Western Plaza; Amarillo, Texas

Western Plaza sign in Amarillo, TX 

I discovered this gem of a dead mall while on a road trip to California in July of 2004.  Now, Amarillo was a strange place for me to begin with.  Something about the flat, wide open spaces on the way into town, and the many signs along I-40 advertising the Big Texan Steak Ranch, where if you eat 4.5 pounds of steak in an hour it’s free.  Something about the way I-40 seemed to be the main commercial corridor for Amarillo, and the rest of the city seemed to be locked in a mild slumber.  Amarillo’s definitely unique.

When I first saw Western Plaza beneath I-40, I was immediately alarmed to the fact that this mall might no longer be open.  Shockingly, it was open, so we went in.  Inside were less than a handful (no, really) of stores open, including a Furr’s Cafeteria and a local dance club.  The decor inside the mall was ancient.  The mall had clearly not been renovated at any point in its history, and although I’m unsure as to the age of the mall I’d bet money that it’s at least from the early 1970s.  However, as of my visit I’d say the mall was kept in good condition. 

There are definitely some pieces missing to the mall’s story.  From what I’ve gathered, the mall was interestingly the location of the first Hastings store in the chain, which opened in 1968.  So, I’m guessing it’s about that old.  Through the 1970s, the mall enjoyed a great deal of popularity, and had stores like Radio Shack, Orange Julius, Woolco, Montgomery Ward, and Dunlaps.  In 1982, Amarillo’s successful, larger Westgate Mall opened just west of Western Plaza along I-40.  This probably had a lot to do with the downfall of Western Plaza, as Westgate has all the typical mall stores that any major superregional center would have.  In 1997, a tragedy occurred at the mall when a well-known local young man was murdered in the parking lot.  An article from 1999 cited the mall as a clustering of hispanic stores serving that community.  When I visited in 2004, even this was gone, and nothing was left to replace it.  There were far more senior citizens walking the mall than stores for them to shop in.  In 2005, it was reported that the mall was no longer heated in the winter and people could see their breath inside the mall.  In June, 2006, the Western Plaza mall sign came down, and plans were in the works to eventually raze the entire center and build a new retail development.  The Furr’s location has also closed.  No word as to whether or not the center is in fact still open for walking. 

Obviously there are some missing links in the history of Western Plaza.  I’m interested in what exactly the mall’s anchors were, and did the mall fall down fast or was it a slow, gradual death?  Maybe there are other factors that led to the mall’s failure.  Have any more information?  Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.  All photos taken July 2004.

Western Plaza in Amarillo, TX Western Plaza in Amarillo, TX Western Plaza in Amarillo, TX

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Western Plaza in Amarillo, TX Western Plaza in Amarillo, TX

 

51 Responses to “Western Plaza; Amarillo, Texas”

  1. Who is that large child sitting on that piece of construction equipment??

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  2. Don’t make fun of the kids from the group home.

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  3. I just found a photo album on Photobucket with a bunch of photos of Western Plaza, too. Worth checking out if you want to see some more.

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  4. This mall was the home of the original Hastings store – which was close to the mall Cinema – and believe it or not it was renovated in the early 80s.

    The split level food court area was created in the early 80s renovation as was the elevated ramp stage area at the other end of the mall. It was a fairly minor renovation compared to some, but they did attempt to update the mall somewhat to compete with the new Westgate Mall.

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  5. Picture #1: Former Woolco

    Picture #2: Former Sakowitz judging by the labelscar

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  6. I had a drum shop, Bart Elliott’s STUDIO DRUM SHOP, at Western Plaza … literally right next to Service Merchandise. My store was first located at 3200 S. Georgia St, then moved to Western Plaza in the early part of 1992. I left Amarillo later that same year to go on tour, so the shop closed.

    In March of 2004 I was back in Amarillo for a performance with country artist Keith Norris. We played at Graham Central Station, which had taken over the location at Western Plaza where Service Merchandise (and my shop) used to be. It was a weird experience to be playing my drums in front of hundreds of people … right where they had been used just 12 years prior to teach my students.

    I would love to get/see some photos of the mall when my shop was there. If anyone who happens to read this has some photos, please contact me through my website.

