Complaint Department – Canton Centre Mall

Once regarded as highly sensitive and top secret material, these official mall complaints are finally made public for the first time thanks to our whistleblower on the inside.

Today let’s take a look at some of these complaints straight from the files of the Canton Centre Mall Customer Service.

Canton Centre Mall Customer Service
Canton Centre Mall Customer Service Desk.

Exhibit A: Nick of Time

To insiders Alice is known as a “Buzzer Beater” aka someone who shows up at the last minute. On this particular evening in late May, Alice had to make a pickup at an unnamed Canton Centre store before 9:00 PM. Arriving at the mall at 8:50 PM she found the doors to be already locked. Thankfully there were customers leaving and Alice was able to slip in.

Conclusion: Disaster narrowly averted.

 

Exhibit B: Would You Like Fries With That?

Subject “Jamie” came to Mr. Hero on a July afternoon to order food, however the service sucked and they didn’t give her the right things. To compound issues even further, Jamie was given things that she did not want. Suggestion to hire new/smart people should be seriously considered.

Conclusion: Definite major malfunction

Canton Centre Mall Complaint

 

Exhibit C: Bad Vibes at Big Abes

Subject “Sherrie” was attempting to shop at Big Abes on the afternoon of July 13th. While in the store she was very offended by the use of profanity in the music played by the store personnel. Sherrie cited examples of the use of words such as “mother f_____, b____, pu___ and so forth”.

Conclusion: Sh__.

Greetings from Lazarus Department Store – Lima Mall

Originally built in 1965 as one of the DeBartolo Corporations smaller regional shopping centers, the Lima Mall had quickly become the areas preferred center and had already begun planning their first expansion to be opened in the fall of 1971. Included in the 262,873 square foot expansion would be the addition of 23 new stores including Foxmoor Casuals, Waldenbooks, Hickory Farms, Camelot Music, and Mary Jane Shoes just to name a few. The highlight of the expansion however would be a new anchor store, Lazarus, a Columbus based department store and a division of Federated Department Stores. This would be Federated’s sixth Lazarus branch store and second outside Franklin County (the first being at Richland Mall in Mansfield).

Exterior view of the Lima Mall Lazarus store shows the domed entrance.

Featuring three floors and totaling a whopping 165,000 square foot, the store was actually engineered accommodate for a fourth floor to eventually be added (though it never was).

The mall level of the store would house a complete fashion store featuring men’s and women’s apparel and accessories, a budget store, and a home sewing area. Children’s World, with fashion departments for infants through pre-teens would take up most of the second floor. The third floor would consist of the decorative home department, a home entertainment section, and offices. Also on the third floor located in the dome tower would be The Sky View Restaurant. With seating for 130 guests the Sky View would offer the diners a panoramic view of the countryside.

Sky View restaurant Lima Mall
Have a seat in the Sky View restaurant at the Lazarus store in Lima Mall. (Image via The Lima News Archive)

In 2003 the Lazarus store would be rebadged as a Lazarus-Macy’s and then two years later they would completely drop the Lazarus name.

In 2021 Macy’s would close up shop on the former Lazarus store ending its near 50 year run.

The Great Department Store Mini-Bike Craze

In 1959 the Michrina Brothers would deliver their first mini-bike prototypes to former Indianapolis 500 winner Troy Ruttman to sell at his car dealership. These first prototypes were known as “Lil Indians” and they would spark the craze that had little kids begging their parents for a mini-bike. Other brands would soon follow, Taco, Bonanza, Arctic Cat, and Rupp, just to name a few, and soon the major department stores would be selling their own mini bikes as well.

Montgomery Ward Mini Bikes
Advertisement showcasing the 1970 line of Montgomery Ward Mini Bikes.

Montgomery Ward’s offerings into the market included the “sassy” 323 which at only 3hp was no speed demon but certainly still looks like a lot of fun, the “lively” 424 which came with shocks and a 4hp engine, and the “swingin” 525 which packed a full 5hp, 2 speeds, and racing wheels.

Penney’s offered similar bikes, but with slightly cooler names like Big Blue, El Tigre, Swinger, and the super cool chopper inspired Duster with its high-rise handlebars and backrest.

