Showing posts with label Post Oak Mall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Post Oak Mall. Show all posts

Friday, July 18, 2014

Post Oak Mall Part 3 - The 1980s and 1990s

Unless you're new, I have already written "new" posts for the department stores of Post Oak Mall and the Food Court. Now, it's time to focus on the mall's in-line stores themselves, without the messy "Superpost" released a few years back.

Unfortunately, if I tried to cover Post Oak Mall's in-line stores in fell swoop, there'd be chaos. I'd never get it done.

Post Oak Mall opened in 1982 on the corner of Harvey Road and Texas 6 ("the East Loop") and was largely the catalyst for development on that side of town. It included a small extension of Holleman from the frontage road (still two ways at this point) to just beyond the highway (taking over a small road called Sutton Place, we'll get to that later). It had four department stores at opening, with three more coming soon by the end of the year (the seventh anchor pad was never developed, though I can take stabs at what it could've been). Post Oak Mall was actually pretty small: it was under the general "regional mall standard" of 1,000,000 square feet of retail at only around 800,000 square feet, and the "department stores" were really small. Even the largest store, Foley's, was only around 103,000 square feet, far less than the Foley's branches in Houston, which were well over twice the size. And yet it was huge: at the time, Southwood Valley was at more or less the far south part of town, and the "East Loop" was only about nine years old. There was nothing like it in town: Manor East Mall was much smaller and much less ornate, and in an area rich with the oil boom while the rest of the country was in recessionary effects, it was definitely right for its size.

While one of the first promotional materials claimed the mall was "99% Leased", several didn't open until a few years after the mall did.



I am not going to make a "final" version of this post anytime soon, but I'll do my best to describe in the details to which I have. The original mall in the 1980s was not as large as today ("large" being a relative term), it stopped at Wilson's. Manor East Mall was still going pretty strong at that point, having gained the first mall-entranced Wal-Mart store (and first in the county), and it would still do well up to the point where JCPenney left in 1985. The mall also had different tile, which was uncovered in summer 2012 in renovations. There were also large fountains. To see some more photos of photos of the past, including the old 1980s-style skylights that they replaced about 5-6 years ago, check out my Flickr account.

1994 was the year (or somewhere around those lines) when the mall was updated, gaining a new logo, new tile, and neon trim (which were all removed in the 2012 renovations). This list covers the in-line stores from 1982 to 1999 (in theory) using just three directories (a fourth early-1990s map wasn't used but may be covered at a later date). I do intend on updating the list with stores I missed with ads when needed.

The stores tend to move around as you'll notice!



1. Card America - By 1984, this space was not shown on a mall directory, even though it says it was leased. That implies it had an incredible short life, or was not open yet at this time. Was it ever open? By the 1990s directory this was Summit Stationers.

2-3. Oriental Treasures and Rainbow Store - Little is known about these two stores, besides the fact that they probably sold what the name implied. The 1990s directory has this as Command Performance and Spencer Gifts, respectively.

4. D'Guiche Bed & Bath Shop in the 1980s. Lady Foot Locker was here in the 1990s.

5. Accessories by Taz - Besides the fact I think of the Looney Tunes character, this became a jewelry store, Christie's, by the 1990s.

6-13. We're not going to cover these, we already kind of did.

14 is the mall offices/restrooms/etc. This hasn't changed.

15-27. More food court stuff, see link.

16. Sugar Daddy's, a candy store. By the 1990s this was "Beeper Boutique" (I honestly have no idea what this entailed, 1990s beepers? Maybe)

17. The Wagon Wheel, in the food court. See the article regarding the food court (6-13). It was vacant by the 1990s.

18. Merle Norman - Cosmetics shop. I think this one is actually still open in this shop!

19. David Alan's Men's Shoes was here. By the 1990s, this would be "Pretzel Time", a pretzel shop.

20. Sweeney's - Jewelry store. This later became Babbage's (and eventually GameStop, but that's for another list). In better days, Babbage's was a computer store (bought Kid Pix Deluxe here in '96) and less focused on games.

21 & 22 - More food-related establishments, check that article.

23. Cutlery World - No memories or any information on this, but I assume it sold kitchen knives. This became Afterthoughts by the 1990s, which was owned by Woolworth at one time.

24. Wicks 'N Sticks - A candle store. This would survive into the 2000s.

25. Lewis Shoe Gallery - another shoe store. This was absorbed into Wicks N Sticks by the 1990s.

26. Carlyle Jewelers. Gordon's by the 1990s (another jewelry store)

27. Swensen's in the food court. Not covered today.

28. Time Out Family Amusement Center - This video arcade was in the mall for many years. At one point they were owned by Sega and even circa 1989, opened a massive "Time Out by the Court" center in Cincinnati's Forest Fair Mall.

29-31. More food court stands covered elsewhere, though I couldn't actually find 31 on the map.

32. Wild Pair - Shoes. This was a big mall chain in that era. By the 1990s, this was J. Riggings, another big 1990s chain (men's clothing) that fell by the wayside. You can see a picture of the storefront (partially) here at the now-defunct Mall of the Mainland. Beware: the outbound link is still written by me but it's very very old and contains writing that I now find embarrassing.

33. Jeans West - Pants. This was ALSO a big mall chain in that era. This space was absorbed into #32 by the 1990s.

34. Brooks Fashions in 1982. Casual Corner by the 1990s.

35. Lewis Shoe Gallery in 1982. This seems to be vacant in the 1990s.

36. Butler Shoes in 1982. This was a store called "5-7-9" in the 1990s (or 5•7•9)

37. Thom McAn - In 1982, this was a shoe store. Thom McAn was another big chain store in the 1960s and 1970s, and I'm not entirely sure what happened to them. I think they were bought by someone later, as I saw the brand at Sears last time I went. Camelot Music would later be here by the 1990s.

38. Open Country - This was listed under shoes, so I'm guessing something like hiking boots? Payless ShoeSource occupied it later in a reconfigured space in this area.

39. Corrigan's - 1982. Jewelry store. By the 1990s, this became the location of Zales.

40 & 41. These aren't on the map either. The reason for these "missing stores" is likely because the mall was numbered before the configuration of tenants in the mall. Interestingly, 41 (but not 40) was carved out of the old space of 39. This was Adventure Travel in 1990s, a travel agency.

42. This was originally Rox-Z, a nightclub (it's unknown if it opened to the inside or not). A later (by the 1990s) tenant, EyeMasters (which didn't use all the space). I don't know when EyeMasters opened. It was before 2000, as this website mentions, as it was open when Service Merchandise was still there. EyeMasters (now Visionworks) DOES have an interior entrance which suggests Rox-Z did too. Rox-Z was replaced in the late 1980s by something else later, which I swear came across in a phone book that I owned, but I can't remember.

