Blake Hutchison's Commentary

Posted November 20, 2006 (user submitted)

The Woodland Mall in Bowling Green, Ohio, isn't really a dead mall anymore, but it looks like at least half of the mall was pretty dead for a short while.

It is hard to say when this mall was built, as I am not from the town and just happened across the mall when I took an alternate route to my hometown for the weekend, passed by it, and decided to walk in.

Anchors are Elder Beerman's, Sears, Dunham's Sports (which I seriously DOUBT is an original anchor), and Steve and Barry's, which used to be Hills, according to the nice lady who was working at the information desk that day. There is also a 5-screen Cinemark movie theater in the Steve and Barry's wing, as well as a kiddie play park (both in the wing and one in what looks like a former anchor space, though the latter never seems to be open when I'm in the mall. It may be out of business)

There are several interesting things about this mall right off the bat:

1) It looks like parts of the mall were built at completely different times. Some have the classic 1960s earth tones, while the Dunhams wing has the mirrored tiles that look like early 70s, and it feels a little like being in a royal chamber for some reason. I would guess this wing was added on to house whatever store anchored this wing before Dunhams.

2) Sears and Elder Beerman are right next door to each other in the same wing. Usually anchors do not occupy the same wings in most malls. Sears actually occupies an anchor-size space (though it is NOT a full-sized Sears store, but one of the regional varieties that sells tools and appliances) and a small storefront space across from the anchor space where they keep lawnmowers. They also have appliances on display in the wing between the two Sears storefronts.

3) Although it's not really that uncommon for malls in Ohio, particularly older malls, and especially malls in regional areas rather than cities, there are very few chain stores in this mall aside from the anchors, especially in the Steve and Barry's wing. Most of the non-anchors are mom-and-pop operations or small businesses.

The Steve and Barry's wing has no stores, but the spaces are occupied by food venues, including some local place called the Silver Dollar Grill, a Christian outreach center, the movie theatre, and the mall office and restrooms (which are in SERIOUS need of fixing up - the sink handles have MOLD inside them! Disgusting!)

All of the chain stores are located in the Sears/Elder Beerman wing with the exception of Famous Footwear, which is technically in the Dunhams wing. This leads me to believe that the Steve and Barry's wing and the Dunhams wing experienced massive death sometime around the late 1990s, early 2000s, as this was when Hills pulled out, and probably when whatever store occupied the Dunhams space (I don't know but I'm guessing K-Mart) pulled out. The Dunhams wing appears to have recovered nicely, although a bridal shop was having a going out of business sale when I was there, and there were maybe three abandoned storefronts.

This mall is very fortunate to be in a college town, where stores like Steve and Barry's and Dunhams can pass off as anchor stores. There were lots of students heading back and forth from these stores when I was there. If it wasn't for Bowling Green State University being half a mile away from this mall, allowing sports-themed anchors to be a viable option, this mall would probably be very dead in the south and east wings today.

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