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               HURON MALL: HURON, SD

David Kruger's Commentary

Posted April 29, 2006 (user submitted)

The Huron Mall opened on the southwest end of Huron, SD in 1978, with anchors Kmart on the east end, Spurgeons in the center, and JCPenney on the west end. The opening of this mall had been a HUGE event for the region and this farming town of, at the time, about 15,000 people (not to mention the fact that Huron's hometown hottie Cheryl Ladd was concurrently becoming a celebrity as one of Charlie's Angels). The mall also featured a small but lively food court in the center and was consistently busy, almost overcrowded during the South Dakota State Fair also held in Huron every summer.

Huron Mall was the first of several "sister malls" by the same developer that opened regionally around the same time, including malls in Brookings and Pierre, SD, Jamestown, ND, and Glenwood Springs, CO. All of these "bricks and mortar" malls featured a small prototype JCPenney store (33,000 sf) on one end and a Kmart store (29,000 - 40,000 sf) on the opposite end. Nearly every prominent mall chain shop (Hal's, Musicland, Waldenbooks, Vanity, Maurices, Radio Shack) lined the 25 or so spaces between the anchors. Huron Mall had ample parking on both sides, though its later sister malls typically only had parking on the front side of the mall.

Huron Mall did extremely well through the 1970's and throughout the 1980's. Despite the opening of regional indoor malls in Watertown, Brookings, Pierre, and eventually Aberdeen, the Huron Mall had decent occupancy well into the early 1990's. However, the trade area of Huron had always been heavily dependent on agriculture, and the city began to suffer a slow but painful decline both in economic viability and in population. In the later half of the 1990's, Huron Mall began to die not because of competition, but largely because of a shrinking economic base. Over the course of the Mall's life, the city of Huron has lost nearly 25% of its population. Although Kmart was able to remodel and expand its store, specialty shops began to pull out of Huron Mall in the mid 1990's. Spurgeons left with minor impact, but the exodus of JCPenney in 1998 was a crushing blow, both for the Mall and for the city. A bank awkwardly replaced JCPenney's location, but their occupancy was short-lived and now the store is completely vacant. The 2005 closing of Huron University has added to the city's economic woes, leaving Huron Mall with Kmart as its only anchor and about 8 other shops inside, half of them local. Mall traffic is so dead that Kmart even created an external entrance. Although it has not changed structurally as an indoor mall, Huron Mall essentially functions as little more than a strip center with a roof and internal access for its specialty shops.

Wal*Mart completely avoided Huron when it ventured into South Dakota in 1990, but they have now decided to build a SuperCenter south of Huron on Dakota Avenue, the main north-south boulevard through Huron, opening in the summer of 2006. Huron Mall is almost 2 miles off this route, and the Wal*Mart Supercenter will certainly overpower what is an outdated and kitschy Kmart - it is very likely Kmart will not survive the impact of the new Supercenter. If Kmart folds, there will be absolutely no reason for the Huron Mall to exist after 2006, as a shopping center or even as a physical structure.










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