movie theater was always there and split into two screens sometime in mid-seventies.

    Wasn’t Poley’s Big & Tall in American Mall back then? I am 99% sure there was arcade with pinball by mid-to-late 70′s. Anybody with me on that one?

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  117. My first job was a employee at Sveden House. yes its spelled with a V. Sveden House was a smorgasboard restraunt. Anchor stores in 1970 where Wards west end. Wells at the east end. Cinama was in the center, with musicland to the east of that. Baskin and Robbins where located at the south entrance. Many more i could mention, but do not wish to type all morning long. All the stores mentioned after the above two anchor stores mentioned by me came after. The Sveden house was the first eat joint in the mall at its first opening. Memories of this place would be, a large fish tank with a dolphin named skipper in its grand opening of the mall. Robin from the Batman and Robin tv show, Burt Wayne ? cant remember his last name did a personal appearance to wrestle with some Lima famous wrestler. all show of course. and a person entombed in a block of ice for 3 days. with no clothing on. circus like thrill for a spectator to see. I have many a photos of the mall, plus old signs from store advertisements collected over the years i worked at the mall. Outside the mall where the new theatre has been built, use to be a lot to sell mobile homes. Elm street side had a bank located at the parking lot entrance on the same side East side. Update on the mall now is its totally closed and has only been used by law enforcment to train in for fire or emergancy situations. Cafaro ran the place down. Plans to have it demolished are in the making. When? who knows. Lima sits full of empty bldgs waiting to be demolished. Lima Mall is slowly going to the wayside as well. American Mall like the Lima Mall fell victim to poor managment and not all lost due just to Wally World. Just Poor managment. Getting long here, miss working the Sveden House made many a good friends there. Regards to you all.Ned

    [Reply]

    Heather Reply:

    @Ned,
    I would LOVE to see those pics!!! I was fairly young when this mall was in its prime, but do remember some about it. I miss Parason’s garlic bread with the foamy butter…YUM!

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    Brandon Sharp Reply:

    @Ned, totally.. i worked with Carfaro tearing it down.. hes just money hungary..

    [Reply]

  118. So it is 2011, anything happen to this property or are they just saying stuff will happen? Thanks for any updates!

    [Reply]

  119. BOTH Kroger’s and Pangle’s grocery stores were located in the mall-I ought to know, since I worked at both places-at seperate times, of course.

    [Reply]

  120. @Jeff, No news lately at least not anything mentioned publicly. I’m pretty sure they will be tearing the place down eventually. It would be awesome to get a Best Buy in Lima. It would bring more business to the area but Best Buy would go great where the old Walmart is too :) . I can’t wait to see what happens with that place.

    [Reply]

  121. I tore down that mall last year.. theres nothing left but a structure i have pictures of it.. carfaro just scrapped the whole thing.. hes kind of a dick.. lol

    [Reply]

    Heather Reply:

    @Brandon Sharp, I would live to see the pictures!!! There is also a Facebook group called “You know you’re from Lima….” that would LOVE them!!!

    [Reply]

  122. rumor is that its gonna be torn down and converted into a parking lot for beer barrel pizza and cinema 7

