WESTERN WOODS MALL: CINCINNATI, OH
Marty Theurer's Commentary:
October 18, 2003 (user submitted)
Western Woods Mall opened in the late 1950's or early 60's on Glenway Ave in Green Township near the City of Cincinnati border (on the west side of town). My mom and dad grew up in the area and tell me that there was once a movie theater which was then converted into a Thriftway supermarket. There was once a Thirftway in another part of the mall and that store was converted into smaller specialty shops when the bigger supermarket opened.
In the mid-1980's, Shilito Rikes (now Lazarus), a small JC Penny, and Thirftway were the anchor stores. In the late 80's,
JC Penny moved to a smaller store in a strip center on the other side of Glenway Ave. This store was only for placing or picking up catalog orders. This location closed in the late 1990's.
The former JC Penny's location at the mall sat vacant for a while, then discount retailer Zayre moved in circa 1989. Zayre changed hands circa 1990 and became Ames. Ames closed circa 1991. Again, the store sat vacant for a few years, then a Home-Goods store opened in the mid-90's. A few years later, this store also closed. A new Home Goods has since opened in the Western Hills Plazza less than a mile up the road. (The Western Hills Plaza is story about a 1950's era strip center in a declining part of town. I will save that for another day!)
Meanwhile, the Thriftway store closed in the mid-late 90's because of a lack of buisness. There are several larger Thirftway supermarkets within a few miles. The former Thirftway location has become home to several temporary discount retailers. (I can't think of the names right now!)
The mall once housed a number of specialty stores, including a Sturart's clothing store, a video store, an arcade, a sporting goods store, an ice-cream parlor, and a small buffett restaurant whose name I can't remember, and a handful of other stores. The interior of the mall had vaulted ceilings alternating up-and down continuously along the length of the mall (like this ^^^^^^^). The mall was spruced up in the late 1980's with each ceiling panel painted a different rainbow color. The ceiling started as red down by the Lazarus end and faded into oranges, yellows, greens, blues, and purple down at the other end. Soon after mall occupancy began to drop. I remember there were four stores left by the mid-1990's, and soon after they closed the mall except the Lazarus store.
Lazarus was originally a three-story store. After a lengthy renovation in the mid-90's to make it more upscale, they closed off the top floor and limited the store to the basement and the first floor (an odd decision in my opinion). As I rode the escalator from the basement to the first floor you could still see the sides of the escalators leading to the top floor. They put a wall in to cover the open sections of the sides of the escalators from the top of the handrails to the ceilings, but you could still see the molding strips along the top of the handrails.
The Lazarus store closed a short time later. It sat vacant for a year or two and then the McAlpins (now Dillard's) in the Western Hills Plaza moved into the empty Lazarus store. The old McAlpin's store was gutted and remolded, and a Sears store moved in a year later. Lazarus closed because it was too upscale for this part of town. McAlpin's/Dillards and Sears are more appropriate for this area. The Dillard's store reopened as a three-story store. You can still see where they took the walls down that covered the escalators to the top floor of the old Lazarus store.
The rest of the mall was torn down in the mid to late 1990's. A Home Depot now sits on the site of the former JC Penny's/Zayre/Ames/Home-Goods store. The shopping center is now rebranded as "West Town Center."