Andrew Thompson's Commentary

Posted January 17, 2013 (user submitted)

West Manchester Mall (known as "West Man" to locals like me in the York area), opened in 1981 at the intersection of US 30 and PA 74. From what I have heard, this mall included a Hess's department store, a Bon-Ton, and Gee Bee Department store. In the 80s this mall was the place to be, including such in-line stores as Waldenbooks, Kay-Bee Toys, Radio Shack, American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, Camelot Music (later FYE), Comix Collections, DEB, and such restaurants as Friendly's, McDonald's, Orange Julius, Sbarro, and Chick Fil-A. There were unique areas to park at based on colors so one could easily find out where to enter and exit. A Giant grocery store was located as an outparcel and the "West End" was becoming the more popular area of York. That, however, changed before I was even born.

In the late 1980s, East York was hungry for a new mall. The York Mall, although popular, was much smaller than West Manchester, and East York wanted to compete. Thus, in 1988-89, developers took what was a former swamp near the intersection of US 30 and Mt. Zion Road and turned it into the York Galleria Mall. With two stories and over 100 stores, York Galleria was able to lure J.C. Penney & Sears from the York County Shopping Center and Bon Ton from the York Mall as anchors for the new mall. In addition, Boscov's became the 4th anchor. This mall featured a food court as well, something the West Manchester Mall did not feature.

Still, throughout the 1990s West Manchester Mall soldiered on as a strong alternative for York Galleria. In fact, West Manchester expanded and changed hands during this decade. Hess's became a Value City Department Store and Wal-Mart replaced Gee Bee. In the mid-1990s, West Manchester added a wing that included a Hecht's and some other stores. It was around the same time that West Manchester, knowing something had to be done to keep shoppers coming, added a Regal Cinema movie theater which also featured a Subway, Auntie Anne's, and an arcade (the last three probably were around for a longer amount of time). Still, as a child in the late 1990s, I was mesmerized with having two malls, although I liked this one better.

While York Galleria and West Man co-existed well in the 1990s, the 2000s were a different story. By the early 2000s, changing demographics made this mall less favorable. As a result, people flocked to the York Galleria more and West Man less. In 2001-02, Wal-Mart decided it would be a wonderful idea to turn their store into a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Therefore, the mall developers had to vacate the whole Wal-Mart wing from Hecht's onwards. This opened up vacancies that would never be filled again. Orange Julius closed in 2001. McDonald's closed in 2002 (although there was a McDonald's in the new Wal-Mart and on PA 74). Friendly's moved into the place where McDonald's used to be for some time. Kay-Bee Toys closed sometime in 2003. Sbarro closed in 2005; as did American Eagle and Gap (most of these stores listed as being closed already had locations at York Galleria).

It was clear that West Man was losing the battle now for title of dominant mall in York. In 2005, Hecht's was bought out by Macy's, a store that beforhand never even set foot in York. They opened at West Man in 2006. Although there was initial optimism that the occupancy rate would rise, it never did. Stores still closed. Giant moved to the re-constructed Delco Plaza in 2006. Value City closed in 2008 (replaced by Kohl's in 2010 or so). Deb closed in 2009. The Bon-Ton and Friendly's closed in 2010. Finally, FYE closed in 2011. The mall still has some stores such as Gamestop and Radio Shack as well as Subway, Auntie Anne's and the arcade; anchored by Wal-Mart, Kohl's, and Macy's. Interestingly enough, Chick Fil-A is still there and packed at lunchtime; however a new Chick Fil-A is being built on US 30 1 mile east of West Man. It is only a matter of time until the Chick Fil-A closes there in 2013. . .

So how is the mall today? I would say it is in critical condition. Although the anchors do good business, the vacancy rate of the smaller stores has to be over 50%. The only reason why West Man isn't dead now is because of Regal Cinemas, but the mall's days are numbered; with the mall a small shell of what it used to be. It is only a matter of time before the whole building, save the anchors, are razed by bulldozers. . .

Tim Harbaugh's Commentary

Posted March 29, 2006 (user submitted)

Here's another one that is in the process of dying. Again, I don't know the whole mall history but I'll begin from where I can remember. Growing up I remember the mall anchored by GeeBee's discount store, Hess' department store, The Bon-Ton and McCrory's. In the early 90's GeeBee's closed and was replaced by Value City. Hess' was soon to follow and this space was replaced by York's second Wal-Mart. In an attempt to revitalize the dying retail space and to eat up a lot of unleased units, the mall announced that a new 13 screen movie theater would be added taking up much of the wing between the Bon-Ton and Value City. Around that same time, Hecht's was added to the mall in an adjoining expansion. In the early 2000's the wing between Hecht's and Wal-Mart was vacated somewhat by choice and somewhat by force, as many stores chose to either relocate or consolidate to one location at the Galleria Mall across town. A few stores chose to relocate to other vacant spaces in the mall. As you have probably already assumed, that huge empty space was filled with Wal-Mart's expansion into yet another SuperCenter. Unfortunately, planners closed off Wal-Mart's mall entrance and thus created a dead end to the mall where stores suddenly just stop and there is a giant blank wall. Ironically the mall's managing company touts it as 'A Prime Retail Experience'. Regal Cinemas has single handedly saved the mall for now, as the primary source of foot traffic comes from moveigoers awaiting their desired showtimes. However, with this they have brought crime and a bad image to the mall in general. The median age of shoppers has also dropped due to Regal's opening in the mid-90's. Somehow, American Outfitters and Gap have both recently closed despite this fact. One can only wonder what might become of the mall once Hecht's is converted into a Macy's later this year, but Wal-Mart's expansion has begun the slow, but inevitable transformation of mall to shopping cente

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