43. This was a vacant, outside-facing exit that was never leased, apparently (ever). Later directories, such as my one from 2004, don't even bother numbering it. In a 1984 directory virtually unchanged from the 1982 preview one, the whole thing (A/B/C) is marked as 43 and that's mentioned as Armed Forces Recruiting.

44. This is where the Army/U.S. Air Force/Marines recruiting offices are now (but not the Navy, that's inside). Interestingly, my late 1990s directory has these spaces marked as A, B, and C, and Casa Olé in space 44 (see below).

45. Casa Olé - CO opened the exact same day as the College Station Weingarten did. One of these remains dead and all but forgotten while the other one still remains alive. Guess which one? That's right, and Casa Olé still remains in the mall, despite middling reviews and a parade of new Mexican restaurants that opened in the years since November 1983. Better Mexican places had fallen since and Casa Olé remains open. It's strangely a bit comforting to have that link to the past, but still...better Mexican food out there. The later 1990s directory doesn't even list 45 at all.

46. Pet Emporium - What the 1983 directory lists. By the 1990s this would be absorbed into 48.

47. This number doesn't seem to be listed. By the 1990s this would be absorbed.

48. Peck & Peck - This was originally a private-label women's clothing shop from New York's Fifth Avenue, but by the time it reached Post Oak Mall, it was being driven into the ground by a new owner (and from what I saw, prices weren't particularly pricey). It looks like P&P's incompetent owners shut down this store in the mid-1980s. This later became Coach House Cards & Gifts (moved from a different location within the mall) along with the former 46. However, the 1993 directory still has Peck & Peck, which means it was probably one of the last ones around (cross referencing with a 2/93 phone book proves this true)

49. Great American Cookie Co., I don't think this has EVER changed. In malls in the 1980s, you could get broken pieces of cookies for fairly cheap, but I don't think they do that anymore and haven't for a long time.

50. General Nutrition Center - This hasn't a whole lot changed either.

51. This was the original home of Scripture Haven and later became home to Bath & Body Works.

52. Original home to Camelot Music and FootAction by the mid-to-late 1990s.

54. (There isn't a 53, either). In 1982/1983, this was "Worth's" by my 1990s directory it later became "Vanity".

55. The original home to J. Riggings, my 1990s directory doesn't have a store listed.

56. Scripture Haven - Scripture Haven is ALSO still there. That's three in a row. SH is a Christian bookstore, which means there's Bibles, Bible-related stuff, and a lot of related junk: candles, Precious Moments figurines, the works. When it opened, it was "Kid's Kasuals".

57. Radio Shack - This has been here since day one (and also still is)

58. Originally "Courts Western Wear" (related to Courts Saddlery?), this later became "Catalena Hatters Texas Store" (another Bryan reference).

60. There isn't a 59 and my 1990s directory doesn't list this one. 1983 directory says Team Electronics.

61. Original location of Coach House Cards & Gifts. 1990s directory lists nothing.

62. Hit or Miss - In the 1990s directory, this was empty, but when it started, this was Hit or Miss, an off-price shop. At some prior to 1989, this had been closed, a result of parent company Zayre Corporation reorganizing into the modern-day TJX Companies. This was a predecessor to TJMaxx in many ways, and possible that it was even closed when TJMaxx opened.

63-67. The Limited took up several spaces in the 1990s (before it closed and was absorbed into the even larger Steve & Barry's space in 2005) but this was smaller shops in the 1980s. Petite Shoppe was in 63 proper, 64 isn't on there, 65 is Athlete's Foot, 66 is T-Shirts Plus, which I think moved from Manor East. 67 was Zales.

68. Royal Optical. This remained throughout the 1980s into the 1990s.

69. Gallenkamp Shoes in the early 1980s. This was unoccupied in my undated 1990s directory.

70. Jo-Ann Fabrics/Singer in the early 1980s. The 1990s map has this vacant.

72. Originally 72 (no 71) was a large store that held Town & Country Furniture. By the 1990s this was Oshman's Sporting Goods, which may have filled in even by the late 1980s. Oshman's was a big sporting goods store found in malls and strip centers all over the Southern U.S. area, but disappeared over 10 years ago when what remained was converted by their parent Sports Authority. Even the old distribution center and headquarters in Houston was demolished for a Walmart a few years back. To get a good idea of what a typical mall Oshman's looked like, watch Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure in which Genghis Kahn trashes one.

76. The Home Front - Much like Bed Bath & Beyond, this offered soft goods and other furnishings (silverware and others). Here's an ad from 1984. You'll notice that I skipped 73-75, because they simply aren't shown. In the 1990s, this was the home of Brazos Valley Troupe.


78. Waterbed Gallery in the 1980s directories. The 1990s directory has this as a vacancy.

80. (No 79), in the early 1980s this was Command Performance, a salon that would jump around several places until finally closing a few years back.

81. Wasn't leased in the original map, and the 1984 map doesn't have a space for it either.

82. Keyboard Center in the 1980s (I'm thinking keyboards as in the musical instrument, not what you probably have in front of you)

83. Motherhood Maternity.

84. Upstage Shoes. I can't find a lot on this store, it was a chain in the 1980s.

85. Walden Books (original location). The store spaces 80-85 eventually combined into the "new" 85, which would be Lerner New York by the latter part of the 1990s.

87. The original "Lerners" was here in the 1980s. This became Lane Bryant by the 1990s.

89. (No 88 either, I can get the feeling they grotesquely upped their perceived store count this way but they probably even had MORE small stores planned)

90. Kinney was here in the 1990s, which almost certainly dates the map to pre-1998 since the division was shuttered that year. Kinney was a charter tenant too.

91. Chess King was here in a much smaller space before it became a large Gap store in the 1990s (ultimately in the early 2010s it would move out and turned back into smaller stores again, and by that time, Gap had become less relevant). Chess King was one of the big men's '80s clothing stores before the 1990s hit and Chess King fell into "checkmate", so to speak.

92. Foxmoor - women's clothing chain found in most malls in the 1980s and early 1990s. This was absorbed into the Gap later.

93 & 94. Gateway Cards and Gordon Jewelers, respectively. By the 1990s the spaces would be absorbed into the Gap, the Gap that swallows all store spaces!

95. The 1980s had this as Quick as a Flash. The 1990s had this as Little Havana Cigar Company.

96. No 96.

97. This was Cinema 3 prior to 1998 (Plitt originally, then Carmike). The Wikipedia article for Post Oak Mall (which I will NOT list) says 1999 but I'm not sure because for years the article was aggressively squatted by a Wikipedia user (the type that seem to literally never sleep). Any confirmations as to when it closed would be appreciated (for years it said 2000, the date may finally be right this time).

