Monday, July 1, 2013

Post Oak Mall, Part One - The Anchors

Because Post Oak Mall is such a confusingly long subject--originally one of the "extra huge posts" that I'm actively trying to do away with, I'm breaking it up. This isn't a final-final version of the article, as there are still pictures to be posted and refinements to be made in the original article to try to transition to this one, but here it is.

This is about the "anchors" of Post Oak Mall. I even hesitate to call them department stores, since they're so small compared to "real" stores. Last March, I had a chance to visit the moribund Northwest Mall in Houston. The former J.C. Penney was serving as an antique mall, and even though most of the décor had been stripped and the upper floor closed off, it still felt far larger and grander than anything ol' Post Oak had to offer.

Foley's was originally planned to be Joske's. This was actually on early plans and stated (by me) on the Wikipedia page, but the person who hijacked the page (and put in a bunch of wrong information, like the cinema's closure date) removed that. The Foley's opened in 1984 (according to the 2011 Macy's Factbook), and was only 103,000 square feet, which was alright because by that time because by that time, Foley's was already starting shed departments to being not much more than clothes like it was later. In 1987, it shed departments when Federated Stores sold to May Department Stores, and in 2005, it was sold from May Department Stores back to Federated (but it was a different company than the original Federated, which is a story in itself), and in 2006, Foley's was stripped of its lettering, with only a crude-looking Foley's banner over the Macy's name, which came off in September of that year. Macy's closed the store for a week (if I remember correctly) to remove all the brands from the Foley's store and put up their own (cheaper) brands, and prior to this mauling, all the Foley's brands went on clearance. The new Macy's sign doesn't even light up (the old Foley's sign, which I remember as the last logo of Foley's they had before their demise), and the last real vestige of Foley's, some worn parquet floors, disappeared in 2011 when Macy's replaced them with white tile. The pictures below are from the post-Macy's era but before they did the renovations.




I remember going to Foley's with my mother in the early 1990's and finding it cooler than the other department stores based solely on the escalators (the only ones in the mall, and the only ones for miles around). Unfortunately, by that time (mid-1990s), Foley's was already pretty much just a brand name shared with other May Company department stores.

Here's an October 2, 1985 article from The Eagle on how Joske's later admitted that not opening a store was a mistake, and that mistake would not rectified for another two years at least. Probably a smart move in the end: by 1987, Joske's would be sold to Dillard's, which there already was one in the mall.

Originally at the end of the mall, Baton Rouge-based H.J. Wilson (Wilson's, and do read up on there: that's Forum 303 Mall, which I would happily cover if I lived in Arlington, not College Station) was here from 1982 to 1985, which populated many malls in the South up to being acquired by Service Merchandise in 1985. In 1999, Service Merchandise closed at the mall during a round of spring 1999 closings and was replaced by "Dillard's Mens & Housewares" (later Dillard's Mens/Home) circa 2000. Confusingly, this isn't stated on the outside. Briefly (2010-2011) this also had the Kids departments.

Despite all this, it did offer electronics back in '85 (pix link). The same month that this ad is from, Dillard's added a third level to its Valley View Center store in Dallas, adding a cookie and candy counter (which our store probably never had, as after expansion, the store was over three times larger than the store at Post Oak Mall)

For a few years, this was only women's clothing (see above). That's right, in a place where once you could get an Apple IIc in addition to a bunch of other items, there was only women's clothing. What a sad change. And I bet they even kept the same décor.

It should be mentioned that vintage Mac/Apple is another of my hobbies, and that the Apple IIc wasn't the best of the Apple II family. For me, it would be the IIe (classic Apple II series only), or the IIGS (doesn't really count, since it was so different).

Unlike Macy's, Dillard's still keeps its parquet (and original name!)

Cluttered and messy, the Sears has been here since day one. While it was never very large, it was full line and has lost a number of departments over the years (Optical was scrapped circa 2008-2009, Portrait Studios shut down recently). I won't get into what Sears needs to do to change, but it needs love (and someone in charge who's not bleeding the company to death).

Bealls (pronounced "belz") is not related to the Bealls of Florida and points north/west, but the store here hasn't changed much (besides logos and interior updates, and of course the merchandise selection) since day one. As mentioned at the Manor East Mall page, the Bealls here was "stolen" from downtown Bryan. Manor East Mall kept theirs, which survived the transition to Tejas Center.

The store received a few updates under the controversial Ron Johnson era, but has also mostly gotten minimal updates since it opened in late 1982 (full-line JCPenney stores were being phased out by then).

There's a grassy spot next to Bealls that was planned to be a seventh department store, but what it was planned to be has never been revealed. There's a 99% chance that Mervyn's or Montgomery Ward was supposed to come on board, but that didn't happen, and will never happen since they've both gone bankrupt.


je said...

I look forward to updates on the mall post 2013 renovations. The last time I was there only the area near the original Dillard's had any of the new floor and paint scheme. Hopefully the finished product is not as bland as it looked in that small section of the mall. I am glad I made a trip down there to get some pictures of the mall about a year before the renovation began.

Lori Herrmann said...

You mention Sears being an original anchor at Post Oak Mall...and you are right. However, and I may have overlooked it, I haven't seen anything of when Sears closed down its Townshire Shopping Center location (originally located where the former Blinn College was and where the current Walmart Neighborhood Market is now) when it relocated to Post Oak Mall.