Midway Mall, located in Sherman, Texas, is the only major shopping mall for a section of Texoma comprised of the cities Sherman and Denison, Texas, and Durant, Oklahoma. With a population of about 150,000, Midway Mall’s trade area is located approximately 70 miles northeast of downtown Dallas; however, the mall itself as well as the Texas side of its trade area are technically located within the behemoth Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area. With that said, the nearest of Dallas-Fort Worth’s malls are over an hour away, which should make Midway Mall a tier ‘A’ mall and successful, especially considering its size at 600,000 square feet with three anchors and several junior anchors. However, this is not the case; Midway Mall is currently challenged by an alarming and rapidly increasing vacancy rate. But why is this?
The faltering probably isn’t due to the mall’s location. Midway Mall’s location is ideal, situated on Texoma Parkway smack dab in between the cities of Sherman and Denison, and only half an hour from Durant, Okla. as well as the booming sprawlburg of McKinney. In addition to being located in between all the population centers in its trade area, Midway Mall is also adjacent to US 75, a major north-south freeway connecting Dallas and its suburbs to Oklahoma and points north. Also nearby is Sherman Town Center, located along US 75, featuring Wal Mart, Target, Home Depot, and 30 other stores, as well as a JCPenney which relocated from Midway Mall in 2007.
Recent problems may have also arisen due to competition. Although Sherman and Denison are some 70 miles north of downtown Dallas, the suburbs of Dallas-Fort Worth start in McKinney, which is just 30 miles south of Sherman. Although McKinney doesn’t have a traditional mall of its own, per se, it has nearly every store under the sun along the US 75 corridor, including many upscale options. In addition, several of the DFW Metroplex’s best malls are in Plano, Frisco, and north Dallas, and they are all approximately an hour away from Sherman and Denison. Also, Sherman’s own Sherman Town Center, an outdoor strip mall, appears to have more retail activity than Midway Mall, and in 2007 the Town Center stole the mall’s JCPenney. Whoops.
Ironically, competition somewhat recently favored Midway Mall, as it opened directly up the road from another mall, the Sher-Den Mall. Sher-Den Mall opened during the 1960s, which was anchored by Montgomery Ward and JCPenney (anything else?). Despite extensive renovations in the 1980s to compete with the larger Midway Mall, Sher-Den Mall closed with a whimper when Montgomery Ward went bankrupt and closed in 2001; it was torn down in 2004.
Perhaps the most telling statement of trouble is the condition of Midway Mall, which is amazingly dated in terms of decor and atmosphere. The entire one-level mall can best be described as cavernous, and the dimly lit corridors suggest slumber rather than the brightly-lit exuberance found in most modern, successful shopping centers. Perhaps not utilitarian nor functional by modern standards, the mall’s corridors do evoke a certain sense of the past, with bland carpeting, giant palm trees, sterile marble planters and three circus-like tents which puff up some 50 feet toward the sky at three spots/courts throughout the mall, and are a sight to see. So, too, are the mall’s maze-like corridors, which zig and zag and even double back on each other, and the nearly empty food court. Since there are few shoppers, there are fewer kiosks, too, and frequently lots of open space throughout the mall.
We visited Midway Mall on a recent Monday night and discovered that the mall’s online directory was way out of date, having missed the departures of Mervyns, JCPenney, Goody’s, the movie theatre, and probably some in-line stores as well. Bealls, Dillard’s, and Sears remain, and Mervyn’s has been replaced by Burlington Coat Factory. JCPenney moved to nearby Sherman Town Center in 2007, and Mervyn’s and Goody’s exited the market only to close outright some time later. Also, junior anchor Famous Labels has taken what was obviously an Old Navy space, and the mall was so dark and drab. There weren’t many shoppers, either, and the fact that the Day By Day Calendar Company kiosk boy was spaced out and listening to headphones while sitting on a nearby planter is probably telling as well (see pictures). Did we mention how dark it was?
Midway Mall is a dim, dank, outdated mall with an amazing layout. We were shocked at not only the mall’s condition, but at the alarming rate of vacancies; we expected this to be a much more typical, modern successful mall and not a cavernous maze. Being retail historians, we of course found this to our liking, but we feel kind of bad for the citizens of Sherman, Denison, and Texoma. We’d like to think they could use this; their population supports it, but it must be choosing to drive down to Dallas and its suburbs or to the outdoor strip centers rather than to patronize - or at least update – this mall. We’ll put it on deathwatch for now and keep our eyes peeled.