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  7. Hey there! I’m the guy with the PhotoBucket pages.

    I found this mall by accident as well back in 2005.

    I submitted a write-up on DeadMalls.com: http://deadmalls.com/malls/western_plaza.html

    The link to my PhotoBucket pics has changed. Here is the current link:
    http://s31.photobucket.com/albums/c367/mgstrong/Dead%20Malls/Western%20Plaza%20in%20Amarillo%20TX/

    Not much had changed between the two times I was there, other than the marquee had been removed.

    All the best…

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  8. I have a question about the anchors here. Was Service Merchandise the old Woolco, and Wards the former Sakowitz? If so, I’m surprised that the Sakowitz buildinng still has Sakowitz labelscars.

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    anarchrist23 Reply:

    yes and yes to yuor question

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  9. Heya there, i am an amarillo native. There were three native stores. The first photo was an original woolco, later becoming a service merchandise, which also closed. I know who the department store in that second photo was originally, it just isnt coming to mind. later it became a sakowitz (which closed) and then a dunlaps (which relocated outside of the mall). Wards isnt in any of these photos, but it is to the right of the department store in photo #2. it always had been a wards, from the malls opening, until wards folded. now it sits empty as well.

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    Donna Rosenberg Reply:

    @Shannon, It was White & Kirk

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  10. The area at what is now I-40 and Western Street was a muddy playa lake until late 1966. Construction began on Western Plaza in the fall of that year. The mall opened February 29, 1968. But Montgomery Ward and Woolco had completed their buildings months earlier and held grand openings August 9, 1967. (I was the 6th person through the doors at Woolco) For the benefit of shoppers during construction of the mall at Christmas time ’67 a tunnel made of scaffolding and plywood connected Wards and Woolco. The other major anchor was a White and Kirk department store. White and Kirk, a local company, operated a very fine store in downtown Amarillo for decades. In the 70’s W&K was purchased by Sakowitz which eventually sold the store to Dunlaps. Dunlaps moved away in the early 2000s. My first job ever was at Radio Shack in the east end of the mall. It was the first Radio Shack store in the region. The store closed July 27, 2002 (I helped the manager shut the sliding doors). A Furr’s Cafeteria was in the mall from the beginning and for many years Wards had a small cafeteria of its own. Woolco had its own version, the Red Grill. Furr’s closed April 23, 2006 (I was the last customer out the door). General Cinema Corp. of Dallas opened a 1,000 seat theater March 29, 1968 featuring THE GRADUATE. The huge auditorium was divided into two theaters in 1974. The cinema ceased operation in 1991 but a local comedy club took over providing entertainment in one auditorium while showing independent movies in the other until 1993. A 10-screen cinema was rumored for WP but never materialized. The first Hastings store opened with the mall. It was a very tiny store, probably only a tenth the size of current Hastings operations. (Hastings is headquartered in Amarillo and operates from a former Sears building near Sunset Center Mall) Western Plaza had two sets of fountains, a large one near Wards and smaller one near the Woolco side. The center of the mall was a large, bright, open area with a few kiosks such as Orange Julius. The mall had 43 stores at its height. Woolco closed January 15, 1983 (I was there when they turned out the lights for the last time). The Woolco building became a Wilsons store a few months later. Wilsons sold to Service Merchandise a few years later. The Service Merchandise Company went out of business in the late ’90s and the building was empty until the Graham Central Station nightclub opened there in 2004. Montgomery Ward went out of business in 2001. That building was never occupied again. A new regional shopping complex, Westgate Mall, opened October 6, 1982 four miles west of WP on I-40. Western Plaza was renovated somewhat in 1983 and held on for a few more years but was ultimately doomed. New owners terminated the leases of the few stores still operating there and by mid 2006 the mall was vacant except for the huge nightclub which is still in business. The old mall structure is to be razed and a new 10 building complex known as Western Crossing is to be built in its place. The new development will include several stores, office space, restaurants, and possibly a hotel and residential section. I’ve been told that Radio Shack will open a new store there as soon as they can. I will be at the grand opening.

