Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Mall of the Mainland

Originally published August 12, 2008 Update: Sorry for the delays. I lost my flash drive, then the power went out, but here we go. And then after the Olive Garden came The Mall of the Mainland! I heard had heard of the Mall of the Mainland...the DeadMalls.com entry and the Labelscar entry, but never had I actually been inside the beast. If I was looking for a great place to shop or hang out, MotM would be terrible. But if I wasn’t, then the Mall would be interesting indeed. While the outside was cool, the inside was less than. Although the demographics weren’t all that bad...maybe 50% black and 50% white, it wasn’t very crowded. This was on a SATURDAY NIGHT and there were just a few dozen people in the mall, most of them teenagers, and punk-looking ones at that. The weird thing about the Mall of the Mainland is about a third of the tenants are flat-out empty: either blatantly or disguised with goofy postcards and fake storefronts. Although it's really not that dark, you can see how empty it really, really is. Another thing I should tell you is that Mall of the Mainland abounds with architectural treats: fountains, neon, and preserved fronts. A closed storefront reveals, for instance, a J. Riggings storefront from nearly a decade ago. The second third consists of stores that you’ve never heard of, and the last consists of chain storefronts, but they’re really dated. If you wanted to see a neon “Tilt” sign or a Bath & Body Works storefront with the pink-and-white awnings, then MotM is the place for you. Now, the food court, as you can see, is pretty interesting. Although it has a nice, fountain, the food court is pretty unappetizing. While at most food courts, you can expect a Chick-fil-A, a chain burger restaurant of some sort, Sbarro, and so forth, at this one, you can find an unappetizing lineup. The only chains are Corn Dog 7 and Subway, while other restaurants include a snack bar called Hello Josephine, a fairly generic pizza parlor, and a really nasty-smelling burger place called Red Cap Express. Most depressingly, the kiosks don’t offer anything but blingy jewelry and cell phone cases. If you wanted to buy a cold coffee dessert or a pretzel, you will be disappointed. There was something going in the food court, but it wasn’t a chain restaurant and was either a local venue selling Asian food or smoothies. One of the two. The vacant space to the right was apparently "CafĂ© Milano". What the heck is Paradise? Beats me. The mall was a dumbbell, with Dillard’s on the east, Sears on the west, the cinema in the back, and the JCPenney and Foley’s facing forward. However, JCPenney has been gone for a few years and Foley’s is Macy’s now. The vacant JCPenney, having been closed for nearly three years. To make matters worst, I really was kidding when I said two-thirds of the mall was occupied. In reality, it’s around 25% occupancy at best. There’s all sorts of bizarre stores...a store with oversized plastic body piercing jewelry outside, a store called Dollar World which really reads as “$ World”, and a generic Hot Topic-like store called T-Body and Monogramming. There was a large store called Affordable Furniture, and a store called All Shoes $9.99 appeared to be closed...it really was a sad, sad place. The mall is packed with teenaged hoodlums of many races and I felt nervous because I had a camera with me. And especially in the entrances, there was a strange smell throughout the mall. I almost want to say chlorine, but it’s not right. The out-of-date directory. It was a real shame, though. Such “deader malls” should be a quiet place to hang out, rife with interesting specialty stores and services. The food courts of deader malls should be small but still fairly appetizing. I’m referring to Sunrise Mall, here, by the way. Interesting stores in question, would include, say a model railroader’s club. 
One idea would be to knock out the entire mall sans the movie theater, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Palais Royal, and Sears while building up a nice “lifestyle center”. While it’s a sound idea, the area around the Mall of the Mainland is hot and always humid. Not the best idea. Since Mall of the Mainland is the closest to the Galveston beach and is really meant to be “family-oriented”, it can, in theory, get its act together. It’s still got a Tilt!, a fountain, and a movie theater. With the right tenants oriented toward a blue-collar demographic, all-new attractions, and better security, Mall of the Mainland can be a hero once again. It’s not that easy, though. The area is full of half-empty, low-rent strip malls (Hobby Lobby, anyone?) and the Houston area is very overmalled. Any “cool” stores, even “destination” stores have been snapped up by the many enclosed and outdoor malls around, including Katy Mills, The Galleria, and so forth. Plus the location is absolutely horrible, and that doesn’t help. Still, it would be a shame to see it go. Minus the thugs, the depressing quality and selection of storefronts, and the smell, Mall of the Mainland is a bright, colorful place with plenty of character and even a fountain. And if you’re wondering about the rest of the Galveston vacation, then...sorry. There was a railroad museum...but it didn’t have very good climate control (i.e. in some rooms that heat was turned on in the middle of summer...that is a no-no) UPDATE 4/20/09: Not too long after our visit, the Mall of the Mainland was hit by Hurricane Ike. Galveston was trashed almost completely (15% of the island does not have power, nearly 8 months later) but according to commenters on this blog and at Labelscar, Mall of the Mainland experienced a small renaissance with new stores opening despite the closure of the Dillard's. Unfortunately, it was short-lived, and now the mall is emptier than ever. One side of the mall is more empty than ever, with JCPenney and Dillard's vacant husks decaying. We do not know what will happen to the mall. However, the stakes are in favor. There are no malls in Galveston anymore (Galvez Mall was demalled in the early 2000s or late 1990s) and the mall in Baytown (San Jacinto Mall) also is in big trouble.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Texas City is a total dump, I figure people in this area who want to go to a mall go to Baybrook.

