Welcome to the Maplewood Mall – the main enclosed traditional mall serving the East Metro area. If you haven’t been here, you’re not missing out on anything. It’s just…a mall. In a suburb in Minnesota. It’s not as if Maplewood is headed down the road to ruin, but it just isn’t anything special. This isn’t even a ‘Dale, even though it holds its own. Then again, the “dales” just don’t give off that highfalutin’ shopping mecca vibe that they used to. Twenty years ago, shopping at the ‘dales used to MEAN something, but today, the ‘dales name is pretty much meaningless with some of the company they keep….ahem — Brookdale, I’m looking at you…and Southdale, you are next!
Maplewood Mall opened in 1974 and was renovated and expanded in 1988 . I can’t say I have any warm fuzzies about this mall. My parents never took us here as kids, probably because it was too far away and there really isn’t anything at this mall that we couldn’t find at Brookdale.
The first time I visited this mall was in the summer of 1996. My only reason for going to this mall was simply to check it out. Wanting a reprieve from Brookdale, I drove all the way out here by myself (back then, it seemed so far away!), looking for a trendy outfit to wear for my senior pictures. I ended up buying a jean skort at the County Seat and a logo tee from The Gap. Make no mistake about it, I was a paragon of ’90s vogue. These days, I usually only go here if I have a Forever 21 jones. It’s the only location I know of, other than the Mall of America location. Being that I am 30 years old, I’m probably far out of their demographic now (*sheds tear*) but sometimes a girl just needs a cheap, ‘steppin’ out on the town’ top or a Nanette Lepore knock-off. Still, I hate going in here. It’s so damn messy, chaotic and the OONTZ OONTZ OONTZ music gives me a headache. *starts waving cane again* Not to mention, their shitty return policy.
The stores here are your typical mall standbys — Victoria’s Secret, Aeropostale, Bath & Body Works, Yankee Candle, Lidz, Gap, Hallmark, Maurices, and so on. You won’t find any of the more upscale mall chains, like the Apple store,
White House/Black Market, Coach, Banana Republic, J Crew, and the like here. You’ll have to travel further down
Highway 36 and shop at Rosedale for that.
So what’s the history behind this mediocre mall? Well, I can’t offer up much, other than regurgitating what information Wikipedia has on the history of the mall anchors –
Macy’s: This originally was Powers Dry Goods 1974, Donaldson’s in 1985, Carson Pirie Scott in 1987, Dayton’s in 1996, Marshall Fields in 2001.
Kohls: The Kohls anchor was part of the addition in 1988. It originally was a MainStreet, but all MainStreet locations turned into Kohls in ’88-89-ish, so it didn’t stay a MainStreet for long.
Sears: I believe this has always been a Sears.
JC Penny’s: The current JC Penny’s space was a Mervyn’s that opened in 1996, and at some point, turned into JCPenny.
As far as former non-anchor stores, all I know of are Ann Taylor and County Seat. See, what did I tell you? I’m not writin’ The Chronicles of Maplewood here. If you know somethin’, post in the comments!
Simon Properties purchased this mall in 2002 and talked about another renovation (it needs one — this mall is very darkly lit) and adding a megaplex cinema. Seven years later, there is no sign of either in sight. Simon Properties — why must you tease us so? *giggles*
Your average mall has your average issues, and Maplewood is no different. First off, the escaltor near the Victoria’s Secret always seems to be broken. Strike One. Strike two — I find that this mall has a lot more miscreant teens loitering around than some of the other Twin Cities malls — usually blocking certain entrances doing tricks on their skateboards or hanging out near the Aladdin’s Castle arcade.
Maplewood is also home to some of the peskiest, pushiest mall market researchers known to man. Strike THREE. These survey hustlers patrol the corridor near the Payless Shoes/Orange Julius/Dairy Queen, hold their cute lil’ clipboards and hound you for a ‘minute of your time, sir.’ What exactly are they trying to learn from people shopping at the mall? People like booze, sex, and money. Voila! I just saved your company billions of dollars. No need for a market research budget.