98. Jubilation - I don't think this restaurant, whatever it was, actually opened, as nearly my 1983 or 1984 directory list it under restaurants. Despite that, a "Clip and Keep" mall directory from 1984 still listed it. Either way, it later became Chelsea Street Pub & Grill. The 1983 phone book lists "Stadium Restaurant & Bar", so this -may- be it. However, Jubilation WAS open, however briefly, in late 1984 it was open and it was open 24 hours (suggesting that it wasn't fine dining). If that was true, where was Stadium? Were they one and the same? This seems the most likely, as sometimes in phone books, they list what the business name instead of what it operates as (like "Dolar Video" instead of Adult Video). Reconfiguration later this led to be Chelsea Street Pub & Grill, which left the market for a number of years and used to be located in the Fajita Rita's building (which as you know burned down a few years back)

99. The original space 99 was listed as MPACT, which based on my other phone book views seems to be some sort of charge card.

100. Casual Corner in 1982 and American Eagle Outfitters in the 1990s.

101. Absorbed into 102 by the 1990s. Bookland in 1982.

102. Walgreens - The first Walgreens in College Station-Bryan, though the merchandise line-up was slightly different (more drug store, less pharmacy). It departed in the early 1990s (my 11/89 phonebook lists it) and it wouldn't be seen in the area for a decade. When it did return to the trade area, it was in a different format (box type stores with drive through pharmacies). By the 1990s, the space had shifted around slightly, covering a slightly different space. It became a large Express store.

103. Exterior facing store. This was Navy recruiters in the 1990s but "Stay & Play" in the early days.

104. "Fashion Conspiracy" in 1982. No listing in the 1990s directory.

105. Foot Locker in the 1990s and 1982.

107. (No 106) Record Bar (early 1980s), Keta's Hallmark (1990s).

108. Kay-Bee Toys (Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby in the early days). It was already gone by the mid-2000s, long before the chain closed for good.

110. (No 109) Baker's Shoes, and later Gadzooks.

111. By the 1990s directory this was Journeys, but in the 1980s it was classic cheese and meat store Hickory Farms. HF only operates seasonal kiosks these days but they used to do full stores. Most "mall memory" sites involve kids stuffing their faces with the samples here (were you one?)

112. Parklane Hosiery in 1982 (early mall chain) and later The Coffee Beanery Limited.

113. Trevor's (home décor) by the late 1990s, originally the large KG Men's Store.

116. This was originally a clothing store called "Pat Magee's" and by the 1990s (as early as 1993) "Nancy's Unique Boutique".

118. Marvin John's Big & Tall (117) and Shoe Designs (118) were here, they later became the new 118, LensCrafters (still here today).

120. (No 119) Modern Woman (1990s), Women's World (original)

121. Mission Jewelers was here in the 1990s. In the early 1980s it was "Mission Jewelry".

122. Although to the right of 123 (out of order), this was Eddie Bauer in the 1990s. The space where Eddie Bauer was had been a part of Woolworth (see 125). A rare case where a number is in the 1990s one but not the 1980s one.

123. Champs Sporting Goods was here in the 1980s. Interestingly, it later left for a number of years. By the 1990s it was Victoria's Secret, though much smaller than it is today.

125. Woolworth occupied a huge space here for over 10 years. It later went out of business in the early 1990s (still there in '93 and the only one left in town at that point). No 124.

126. Tinder Box (smoke shop?) was here in '82. By the 1990s this was Flowerama, a florist shop.

127. Deck the Walls, a home décor store (this appears both times). This later moved to across the hall (roughly) but kept their number. This was all later of course...

128. Regis Hairstylist in both directories.

129. Aggie Unlimited in the 1980s and Claire's Boutique in the 1990s.

130. Herold's in the 1980s (strange spelling, I know) and The Shoe Dept. in the 1990s.

135. Video Concepts (aka VideoConcepts) in the 1980s, a Radio Shack spin-off (actually not a RS concept when it was leased, but it was acquired in '85). 131, 132, 133, and 134 don't exist.

136. Texas State Optical in the 1980s. By the 1990s this had reconfigured and was a different size and shape. This became Inspirations by the 1990s.

137. Playland Toys (1980s), Sam Goody (1990s)

From this point on, this is going to be the 1990s map only since the Penney's wing didn't exist until 1985. Sometime I hope to get the originals, but until then...

138. Ritz Camera One Hour Photo

139. Waldenbooks. To note, the store between 138 and 139 isn't even numbered, as 138 and that store space were supposed to be lopped out for an entrance to a 7th department store that never came to be. Waldenbooks I'm not sure when it opened but it was noted for having a "Waldenkids" store within a store which seemed to not amount to more than that name on the overhang. Since Waldenbooks survived into the 2000s, we won't cover it today.

140. Keyboards of Texas. (probably "music keyboards" again). This isn't in the 1993 listing nor does it appear in directories from a few years later.

141. The Curiosity Shop. This is listed under both "Books, Cards, and Gifts" AND Women's Apparel.

142. Seems to be vacant.

143. Post Oak Pets. This opened fairly early on (probably one of the first in the JCPenney wing) but closed...2002? I remember the facade had painted clouds on it.

144. Another vacancy. This later became a candy/convenience store but that comes just a bit later.

145. [Sure seems to be a lot of vacancies in the '98 directory over near the JCPenney end...]

146. The final location of Aggie Unlimited.

147. Le Nails.

148. First National Bank of Bryan. Although this survived into the late 2000s, I always felt it was kind of neat to have a bank inside of the mall. Well, they sold out to Franklin Bank Corporation in 2007, which went under in 2008 with all the remaining parts going to Prosperity Bank and somewhere in the scuffle FNB of Bryan shut down.

149. Luby's was here in the late 1990s, but it closed. It may have become something else immediately afterward but remained sealed off (décor mostly intact!) up until it was finally gutted. This begs the question...it's a large space and didn't seem to absorb anything else, because originally (at least in 1989 but not long enough for the 1992 directory) Wyatt's Cafeteria.