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  11. GREAT little recollection/history piece Ronn! I lived in Amarillo from ’84 – ’92 and have many fond memories of WP as well. It saddened me to see what had become of it when I saw the pics on DeadMalls.com a year ago – so much so it was one of the main reasons I took a trip back to Amarillo for the first time in 14 years…I just had to see the place one more time. I took LOTS of pics. Unfortunately the majority of the mall was chained off and there was a security guard also to ensure no one wandered around (bastid!). I got pics of what I could, though. I wonder if anyone has any vintage pics from the 80’s (or even 70’s) they wouldn’t mind sharing? That would be truly amazing and so much appreciated!

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  12. A little more info…the cinema turned into a church for a few years after it’s closing. Big Apple comics was a great comic book, sports trading card, and collectible store that was located there for many years. It had now relocated further south on Western Street. Ther was an excellent smoke shop outside the south entrance which had an excellent selection of cigars and pipe tobacco. Also near that entrance was a store selling native american artwork, featuring the work of Henri Peters. Beyond that (in the later years) was a store I afectionately nicnamed the piimp-wear store which carried many brightly colored suits, shoes, and shirts. Then there was a jeweler who had some of the best quality and cost repair services in town. Next to Furrs years ago, there was a unique imports store (I can’t recall if it was a Pier 1 or not). Then there was the Frame shop that was there as long as i can remember (born in ’79), they did high quality work. Next to that there was a upscale jewelry shop. They went out of business in about 1992 maybe. When they went out of business I purchased a diamond and Ruby ring priced at $700 for about $120. Most of my early life there was a shop that sold beautiful fur coats and accesories, i can’t recall the name now. Aslo for a number of years there was a modeling agency. For a while there was a great candy shop called peppermint patty’s. In the latter years there was a christian reading room across from Dunlaps. Also later, the emodel train society had a room there where they set up large train sets open to the public occasionaly. At the end of it’s life, many store fronts in the mall were only used once a year…at Halloween to house haunted houses, most of which supported local charities. My understanding is that they plan to tear down the current building leaving upu the bar temporarily until it’s new buidling is complete, then tear it down and finish construction.

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  13. I remember Western Plaza and can still see it like it was yesterday. When my mother took me there to shop we always parked outside of Sakowitz (which was originally White & Kirk and became Dunlaps) and I was truly amazed by the whole experience. I’m from a small town north of Amarillo and WP seemed ultra cosmopolitan to me. I remember The Hollywood, Jr’s, Klein’s (where the furs were sold), Alexander’s, and the Hub for ladies clothing and Raffkinds for men. I always loved eating in Hole In The Mall and had a french dip sandwhich every time. Toys By Roy, Thom McAnn, Russell Stover, Merle Norman also come to mind. Radio Shack was always there as was Huneke Furniture and Montgomery Ward seemed huge but not as fun as Sakowitz. And of course Orange Julius was right in the middle of the mall as well as the two big fountains that I always loved. I also remember there was a kiosk that sold shaved wood flowers that smelled of roses and small spun glass trinkets like sailing ships and baskets of flowers. I do find it very ironic that the plan is to tear it all down to build more shopping. I’m sure I’m oversimplifying the whole situation but it is amusing, then then perhaps I’m not.

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    ClayS Reply:

    Dunlap’s-Sakowitz-Kirk&White, ahh what a lineage. Kirk and White were downtown on Polk Street for years in a beautiful building purpose built by them.

    How’s this for “most obscure” point about Western Plaza? At the time they moved to Western Plaza, Kirk and White’s head of the Interiors Department was a sister of WWII Army General Lucian K. Truscott, the originator of the 5mph march that replaced the previous 3 mph marching speed of the US Army. The men marched so fast that the pace was known as “the Truscott Trot.”

    His sister was also a fast paced employee of K&W, famous for briskly zooming and swooping around the department to help employees and customers alike.

    She retired not long after the new Western Plaza store opened. Amarillo hasn’t seen decent store help since.

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    Curtis Barclay Reply:

    @Greg F, The Hole in the Mall was built in 1982 by my father’s company A.S.E. and Wiley Hicks Construction. If memory serves me correct, the project started just before West Gate Mall opened in October. I’ve seen jobs “fast tracked” before but not like this, we were working 7/12’s from start to finish and if you missed one day of work you didn’t come back, the pay on that job was REAL good. It was one the hardest job ever. Everything had to handled or brought into the building by hand.

