FROM THE VAULT: First malls offer new shopping options
Jackson Mall, Metrocenter, Northpark change the face of shopping in central Mississippi
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - From the city’s earliest days, Jackson’s busiest shopping area was Capitol Street downtown. Then came suburban shopping centers like Morgan Center (now Woodland Hills), Westland Plaza, Meadowbrook Mart, and others. The dawn of the 1970s brought something entirely new: fully-enclosed malls.
The first was the Jackson Mall, which had its grand opening in July of 1970, with Miss Mississippi Jane Carol Foshee cutting the ribbon. The mall was located at the busy intersection of Woodrow Wilson and Bailey avenues, guaranteeing a constant stream of traffic. The anchor stores were JCPenney, Gayfers, And Woolco. The mall also had restaurants and a cinema.
The Jackson Mall was the only mall of its kind in the Jackson area until 1978, when the much larger Metrocenter opened on Highway-80 along the brand-new Interstate 220. It was the biggest mall in Mississippi, with three anchor stores at first -- McRae’s, Gayfers, and Sears -- along with more than a hundred smaller stores and restaurants. Another anchor, D.H. Holmes, was added in late 1978.
Just a few years later, something new came along. Announced in 1982, Northpark opened on County Line Road in Ridgeland in 1984.
Northpark got a lot of attention, and not just because it was new. It was open on Sundays, at a time when the other malls and many other businesses in Jackson were closed on Sundays. The competition from Northpark changed that.
When the Jackson Mall lost some of its most popular stores to the bigger malls, it began a slow decline. It was re-born in the mid-’90s as the Jackson Medical Mall and continues to serve the community’s medical needs.
Metrocenter now sits almost empty, while Northpark is soldiering on -- as enclosed malls across the country struggle to compete against online sellers and newer, smaller strip shopping centers in the suburbs.
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