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mallguy

Mall history questions

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In case others are intrigued by mall history in Greenville, I thought that this thread might be useful.

I have a few initial questions:

1. Why in the world did developers build Haywood and Greenville malls so close to each other and at almost the same times?  Why did they build both in particular when McAlister Square was thriving at the time and was nearby?

I was around at the time, but I was too young to know anything other than "all of a sudden we have 2 malls next to each other."

2. When Haywood was built, did any of the downtown department stores consider staying downtown?  Why didn't they go to Greenville Mall; was Haywood announced at around the same time, so they chose the bigger mall?

I just remember that they all closed at the same time, and downtown was left basically abandoned.

I'm so glad that downtown finally seems to have the upper hand, after so many years.

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Yes, that site is well-known, but unfortunately it doesn't address my questions.  Thanks though.

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On 1/9/2016 at 6:34 PM, mallguy said:
On 1/9/2016 at 6:34 PM, mallguy said:

In case others are intrigued by mall history in Greenville, I thought that this thread might be useful.

I have a few initial questions:

1. Why in the world did developers build Haywood and Greenville malls so close to each other and at almost the same times?  Why did they build both in particular when McAlister Square was thriving at the time and was nearby?

I was around at the time, but I was too young to know anything other than "all of a sudden we have 2 malls next to each other."

2. When Haywood was built, did any of the downtown department stores consider staying downtown?  Why didn't they go to Greenville Mall; was Haywood announced at around the same time, so they chose the bigger mall?

I just remember that they all closed at the same time, and downtown was left basically abandoned.

I'm so glad that downtown finally seems to have the upper hand, after so many years.

In case others are intrigued by mall history in Greenville, I thought that this thread might be useful.

I have a few initial questions:

1. Why in the world did developers build Haywood and Greenville malls so close to each other and at almost the same times?  Why did they build both in particular when McAlister Square was thriving at the time and was nearby?

I was around at the time, but I was too young to know anything other than "all of a sudden we have 2 malls next to each other."

2. When Haywood was built, did any of the downtown department stores consider staying downtown?  Why didn't they go to Greenville Mall; was Haywood announced at around the same time, so they chose the bigger mall?

I just remember that they all closed at the same time, and downtown was left basically abandoned.

I'm so glad that downtown finally seems to have the upper hand, after so many years.

I usually don't post on the Greenville forum but have been around long enough to answer you.

My uncle, Greenville's fire marshall in the 1960's and 1970's, asked the same question.  Nobody way back then thought Greenville could support three malls, especially three so close to each other.  I think there was some hubris on the part of the city and developers, can you imagine that!   MS was never the "regional" center that HM became and it was inevitable that it would be supplanted as THE retail mecca in the upstate.  As it turned out, after HM opened MS quickly lost shoppers and GM never caught on in spite of a terrific location.  The MS fire in 1981 was blamed for its demise but nearness of the other two malls, the eventual closing of a key anchor (Belk-Simpson), and its relatively small scale were the real culprits. 

GM was announced in '76 and opened in '77 with two anchors - Montgomery Ward and JB White, both newcomers to the area.  HM was announced in '78 and opened in '80 with four anchors - Sears (relocated from Stone Avenue and Church), JC Penney (relocated from Main Street), Belk-Simpson (their fourth location; the other three downtown, MS, and Augusta Road), and Rich's (a newcomer to the area).  Belk-Simpson swiftly closed its downtown store and within a few years closed the MS store.  I am uncertain when the Augusta Road Belk Simpson store closed. 

GM was substantially remodeled and positioned to be more "upscale" in the 90's with Parisian and Dillards replacing the original anchors.  That effort failed to attract shoppers and the mall's eventual demise took about a decade to play out.

The hulk that was MS has been [mostly] reused as The University Center.    

I don't believe any retailer, large or small, cared to be downtown in the 70's and 80's.  The malls were the place to be.

 

 

 

Edited by roads-scholar
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Great response, thanks.

Yes, I also wondered why (1) there were 3 Belk stores within a few miles of each other for years (downtown, Augusta Road and McAlister Square) but (2) why the closest in-town "real" department store is at Haywood (Mast General Store doesn't count), while in-town neighborhoods' populations have increased significantly, particularly in the past 10 years.  There's a large underserved market in the zone between Haywood and Downtown for such a store.

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Six months later....

Roads-Scholar's account is right on as I recall it. A couple more bits about GM's demise: Dillards bought out JB White, and so took over the latter's existing space at the mall. JB White was very popular, as I recall, but with a big new Dillards a mile or so away at HM, the GM Dillards was doomed. Add to that Montgomery Ward's bankruptcy and liquidation, and Parisian downgrading their store to Proffit's (sp?), and all 3 GM anchors were gone or seriously weakened in a relative flash.

A flaw (IMO) in the redevelopment plan was to increase the size of the mall space. GM was already a very long mall, and they made it longer by converting old Montgomery Ward space into mall space, building a new Ward's building on the front side, and an Oshman's on the back side. But I guess it doesn't really matter, because the anchor store collapse would have happened anyway, and there was (is?) no way Neiman Marcus or Sax (owned by Parisian), or some other high-ender was going to open a Greenville store.

Anybody remember that wretched brown and green color scheme in the original GM? It was really ugly, even for 1977.

In the 70's we still shopped downtown. I preferred the downtown Belk to the others. There were still good retailers down there, some throughout the 80's: Hale's, Davenports, Edens Estes, Oneal-Williams, the Open Book, the Red Baron, Tanners, a bike store in the old bus station on Laurens St.; these are the ones that occur to me offhand.

I'd like to see Hale's bring that clock back to Main Street.

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