Kenneth Ryesky's Commentary

User submitted March 10, 2013

I remember when the Cedarbrook Mall was built. Land that had been part of a large golf course was sold off and developed into the Mall, and behind the Mall, three large high-rise apartment buildings (formerly known as the Cedarbrook Hill Apartments, now, I believe, called the Cedarbrook Towers). The Mall was directly across Cheltenham Avenue, the boundary line between Philadelphia and Montgomery County.

In addition to the stores you mentioned, there also was, inter alia, a Docktor's Pet Shop.

Viability problems with the Cedarbrook Mall included, in no particular order:

A. White flight from the Mr. Airy section (50th Ward) of Philadelphia: Unscrupulous blockbusting practices on the part of various Philadelphia real estate brokers transformed Mt. Airy from a 95+% white, heavily Jewish neighborhood to a 95+% black neighborhood during the 1960 - 1970 decade. As shopping malls sprang up in the Philadelphia suburbs and drew business from the Philadelphia merchants (aided in part by the reluctance of the Philadelphia governing powers to liberalize their Sunday blue laws), and as the population departed from the city, the clientele of the Cedarbrook Mall merchants had less and less occasion to return. They were, of course, replaced by the new residents of Mt. Airy, but the population change brought along altered buying habits.

[Ironically, I briefly moved back to Mt. Airy in the late 1970's so that my elderly aunt's house would not be vacant when it was on the market. I was the second-to-last white resident of the block.]

B. The retreat of Temple University from Mt. Airy: Before the Cedarbrook Mall was built, Temple University maintained a satellite "Community College" campus just down the block and across Cheltenham Avenue. Temple Stadium was also there. During the early 1960's, Temple slacked off its satellite "Community College" (but developed other satellite campuses elsewhere). Temple continued to use the stadium and athletic fields through the early 1980's. But the satellite campus did not have the crowds which would have given some business to Cedarbrook Mall.

C. More than A or B, however, was the failing of Cedarbrook Mall's two anchor stores, Korvette's and Pantry Pride. Korvette's had management problems and a lack of a consistent and clear vision of what its market should be. For its part, Pantry Pride was in the food supermarket business at a time when expansion was the name of the game, and it expanded to the limits and then collapsed as it competed with others in an industry which had reached the limits of its expandability, and could no longer rob Peter to pay Paul.

Had one of the anchors in the Cedarbrook Mall been one of the old, established staid retail department store chains, the Mall may have lasted a few years longer.

M. Sean Rizzo's Commentary

Posted May 3, 2011 (user submitted January 19, 2010)

Cedarbrook Mall was a mall on the outskirts of Philadelphia that opened in the early 1960s. The original anchor stores were E.J. Korvette and Pantry Pride Supermarket. The mall was orginally constructed to be able to expand for another Anchor, but this never occured. Other store of note included a very large Woolworths (which was almost large enought to have been branded a "woolco", a Donuts Galore Coffee shop and a Mom and Pop toy and hobby shop.

An interesting feature of the layout of this mall was the main entrance. The parking lot was designed in such a way that there was no parking anywhere near it, so most parking congragated on the two sides, which on the left was the Pantry Pride, and on the right, just a bland entrance waiting for a future expansion.

When you walked into the main entrance, you were Facing Korvettes. This was one of the largest Korvettes outside of the New York area, and was very impressive. Also at the entrance, there was a flight of stairs leading down into Mall offices, and meeting rooms.

This mall was quite active from the time it opened until 1980, when it was hit in the space of a very short time losing both Anchors as Pantry Pride and Korvettes went out of business. No businesses replaced them, and by 1984, the mall was completely closed.

Interesting to note that while it was closed, the owners maintained an on site Mall Manager who was agressively trying to develop a plan to rejuvinate the Space. During this time, I had a couple of phone conversations with him, and at one point he allowed me to come in and take some pictures inside the empty Korvettes store. (I will try and find theses pics and scan them to you).

Eventually, this property was rebuilt into a large Wal Mart, Toys R us, and other smaller tenants as a shopping center.

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