Trent Rose 's Commentary:

Posted November 20, 2006 (user submitted)

The Hutchinson Mall was built in the middle 1980's and opened around 1986. It was the first suburban mall to open in Hutchinson, although another mall was slated to be constructed during the 60's adjoining Welles Department Store.

The Hutchinson Mall received great fan fare and had an A list of original tenants. The mall was anchored by Wal-Mart, Service Merchandise, Newman's Department Store, Dillard's and JC Penney. Some of the smaller stores included The Candle Nook, Summit Stationers, and Payless shoes. A number of other smaller stores were housed in the mall.

The mall appeared to be saturated with department stores during these early days when Wiley's and Biles and Long moved to the mall replacing downtown locations. Newman's was one of the first to shutter, and this space stayed vacant for years. Wiley's folded soon after, ending a Hutchinson tradition since 1913.

The mall seemed to continue along okay until Wal-Mart left for a location outside the mall in 1995. Service Mechandise folded in 1997, leaving an empty whole which was never completely filled with a retail venue again. The Newman's space also continued to be empty.

A new theater took the place of Newman's, although the only entrance was on the outside of the mall. Dickinson Theaters owned the new theater as well as the original Mall 4 Cinema. Stage absorbed some of Service Merchandise's space.

From 1999-current the mall has remained stagnated. The natural gas explosions of 2001 scared away many shoppers from Hutchinson and retailers reported staggering losses. Stage closed for good and virutally it and the remaining Service Merchandise space is now occupied by ESSADAK learning center, a non retail biusiness. The Via Christi Health Center is another non retail business at the mall. The DMV is also located at the mall. A few antique stores, a flea market, and a close out store have occupied space at the mall. While many spaces have remained empty. The Mall 4 Cinema is now the Kansas Children's Museum. An Old Navy Outlet occupied a number of empty spaces for 2001-2005, but it closed because of the mall's lack of traffic. This leaves a huge gaping whole encompasing about five store fronts. Goody's Department Store was added in 2005.

Although Hutchinson has been host to the U.S. Women's and Senior Open, as well as the International Motor Coach Association, this has not spurred interest in the mall. The mall corridor continues to be dark and stagnated, although the mall is still anchored by Sears, JC Penney, and Dillard's. Simon Management sold the mall in 2004.

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