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  14. They are starting demolition today

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  15. Aw, that’s sad. I’m really glad I got to see it though. Demolition photos anyone?

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  16. Prangeway,
    I’ll try to get some for ya.

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  17. Photos of the construction of Western Plaza and the demolition can be found here: http://www.amachron.com/chronoblog.htm

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  18. Hey Ronn! Those pics are nice! Everyone should check them out.

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  19. What a great web site. I have some great memories at Western Plaza Mall. I was a cook at the Hole in the Mall and worked at Thom McCann Shoes. I was so mad at myself that I had not shot pictures before they torn it down but found the pictures Ronn shot. BIG THANKS.

    I was surprised that Sunset Center is not here. Sunset is less than 3 miles from Western Plaza. We could see Woolco from the parking lot at Sunset.

    My parents bought Sunset Pets back in the early 70’s. I was 7 and that was our playground. Sunset Center was next the Sears on 15th and Plains.

    J.C.Pennys, Safeway, The Hub and Woolworth’s were the major anchors. I have some great photos in storage I will dig out and post.

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  20. It opened when I was five, and I spent a good portion of my youth in Western Plaza. Most all of the clothes I wore between 1968 and 1983 came from within those corridors, and many, many Saturday’s involved riding our Stingrays up to the mall and messing around until being asked to leave by various store managers and mall executives. The place had pretty much been on its heels since Westgate opened in ’83, and never quite recovered. When I moved away from Amarillo in ’94, its long and cruel slouch toward Gomorrah was well underway. It is sad to see the local institution pass away. I’m glad that there are people documenting such things. Anyhoo…they’re tearin’ ‘er down and putting up the new model of capitalism, so long live the king.

    b

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  21. I’m Probably a Young pup compared to most people writing memories of the old mall i am a mere age of 18…and i remember alot of western plaza. the main stores i remember going into are the tobacco shop (smelled SO good) furrs…mmmmmm….Service Merchandise. Wards (still have a 13″ old school tv from there! Big Apple, Family Photo, I always liked the suits in the windows at easy Stride. my school used to take us on field trips there. i knew the mall was on a downhill slide when most of the shops were closed and the signs to the shops that were open hung on mexican style blankets. I CAN’T BELIEVE NOBODY MENTIONED THE BUFFALO NICKEL ARCADE I have never seen another arcade like it for a mere $2 dollar admission fee you could go in and play pretty much all the games for a nickel some games may cost up to 20 cents. some of the games were even free. i used to go and spend hours there racking up the tickets and getting such sweet prizes and if any of you ever went there you might remember seeing a hand chair that was shaped like a wrist and a palm with the fingers as back rests…i always wanted one of those but never saved up the tickets. some of my best memories of western plaza are there. it was located right above the food court for the longest time and then it was moved right across from graham’s and family photo (when it moved it wasn’t nearly as good) seemed like they had the same games they had the very first time i went there minus the ones that had broken…that is the best memorie of the mall i have

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  22. I remember visiting Western Plaza as a child. We lived on the northeast side of town, and we made an annual family “pilgrimmage” to WP during the Christmas season. Those automated figures fascinated me. We later moved to a neighborhood literally minutes away from the Mall, so we got to go more a little more often. I can still remember exactly how those fountains sounded in that carvernous space. I was very sorry to watch WP’s decline during the late 1980s and 1990s. If you have photos you are willing to part with, I urge you to donate them to the Research Center at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. They would be a great asset to that collection and would be preserved and available to the public.

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  23. It’s October 7th, and the old Western Plaza is almost completely torn down. In it’s place will be a PetCo, a Burlington Coat Factory, and a few other buisinesses, I’m not sure exactly what they will be, but I’ll bookmark this site & update it when I find out. Amarillo is growing rapidly right now. We have over 200,000 residents now, and growing all the time. It’s a great place to live and raise a family, I’ve been here all my life, and really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

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  24. Hey everyone,

    I am originally born and raised in Amarillo,Texas but moved to Nashville,TN in 94 when I was 13. I do remember so many stores were opened back during those years and recall it wasn’t as appealing as I thought it was back in the days. Yes, Hastings orginal store was there and along with Dunlap,Service Merchandise and Montgomery Ward. It makes me sad to see this building is not completely gone and I knew it one day, it was going to be gone just how dead it appears to be.

