The Mall in Columbia – Raw & Real Retail

This is our walkthrough of The Mall in Columbia in Columbia, MD from January 11, 2019. This is a big thriving mall in the suburbs of Baltimore. It is not dead nor hurting in the least, despite just losing Sears. It was developed by The Rouse Company, started by an architect named Jim Rouse, who pretty much came up with the look of the “standard” mall of the 1970s and 1980s.

Check out our ongoing series of dead and dying shopping malls!

Songs used in this video (in order):

Jean Bouchety – Premiere
Robert Folk – Spectacle
John Scott – Pentathlon
Keith Mansfield – Gladiator
Mike Vickers – Applejack
Steve Gray – Eye Catcher
I. Martin, B. Dee – Light the Lights
David Lindup – Jetting East
John Cameron – Ride of Champions
Steve Gray – Wonder Groove

Here is some history from Wikipedia:

The Mall in Columbia, also known as the Columbia Mall, is the central shopping mall for the planned community of Columbia, Maryland, United States. It has four anchor department stores and over 200 specialty stores. Restaurants include PF Chang’s, Maggiano’s Little Italy and Panera Bread. The mall includes a 14-screen AMC Theatres. It is located in the Town Center area of the city and attracts shoppers from surrounding counties in Maryland.

Architect Frank Gehry designed The Rouse Company Columbia exhibit building, and was initially selected to design the neighboring mall centerpiece. Gehry was later rejected by Rouse for lack of experience, and the firm of Cope, Linder, & Walmsley was contracted for the project.

The Mall opened in 1971 with two major anchor stores: Hochschild Kohn’s (which was replaced by Hecht’s in the mid-1970s) and Woodward & Lothrop (a.k.a. Woodies, which closed in late 1995 and was replaced by JCPenney in July 1996), as well as a McCrory’s and Lerner’s, which were minor anchors. Of the original 102 stores, those still in operation at the mall as of March 2017 include: Edward Arthur Jeweler, GNC, and Motherhood Maternity. The Mall has undergone several major expansions since its opening, with the Sears wing opening in 1981, along with an expansion of approximately 370,000 square feet and about 55 specialty stores. In 1997, the Hecht’s store (now Macy’s) added a third level. The Lord & Taylor wing opened in November 1998 (along with two new parking garages); the Nordstrom wing opened in September 1999. Also at this time, 20 to 30 stores opened in a new 60,000-square-foot wing near Hecht’s. The interior was renovated by replacing the floors, lighting, skylights and air conditioning units by the end of 1998. A Cheesecake Factory restaurant opened on The Mall property near the movie theaters in late 2005. The Mall’s Hecht’s store became Macy’s on September 9, 2006.

The Mall was sold to General Growth Properties by The Rouse Company in 2004. In early 2013, construction began on an addition to the outdoor “Plaza at The Mall in Columbia” to replace the L.L. Bean store (which closed in May 2013) with additional stores and restaurants. On April 28, 2015, Howard County Police announced an increased presence at village centers and malls following protests and riots the day before that affected GGP’s Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore. In May 2018, a 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) Main Event Entertainment facility opened on the south side of the mall, featuring 22 bowling lanes and over a hundred virtual reality video games.

On October 15, 2018, it was announced the Sears store would be closing as part of a plan to close 142 stores nationwide as a result of the retailer’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

On January 25, 2014, at around 11:15 a.m., 19-year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar entered the Zumiez store on the second floor of the mall, armed with a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip, and fired six to nine shots, killing two employees—21-year-old Brianna Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson—and injuring five others before committing suicide. Police arrived within two minutes to find an extensive amount of ammunition and crude explosive devices next to Aguilar’s body, which were disabled safely. All of the injured were treated and later discharged from the Howard County General Hospital.

Former Jessup correctional officer Hong Young was arrested on March 2, 2015, on suspicion of shooting at the Columbia AMC theater building and gunfire incidents at the National Security Agency, Arundel Mills Costco, Inter-county Connector and Laurel Walmart.


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20 thoughts on “The Mall in Columbia – Raw & Real Retail

  1. Two minutes into the video and I had to pause it to comment on how uncannily similar this is to another of the Rouse Company's malls that opened 7 years after this one, the Augusta Mall in Augusta, GA. In particular, the space frame ceiling trusses bordered by angled windows for natural lighting is a design element they directly copied over to the later property.

    Dead Mall enthusiasts will recognize Augusta Mall as the mall that opened a week after and three and a half miles away from its competition, the Regency Mall, but greatly outlasted it. Regency has been nothing but a hollowed-out gutted shell of a dead mall for years, while Augusta Mall is still doing reasonably ok. Regency Mall's one-time owner, Hayword Wichard, is quoted as having said "Malls are like bananas. You buy them at one price and sell them at another. Some of those go bad. Those you throw out."

