Tuesday, January 13, 2009

RIP Brookdale Mall

(Yeah, I promise to blog about the holidays SOON -- some great pics and such, but this is IMPORTANT.)

It was with much trepidation that I received the news of the closing of the Brookdale Center Macy's store in Brooklyn Park, MN. Brookdale has always been the kind of red-headed stepchild of the "Dales" chain (Ridgedale being the tony preppy girl, Southdale the snotty Radcliffe sorority girl, Rosedale the slightly trashy teen looking at a pregnancy test) but man, it is headed for Apache Plaza territory. Stores are dropping off like flies, with only Barnes and Noble, now, still alive and active. That whole area, formerly at least KIND of awesome (you know, a Ground Round, some toy stores, a couple interesting malls) is basically dead as a doornail.

This depresses me, and I don't know why. Sure, I spent a lot of time at Brookdale mall as a kid -- my first job was at the Record Shop on the Sears end of the mall, and my friend Adam and I used to "scope chicks" there a lot. Oh, and I went there with my mom a ton when I was *really* young, and ate at the Brothers Deli that used to sit on the far end of the mall that doesn't exist anymore, or the snack shoppe that was in the central courtyard near Dayton's.

But I dunno, it isn't just that -- its something specific about edifices and buildings and areas and reasons why a place like a mall can go from hot to cold to Dead Alice, and that has to do with the Passage of Time, and thinking about the Passage of Time *always* kind of depresses me, y'know? When Apache Plaza (the "holy crap, if everybody lamenting it had actually *gone* there it wouldn't be gone" dead mall) died, and the area around it with it, I was sad, even though I didn't ever *go* to Apache Plaza. It was like -- it isn't the 70s and 80s anymore, and Things We Used To Need In the 70s -- cheese boxes, toys, interesting clothes, vinyl records -- we don't need anymore. Because We As A People have changed so much past that.

And so malls die, and leave these barren husks behind filled with memories and ghosts and pasts and time, and it makes me sad. I know malls are just MALLS, just these ugly retail boxes, but for those of us in Minnesota, where winter lasts half the year and Indoor Shopping Malls were the weird Logan's Run future that wasn't, they were our Village Square, such as it was, 1970s style, and so I mourn them more than folks would in, say, California, where, y'know, why would you go to a mall when you can BE OUTSIDE?

I found these photos on Dumpy Strip Malls, a new blog I'll be visiting on a regular basis. The author of the site grew up near Brookdale, and I can tell she feels the loss of that mall -- and that area, and that past -- pretty keenly, which is nifty. She's documenting dead and dying malls (well, and some living ones too!) and trying to get complete pictures of who was there and what they looked like, which is a damn neat project.

The courtyard near Dayton's. To the left was a restaurant of some kind. I have a hard time remembering which stores even LIVED at that end -- the memory's been replaced, now, with the shoddy Dollar Store-type establishment that now occupies this section of the mall. I *do* remember that if you turned around, headed left before you got to JC Penneys, and walked to the end of a dark hallway, you'd come to a hobby store. That was my mall tour circa-late-70s-and-80s -- I can tell you where each hobby store lives.

And here's the Dayton's front entrance. I remember sitting on this fountain with my friend Adam, our shopping bags filled with, like, parachute pants from JC Penneys, dressed in our members only jackets (his was light blue, I think mine was probably the less-fashionable tan, or possibly even -- gahhh! -- maroon!) watching blonde girls with feathered hair and short-shorts walking by, and being very very happy.

I have my fingers crossed for Brookdale like I would for a dying relative -- its hooked up to the machine, someone's ready to flip the switch and turn her off forever. Do malls go across the rainbow bridge to Pet Heaven? Maybe someone can finally save this mall -- can we throw a Best Buy in there?? Is there any salvation for it? Can we pray?


MissTrixi said...

Wow jonny - this is like a love letter to an old girlfriend that has gotten married and had, like, 8 kids.

I'm all for nostalg. I hate losing people and places from my past. I even mourn the old ramps covered in ugly orange carpet that used to be in the center of Maplewood mall. These dying malls are heartbreaking in so many ways.



LAP said...

The Service Center is right across the street from Brookdale, and I was sad to hear about Macy's since I had heard that there was a big store chain that was going to occupy the area of the mall that once was Mervyn's. But then I heard it was Walmart, and I didn't know what to think.

Even though all my preteen mall memories are mostly Southdale and Southtown related (although I used to take the bus with a friend to the Minnehaha Mall often, I remember it used to be an indoor Mall, and I would transfer at Lake and Chicago where the bus stop was in front of a boarded up PORNO THEATER across from Roberts Shoes) I love Brookdale. I bought my original signature glasses at the Dayton's there (right after the sign changed to Marshall Field's).