151. (150 vacant) The Pro's Choice (shoes)

152. MasterCuts

153. Lam's Silk Garden

154. Botanica

Odds & Ends:
- The 1993 city directory (no map) lists a number of other stores in and around the mall including a mix of the 1985 and 1998 stores but also a few other items. There's "Sharkey's Big & Tall" (Marvin John's, or a different store?), a dollar store (Everything's A Dollar), "Truly Texas" (a Texas shop but not the one that was near JCPenney for a while), Miller's Outpost (a chain), Brazos Valley Crime Prevention Info Center, "Kay's Cabaret" (former Rox-Z?), Golden Chain Gang, "Brooks Fashions" (probably not Brooks Bros., name found in cross-referencing with phone book), BOTH J. Riggings and the Wild Pair, which means one of them had a different location at one time or the directory put both, "Desert Moon Trading Co.", "Bull Pen Sports Cards", "Fashion Fotos", "Jay Jacobs Stores of Fashion" (full name found in cross-referencing), Barry Jewelers, Score (sports-related items), Naturalizer, Fox Photo (was this inside or in a kiosk outside?), McDuff Electronics (another RS spin-off). Likewise with the whole J. Riggings/Wild Pair mix-up, it's also important to note that both Kay's Cabaret AND EyeMasters co-existed which means one of them was in a different place. Naturalizer and The Cobbie Shop were also listed. Military Depot, of all things was here too in the early 1990s before moving to Eastgate. "Espresso Plus" was probably a kiosk.

- The 1993 city directory does list store numbers in the style that the directories switched to in the late 1990s, from which we can glean some neat facts:
5018 was Kay-Bee Toys, which is right where the store should be. 8000 was Payless ShoeSource, meaning it was where The Shoe Dept. later was, and 5000 1st National Bank originally had no exterior exit (space 100).

- The permanent kiosks are as follows, but the numbering was different. In the 1990s directory as shown, K-1 was Jewel Time but in the 1980s was K-5 Tender Sender (wiring money?). Outside of #87 was K-2 (1980s is K-1) but is Gold Post (under Accessories, not Jewelry) both times. K-6 in the '80s but K-3 in the '90s was Just Video and Things Remembered, respectively. K-2 in the 1980s and K-4 in the 1990s was Piercing Pagoda both times. K-5 (1990s only) was the customer service booth. K-7/K-3 (1990s number on the left, '80s on the right until noted) was Sunglass Hut/Sunglass Corner. K-9 (1990s only) was Tropik Sun Fruit & Nuts. K-11/K-4 was D'or International/MPACT while K-12 (1990s only) was Gold 'N Silver.

- I have ANOTHER directory (well, a picture of one anyway) but I have no idea what year it's from. It has Wyatt's, which WAS in the 1993 phone book (but not the 1993 directory), and it's obviously after the JCPenney wing opened. It also has Service Merchandise instead of Wilson's, which isn't that helpful since the JCPenney wing/Wilson's rebrand happened at about the same time.


Anyway. The 1990s directory I was referring to HAD Luby's on it, which given it was not there in 1993 but closed around 1998, so that should give a clue to when it was published.


And that's where you come in...if you could, please write down in the comments anything I missed between 1982 and 1999 (that does not include food court or department stores). I did put in a lot of time trying to write this post.


Other things to note:
- As you might have guessed, packing things into the Texas Avenue article is by and large a failure, so some of those are being split into new posts and such, such as the post the other day.

- Because of the long time in making this post, I may be updating it instead of adding ANOTHER whole post (yikes) which I would update periodically. The reason for this is overlap. On the third hand I may end up making up a whole outsourced page to bring it together. Well, we'll see how many comments this gets and we'll run from there. I may be adding more ads to this anyway.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Post Oak Mall, Part 2 - The Food Court

This post is super out of date and has been completely outmoded by the newer Post Oak Mall page on Carbon-izer.com, and even that's a bit out of date. As such, this has been removed from the main index of the website.


A continuation on our newly rewritten Post Oak Mall coverage that we did not long ago, this is about the food court. I first wrote this back in maybe early 2011 or late 2010 (I'm not sure) but I took it down when the "Superpost" was released. It saddens me that Chick-fil-A (charter tenant) is no longer in business, for instance. Little Tokyo is also gone now with no replacement. There's still life left though. Read on.

The food court was much more grandiose than today, featuring eateries on both sides and called "The Gourmet Court". Charter food court tenants included Chick-fil-A, Corn Dog 7, Funnel Cakery, The Great Hot Dog Experience, Giovanni's, Ken Martin's Chicken Fried Steak, Peanut Shack, Pepe's, Potatoes Etc., Salad Bartique, Sesame Hut, and Seafood Shoppe. Orange Julius opened soon after (it was leased but did not open with the mall, apparently), and Taste of the Tropics and McDonald's opened later. I know for a fact that Taste of the Tropics opened a few years after '82, and also Subway opened in 1984 (after the Parkway Square location). Because the food court had been reconfigured at one time (the corridor to the restrooms was different), it's hard to tell what became what.

To make this easier, I'll try to cover the food court starting at what is now the boarded up restaurant (and moving clockwise): this was most recently Little Tokyo, which lasted from circa 2008-2009 to January 2012. It wasn't so bad at first. The sushi was good and very reasonably priced. I even got a menu and scanned it. That old link is from a defunct blog I used to run back in early 2010. Unfortunately, the prices went up soon enough, and they seemed to run out of things on a consistent basis: I tried green tea ice cream here, but toward the end, they never had it. Until circa 2006 (and going back to the earliest days of the mall), this was Corn Dog 7. I wished I had gone there, because I enjoy corn dogs, it is a chain, and I think I would enjoy a foot-long corn dog.

Since Little Tokyo closed, there's been nothing to replace it and it remains with green cardboard walling off the counter. How depressing. With the rent so high there, it's unlikely anything will replace it soon. Ideally, I'd love to see some tasty local option there.

EDIT 10/11: ...and I'm right! Carrera and Stover (see below) will be opening "Salad Sculptors" there, serving gourmet salads and gyros!

Directly next to Little Tokyo/Corn Dog 7 used to be Chick-fil-A, which also was a charter tenant and closed on December 24, 2011 to (you guessed it) high rents. There were other issues too, like the mall not doing renovations (by the time they did, it was too late). It was a bit unique in that it had a small dine-in area with some Aggie memorabilia on the wall, and was a full-featured Chick-fil-A. It was also the first in town, long before the one at Briarcrest was built, or before the campus CFA Express locations. It was replaced with Raising Cane's, which lacked the walk-up area. Now, I have nothing against Raising Cane's: it tastes good and is reasonably priced, but it's no replacement to Chick-fil-A, and I'm sure many agree.

To the right of that is Manchu Wok. Manchu Wok used to be good and also reasonably-priced, but I haven't been in a while. I've heard that the food quality has deteriorated somewhat, but just to be safe, I haven't eaten there yet: best keep my good memories intact. Originally, this spot was "Emilio's" (unknown to what it served).

