Chris Edward's Commentary:

October 18, 2003 (user submitted)

McAlister Square was built in the late 1960s in the middle of new subdivisions on Greenville's east side near downtown. Its original anchors were Ivey's (later bought by Dillard's) and Meyers-Arnold (later bought by Upton's), although a Belk-Simpson department store was added in the early 1970s. For years McAlister Square thrived, facing competition only from small Bell Tower Mall and a declining downtown. In 1978, Greenville Mall opened, followed two years later by Haywood Mall, which was and is South Carolina's largest mall. Although some of McAlister Square's higher-end stores relocated to Haywood Mall, McAlister Square held its own for many years and remained fully or almost fully leased through the mid-1990s, despite a major fire in 1981 that destroyed part of the Ivey's wing. In 1995, however, Dillard's relocated to Haywood Mall, apparently just seeking a larger and more modern store that McAlister Square wouldn't or couldn't provide. Although smaller stores largely filled the Dillard's space, sales at McAlister Square declined, as the mall faced growing competition from Haywood Mall, which expanded in 1995, and Greenville Mall, which was repositioned as a high-end mall in 1995. By the late 1990s, some chain stores in McAlister Square closed, only to be replaced by mom-and-pop stores. As a small mall with only two department store anchors remaining and mid-market stores, McAlister Square could no longer compete with high-end Greenville Mall and larger Haywood Mall. Although McAlister Square was nearly fully leased in the late 1990s, in 1999 Belk closed its department store and many small stores at McAlister Square quickly closed. A few months later, Upton's closed its department store when the chain went out of business. The remaining stores at McAlister Square- a Chinese fast-food place, a Radio Shack and a Foot Locker- held on for a long time after the rest of the mall closed. Today the complex has been converted into offices, although a few small stores remain and some new restaurants have opened. McAlister Square is thus the mall that won't die.

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