I feel like we all were able to safely discover our own independent personalities in the malls, especially in MN where I know my mother certainly felt that anyplace where she could drop me off and pick me up was safe.

vfleblanc said...

Oh, I used to love Brother's Deli. They had the best chicken soup and cheesecake ever!

belsum said...

I always went to Brookdale once I could drive myself and so graduated from Northtown. But this year, while looking for mall Santa times, I noticed that their website hadn't been updated in like a year and a half and, well, I'm not surprised to hear that they've lost the Macy's now, too. Chris and I would still go there on occasion for the Sears but even that has been more of a pain in the ass and it's easier to just go to a further one.

Apache Plaza, however, I don't miss. Because I use the new stuff in that location all the frickin' time. It's totally revitalized and awesome in that let's-make-a-fake-small-town-shopping-area way like Maple Grove does.

Anonymous said...

this explains why i was oddly drawn to the Rosedale Mall, despite not really "liking" it per se. i must have sensed it was "my people." -kells

LAP said...

What Belsum said about where Apache Plaza used to be, especially since they have the cheapest gas prices in town. Just thinking about it makes me wish I still lived NE...

Jill said...

I was completely depressed about it too. I mean, that was THE mall I used to go to when I was a kid and when I was a kid that place was crazy busy! It's sad. Sniff.

TrixiePop said...

ahhhh. i have so many memories of brookdale mall.
my cute robert smith look-alike boyfriend worked at 1 potato 2. i remember buying my first pair of guess jeans at daytons, or was it the country seat?
my mom would drop our junior high asses off after school and we would spend hours there doing absolutely nothing; flirting with boys, eating pizza at rocky rococco's and sometimes walking across brooklyn boulevard to take in a film at the movie theater, nightmare on elmstreet flicks were our faves.

Annie said...

I was a Southdale girl, and went to Southtown for the movies. But my BFF Stacie and I would mall hop, because her Mom loved to shop and find the best bargains. So we went to all of them, including the following malls that have yet to be mentioned:

Eden Prairie Mall (with the downstairs food court that felt like a sunken living room)

Har Mar Mall (with the fantastic old movie theater with psychedelic bathrooms)

Yorktown Mall (which died a slow death long ago)

And because my Dad lived "up north," I went to Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud every other weekend to watch movies and get an Orange Julius - and they actually had a Benetton store, which I thought was very cool for central MN.

Michelle said...

Hey Jon,
I know its rough but hang in there. The whole area is really sliding fast. Every time Im in the area, the little pit in my tummy hurts and the memories come back. Living/growing up as close as I did to Brookdale, We were there a lot. I use to ride my Schwin Three speed bike there on a daily basis in the summer. I bought my first tube of lipstick at the Snyder Drug right inside the door. I even took my drivers ed.training through Sears at Brookdale. Just hang on to the memories.... Because I don't think she is coming back.


nyno said...

Oh dear me, I forgot about those fishtanks at Brookdale. (That is what they were, no?) I need one of those. Poor Brookdale. You will be missed.

So if Brookdale is gone, does this mean that the esteemed mall's nearby suburbs, such as Crystal, No Hope and Golden Valley are also going to hell in a handbasket too?

It would totally suck (for both kids and adults) if the Crystal bump was no longer safe for sledding.

Anonymous said...

I met Mitch Gaylord (Olympic gymnast) at Brookdale. My dad picked me up at FA and brought me to the mall to see him. Dear Mrs. Baas got to hear ALL about it the next day.
How can they deprive future generations of memories like that?

-Jill used-to-be-Norman

Jon Hunt said...


" does this mean that the esteemed mall's nearby suburbs, such as Crystal, No Hope and Golden Valley are also going to hell in a handbasket too?"

Nah. I spent a few years in Robbinsdale, and while it hardly the swankest part of town, I can tell you that Crystal, No Hope and Golden Valley are still quite fine. Crystal, especially, is same as it ever was -- the only dead mall is the one that used to have Title Wave in it.

Skelly said...

I grew up near 63rd Ave. just west of Brooklyn Blvd. Brookdale was the place my grandma took me and all my siblings on our birthdays. It was the best. We would sleep over night at grandma's, hop on the city bus around 10AM, and head down to Brookdale.

I have this foggy memory about a restaurant that used to be on the second floor of Dayton's (before it was Marshall Fields). We always got to pick out a toy at one of the shops in the mall, I think there was Kaybee.

When I was 15 I got my first job at the 50's Grill across the way. No matter how dumpy Brookdale gets, the 50's Grill will always be worth visiting the area for. Best malts in town! Pies are good as well, all freshly baked in the morning.

Anyway, I too will miss Brookdale, but the graffiti has been on the wall for years. :(

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