Moving onto Roman Delight Pizza, which despite its horribly dated appearance (I don't believe that menu board has changed since the early '90s) is reasonably priced and decent (or so I've heard: I haven't actually eaten there). Up until the early '90s, in fact, it was Sesame Hut: so the menu board (sans prices, of course) hasn't changed since then.

Taste of the Tropics has been here since about 2005, it replaced a Subway that lasted up until 2003-2004. Of course, Taste of the Tropics has been here for far longer, but it moved to consolidate the food court more. It's a locally owned smoothie shop. In the early 1980s, this was "The Great Hot Dog Experience".

Speaking of locally owned, we now focus on what started out as a McDonald's, which opened sometime soon after the mall opened. It lasted up until 2002 when it was replaced with a Sonic. The Sonic, which lacked a drive-in for obvious reasons, closed in 2012 (apparently it under-performed horribly). While Sonic is never known for having good food (average at best, I'd say), I enjoyed their drinks and "Happy Hour" specials. After that, it was replaced by Charles Stover's Flip & Peel Burgers & Fries.


We'll go a bit longer on this subject because I have mixed feelings on Flip & Peel. "This Is Not a Fast Food Chain, Because YOU Deserve Better", the menu proclaims. The burgers run in the range of $6-$8 for the hamburger alone. Since opening, they changed the menu, taking out a few tasty burgers and replacing them with "healthier" turkey burgers.

Some of the casualties were the Deluxe Diner Burger (named after a certain defunct Northgate eatery), which had cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, mayo, and mustard (a classic tasty hamburger), plus I dislike American cheese. It retailed for $5.99. There was also a smaller "Jr. Diner Burger" that retailed for $3.99.

Another casualty was the $7 "Hawaiian Burger": beef, ham, grilled pineapple, provolone, sriracha mayo, and pineapple sauce. Two salads (both $5, add chicken for $2), the Legacy Salad ("artisan greens", red onion. pineapple, Craisins, sunflower seeds) and Rio Grande Salad (artisan greens, guacamole, pico, cheddar) were discontinued (better than turkey burgers, in my opinion). Finally, two fries also sadly departed.

There was the "S'mores Fries" ($6) that had sweet potato fries, chocolate sauce, marshmallow sauce, graham crackers, and chocolate chunks. Confusingly, "Nutella Crunchberries Fries" ($7, now $4 like other fries) still survives, which has sweet potato fries, Nutella sauce, raspberry sauce, powdered sugar, and Crunchberries (Cap'n Crunch's Crunchberries). This I actually did try and I disliked it. It wasn't because the sugar overload (I can eat an entire bowl of said cereal and feel fine) but the flavors completely clashed.

Finally, there was the "Canadian Fries" (poutine, rhymes with "routine") which had provolone and mushrooms in addition to the classic cheese curds and brown gravy. These were discontinued due to the fact that you can't find cheese curds in the area. I think I remember Stover telling me about he had to import them from a family member in Canada, though I strongly believe it can be found in Houston somewhere.

The burgers are pretty tasty: I'm not too sure about the buns used, the Flip Sauce tastes a little strange to me for some reason, and the price still seems on the high end...but I still wish Charles Stover and Sergio Carrera the best in their venture nonetheless. I also did enjoy Primo Pizza, even though they somehow managed to skip the sauce, and am willing to come back.

It's worth noting that McDonald's was not the original tenant (possibly coming in during 1992, which makes sense from ads over the years). It was, instead, a branch of Pepe's Mexican Food.

At some point the food court was re-configured in terms of where the entrance to the restrooms were. This was a spin-off of Ken Martin's Steakhouse: "Ken Martin's Chicken Fried Steak". You can see Pepe's, Ken Martin's, and others below:


Photo from "rcj0618" on the HAIF, though it's an image from the first issue of InSite Magazine, mirror flipped


Orange Julius was absorbed into Time Out Family Amusement (now American Eagle Outfitters). This probably happened in the early 1990s. Next to it was Taste of the Tropics, which survived into the 2000s before moving to the place it is now (it's now non-food shops, but can't recall what's there currently).

Peanut Shack survived into the late 1980s as well (possibly early 1990s). It was more of a snack shack than a food court place. Some years ago the folks at Labelscar snapped a pic of a Peanut Shack at a small-town Oklahoma mall. It was obviously closed for the evening, but that's what it was.

Smoothies Ice Cream & Yogurt was the actual name of the restaurant and served pretty much what it's name was, including gyros. Ice cream served was Blue Bell. It became "Nestlé Toll House by Chip" circa 2009-2010, and was originally a Swensen's, which like its Culpepper Plaza relative (which also lasted a whole lot longer), served food (hot dogs, burgers) and ice cream.

Giovanni's Pizza was on the north side, later to be Villa Italian Specialties by the 1990s, and eventually, turned into part of Afterthoughts, which became Icing by Claire's, and then Claire's when the two switched places. Where Gymboree's "wall" is today was "Potatoes Etc.". Then, next to it was "The Wagon Wheel Pit BBQ" (now Lids, formerly Hat World). Next to that was one of the first Subway locations in the state and first mall Subway in Texas. It's now Sunglass Hut.

Other food court stores like Salad Bartique, Funnel Cakery, and Seafood Shoppe would replace a few listed above, and even a real Cinnabon once graced the food court in the mid-1990s, albeit briefly. There may be others that I've inevitably missed.



Picture I took in 2008


A more recent picture

As you may have noticed, the food court isn't nearly as large as it was. At least they got rid of the kid's play area (which was built circa 2004?) recently. You can see some directories here. The mall itself as well isn't what was then. Although it still has a dominant on the hold on local clothing stores, it mostly serves as a place to congregate when the weather's unpleasant, which happens often.

I wish the food court would grow again. Gymboree doesn't open to the food court side. I wish Gymboree would move out (after all, there are other "nice" shopping centers that would happily accept it, and at a lower rent, too). That space, the one where Potatoes Etc. was, could become another food court space. A mix of local tenants and "first to the market" spaces could fill the remainder. How about another Taco Bueno? Maybe a Ninfa's Express? A barbecue place? The mind boggles with the possibilities.

Anyway, here are a few updates.

- Our post on the former A&M Consolidated High School / A&M Consolidated Junior High has been updated.
- A comment at the Citgo on Northgate clarifies a bit about the Thirsty Turtle.


Finally, I implore you: I've worked on this a good deal, so if there's anything wrong, anything you want to add, or say: please write in the comments! I've removed moderation for the recent posts, so have at it!

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 / MACY'S
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.

P7110013

 

 



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.



WILSON'S / SERVICE MERCHANDISE
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.