JCPenney Mini Bike
JCPenney had a solid selection of mini bikes.

And Sears? Yeah well, Sears was Sears. Though as a kid I would have been absolutely delighted beyond belief to have woken up on Christmas to find myself a new owner of a Puncher, it’s also quite obviously the least cool of the bunch.

sears Mini Bike
The complete Sears mini-bike lineup featuring “The Puncher”.

In 1973 mini bike sales peaked at 140,000 units from over a hundred different manufacturers. There was even a new sport “Mini-Bike Soccer” which had racers from both teams merging at center field at full speed for the opening kick-off (I hope they were wearing helmets). Just a few years later in 1976 the craze was over and mini bikes fell out of favor with kids who now wanted dirt bikes. Blasphemy.

Blueprint Archive – Euclid Square Mall Site Plan

Retailers Higbee’s and The May Company, along with developer Jacobs, Visconsi, and Jacobs were looking to build a shopping center on the property of the Chase Brass Company located on Babbitt Road. However with that property currently zoned for industrial use, the decision would be left up to people of Euclid to decide if the land should be rezoned. So it was put it to a vote in 1973 with the result being nearly two to one in favor of the mall.

Euclid Square Mall Blueprint
1977 Site Plan of Euclid Square Mall shows a general mall layout flanked by its two anchors, Higbee’s and the May Company.

The mayor at the time, Harry J. Knuth, who was a long time champion of the project considered the mall “One of the greatest things that ever happened to the city of Euclid”. Richard E. Jacobs, President of Jacobs, Visconsi, and Jacobs added that the malls developers “want to prove to each resident of Euclid that the city will benefit from this development and become an even better place in which to live in the years ahead”.

Artists Rendering of Euclid Square Mall
An artists rendering of Euclid Square Malls interior shows Mr. Richard E. Jacobs vision of a better tomorrow for the city.

Mr. Jacobs was right. The Euclid Square Mall would eventually open in 1977 and pay immediate dividends in the creation of nearly 2,000 jobs, plus huge increases in income to the city from real estate tax on the new mall which helped the city avoid raising its taxes.

Bigger Than Life – Time Out at Forest Fair Mall

In the fall of 1988 Cincinnati, Ohio would be the arena for an all out shopping mall rumble. With a total of 6 shopping centers within a mere 80 miles of one another it was not a battle to be the best but rather to see who could stay alive. There was a massive renovation to transform a strip mall to a 100,000 square foot enclosed shopping mall. An $80 million dollar expansion to one of the larger existing malls and a $2 million renovation by one of the smaller ones. Another hired not only Micky Mouse but also Ray Charles, like the real, actual Ray Charles, to head line the grand re-opening upon completion of their $100 million expansion. There was also one mall that was not even opened yet but the promise for something new, like nothing no one had ever seen before, was the most intoxicating of them all.

Forest Fair Mall Grand Opening

Just shy of 2 million square feet, would not only put Forest Fair Mall in the elite 1% of malls larger than 1 million square feet it would also make it the second largest shopping mall in the state. Intentionally designed to be different than all the other mundane shopping malls, the five anchors were to have their own individual style through the use of architecture. Offerings would include fashion, both high and discount, a considerable assortment of food outlets and an entertainment complex, the first of it’s kind.

Time-Out on the Court at Forest Fair Mall

Time-Out was not new name in the industry with more than 70 locations through out the U.S. by this time. In fact most would very fondly remember their local Time-Out arcade. But Time-Out on the Court was not your normal shopping mall arcade. It was an arcade and a midway area, and an 18-hole miniature putt-putt course. If that wasn’t enough there were amusements rides for the kiddies, bumper cars for the adults and a carousel for all ages to enjoy.

Ferris Wheel at Forest Fair Mall

“Timeout On The Court was the s*** when I was a kid. If I died and had to choose between heaven and Timeout, I’d choose Timeout lol.” [austiNati] “Forest Fair Mall/Cincinnati Mills questions (Dayton, Burlington: tenant, theatre, live)” city-data.com, 3 Mar. 2021.