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  25. Hey there all, WP is gone – soon to be replaced by strip center big box anywhere hell USA. I’m an Amarillo native living in Austin & just stumbled on this site. Many fond memories of Western Plaza. Remember shopping there when it was brand new as a kid. The first time I ever rode an escalator was in White and Kirks. The first time I saw an R rated movie “The Reevers” was at WP, saw Jaws there too. Ate lots of pie at Furrs, bought furniture and electronics at Monkey Wards, spent thousands on cassettes and albums at Hastings and would always hit Radio Shack next door. Can still taste the Orange Julius and remember pitching pennies into the fountains. Mom saved green stamps and the S&H was on the south end of WP. Years later watched it go downhill and then almost become a ghost shell but weird business started drifting in attracted to the low rent. Wards and Furr’s somehow held on hung on for years. A strange church took over the theatre after the comedy club failed. Spent lots of nickels at the arcade with my own kids when it was too damn cold outside to go anywhere else. The Buffalo Nickel had all their games set to use nickels, great deal. My daughter helped put on a production of Romeo and Juliet out in the mall, they even had a swordfight in the water of the fountain. I am an architect and helped the new management measure the whole place and then did local work for the night club as it got built and then did preliminary designs for the Burlington Coat Factory before they decided it was more economical to just tear down the whole place and start over. Sad to see it go.
    Thanks for the site!

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  26. My grandparents lived in Amarillo from 1947 or so until they passed just a few years ago. My last trip there was a few years ago but I lived there in 1964-1965 and used to spend a lot of my summers there and holidays so I was there every year and clearly remember when Western Plaza opened – we had always gone to Sunset Center and thought that was a big deal – they used to show loony toon cartoons there to keep the kids happy – but Western Plaza was a great place – our main destination was usually either Woolco or Furrs to eat and the movie theater. It was in its glory from the late 60s to very early 80s so it had a good 15 year run.

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  27. Kenneth I also remember the Buffalo nickel fondly. It was a great place. Me and my friends could spend an entire day inside that arcade off of a 5 dollar bill. I would play Golden Tee until my eyes bled. I remember some crazy tank game that could have 4 players that me and my friends would often play for entire afternoons. That Furr’s was awesome too. A great mall all in all.

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  28. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I worked at two locations in WP in my youth. I worked my way through high school at The Hole In The Mall in the late 70’s flipping burgers and at Klines (first sales job) shortly after graduating from high school. Both locations were ran by some really great people and afforded me the basics to my knowledge of business.

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  29. Back in the early seventies they began showing midnight shows at The Western Plaza Cinema and they got pretty wild at times. At Christmas time in Western Plaza Mall they always decorated with mechanized christmas characters and Santa flew in on a helicopter one year in the parking lot. Sometimes the mall would contract a traveling carnival to set up ferris wheels and rides in the mall parking lot.

    There were all sort of promotional stunts over the years. It was a good place to go walking in case there was a snowstorm or a heatwave happening outside.

    Was there a store there called Daisies?
    What really seems strange is getting sentimental about a forty year old mall when the fact is these malls help displace the downtown shopping area which was intact when I moved to Amarillo which I also miss a lot. A lot of the stores moved from downtown where they had neen for decades.

    Im sure the main selling point was the conventient parking and air conditioned mall.

    Intresting site

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    Donna Rosenberg Reply:

    @Danny Clark, Daisy’s was on Sunset Center in the early to mid ’70s.

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  30. The green storefront with the stained glass at the top was most likely a women’s boutique called Cricket Alley. I think I can see some of the lettering on the window to the right side of the door in that photo. I’m from Wichita and worked at one of the three CAs in town, which was at a mall very similar to this one.

    We also had a Toys By Roy (THE ABSOLUTE BEST – and never imitated since. Anyone remember the wrapping paper? A sure sign of a gift from a rich uncle!).

    Cricket Alley had stores in KS, OK, and TX, and also had a sister store named Ziggies. The Cricket stores were very unique, with weathered wood floors, stained glass, variable levels within the shop. It was all very ’70s Fleetwood Mac-does-victorian decor.

