Judy Elgin's Commentary

Posted April 29, 2006 (user submitted)

One of the earliest enclosed factory outlet malls kept its date with the wrecking ball last year. The Original Outlet Mall located just off Interstate 94 at Highway 50 in Kenosha, Wisconsin is no more.

The mall opened in 1982 and housed outlets for Eddie Bauer, Corning, Hanes, Jockey, Pfalzgraff, Fuller Brush, Sony, Van Heusen, Samsonite, The Company Store, and another 40 or 50 more retailers at the height of its popularity. The mall was a regular stop for our family on our way to vacations in Elkhart Lake or Door County and was also a popular destination for busloads of bargain shoppers from the Chicago area.

The decor was basic, a long string of stores joined by industrial gray corridors, and several small food kiosks to serve the shoppers. But the bargains were plentiful, the mall and shops were neat and clean, and there were enough decent restaurants in the area so that the lack of a "real" food court wasn't a problem. Parking was plentiful and close to the mall's entrances, and there were dozens of benches to sit and rest for a few minutes, or for patient husbands to relax on while their wives handled the Power Shopping duties.

It died slowly through the 90's, knocked off many shoppers' maps by the new open-air Lakeside Mall (now Prime Outlets At Pleasant Prairie) with its more upscale shops just a stone's throw south of it, and by the giganormous Gurnee Mills Mall a few miles south across the Illinois-Wisconsin border. Many of the stronger tenants relocated to one of the competing malls and each time we would shop there, parking spots close to the entrances were easier to find. Even a general "paint-up, spruce-up" a few years ago couldn't stop the inevitable.

The mall was sold several times since 2001, and it was finally decided by the current owners to convert it to a "community shopping center". Demolition began in late 2005.

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