I know that I’m really keeping these posts coming fast and furious lately, but after I threw up my tome on the Fairgrounds Square Mall outside of Reading, Pennsylvania, I decided to follow it up with the other, better mall serving the Reading area: the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing.
While the Berkshire Mall is in some ways very typical of a mid-sized mall serving a mid-sized city, it’s stuck in something of a time warp. The decor inside isn’t the most exciting, but it is certainly interesting (and kind of shabby) just by virtue of the way it hasn’t received much attention. In the comment strand to Fairgrounds Square, one of our commenters (Bruce) noted that “It amazes me how bad Berkshire Mall looks, especially given its prime location in upscale Wyomissing. The exterior alone looks like a dead mall and its large sign out front is the worst of 70s ugliness. The owners really need to spruce up this property.”
’70s ugliness? You be the judge:
I might have to agree.
Like with Fairgrounds Square, I wasn’t able to find much online about the Berkshire Mall. I do know that the Boscov’s seen in these shots is actually quite new. It replaced a Strawbridge’s that closed in 2003 or 2004, and was reportedly the worst-performing Strawbridge’s in the entire chain. The space was a Strawbridge’s for a relatively brief period of time; the store was built as a Wanamaker’s. The Sears, as far as I know, has always been here, and I think the same is true of The Bon-Ton, who is based in nearby York. Beyond that, these pictures mostly speak for themselves: the mall’s a pretty basic straight shot, with a small second level at the center court. But some of the various accoutrements sprinkled throughout are in poor shape; between the dried-up, swimming-pool-blue fountains and the bizarre quasi-industrial benches, this place clearly needs some good ol’ lipstick and rouge.
The Berkshire Mall was also the site of a controversy (or, if we want to be more colorful, hullabaloo) in February 2007 when a 29-year old nursing mother was asked to stop feeding her infant or to cover up. It became a bit of a cause célèbre amongst the, er, breastfeeding community, and they staged a “nurse-in” on February 24, 2007 in response. So far as I can tell, the result was… a whole lot of breastfeeding (there’s video at that link, but it’s not creepy).
Which reminds me! You should all ask Prangeway sometime about the time he was thrown out of a mall for (accidentally) taking pictures of a breastfeeding mother. That’s quite a story.