DILLARD'S
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!)

SEARS
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
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.

JCPENNEY
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).

THE GHOST ANCHOR
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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Post Oak Mall Superpost

Currently updating. Unmarked "ninja" edits are undergoing.

I know I've made a few Post Oak Mall-related posts here lately, so I've decided to merge them all here, and update this page whenever necessary. Post Oak Mall opened in 1982 on the corner of Harvey Road and Texas 6 ("the East Loop") and was largely the catalyst for development on that side of town. It included a small extension of Holleman from the frontage road (still two ways at this point) to just beyond the highway (ooh, I should write that in my Holleman history). It had four department stores at opening, with three more coming soon by the end of the year (the seventh anchor pad was never developed, though I can take stabs at what it could've been). Post Oak Mall was actually pretty small: it was under the general "regional mall standard" of 1,000,000 square feet of retail at only around 800,000 square feet, and the "department stores" were really small. Even the largest store, Foley's, was only around 103,000 square feet, far less than the Foley's branches in Houston, which were well over twice the size. And yet it was huge: at the time, Southwood Valley was at more or less the far south part of town, and the "East Loop" was only about nine years old. There was nothing like it in town: Manor East Mall was much smaller and much less ornate, and in an area rich with the oil boom while the rest of the country was in recessionary effects, it was definitely right for its size.

Fast forward: it's December 2011, and February 2012 will be the 30th anniversary of the mall. It's seen almost a complete tenant turnover, and speckled with vacancies and low-end local stores. "That's So Me Boutique & Gift Basket Xpress" is one of the signs of this decline, and if you know dead malls, you know it's starting to get bad when a store without a lit sign and selling gift baskets, of all things, moves in. Post Oak Mall is dying a slow death, and it's only stayed constant because of the fact that there's no other mall in town, and in times when the weather is over 100°, you want to hang out in an air-conditioned place. Cynics would say that even the newest renovation won't stop the decline (read on).

There have been a lot of changes over the years, and let's start with the biggest store, Macy's. When it opened, it was a Foley's, a relatively upscale department store chain out of Houston. It downscaled in 1987 when Federated Stores (its owner) sold out to May Department Stores (eliminating many departments), and was doomed in 2005, when May Department Stores was sold as a whole to Federated (which was different from the original Federated--it's kind of a long story). 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 (I think) 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.

But enough on that. 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 pretty much just a brand name shared with other May Company department stores. Here are the pictures I have: they all date to the post-Foley's era.

P7110013

 

 



Apparently, according to the 2011 Macy's Factbook, the location opened in 1984, which is possible, though discrepancies happen everywhere. I need a consensus on that.

The other major anchors include a Sears at 98,533 square feet, which is about the right size for a Kmart (I think even larger than the Kmart we had at the opening of this). I swear I remember this location had an Optical Department just a few years ago (2008?), with the little jingle at the end of this commercial running through my head. I believe it still has "Sears, Roebuck, and Company" near the entrances, something not seen nowadays.

There was a JCPenney, which opened in late 1982 soon before JCPenney started to dismantle the "full line" it used to have (though they were headed in this direction). JCPenney stores in the late 1960s and 1970s were more like Sears now than Kohl's now, and there are many classic examples out there of old JCPenney Auto Centers (and, in VERY rare cases, a JCPenney Supermarket! But only three stores had them). I remember getting a "Space Jam" basketball here circa 1996 (I think it was JCP, anyway) and even as late as 1990 they were still were building "full line" stores, so it's possible it had a sporting goods department back then.



There's still an 80s looking sign out front mentioning the Package Pick-up, but since JCPenney eliminated its catalog division a year or so ago, it's now a "jcp services" desk. At least the store hasn't converted to that awful new "jcp" logo yet.

There was a Wilsons initially for a few years, a catalog showroom based out of Baton Rouge. This too was a small location of only 40k square feet, though the catalog showrooms were smaller. Within a few years, the location was bought by Service Merchandise, and it lasted until the first round of "Service" closures in 1999. It was soon leased to Dillard's, which divided their main store and put the Mens and Housewares department in the store. Unfortunately, it didn't label which store was which on the outside.

The main Dillard's was a rarity in the sense that it was built as a Dillard's, and not a Joske's like in Houston and San Antonio (those would become Dillard's in '87). After '99, the Dillard's location only had the women's and kid's departments. Around 2010-2011, the Dillard's became exclusively women's, but they moved back in the kids departments back in. While there's nothing at the Dillard's womens/kids that I would remotely buy (you know, being a guy) but it has some worn carpeting and parquet floors, which are cool.

The sixth was a Bealls, which was an independent small Texan chain at the time, with the apostrophe recently dropped in the logo at the time. Bealls was one of the few anchors that maintained dual anchors with Manor East Mall, though it cannibalized the downtown one.

The food court was much more grandiose than today, featuring eateries on both sides and called "The Gourmet Court". Charter food court tenants included Chick-fil-A, Corn Dog 7, Funnel Cakery, The Great Hot Dog Experience, Giovanni's, Ken Martin's Chicken Fried Steak, Peanut Shack, Pepe's, Potatoes Etc., Salad Bartique, Sesame Hut, and Seafood Shoppe. Orange Julius opened soon after (it was leased but did not open with the mall, apparently), and Taste of the Tropics and McDonald's opened later. Because the food court had been reconfigured at one time (the corridor to the restrooms was different), it's hard to tell what became what.

Chick-fil-A was the oldest and largest tenant in the food court, until it closed after December 24, 2011, just a few months shy of the mall's 30th anniversary. Supposedly the reason for this was that the stand-alone locations were doing very well, and there was a lease disagreement (Chick-fil-A didn't want to stick around unless the mall made major updates--which they did eventually, but it was too late). In the spring of 2012, it was filled with Raising Cane's, a noticeable step-down. Raising Cane's didn't even have the interior eating area like Chick-fil-A...it was just a walk-up. I do like Raising Cane's, for what it's worth, but I like Chick-fil-A more. What is a Southern mall without a Chick-fil-A? A dead one.

Pepe's was a branch of Pepe's Mexican Café on College Avenue, the remnants of a small chain. At one time, it also had locations in College Station (present-day Gumby's) and even (reportedly) in Austin.



I honestly can't tell you what most of those sold. You'll have to make your own hypotheses (for example, Giovanni's is probably pizza, etc.). Peanut Shack and Orange Julius would've been harder to guess: Orange Julius is basically like what it is, selling its flagship smoothies, but back before Dairy Queen bought them and closed them en masse in the early 1990s, they sold hot dogs and french fries. Peanut Shack was always a snack stand. A few years ago the folks at Labelscar snapped a pic of a Peanut Shack at a small-town Oklahoma mall. It was obviously closed for the evening, but the point still stands.