Anonymous said...

Another bit of interesting information... I was recently told from a reliable inside source that Mall of the Mainland is going bankrupt. I don't know if they will actually close the doors but I do know that a large portion of the mall's tenants are paying an adjusted rent on leased space, some as much as 50% less than there "normal" monthly rent due to a natural disaster damage clause in the lease they hold. Though this is good for the small business owner it has turned out to be devastating for the mall it's self. I also know that once again they have CUT STAFF by firing some 10 or so employees including housekeeping, maintenance, office staff and management. If upper management would actually put a little money and effort into this sight it may have a fighting chance instead they continue to collect rent, ignore obvious problems and complaints from store owners and customers alike, make excuses and point fingers, leaving office staff to make excuses for there absence even when they are on the property. They continue to be unavailable rather than fix a problem. Their actions continually fail the mall, the store owners, the customers and even their own staff. This is really a sad situation that is out of hand. Just another quick note… Kohls is not coming to Mall of the Mainland, the JcPenny space is and always has been owned by JcPenny’s not Mall of the Mainland and the mall can not lease that space to anyone. Although Kohl’s was contacted by Mall of the Mainland they turned down the offer to come and even visit the site along with many other major retailers. Here are some rumors that are also floating around… NY&Co is closing? Footlocker is closing? Palais Royal is closing?

Anonymous said...

Wow, anonymous must be the one without the "mall" job. "Normal" rent where? Woodlands or Galveston, there's a BIG difference. I was at Mall of the Mainland on Saturday and saw a half dozen roofing trucks, two construction companies and a lighting crew in the lot. Closing a mall while spending a fortune on roofing, lighting, new tenant space, combined with the huge Christmas display is just not what bankrupt companies do. Staff growth is normal just before the Thanksgiving holiday and cuts usually do come about the time the Christmas set up is done.
I give kudos to all the small businesses that have continued to fight through the devistation of Hurricane Ike. Those businessmen and women will be the basis of a new retail industry as the upper Texas Gulf Coast continues to recover. Larger retail will contract toward the large population centers as the next wave of adjustible rate forclosures include those businesses. Pockets of stability created by oil refineries and the like will as in all recessions, attract small businesses to replace the demand for retail goods, and the community malls will flourish. I remember the recession and gasoline rationing of the 80's. That is what created malls. Anyone see the similarity? I have learned to refrain from placing blame on everyone else for whatever diaster passes through my life, whether it be hurricane, volcano, or manbearpig.