Also, this mall has an abundance of cell phone stores & kiosks. Out of all the malls in the Twin Cities, Maplewood has the most pesky, pushy cell phone dealers EVER. Especially The Mobile Phone Co. store, which was featured on an expose on of the local newsstation’s broadcast a few years ago, about their slimy sales tactics. When you walk by this store
(located between Hollister and The Gap), there’s usually 2 or 3 slick-looking sales guys standing outside the store, holla-ing at everyone who walks by. These fuckers are worse than the Dead Sea Salt hawkers. No thanks, I don’t want a fucking Razr. I swear, these guys look like Jersey mobsters. I wonder if they play Mafia Wars on Facebook? JOIN MY MAFIA?
The mix of stores here really caters to the teen shoppers. A bunch of stores here that sell cheap polyester thug-in-tha-club clothes — Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, TwinsTown, DEB, Ragstock, Vanity, Wet Seal, Hot Topic, PacSun, Zumiez, The Edge — how many stores selling throwaway “BUY-ME-A-DRANK” skimpy party clothing does one mall need?
This could have something to do with all of the nightclubs located within walking distance from the mall. (I know…weird, right? Get the crew all together and go tear up a club….in Maplewood ???? Hey, it must be working because there’s like three nightclubs in this area). Those hunnies at The Myth are buying their pink glitter bras and ass-cheek grazing neon orange mini skirts somewhere. And Twins Town is a great resource for the club hoppin’ fellaz — great place to get a knock-off Gucci bandanna just like Soulja Boy’s or a pair of stunna shades.
In case you’re wondering, the nightclubs in this area are –
The Myth: Supposed to be pretty “dope”. I’m not into the club scene so I haven’t been here and probably never will. KDWB has the hots for this place — or at least they used to. It seemed like every event sponsored by this local top-40 radion station was held here. Star Parties, Jingle Balls, that really trashy Halloween party with the human petting zoo, that Valentine’s Day lingerie costume contest…hell, at some point, they probably hosted a Booty Cruise here. It’s on a boat, I know, but they probably somehow figured out a way to do this!
Dive Bar: Formerly The Bird nightclub. I remember going here a few times (when it was The Bird) when KDWB hosted their Saturday Night Party Zone here. My friend Deb and I would only come here when Michael Knight was hosting because I had a mad crush on him. (good god, why am I admitting this? He wasn’t even that good looking and the dude was probably twice my age. Thinking back, Ton E Fly was probably cuter, but I had to have the hots for Michael freakin’ Knight?!) Those were the days though… Anyway, this isn’t even a real dive bar. Real dive bars don’t name themselves “Dive Bar.” Dive bars = dirty bathrooms, flies on the food, beer served out of an Igloo cooler, blood stains on the walls from the nightly fights, cracked vinyl booths with the foam poking out, and a slobbery dog behind the counter. I’ve never been in here since the late ’90s, but I’m guessing this is not a real “dive bar.”
I think there’s another nightclub across White Bear Avenue, near that strip mall with the Old Country Buffet, but I can’t remember its name.
With all that said, Maplewood Mall does have one big redeeming factor — it has a giant carousal in the middle of the mall. You might be thinking, “Who the fuck cares? The Mall of America has Camp Snoopy-The Park at MOA-SpongebobLand feat. Dora the Explorer-Nick At Night Universe, or whatever the fuck it’s called these days — it’s a full-blown amusement park! And Maplewood has one carousal?”
But the Maplewood carousal isn’t just a place to get some cheap $2 thrills. This ride is an original Venetian double-
decker carousal from the 1800′s, with beautiful hand-painted murals. Definitely not something you’d find in your average suburban mall, or let alone any ol’ amusement park, for that matter. It’s worth checking out, if you find yourself shopping at this mall.
And this mall still has fountains. I like mall fountains. You don’t see them all that much these days.
If you have any memories to share or any information about former tenants/etc, feel free to post in the comments!
All photos taken June 2009. (I’m trying out the photo gallery feature on WordPress…so this looks a little funky. I’ll try to get it right on my next post! Sorry for the sloppiness!)