Photo from "rcj0618" on the HAIF: though it was actually just a flipped image of an old ad from InSite Magazine which is freely available from the web


Anyway, by 1997 or 1998, the food court had downscaled considerably, but there was still a few outlets on the north side of the food court.

Here is the oldest directory I have on hand. I've dated it about 1998 or so, before Kinney Shoes went out of business nationwide, but with a significant vacancy in the form of the old Woolworth's, which probably closed a few years earlier in a 1997 round of closings. Unfortunately, due to the size of my scanner and the tendency of the directory to contort on odd directions even in the scanner, I had to take a picture to suffice.

Hopefully I could get it scanned in a better condition, and cleaned up to boot.




One "Villa Italian Specialties" was still on the north side, near Afterthoughts (we'll get to Afterthoughts later). The other "differents" back then were Taste of the Tropics being a different place (now regular store space), Subway (don't know if the "original" Subway ever opened) being where TotT is now, and McDonald's became Sonic in 2002. There was Manchu Wok and Roman Delight in the 1990s as well. Around 2003 or so Subway finally closed.

Ultimately, Corn Dog 7 closed (man, I could use a foot-long corn dog sometimes) and became Little Tokyo sushi, Smoothies Ice Cream & Yogurt eventually became in the late 2000s Nestlé Toll House by Chip (no more Blue Bell...or gyros), and Manchu Wok (don't know when it opened, it renovated circa 2011) remains open. In January 2012, Little Tokyo closed (shortly after Chick-fil-A "flew the coop", as it were), and in October 2012, Sonic closed, when the lease ran out. Luckily for the mall, shortly after closure, it was announced it would be "Flip & Peel Burgers and Fries", which would be a new concept by CharlieMac. With Stover Bros. Café increasingly moving away from the things that made Stover Boys a success (not that the menu changes at Stover Brothers are bad, mind you), I would hope that FPBF is a return to the original form. Two things I didn't like about Flip & Peel and neither are the restaurants fault:

1) I don't tend to like American cheese, and I regret I got the burger with American cheese.

2) The Canadian Fries are discontinued. I was disappointed, but the thing is I realized two things. Number one, cheese curds aren't found here at all (no grocery stores stock them), so already it's not economic if you have to ship them from out of town (even Houston). Two, I may be wrong but I'm thinking our local culture doesn't appreciate international foods very much--while burgers, tacos, and fried chicken tend to do well, non-American cuisine is rare, so the closest you get is bastardized chain restaurants. While there are Asian grocery stores and places that stock international foods, they work because of the demographics of the city. Notice that College Station H-E-B has a decent selection of international foods, but not so much for Tejas Center or Tower Point Market.

The food court is definitely not what it used to be: half of it isn't even food-related anymore. At least they took out the kid's play area, which I think opened in 2004 (but I could be wrong?).

To sum it up:
McDonald's closed, and was replaced with Sonic in 2002, which closed a decade later. It was replaced with Flip & Peel.
Corn Dog 7 was replaced with Little Tokyo (Corn Dog 7 closed in 2006 or so, Little Tokyo opened around 2009 and closed in early 2012 or late 2011)
Then Smoothies Ice Cream & Yogurt became Nestlé Toll House Café in 2009 or 2010
There also used to be a Subway until around early/mid 2003.
The Taste of the Tropics wasn't always in the same place as it is now. I believe their current place was Subway before that.

The current line-up is Manchu Wok, Flip & Peel Burgers and Fries, Raising Cane's, Roman Delight, Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip, and Taste of the Tropics.



Picture I took in 2008 of the food court








Here's the mall directory of Post Oak Mall from 2004, from what I consider better days. I remember walking out of the mall relatively recently, disgusted that I couldn't find a single storefront worth checking out.

I mean, back in the day, this had Foley's, Subway, the Texas Store, a whole block of stores where Steve & Barry's was (including Flag Expo, a tiny store which I liked), Wicks N Sticks (the classic southern mall candle store), FX Video Game Exchange, Waldenbooks, and more. It was also when they had paper directories (instead of just one non-movable one), which CBL stopped doing in May 2009 because they're cheapskates.

On Steve & Barry's, a year prior to their arrival, Hibbett Sports, Dollar Corner, Flag Expo, In Style Fashions, and The Limited were near Sears and (original) Dillard's in 2004. Can't say too much about them, but I remember one of them (could've been Dollar Corner) was this sign that had a drawing of a person on it, one side would have the person grinning with a crown, while the other side had a sad-looking old man with a beard (the beard and the crown were the same, only flipped).

Flag Expo was as noted, a tiny store, not much bigger than my kitchen, and sold little flags. According to the store owner of the time, there was a kid who bought a new flag (in general, they ran about five or six dollars) every week. I always wondered who it was. Apparently, Flag Expo had sold more than flags. This revelation came in fall of 2011 when I discovered that Military Depot was selling a bunch of Aggie-related clothing, most of which had Flag Expo stickers on them. I -never- saw clothing at Flag Expo, so it's possible they wanted to expand, were forced out, and Military Depot bought all their inventory and started to sell it off at the same price it was seven years ago.



All these stores were forced out for "Steve & Barry's University Sportswear" in 2005, the fast-growing cheap clothing store. I remember it had things like the "vintage advertising" t-shirts before they dropped the University Sportswear in 2007 or so. The chain I don't think ever was very profitable, and the cheap leases they got (they were generally in distressed malls, though this wasn't always the case) fueled growth for more stores (eventually, it got to the point where they would move into just about anything: there was a store in Spring that was in a vacant Randalls supermarket), and it all collapsed in fall 2008, with the store closing around November of that year. After it died, it served a few transient purposes, including a publisher's clearinghouse (the book selection was terrible, I tells ya), a job fair, and a Halloween store. Ultimately, it became The Shoe Dept. Encore.

The mall has also never had much luck in terms of restaurants. Casa Olé has been here since the earliest days, and still serves up its own mediocre Mexican food. There was another restaurant at one time, too: "Jubilation" (a Google search reveals a "Paul Anka's Jubilation: The Place for Steaks" matchbook, named after a famous restaurant in Vegas at about that time, though it's doubtful that the two were related; still, a fancy steakhouse in College Station that pulled out when the economy got rough isn't outside the realm of possibility), which eventually became Chelsea Street Pub & Grill, which I remember vividly (we never ate there, but I recall the facade had an exterior entrance and fit in nicely with the lampposts). Later on, Luby's Cafeteria leased a large space in the back, closed circa 1998 with some other underperforming restaurants and has remained chronically vacant ever since. Halloween stores have been here, as well as (very briefly in the latter part of the 2000s) "Rugged Outdoors Armory" with things like bows and swords, but it was too awesome to last. Most of the former Luby's decor still remains, if you'd like to check it out.

