Welcome to wonderland for a kid on a family vacation in Toledo, Ohio in the late 70s/early 80s.
Southwyck Shopping Center in Toledo will shut its doors permanently.
Montgomery Ward and Lion, a local department store chain which operated two locations in the mall (the main store on the east wing, a home store on the north end that replaced an earlier tenant). My parents usually had good luck shopping at Lion, while my main memories are trying on clothes and tasting a Mon Cheri chocolate for the first time after having seen them advertised on television.
Lion was part of the Mercantile Stores group of department stores, which were purchased by Dillard's in 1998. I recall my parents going back to Southwyck for the first time in years after the purchases and coming away less than impressed with the products offered by the new owners.
Hearing that it had become a "dead mall museum", I stopped in last May on my way back from a New York-Lancaster-Pittsburgh roadtrip. I felt like I was walking through a graveyard, with a dozen or so distractions from the retail tombstones lining the corridors. Walkers outnumbered shoppers and security guards looked half-asleep. The colours in the centre court dome panels had faded or replaced with mismatched glass.
Once upon a time the Toledo area had four malls: Southwyck, North Towne, Woodville (the other Toledo mall we shopped at, whose main oddities were carpeted floors and a tire store mixed in with other shops) and Franklin Park. The first two died, the third is barely breathing while the latter keeps growing. Despite these failures, two large outdoor "lifestyle centres" have sprung up in the south end. One, Fallen Timbers, struck the final death blow to Southwyck when Dillard's moved their store to the new complex a few months after the photos in this post were taken. If the ownership details are worked out, the current plan involves transforming much of the property into yet another lifestyle centre. If the plan comes to fruition, will a new Glass City retail death race begin?
All photos taken May 18, 2007. Flickr user johnnygracie has posted a set of Southwyck photos taken this month.