    I believe the imports store someone mentioned above may have been a World Bazaar. Another awesome store, kind of like Pier 1, but with many more cheap little trinkets and things from China (before EVERYTHING we had was from China!). Lots of stuff hanging from the ceiling, as I recall.

    Given all the interest in what our malls used to look like inside, I’m hoping someone starts a site where people can post photos of ’70s and ’80s mall interiors from during that actual time period. I have yet to see more than a few out there (usually postcards). Guess we didn’t spend too much time in those days carrying our cameras around everywhere we went… We were probably too busy having fun and enjoying the moment. Ah, the Good Ol’ Days!

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    Greg Reply:

    @The Green Storefront, it was actually called JR’s and was the young womens version of The Hollywood. Owned by the same people. My sister shopped in there alot as a teen ager.

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  31. I grew up in the Dallas area and was used to big city malls when I married and moved to the oklahoma panhandle, two hours north of Amarillo. When my oldest daughter was six months old, in 1996, we moved to a slightly bigger town just 45 miles north of Amarillo. As a stay at home mom in desperate need of “civilization”, I made the trip to Amarillo about once a week. In 1998 I was pregnant with my second child, and frequently made trips to my obgyn in Amarillo. Although we went to Westgate Mall (the newer, bigger mall off I40 between Coulter and Soncy) we also liked to frequent Western Plaza Mall. Here is what I remember most….The buffalo nickle game center — my daughter was too young to play any games, but she liked to go look at all the lights and hear the beeps and buzzes and electronic sounds of it all. I remember the commerical on TV too -“Buffalo Nickel, one nickel at a time”. There was a formal shop that we always walked by to look at “the sparkly dresses for big girls”. I remember the smoke shop with fondness – I am allergic to cigarette smoke, but I like the smell of pipe tobacco. I remember the Service Merchandise and the Monkey Wards (I was so relieved to see someone else called it that – it is not just my crazy family!) These stores had already gone out of business in the Dallas suburb I grew up in. My dad thinks that MW was one of the last ones to close. There was a place that sold dogs – poodles and terriers and such. The old man that bred the dogs and ran the shop was not there all the time, but when he was, he would get a few dogs out of the pet taxis and let them romp around while my daughter petted them. He seemed grumpy most of the time, but he would warm up after awhile of watching my daughter’s enjoyment playing with his dogs. If we came by on a day when he was closed, my daughter was always dissapointed. I remember a Christian bookstore – that was the first place I had seen that picture that looks like Jesus’ face, but if you look closer it is also a picture of the crucifixion scene. My daughter and I had pictures done at Family Photo for a gift for my husband (you know the type – mommy and baby all in white gowns kindof blurry – and we had some of my favorite toddler pics of her taken there. I loved Furrs! They had an “all you can eat for $5″, and I could eat alot – especially when I was pregnant! My daughter thought she was hot stuff because they would carry her tray for her. There was a tea girl (remember when they used to come by with a cart that had ice, tea, water, and to go boxes?) that had Downs Syndrome. Everyone there loved her – that girl probably took home more in tips than some of her non challeged peers! Ok, this is soooo non PC, but does anyone remember a sketch on SNL or Mad TV of a mentally challenged blonde girl? Whoever that was must have eaten at Furrs because they had this tea girl dead on!
    My daughter (almost 13) said she remembers the dress shop, Furrs, and the fountains. She loved the fountains and could play there for an hour if I let her. It was her own private playground. I think at one time they had steps/stairs around them, but they must have had to redo them in the 80’s when they renovated because some walkways had wooden platforms – “bridges” and ramps that ran between the fountains, some with carpet and some exposed wood, and some tile that matched the fountain. There was a huge ramp that was carpeted that she would run up and down and giggle and giggle and giggle! One time I let her put on her just purchased tap shoes and the tile and wood pathways became a stage where she entertained millions (well, ok it was just me and the 20 senior citizens doing laps for their exercise!) We prefered Western Plaza to visit Santa and the Easter Bunny because it was not as crowded, we didn’t have to wait in line for hours, and Santa was a whole lot nicer! Plus, at WP I could get right up there and take pictures, but at the big mall, the “elves” would position themselves so that the only good picture you could get came from their camera, and you had to pay $15 for it!

