Scott Stambaugh's Commentary:

Posted December 3, 2005 (user submitted)

I was the manager of Zales Jewelers at the Fairfield Mall in Chicopee, MA in the 1970's. In fact I was transferred there in 1974 when the mall was still under construction. I took part in overseeing the store's construction, hiring employees, checking in all the merchandise and preparing the store for the mall's grand opening in October 1974. At that time the mall manager was Joe Aaron and the anchor stores were Two Guys, and Forbes and Wallace. There was an excellent mix of stores including Anderson Little, Friendlys, and a neck tie shop that sold men's neckties for only a dollar each. I used to buy one every payday. My Zales store was located next to Spencer gifts. We were the only jeweler in the mall and business was excellent. During the first couple of years we were setting all kinds of sales records. I had an excellent staff of employees that all worked well together as a team. On grand opening day the featured guest star was Donald O'Conner and they also had the Philip Morris midget handing out to everyone. The mall owner, Ed Debartalo (owner of the SanFransisco 49ers) also was there and gave a speech. That mall was extremely successful at the time and I cannot believe it is now closed. All of the store employees were like a family and I have a lot of good memories from working there.

Melissa Lafleur's Commentary:

Posted May 14, 2005 (user submitted)

I am a lifelong resident of Chicopee and in fact I worked in the Friendly Ice Cream in the mall. I was in fact the original staff to open the mall. The mall was a great strip mall with stores like, Forbes and Wallace, The Wherehouse, Thom McCann shoes and many restaurants that were local favorites. York Steak House, Jakes. There were stores like Sports Forum with any sport equipment you would need. The mall was the only place that teenagers could go to and hang out. Very popular place was the JUST FUN arcade. Inexpensive fun. You could go and do all of your Christmas shopping in one place without leaving our little boring town. You would in fact see someone you knew while there. There were also two hair salons. When a local air force base went from active to inactive it really killed the business in the mall.

Now we are rebuilding that area and I am thrilled. We now have the Home Depot, Walmart as anchors. Marshall's, Sleepy Bedding, Staples, Subway. It is beginning to thrive yet again. I for one am very happy to see it booming once again.

Jarrett's Commentary:

Posted May 14, 2005 (user submitted December 2, 2003)

The Fairfield Mall died not only because of the demise of Bradlees and Caldor, but because I think the management of the mall/property never really invested much time or effort into it. I'm a 26 year old native of Chicopee and grew up with the mall. I remember YEARS ago before it was remodeled to what it was as the pics show.

Fairfield was a great mall. It was one-level (unlike the inhumanly gigantic Holyoke Mall at Ingleside), but had enough merchants there to get what you needed with little hassle. However, evil retail empires like Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Kohl's moved in and around the Holyoke Mall and elsewhere. Then, the demise of Caldor followed by Bradlees didn't help.

Even when the anchor stores faded away, the mall never seemed to "try" and rebound. Stores eventually left; nothing to replace the vacant spaces. Subsequently, attendance at the mall was sparse. Predictably, the mall closed.

It's sad. The mall is located on Route 33 (Memorial Dr) just off the Mass Turnpike. The retail space is incredibly profitable - if it was in the right hands. However, after the mall closed, it took almost a year and a half of dicking around with the property owner(s) to get The Home Depot up and running.

This is why the mall died. Someone suit behind a desk who clearly has no idea what is going on or what the property entailed killed the mall and stunted the redevelopment of the lot. Yes, the fall of the anchors didn't help, but if the lot was in better hands, the mall would still be there I believe and easily would have rebounded. I mean, more businesses are popping up along Memorial Dr every year.

In the last year and half, here's what the latest businesses are that built along Memorial Dr: Auto Zone is being built, Woronoco Bank, CVS redeveloped the old "Bickford's" space, a Walgreens moved in across the way from CVS, and a new transmission shop opened up. All this since the mall closed.

Currently, the old Bradlees space is being looked at by Wal-Mart (sarcastic yay). Across the street, a People's Bank and Hampton Inn were recently erected. All this construction along Memorial Dr says something: This area of Chicopee is a boom for businesses and land-owners alike. Both sides know this and it's quite apparent they are taking full advantage of it.

Brian Florence's Commentary:

Posted in 2001

One of the more interesting mall properties we've stumbled upon. This particular mall had it coming. If not for the first warning of the northside of the mall's anchor Caldor closing it's doors in 1998, now Bradlees which anchors the southern end of the mall has now closed too!! Yes, you couldn't get more lucky with a dead mall if you tried. Two struggling retail anchors pushing to hold your mall's middle together.... gone.

The mall closed it's doors sometime in early March with the doors of Bradlees.

Many newspaper articles chronicle this mall as a "neighborhood" mall, a place to go to hang out and be social. Apparently the business aspect needed to be addressed. I do not have enough information to point this mall's demise purely to the mall itself, because it is clearly evident that a mall with no anchors is destined to close. To blame the mall would not be right. I am sure they tried to lure in a replacement for Caldor. Chicopee is a small community, though, and more suitable larger areas to the east such as Springfield is where the business went.

Home Depot is slated to purchase the property and demolish the mall summer 2001. How uplifting. Big box central coming to Chicopee.

For now, looks like you'll have to drive to Springfield or Hadley or Holyoke.

Bing Bird's Eye View:

Fairfield mall from a satellite in space

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