One of the locations that still brings back memories of happier, simpler times is the mall.
A mall is pretty much a building (for inside) or area (for outside) where groups of stores, shops, and other services are in close proximity to each other in order to make it easier to do shopping. Malls are also designed for social interaction in a limited fashion, although mainly for discussing what you bought at the store you just strolled out of.
One of the malls I remember the most is Rimrock Mall. Growing up in the Laurel & Billings, Montana area, you have to remember that most young kids didn’t really have much to do but get into trouble, join Boy/Girl Scouts, do after-school activities, stay home, or go shopping. The mall provided an entertaining outlet for people to congregate at and have some fun. This mall had many great stores that I remember – many of which have since closed down or changed into something less memorable. I remember quite a few stores that have dried up or mutated into other forms………..
Hipster Doogan – A place where you could get an ice cream bar, freshly dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts. A simple delight that was well worth visiting. It was where Fudd’s is now in the food court.
Orange Julius – It’s back in the mall now, but much smaller than it used to be. It used to have its own seating area, along with a limited food menu, along with one flavor of julius – orange. Well………it was called Orange Julius for a reason – right?
Clowntown – This was a child’s dream toy store. It had such memorable toys like Capsela, Robotix, Rom the Spaceknight, and other cool, trendy toys & games. Sadly, it was higher-priced than some shops, but it had that cool small toy store vibe. Sadly, that store has long since vanished.
McDonald’s – Yes, I know this store is nothing new for the west-end of Billings, but it used to live in Rimrock Mall as well. In fact, it was the only two-story store in the entire mall – not even the anchor stores have two levels! It had an upper level that allowed you a view of the mallway where you could see the people flocking about. Sadly, this has evaporated, and every store is back to single-level only.
Aladdin’s Castle – Anyone who has ever lived in Billings or the surrounding areas can tell you the many stories of goodness that was this particular arcade. It existed during the golden years of the arcades back in the 80’s – a dark aisle, highlighted by the glow of neon and many arcade screens. It also boasted a video jukebox that played popular music videos of the day. For a time, they even had events after regular hours where you paid a fee for an hour of unlimited play, which was pretty darn cool. This was the place where I actually played the game Dragon’s Lair for eight hours on one credit. Yes………it is true. I even rolled the score 3 times. Too bad I didn’t have a video camera to capture that!
Video Showcase – This was an upscale video store that featured video tapes for sale, as well as game systems, VCR’s, and TV’s. I still have a memory of this 25-inch console TV with big stereo speakers in a wood-grain cabinet………..all for the low, low price of………….$10,000. Yes…….it was really that much. Heck…VHS movies were going for $50-80 back then too, so it made sense……..sort of.
Suncoast – My favorite anime mecca when it was in operation in the mall. This was a more recent store, but I remember it mainly for the huge anime and laserdisc selection. I really enjoyed this store, and was sad when it closed. I still have my laserdisc player though.
Rimrock Theatres – It was great to be able to see a movie after shopping, and never have to leave the mall. It started off as the Rimrock 3 Theatres – later changed to 4 screens, and then 5! Too bad they don’t have a theatre in the mall anymore – it was a rather nice thing!
The anchor stores have also changed over the years. In the beginning, you had Hennessy’s, Herberger’s, Montgomery Ward’s, and The Denver. When The Denver moved out, JCPenney moved in. When Ward’s closed up shop, Dillard’s went in. Hennessy’s closed, and JCPenney took over that spot, and Dillard’s took over the spot JCPenney occupied for its second store. The only anchor store that has never changed or moved location…….is Herberger’s. Go figure!
People who went to the mall a lot, and had an adventurous spirit, hardly ever went into or out of the mall through the main entrances. Those who were savvy used the service entrances and back hallways to avoid the crowds – especially during the busy season. Heck……..sometimes, I still use those!
The stores that are currently in the mall now, while not entirely bad, are just not as eye-catching as they used to be, and just don’t have the draw like they used to. Does this mean I’m too old for malls? Nah – just means that my tastes aren’t aligned to the current offerings they currently have. I still enjoy the mall though, so I don’t think I’ll give it up anytime soon.