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  123. I lived in Lima in the late 69′s/early 70′s, and the American Mall opened with Montgomery Wards as the west end anchor, and I believe Welles Discount store at the east end, although it might’ve been that Kroger was in that space before Welles. The American Mall had some of the major chains, such as Kay’s Jewelery, Baskin Robbin’s, etc., and also some local downtown businesses who didn’t necessarily close their downtown stores, but instead expanded to two stores. The Luggage Shop is one that comes to mind. There were some stores, such as Kay’s and the major shoe stores of the day (can’t think of the names right now…lol), who had stores in BOTH of Lima’s malls! And actually, Kay’s didn’t leave their prime corner spot until the mid-2000′s, when Cafaro’s stopped renewing leases and they had to go to just one Lima store–in the Lima Mall. The restaurant spot on the west end, which had it’s own exterior enrance and a fiquor license, had a restaurant in it from begiinning to end–the last one was Bw3./Buffalo Wild Wings. The theatre in the mall did well for quite a few years–I’m not sure when they closed, but probably when the trend turned toward cina-plexes. In the 80′s the American Mall continued to thrive, although there were many maintenance problems. I remember one year when they failed to removed the snow from the roof, and the drains off the roof were plugged, so on Christmas Eve, several stores, including Kinney Shoes, were forced to operate with only limited inventory (the storage room was flooded), and limited showroom floor space, due to water dripping down on it! Things like that tend to turn other prospective tenants away, and I think the lack of maintainance did them more damage than the lack of updating ! (After a big snow, you can SEE the men on the roofs at the Lima Mall, getting that weight off, but also avoiding a flood below, when it melts!)
    Oh–and back to the very beginning–originally there was only a plan to build the American Mall. “lLegend has it” that there was also a plan to widen Eastown Rd. AND build it on through to Spencerville Rd./Rt 117, to give Shawnee residents easier access. Then the developers had a BIG falling out, and one segment pulled out and started the Lima Mall (via DeBartolo), while the others remained at the American Mall. The Eastown Rd. project was tabled. (The legend infers some political scandal there.) So, the Lima Mall ended up having the easiest access from all the surrounding counties. (Our retailer stores and restaurants don’t rely on the 110,000 residents of Allen Co., they rely on 10 counties for support–and get it! Yes, those people COULD go to Ft. Wayne, Toledo, or Dayton, but Lima’s traffic isn’t as much of a hassle, and we have essentially the same retailers and restaurants, except we don’t have a Target or Best Buy, and a couple of the other ‘big names”. But I know for SURE that Target has been looking at land around the west side for at least 20 years–theyjust never seem to make a decision! Obviously they want to get into this market, so I suppose the day will come!) And don’t hold your breath for the Walmart Supercenter to put the Lima Mall out of business–I don’t think they even bought enough land to DO that! LOL One little known fact about Lazarus…now Macy’s…DeBartolo’s desperately wanted them to come to their mall. However, their lease with Elder-Beerman states that they will never lease to another store that carries the same brand names oe has the same concept and target consumers, etc. SO, they sold Lazarus the land they built on, plus an area of the parking lot! They did NOT “lease” to a store that’s like Elder-Beerman, thus they did not violate their lease agreement! Lazarus/Macy’s has never been a member of the mall association, because they don’t hold a lease with the owners–they own the land they’re on, and they own/maintain their own parking lot. Lazarus built their store and opened in 1970 or 71, and while it was being built, DeBartolo’s built the concourse from Pennys to Lazarus. I know for SURE all of the construction was going on in the summer of ’70, because I lived at the Gatehouse condos, just north of the Lima Mall. Between the Gatehouse construction, which was still ongoing, and the mall concourse and Lazarus both under construction, we had a vast view of earthmovers–and lived in a cloud of dust! LOL

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  124. Yeah, the whole medical facility thing totally fell through, and the building just sits empty. I’d love for them to keep the structure and reopen but I’m sure at this point its going to be torn down. I’d love a Target or Best Buy or a nice big Barnes and Noble since there are no decent bookstores left in town. Well, there never really was a great one, but the small Waldenbooks in the Lima Mall went out with its parent company Borders. We have a B&N on a college campus that is small and filled with mostly school textbooks. A real one would be nice.

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  125. @Janetnotdoe: Great info, did not know that about DeBartolo’s “agreement” with Elder Beerman (wasn’t it still the Leader back then?). Either way, I’ll bet they felt cheated on the deal. But, they’re still there and coexisting with Macy’s. I remember what must have been Christmas season ’69, buying our first artificial tree and going around to the back side of JC Penney’s to pick it up at a loading dock or something. Must have been just before Lazarus construction started.

    Also, someone mentioned previously Poley’s Big and Tall being in the American Mall… that’s true. I worked at the Ottawa radio station in the early 80′s (now the Fox 106.3) and we ran Poley’s commercials occasionally.

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  126. Does anyone remember that year Service Merchandise closed in Lima? I remember vividly going into that store as a kid on many occassions.

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  127. can you tell me who owned the leader store in downtown lima also who owned the neon products on east wayne street i have been in lima since 1944 and these places where really popular the downtown area is a diaster since the malls came.i think rinks was in the american mall then whelles, value city

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    James Reply:

    @phil lane, the Rubens family owned The Leader downtown (and in the Lima Mall for awhile). Rinks was never in the American Mall. It was Baileys (out of Cleveland) for a very brief period, then Wells).

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  128. Well….the American Mall is, without a doubt, no more now! It’s either in the process of being destroyed or already is as I write this….

    Nothing more to do now but talk and write about times we once had there.
    RIP American Mall.

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