Forest Fair still remains open to this day (Now Cincinnati Mall), though with just a small handful of stores. And one of those stores is an arcade. It’s not Time-Out for sure, but it’s still a lot of fun to visit. If you do go to the mall, why not do it in style in a retro style Forest Fair shirt from Untitled Colours.

Forest Fair Mall Shirt Cincinnati Ohio

JCPenney – The Fox

In the late 70s and early 80s the “preppy” look started to become all the rage and if you wanted to fit in with the in crowd then you better have yourself a nice polo style shirt. Preferably one with an alligator on it. But, if you were either cheap or just couldn’t afford it you would have to settle for one of the many knock-offs available.

The Fox Shirt by JCPenney 1982
1981 advertisement for The Fox by JCPenney – A good looking shirt that wont cost the shirt off your back.

Enter JCPenney. Who needs an alligator when you can have a fox anyways? At a full five dollars less than a genuine Lacoste one could get the same look, feel, comfort, and quality with The FOX! Offered in both his and hers models, The Fox shirt was available in a variety of bright colors. Paired and tucked into a pair of pleated pants with a nice thin belt and one might look as if they were headed to the yacht club.

I’d like to dedicate this to the well-dressed man.

Truth be told, I really want one of these. A quick check of eBay shows several really nice ones that can be had for less than twenty bucks, which is right around the same price they sold for in the 80s, and that seems like a steal in todays nostalgia crazed fashion market.

See ya later, alligator.

Chess King Rocks

Chances are you probably already know what I’m about to tell you, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway. Chess King Rocks. And in 1987, Chess King Rocked extra hard when they recruited Lou Gramm (Foreigner), Julian Lennon, and Dweezil Zappa to help them get their point across. Chess King already touted themselves as being “The store for men who think young” so in all honesty hiring a group of still cool, but aging rock stars made perfect sense.

Chess King Store Rocked in 1987
Former Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm looking like a Juke Box Hero rocking his Blue Zone apparel from Chess King.

Chess King looked to fill the gap between pinstripe suit and jogging suit, catering to young fashion forward men with brands like Code Bleu by Bugle Boy, Torque, and Blue Zone which were also much more affordable than big name brands such as Calvin Klein or Perry Ellis.

Some of the top fashions for Chess King in 1987 included bomber jackets (inspired by the movie Top Gun), acid washed jeans, bolo ties and suspenders, oversized sweaters, pleated pants, and derby hats.

Chess King Fashions 1987
Older men “thinking young” and looking good doing it.

“I don’t think acid washed jeans are ever going out of style”

Debbie Deloach, Assistant Manager at Johnson City Mall Chess King

retro styled chess king shirt

Did you miss your chance to rock in the 80s? Perhaps you just want to think young. Untitled Colours has you covered with this amazing Chess King Rocks shirt.

Remembering “The Four Seasons” at Chapel Hill Mall

When an unfinished Chapel Hill Mall with only 19 stores opened it’s doors in late 1966 shoppers must have truly been in awe as the walked into the mall for the first time.

Four Seasons at Chapel Hill Mall
“The Four Seasons” seen in this1967 image from the American Gas Association.

Upon entering the main court the focal point was quite obvious, “The Four Seasons” a sculpted mural that spanned a whopping 218 feet and was 13 foot tall. Designed by local Cleveland artist Brian Plesmid, the sculpture was made of troweled cement over mesh and decorated with multi-colored glass. The sculptures design was to depict the areas seasonal changes in nature.

Chapel Hill Mall in Akron, Ohio
This colorized image from 1964 shows nearly the full length of the sculpture and the hallway coming in from the main entrance.

To complement the massive sculpture, the main court also featured twin musical fountains designed by Jack Erbe of the Roman Fountain Company. The fountains splashed and danced to the sound of music played throughout the court area.

This Forest CIty Enterprises publicity photo shows one of Jack Erbe’s musical fountains.

Sadly, the mall didn’t age well. Even though a market study showed that in 1993 more people shopped at Chapel Hill Mall than at any other Akron area chopping center, merchants and customers alike thought the mall was quite dated. Dennis Weiland of Retail Consulting, a firm from Macedonia was quoted in the Beacon Journal as saying that “It needs something to bring it into the 90s”.

