Fort Henry Mall; Kingsport, Tennessee

Fort Henry Mall exterior in Kingsport, TN

All too often we profile the underdogs here. Malls that couldn’t make it get all the attention and some of the interesting, successful centers get lost in the fray. Sure, empty, dated corridors are great, but we aren’t being fair here and we never intended to punish those who are currently winning the game of capitalism. Besides, they’ll all eventually be history anyway, right?

Today’s entry comes to us from the Tri-Cities region of Tennessee and Virginia. With a population of nearly 500,000, the region is anchored by three cities: Kingsport, Bristol, and Johnson City. All three cities are in the northeast corner of Tennessee; however, Bristol is interestingly in both Tennessee and Virginia. Fort Henry Mall is located in Kingsport, which has a population of about 45,000. It is a successful two-level mall located on a prosperous strip and is nearly at capacity with stores. It’s currently anchored by JCPenney, Belk (2 locations) and Sears. One of the Belk locations was originally a Miller’s, a Hess’s, and most recently a Proffitt’s, which changed to Belk due to a buyout in March 2006.

Both the outside and inside of the mall are currently a hybrid of both very dated and modern decor, which unfortunately seem to be fighting and that’s not good. Outside, the anchors and most of the mall facade look ancient, which I think is cool but I’m sure puts off a few shoppers here and there. You know the type, they don’t walk into a place unless it’s glassy, shiny and sterile looking as a hospital. It appears, though, that Sears did update their logo with their very new logo. Going inside, the floors were dominated by pink tiles with purple borders, carpeting with a kaleidoscope of colors (none of which really matched), and peach colored railings. The ceiling was this mesh-looking latticework design, and sodium lamps hung down from it to light the mall (aided, thankfully, with some natural lighting and lighting from the stores). All in all, the design scheme inside the mall seemed somewhat schizophrenic and didn’t work at all for me. Maybe it works for you. For another strange color scheme, see my earlier Pekin Mall entry.

As for the mall this one destroyed, it was called Kingsport Mall, and was recently anchored by Montgomery Ward, Heilig Meyers, and Hills (later Ames). Talk about a sad destiny. All of those anchors went completely bankrupt and closed all stores in either 2001 or 2002. Needless to say, the Kingsport Mall, which never seemed to be on par with Fort Henry Mall in the first place, went down the tubes. In 2003 it was demolished and redeveloped into East Stone Commons, a very successful strip mall anchored by big box like Office Depot, PetsMart, Ross, Hobby Lobby, and Goody’s Family Clothing. It also has Cold Stone Creamery, which means it’s busy night and day. A tongue in cheek take on Kingsport featuring some of former Kingsport Mall’s pictures is featured here. Otherwise, check out my pictures of Fort Henry Mall featured below. They were taken August 2005.

Fort Henry Mall sign pylon in Kingsport, TN Fort Henry Mall in Kingsport, TN Fort Henry Mall Proffitt's exterior in Kingsport, TN

Fort Henry Drive in Kingsport, TN Fort Henry Mall Proffitt's exterior in Kingsport, TN Fort Henry Mall in Kingsport, TN

Fort Henry Mall Proffitt's in Kingsport, TN Fort Henry Mall in Kingsport, TN Fort Henry Mall in Kingsport, TN

16 Responses to “Fort Henry Mall; Kingsport, Tennessee”

  1. Want to hear a bizarre anchor story? The Proffitt’s (Belk) with the green canopies was originally a Parks-Belk. If you take a look at the design, it’s a pretty common Belk/Leggett motif from the ’70s. One town over at Bristol, there is a Belk that’s identical to the Fort Henry store, down to the canopy color.

    Parks-Belk was owned by both the Parks and Belk familes for many years, but the Parkses, faced with increased competition from Proffitt’s and Wal-Mart, among others, sold out to Proffitt’s in the late ’90s, much to the dismay of Belk.

    Fast forward to last year, whien the former Proffitt’s conglomerate (Saks, Incorporated) became so bogged down that it had to sell out or risk bankruptcy. They put their former flagship didvision, Proffitt’s, up for sale to save ther current flagship, Saks Fifth Avenue.

    The suitor: Belk, which ended up getting back not only their old locations, but most of the Proffitt’s and McRae’s stores, resulting in near total domination of the Southern department store market, which is what Proffitt’s was aiming for when it bought Parks-Belk.

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  2. Saks incorporated also divested their northern division (Carson Pirie Scott, Herbergers, Younkers, Bergners, and Boston Store) to Bon-Ton Stores Inc. However, Bon-Ton has allowed the aforementioned stores to keep their nameplates, unlike Belk which converted nameplates.

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  3. I thought that looked like an old Parks-Belk store! Thanks for the input, Steve.

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  4. What’s even more freaky is that the Sears at this mall is also a dead-ringer for the Bristol store. Bizarre.

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  5. And, as of this week, Belk bought another part of the Saks group – Parisian. Will be interesting to see what happens with that. Belk will finally have a presence in the mainstream Atlanta market, when the Parisian at Phipps Plaza becomes a Belk.

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  6. They are now renovating Fort Henry Mall. GGP just got management of it. You can go to ggp.com to see the pictures of the renovation. The Mall will be renamed Kingsport Town Center. GGP is also renovating Stones River Mall in Murfreesboro Tennessee. If you want I can get pictures for Labelscar. ( I’ve been reading for about half a year, just started commenting.)

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  7. I just noticed that GGP owned this mall. It’s probably irrelevant, but was this once a Wilmorite owned mall as recently as a few years ago?

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  8. Yes it was once a Wilmorite property.

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  9. I noticed that you can make out the labelscar for Parks-Belk behind the Proffitt’s sign. Look closely to see the “Pa” on one side and “lk” on the other.

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  10. I just found this website and am addicted! I thought I might add in my own information about this mall. The current Belk Home store (previously Proffit’s Home Store/Hess’s/Miller’s) used to be two stories, but if my memory serves me correctly when Hess’s closed Profitt’s took over the top part of the store to make it their location to sell house goods and the bottom part of the store was closed and operated as several different smaller stores and eventually the movie theater expanded into the space leaving only the upstairs portion of the store.

    Another fun thing I just noticed is that I think my car is in one of the pictures of the outside of the mall. :) What a coincidence!

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  11. Here’s some more information from the local newspaper about the pending mall renovations: http://www.timesnews.net/article.php?id=9002596

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  12. This Mall is Fantastic,I love Italian Pizza,and SHOPING!!,THIS IS THE BEST MALL EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  13. The Kingsport mall is included in this website showcasing the Tri Cities.

    http://www.thetricitiesbest.com

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  14. I’m glad to hear that it is changing its look.the mall was getting outdated.

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  15. I love shopping at the stores.The atores I love the most are DEB,American Eagle,and Aeropostale.

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  16. I REALLY LOVE THIS MALL. I JUST WISH IT WAS CLOSER TO ME ITS ONE HOUR AWAY, BUT IT WORTH THE DRIVE.

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