Anonymous said...

Well Anonymous, these rumors have been going around for years regarding Mall of the Mainland. It is sad that people like you have negative attitude toward the mall. Some people like to create and some like to complain all the time, and do nothing positive. The mall is much cleaner and better run than ever. Most tenants and customers are impressed with the new owners and management. The management had to replace the poor quality employees. They hired more employees than they had to replace to improve the quality of work and it is now much better at the mall with the new employees.
Today--- Dec 16, 2008 Mall of the Mainland has more tenants than it ever did. There are approximately 10 new tenants at the Mall since this summer. Footlocker and Footaction both just remodeled and are back at the mall and doing well. Your sources are not correct, or may be that is what you wish--- the failure of the mall or other businesses in Texas City, But remember what you wish on others come true for you first. There are also rumors that Palais Royal just signed a new lease contrary to what your sources say. Well, the mall is moving forward with or without people like you. There are over 500 plus employees at the mall and the mall will not close just because of them.
M. Jones

Anonymous said...

Since December the changed has been increadible. Mr. jones was wrong. The stores he claimed opened have all gone, and a lot more. Last week I was shocked at the number of empty shop locations. Something like this just dose'nt happen. What possible event happened to change the mall so quickly? This mall looks like it's about to fold!
J Smith

Anonymous said...

I have read replies on this and other sites in which mall employees, management or representatives write favorable or slanted blogs calling those that have reveiws other than "glowing" as uneducated about Mall of the Mainland. I am way more inclined to beleive those working, living, and spending their dollar locally over owners from another state, or employees from another area. I use to shop that mall, but with the lack of stores, musty smell, health demerited restaurants, and crime ripe parking lots, I feel better served at nearby strip centers or Baybrook. That is an opinion shared by the lions share of longtime local residents. Don't take my word for it, ask your neighbors, or better yet go ask those working there.

Charity said...

MOTM just had a girl's dress store open up in NY&C, and they painted it pink! They don't look done with it yet but the dresses are quite cute!(it is called Qtysgirls... I think) I think that Red Cap place is gone and replaced by Texas Burgers and Fries (try the steak fingers... delicious!). The restaurant location got "Stingers" which has AMAZING burgers, all my friends were impressed. Good service too. The "Paradise" serves Chinese food. It's okay, I liked it. But seriously, MOTM is dying and yet getting back on its feet at the same time. Weird combo. Oh and the karate studio moved. :(

GW Campbell said...

I have not checked the Mall forums for several months, yet the same strings seem to be constant. Let's all calmly reflect on all these great observations.
Leaks are the result of damages that were out of human control. Time dose however create more damage, and that needs to be addressed quickly. The time involved in such a large repair list though, is unavoidable. The string of store movements has been part of a long history at the mall, and is no surprise to anyone. The lack of traffic is directly linked to local economic changes over long periods of time. Event planning is only as good as those willing to work within these environmental and economic restraints. Local events although, should reflect local intrests.
I as many other local business people have done what we could to bring the best Mall of the Mainland has to offer to the attention of those using it. With these facts in mind, several remarks from every blog hit the mark as good advise. All should take thanks for suggesting spas, high end suit and dress shops, remodeling store fronts, youth oriented events, and music/light shows. Many local business people including myself have attempted all these, but with sizable resistance both internal and external, the price paid both personally and moniterlily became too great. Continue to voice your opinions, they are read by those making the decisions that CAN make Mall of the Mainland visible both from the highway and the community.

Anonymous said...

The MotM Cinemark 12 has $3 matinee movies. Can you imagine seeing the Hobbit or the newest Star Trek movie on opening weekend for $3. I love this place. Why isn't this place mobbed--with other theaters showing the same movies for $8 or $9. They are closing the common areas of the Mall on 2/1/14. It is such a shame--they could have done some neat things with it with a little ingenuity.