    Augusta Mall was also the site of a Blues Brothers -style drive thru by a drunk driver in 2007:

  2. Omgg, it hasn't even been a year since I've shopped here with friends and yet this video is giving me soo much nostalgia in the first 20 seconds! thank you for this video I will now like it and watch it all through quarantine 😁

  3. You know something, Columbia Mall actually looks like another mall back home where I come home from. That would be Dulles Town Center in Sterling, Virginia. They both look exactly each other. This video gets my love and respect.😊💗

  4. This just hit the nostalgia button so hard. I remember eating cotton candy ice cream and throwing it up in the parking lot after riding the spinning seat on the carousel a little too hard circa 2007. I remember going to see santa as a kid. I remember the YuGiOh tournaments at Wizards of the Coast circa 2002.
    I remember getting into my first fist fight outside this mall circa 2008.
    I remember getting my first date ever was seeing Freedom Writers at the AMC in 2006. This video is triggering so many memories, thank you.

  5. My mom worked there in the late 80’s early 90’s. So I spent a lot this f time there. A lot of good memories. Can’t wait to return!

  6. Feb 2020 Edit: Since this is one of my favorite malls, I fixed up/updated this Spot the Difference

    0:05 – Crepes Co. is now Ssong's Hot Dogs
    1:13 – Terrific is now a t-shirt shop; Flexy
    1:58 – Sports Ect. is now a bag store; My Bag
    2:26 – Empty space next to Sleep Number is now It's All Leggings
    3:42 – Grand Jewlers moved into the empty shop to the right
    6:02 – The Maryland Gifts kiosk you can see at 22:21 moved into the empty space to the left
    6:20 – True Religion is gone
    7:05 – Abercrombie & Fitch moved to a space on the first floor. Apple from 10:09 moved into this space
    7:29 – Trendy Man moved into the empty space to the left
    8:21 – The Ecco shoe store is gone
    8:30 – New York New York was open when I was last in the mall physically (last week), but it's not on the mall directory anymore
    8:52 – Wonder what this BAM! used to be. This didn't seem to be built as a Book/Toy store
    9:39 – Empty store to the right is now a beauty store; Forever Flawless
    9:44 – Can't see the name of the store to the left (…w?). Whatever it was, it's not there anymore
    10:09 – Apple was here before moving to 7:05
    12:16 – Can't see the name of the store next to Lou Lou, but it's not there anymore
    14:36 – Can't see it well here, but there's a closing Papyrus to the right
    14:46 – Color Hairmasters moved into the empty space to the right
    14:47 – A high-end Christmas Store (Balsam Hill) moved into the empty gray space over the holidays. It's gone, now
    15:48 – A home store named Joli Decor moved into this space
    16:10 – An accessories store called Lulu Lala moved into the empty space with the signs
    16:17 – The Art/Framing store beside Lush was open the last time I was in the mall (last week), but it's not on the directory anymore
    16:37 – Sheepskin Gifts was open the last time I was in the mall (last week), but it's not on the directory anymore.
    16:46 – The Jared is now another jewelry store; Monica Jewelers
    17:06 – American Greetings is having a liquidation sale/closing
    17:16 – The Payless is gone
    17:57 – LOFT closed for renovations around New Years
    18:00 – Abercrombie & Fitch moved into Mind Games' space. Mind Games moved to 19:16
    18:42 – Gymboree is now Carters
    19:16 – Bare Minerals is gone. This is where Mind Games is now
    19:53 – Not sure what this store was before, but it's a Tempur-pedic Mattress now
    21:20 – Monica Jewelers moved to a bigger space at 16:46. This is Elite Jewelers now
    22:15 – The T-Mobile to the left is gone. There's another T-Mobile by the Macy's
    22:21 – The Tea store to the left is gone
    22:21 – The Kiosk to the right was Maryland Gifts. It moved into a storefront around 6:02
    23:22– Arby's no longer has the meats
    24:00 – The news stand to the left moved to a bigger space in the mall. This is a Keyless Car Shop now
    24:20 – Guess Chicken Golden Star changed their mind (Empty)
    24:15 – Charlotte Russe is now a Windsor's
    25:02 – Mastercuts is gone
    25:17 – SMILE is gone. The convenience store from 24:00 moved here

  7. Went here a month ago during me and Dad's US trip. Being at that Books-A-Million was a blast mostly cause Puerto Rico doesn't have that kind of bookstore anymore.

  8. Been going to this mall for decades. They've had to keep up with the times, and they've built giant apartment buildings across the street from it for Baltimore/DC commuters. (Around the 13:20 mark when the video goes outdoors.) I work about 15 minutes away, still go here for lunch sometimes.

  9. We have a few malls in the Charlotte NC area that are thriving too. Looks like there are a few empty stores though. I see why it is busy now. There is an Apple store.

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