Kyle Connell's Commentary

Posted September 12, 2010 (user submitted)

I returned to my hometown of Warren, Pennsylvania in July of 2008 for a visit and decided to head out to the Warren Mall (one of my former favorite hangouts as a kid), and I must admit I wasn't prepared for what I saw.

The mall, which during my teenage years (1996-2001) was abuzz with customers and was THE place to be if you were between the ages of 13-21, is now a former shell of its' past. Everything was gone. Once a shopper's paradise in the Warren area, go to the Warren Mall today and you'll see that 95-98% of its' clientele are either shopping at K-Mart or Big Lots. On my July '08 visit to the mall, there were all of 6 or 7 people in the mall's main area. Compare this to about 10-15 years ago, when the mall was packed to the point that you had to park at County Market just to shop inside the mall.

Warren Mall at one time was home to many popular stores, such as Kay-Bee Toys, Kay Jewelers, JCPenney, the Jock Shop, Payless Shoes, and Aladdin's Castle (a VERY popular video arcade). The Warren Mall circa 2008 is basically nothing more than a K-Mart, Bon Ton, Big Lots, a Goodwill, RadioShack, a pizza place, and an EBGames, with a bank here and there and about 20-25 empty storefronts out of 36 (by my count).

In my opinion, the mall began to backslide when JCPenney (former anchor and now the site of Big Lots) hightailed it out of Warren in the late 1990s. Other prominent stores, such as Kay-Bee, Payless, and FYE (music store), just to name a few, would follow. Also of note was the three-screen Mall Cinemas closing in 1999 (it would reopen a few years later as Dipson Theaters). By 2004, Warren Mall was pretty much cleaned out.

The mall's outparcels, while having undergone a dramatic change over the last 10 years, are for the most part still doing alright. A Tractor Supply Co. store now occupies the former County Market grocery store at the mall's north end. Bike World (which I believe at one time was a shoe store) is alive and well. And what used to be a Midas car-care center is now a Shults Express Lube & Tire. And speaking of good ol' Ed Shults himself, he's still thriving selling his cars in front of the mall. The lone exception: Movie Gallery, which was built and opened in the late-'90s as Video Update, stands empty in front of TSC.

While some may not consider Warren Mall to officially be a "dead mall", it's on life support. Ask anyone who's lived in Warren, Pennsylvania over the last 20 years or so and they'll tell you the same.

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