Imagine it’s the year 1984.
On February 2 of that same year,
Georgia Governor Frank Harris clips the ribbon—with a pair of $30,000 diamond-encrusted scissors—at the opening of Gwinnett Place Mall.
The atrium’s fountains splash, a band plays and thousands of shoppers pour into the Atlanta area’s newest mall to visit well-known anchors like Rich’s and Sears (and some lesser-known spots like the Stride Rite “Bootery” and Potato Works). The County’s Commission Chairman calls it “one of the finest things that’s happened in Gwinnett’s history.”
For many years, the Gwinnett Place Mall was indeed a wonderful place.
It was the thriving heart of retail for the growing county, where hundreds of thousands of Gwinnettians came to shop, meet up with friends, go on first dates, or earn money at their first jobs.
Things started to change around 2001.
Newer, cooler malls had been built nearby that lured shoppers away, and malls were generally becoming less popular.
Gwinnett Place Mall experienced a steady decline through the 2000s and 2010s.
It’s a common problem across the United States, where hundreds of other malls have closed or are teetering on the edge. By some estimates, another 1,000 malls will close within the next five years. Despite the common problem, there is no easy solution. What does the future hold for dead and dying malls?