A store gone by: Babbage's. Located where GameStop is now, Babbage's was a computer software store, including Mac products that weren't games (like Kid Pix Studio on CD!). But the parent company decided that video games (especially used video games that they can buy low, sell high) were more profitable, and it became GameStop in 2002. They even quit accepting things like Super Nintendo (and later, N64 and GameCube) stuff to maximize profits.

JB's Wrestling World deserves a mention, too. Opened in 2002, lasted for a matter of months. A former economics teacher of mine once had this story about it, in which he detailed a conversation he had with the store owner (and I'm paraphrasing even more, here): "Want a wrestling poster?" "No." "Want a wrestling t-shirt?" "No." "Want a wrestling calendar?" "No." I passed by the store once. It was dark yet not closed. I think it there was a glow-in-the-dark poster.

Waldenbooks will be missed, though the store at the mall closed in fall 2006, well before the main closure waves/conversion to Borders Express hit. It was one of the first tenants, had a wood facade and two signs, "Waldenbooks" and "Waldenkids". I bought my The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker guide there. It was a pretty big store, and reopened a few years later as The Shoe Dept. (relocated from their smaller store near Bealls). In 2011, The Shoe Depot. hit the road again and moved into the old Steve & Barry's, and Borders went out of business, ending the legacy of Waldenbooks as a whole.

C&L Nut Buddies used to have a kiosk somewhere in the late 2000s. They aren't there anymore, and haven't been for the last few years. I think they may have had free samples, though.

The Texas Store had a location for years in the mall, and eventually moved out to Gateway Center (but they moved on...). "Rustic" wooden floors and decor, books of all kinds, t-shirts too, and the obligatory line of novelty hot sauces. After it closed (mid-late 2000s, 2008 maybe?) it remained vacant. A training/employment center for BJ's was temporarily there, but it disappeared after the restaurant opened. In December 2012, it was still vacant.

Gadzooks stayed far longer than it should've. It was initially a 1980s/1990s teenage-clothing shop. It had a red and blue neon sign that hung until about 2008 when it was enlarged into Forever 21, parent company since 2005. I remember reading in an article in summer 2003 that it dropped male clothing, and the Forever 21 doesn't carry male clothing either (though larger ones do). Forever 21's bags have "John 3:16" and I remember reading in an article that the current daughters who run it (the fashion side, anyway) mention that "demonstrates [their] parents' faith". I also read somewhere that some of the "fast-fashion" Forever 21 designs are suspiciously similar to other designs. I'm guessing the daughters do not share the same religion as their parents, and probably don't have any scruples about "borrowing" other's designs, but I digress. Forever 21 is a fairly open, bright-looking store and has four mannequins out front which change regularly.

Stina's Shag I remember had a wooden facade (gotta them: they're from the 1980s), a rug store that operated briefly. But rug stores, especially rug stores in 2007 that use the word "shag" do not last long at all. It later served as a temporary Buckle store. It's vacant now and no longer has the wood facade (instead, a cheap plasticy one).

Best Buy Mobile is in part of the old Express, which is reasonable. Given we're too cheap for an Apple store (yuk yuk yuk), it gives mall patrons opportunity to fool around with things that start with "i" and other mobile devices (we're also too cheap for a Microsoft store, too).

Timeless: it was there for years, and I seem to recall it sold things like home décor: Beatles portraits, overpriced pop culture things, stuff like that. It was neat to browse around in. But browsing won't pay the bills, and in recessionary times, it folded. It reopened as Kitchen Collection, a far neater store to go in, because Kitchen Collection actually has practical things. I wasn't too impressed with the KC at one of the San Marcos outlet malls, but although smaller, it has less percentage of the space being stuff you'll never use like plastic onions to save leftover onions in. And it has pizza stones for a decent price, essential for making pizza at home that actually does taste like pizza.

The Gap was always there as I remember (though it was not a charter tenant). Once an industry leader in its wooden floors and subdued lighting (the designer of that went on to do Apple stores), it fell out of favor as the Gap started to be associated largely with the 1990s and was not able to adapt. It closed in 2011. It is now fully re-tenanted, with the corner "flagship" entrance now a Kids Foot Locker, a rarity in the fact that it's not "Jan's Junk & Such" or the like.

Abercrombie & Fitch closed in early 2011, too, but I'm not sorry to see it go. It had a bad smell and loud music, and was located right out there near the pretzel stand.

Candies & More was next to JCPenney. It was a bulk candy store (found in most malls). Problem is, it was filthier than normal bulk candy stores (filth in terms of dirt, at least), and it was a convenience store as well. I don't think it sold beer, but it did sell other candies, cigarettes, and lottery tickets. It closed in 2012, since I remember going in December 2011 and buying one of those lemon ice things, and going people watching. I thought it was possibly the fact that it was too frumpy for the mall, but I was wrong. Some store called "Sports Zone" moved in, painted the white wooden facade blue, and added hats and junk along the walls. Net loss in all aspects.

Fairy Godmother was a short-lived store next to the Puppy Store that offered the chance for little girls to have a "fairy tale party" or such nonsense. Unsurprisingly, it closed by late 2012. It is now Perfume X, with one of the worst facades you could think of.

[Photo]
Blaaaargh.


A non-store example includes the various physics festivals they've had here, but they ultimately moved out and combined with the Chemistry fairs (not enough people, apparently). And was it just me, or did the trees seem to be larger?

I thought that the neon near the ceilings especially looks cool later in the evening (it lights up) and wasn't there when the mall opened (to my knowledge), but it didn't light up anymore even before it was gone for good. The skylights were cool, too. Before they replaced them in 2008 or so, they were awesome. They were slightly tinted, very 80s, and let light in without actually seeing the sky. There's a picture here, on Flickr.

For now, I'll stop. There's more stories to tell, pictures to post, et cetera. Maybe I'll break into more than one post. Maybe I'll just keep updating. Anyway, that's all for now, will be working on next post (and beyond!) and have a Merry Christmas.

Also: BONUS POINTS if one could find out when the theater closed. I believe Wikipedia is wrong in this respect...

EDIT 1 (July 1st, 2012): They are renovating now, with most of the entrances at the front being deconstructed. Sometime in the spring Little Tokyo closed, and Sonic is closing this fall. While I haven't gone to the mall recently, I did snag this picture from the mall's website, where the original tile was uncovered. Neat!