Christmas shopping at Chapel Hill Mall
A Chapel Hill Mall employee cleans up after a long night of holiday shopping.

So bring it into the 90’s is what management did. In a 1994 remodel, the Four Seasons sculpture was either covered up or destroyed, The twin fountains were removed and replaced with an updated single fountain, and a 5 million dollar food court, complete with carousel was added.

This photo from Chapel Hill’s Facebook shows that the main court was still quite nice, though not quite as awe inspiring as when opened.

In 2021 the mall closed it’s doors for good and is being turned into a business park. One certainly can’t say that Chapel Hill didn’t have a good run though as it stayed in business 55 years and outlived its major Akron competitor, Rolling Acres Mall by 13 years.

Greetings From Belden Village Mall – Canton, Ohio

On October 1st 1970, Belden Village Mall opened its doors to a “New World of Shopping Pleasure”. Mall management billed Belden Village as “The Magnificent Mall”, and a quick glance at these old postcards makes it rather obvious that it certainly lived up to it’s moniker.

Belden Village Mall Canton Ohio
Main Entrance – Belden VIllage Mall

Upon entering, one would immediately realize that Belden Village Mall was much more than your average shopping center, the mall was alive with fountains, lush plantscaping, and gorgeous sculptures from several well known artists.

1970s Belden Village Mall
The Main Court at Belden Village

In the malls Main Court tied into the fountain is this rather striking free-form metallic sculpture by Cleveland’s own Clarence Van Duzer who had several of his works on display throughout the mall.

Fountain at Belden Village Mall
A great view of the fountain and Clarence Van Duzer’s sculpture

Another renowned Cleveland artist, William McVey Contributed this magnificent piece in the Higbee’s Court. Mr. McVey also had pieces in other mid-century malls most notably being his hippo sculpture in Detroit’s Eastland Mall.

Higbee's Court Belden Village Mall
Higbee’s Court featuring sculpture by William McVey

In addition to the artwork placed throughout, the mall also featured cozy seating areas, surrounded by tropical flora and contemporary lighting really did make the mall feel alive, even during the harsh winter months in Ohio.

Belden Village Mall 1970
One of the many cozy seating areas at Belden Village Mall

Back of postcard reads:

Belden VIllage Mall – Where good taste costs no more.

Main entrance to belden village mall
Belden Village main entrance in 2018

Though remodeled in 1987, today the mall is still very much alive and serving Canton well, but I can’t help but wonder what happed to all the amazing art from the mall.

Rolling Acres Mall – Bubble Elevator

It was a pleasant surprise to come across this old Dover Elevator ad while recently thumbing through an old Architectural Record from 1979. I always thought the elevator at Rolling Acres Mall was special, but I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Dover Elevators apparently thought so highly of the elevator that they featured it in this ad which ran for several months in multiple trade publications.

Elevator Rolling Acres Mall
1979 Dover Elevators as featuring the “Bubble Elevator” at Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio.

With a design similar to what one might expect to find in a big city hotel, The elevator at Rolling Acres Mall was touted as “Akron’s First Bubble Elevator” and would serve customers as they traveled from the main level down to the Promenade Level.

This Beacon Journal clipping from 1976 points out that the mall’s bubble elevator was supposed to be yellow.

Though the ride on the elevator itself only lasted 15 seconds, it was definitely worth waiting for to take in the the beautiful fountains and and the French-styled greenscaped Parc from above before gliding to a smooth landing at the Promenade level.

Rolling Acres Mall Promenade
A 1978 Beacon Journal Ad featuring the Bubble Elevator promoting the opening of the Promenade Level at Rolling Acres Mall.

The elevator was a hit with shoppers, especially children. It was claimed that the because of its novelty the elevator had probably carried nearly as many shoppers up and down as the double escalators that it compliments in the Court of Lights.

promenade court rolling acres mall
A late 90s view of the still dazzling elevator in the Court of Lights at a Rolling Acres Mall in decline.

Head over to The Court of the Twelve Trees or take a video tour of Rolling Acres Mall from 2003 where you can see the bubble elevator and the escalators running.