    Wow! My oldest turns 13 this month – thanks for letting me share this walk down memory lane!

    BTW – Western Plaza sat back just a bit from I 40’s access road, a bit south and east of the Olive Garden. Now there is a Cheddar’s immediatly to the east of the Olive Garden and a Starbucks to the east of Cheddar’s, and a Rudy’s (BBQ and gasoline – what an odd combination!) directly to the east of Starbucks. All of these are in a line right next to the access road. South of that “strip” is a large parking lot, and then, where the mall used to be is Burlington coat factory, Petco, Mardel’s and (I think) a Michael’s craft store. I’ve been in Burlington’s, but not the others. It was nice, and I got my youngest’s Christmas dress there for a good price, but there were no puppies, no fountains, no smell of pipe tobacco, and no seconds on the chicken fried steak! :-(

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  32. WOW. I grew up in Amarillo (1964-1985 when I moved to Nashville), my mom still lives there and worked at both Woolco and Montgomery Wards. The pictures that Ronn posted above are wonderful. I remember many a penny that I threw into that Fountain. Every Christmas was an adventure at Western Plaza as we waited for Santa to arrive. I would love to see stuff about Sunset Center. I was Kinney Shoes Store #1115 Employee of the year at the Sunset center store in 1983.

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  33. yeah, there was a Daisey’s. It was womens clothing and accessories. I had forgot all about that until your post. Thanks!!

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  34. Wow, I am in tears. I lived in Amarillo from 69 to 79, at the tender ages of 7 to 17, and literally grew up at Western Plaza. We moved to Amarillo so my dad could run a kids shoe store there (next to Hastings (with the dirty mags on the top shelf)), my mom worked at Wards, and my first job was working in the cafeteria at Wards. The pictures were great. It has been so long, I completely forgot the fountains. The cinema was always a big deal. Spent hours in Toys by Roy and Radio Shack. Hole in the Mall. What was the name of that store that had preppy, collegiate clothes before I knew what preppy was?

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    Greg Reply:

    @Todd, you might be thinking of Raffkinds for the preppy clothing. They were located on the same side as Klein’s and The Hollywood and carried Ralph Lauren shirts and tassled loafers. That kind of thing.

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  35. Like Todd said….WOW. My mom and I were emailing each other about good memories from our family vacations of yore from north Texas to New Mexico. Those trips invariable included a stop at the Furr’s at what I now know is Western Plaza Mall. After a little research I have stumbled onto this page and am filled with the strongest sense of nostalgia I have felt in a long time. A child of the 80’s, and only passing through my memories are limited to a dynomite chicken leg and mashed potatos at the Furrs, but I do remember going through around the holiday time and seeing Santa. There was also a large fountain area which I loved seeing every year. I wish I could see a picture of that fountain in all its glory. Do I remember correctly that there was still and Affiliated Foods Green Stamp store located nearby. I only remember seeing one when I was a kid, but it seems like it was near Western Plaza. Thanks again for the great memories!!!

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  36. We, like many other lived in Amarillo because we were going to school at WTSU. We didn’t live there long after Western Plaza was built but I was in heaven living between the shops on Georgia, Western Plaza and Sunset Center. There was a shop in Sunset Center called HUB CLOTHIERS where my husband bought his first Hart Schaffner Marx suit.. and I loved the sales people there because they always knew you by name. Growing up I had shopped at Sakowitz in Houston so I was thrilled that there was one in Amarillo—- the store always smelled so good. There was also a Colberts but I can’t remember the location. The Fedway store and Blackburns were downtown and also great shopping.
    Where do people shop now that the major centers are gone? It has been many years since I was there.

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  37. Wasn’t there a store in Western Plaza called the Hoosegow??? I grew up in the late 70’s in Amarillo and remember shopping at Western Plaza and getting an Orange Julius!

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  38. @Joan:
    The Colbert’s was at Wolflin Village–it got replaced by an Office Depot in the late 80s-early 90s. There are several scattered big-box stores around, but the mall action centers on Westgate now. They did have a Mervyn’s but it closed when they left TX; there’s still Dillard’s, Sears, JCPenney, Beall’s, plus a 2nd Dillard’s (men’s and home furnishings) at the former Mervyn’s space.

