FROM THE VAULT: First malls offer new shopping options

Jackson Mall, Metrocenter, Northpark change the face of shopping in central Mississippi
Published: Jul. 18, 2023 at 10:31 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

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.

Jackson Mall on opening day in 1970
Jackson Mall on opening day in 1970(Miss. Dept. of Archives & History)

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.

Metrocenter on opening day in 1978
Metrocenter on opening day in 1978(Miss. Dept. of Archives & History)

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.

Site for Northpark Mall on County Line Road in Ridgeland
Site for Northpark Mall on County Line Road in Ridgeland(WLBT)

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.

Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please click here to report it and include the headline of the story in your email.