    @Mrs. D:
    The Rudy’s w/ bbq and gas does sound strange when described :D

    @Weston:
    The S&H store was there but I don’t know when it closed. I remember it was on the south side and faced outside, not in like the other mall stores. I don’t even remember anyone giving Green Stamps then except John Chandler Ford and the 76 Truck Stop (it’s now a TA Truck Stop) at I-40/Whitaker.

    I remember when Jolly’s (the comedy club) left their little intimate space at 26th/Paramount to move to WP in the theater. I thought it *might* be a good idea but wasn’t sure. Too bad it didn’t stick around. One of the touring comedians to hit Jolly’s before WP was Roseanne (before her TV show), I remember seeing her autographed pic on the wall at the old location.

    The few times I went in WP it was kinda stark and sad. It didn’t help that it overlooked Lawrence Lake but what would they do other than maybe a tall hedge or treeline to block the ‘view’.

    I’ve not been back to visit since 2002 (lived there 1989-1993) and miss it. I must have left the gate open when I moved away as lots of new retail has come in since I left. Thanx to all for the pix and background.

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  39. My mom had a restaurant in the food court, the Bar B-Q spot” in 1992. There was also Giovanni’s pizza, the Outside In sandwich shop, Cactus Tracks, and the Cookie Jar were the other food pplaces there. There was a giant arcade on the top of the split level food court and alot of kids skipped school from Tascosa High which was across from I-40., including me. That was right about the time it started being taken over by elderly mall walkers and subsequently to its death. There was a kickass comic shop, the big apple there. and Jollys, a comedy club, moved into the theatre in 1992 and some big names performed there including Steve Martin, Rosannne Barr and mr. Arnold. They also played midnight movies there which I saw Shadows and Fog and Everything you always wanted to know about sex…and every weekend they played the Rocky horror picture show at midnight. I had some of the besttimes there, it is sad to know it is not there anymore.

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  40. I’m a native of Amarillo, I have a lot of wonderful memories of Western Plaza and of Sunset Center. I have been looking at some old pic’s of Amarillo online and they have brought back so wonderful memories of my childhood. Some of you who grew up and are native of Amarillo just might have meet my daddy who was manger at few different Toot N Totem stores.
    Christmas at the malls has never been the same for me those automated figures was wonderful and I miss them. Sunset Center was the first mall I got to see Santa at haha and yes I too threw many a penny into the fountains at Western Plaza

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  41. It had a small restaurant called “Hole in the Mall”. during the 70s and apparently closed in the 80s. There was a Russel Stover’s candy store that stayed there untill the end.

    A toy store named “Toys By Roy” was there untill the early 80s.

    Before the 80s renovation it had a magnificent central fountain, which was popular to toss change in to give to a local charity. After the renovation it had a new, less spectacular water fountain and a walkway over it. By the mid-90s the water was shut off and the fountain filled with chunks of tree bark.

    One special thing was the holiday displays. Every Christmas there were amazing animatronic displays. Including Angels slapping wings in the central fountain and a stable that reindeer would nod their heads. There was always a Santa there to take pictures with. It was the same guy who did it untill his death in the late 90s. After that his twin brother took over untill at least 2004.

    On Easters there would be an incubation chamber brought out that people could watch baby chicks hatch

    There was a movie theater there. When the James Bond movie “Octopussy” was being played there, it was listed as “Octopus” on the marqee due to controversy.

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  42. Did the demolishing of Western Plaza make anyone else sad?

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    anarchrist23 Reply:

    @J Charles Hazelwood, indeed it made me real sad, remember Picadilly store that was upstaies in the 80’s and the first hastings was there too. My dear friend Brian Deneke was murdered right in front of there too, some good memories and bad but i wish it were still there, i dont live in amarillo anymore but still.

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  43. Smiled reading how many remember my dad’s store Toys by Roy. Like many listed above I practically grew up at Western Plaza with both my parents working at the store. We moved 1976 when he opened another in Wichita, Ks and left that store to be run by someone else.

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