The Rise And Fall (?) Of Holiday Village Mall In Great Falls
The Holiday Village Mall in Great Falls. If you're 25 years old or older, you remember the mall when it was really the place to shop and hang out in Great Falls. When I was a kid, we'd spend hours in there as a family and always come out with something new and trendy after eating in the food court or at Robbie's.
Now when you go into the mall, it's almost like a deserted movie set. Dozens of empty shops and a food court with just one restaurant.
These reviews from Trip Advisor say it all.
I want to be clear, this is not an article bashing the mall. I just want to look at it, see what's happened and maybe fix it. I love mall shopping.
What happened? Let's take a look at the history of the Holiday Village Mall
From Best Attractions, I got a good timeline from then to now.
It All Started In November 1959
John T. Mitchell, Theodore J. Mitchell, and Don F. Robinson were the brains behind the mall. When it opened, Albertson's was an anchor store quickly followed by stores such as Hested's, Kops Music Mart, and Holiday Jewelry and Gifts.
Between 1962 and 1967 There Was Massive Expansion
The expansions made it a truly enclosed mall and featured stores like Montgomery Wards and a 796 seat movie theatre. The more they did, the more the mall became the place to be in Great Falls.
At one time, I remember a bar, a couple of restaurants, loads of retail stores, a grocery store, drug stores and even an arcade in the mall. That way the parents could have an adult beverage while the kids spent $5 in quarters in the arcade. It was AWESOME. Remember Piccadilly Lane? The clothing stores in that section were great.
The Anchor Stores Have Changed Over The Years
In the 1970's Hestad's and Buttrey's left the mall and JC Penny and Osco Drug moved in.
In the 1990's we watched as Montgomery Wards left the mall after 33 years as an anchor. By 2000, Albertson's left the mall.
In the 2000's we saw new stores move into the mall like Scheels, Ross Dress For Less, Bed Bath & Beyond, Big Lots, Hobby Lobby, Pet Smart, Fit Republic and Harbor Freight Tools.
In 2014 Sears closed their doors and in 2018 Great Falls lost Herberger's. In 2020 in the food court, Orange Julius and Twisted Pretzel closed, leaving what is now just a seating area in the mall. In 2022, Fit Republic closed their mall location and in 2023 Bed Bath & Beyond closed their doors.
My Question Is Why Aren't Businesses Doing Business With Our Mall?
Right now, if you go to the mall, you're going to see a lot of nothing between a few good stores.
The Buckle is moving to Marketplace where Pier One used to be. I've read that Ross and the mall are fighting and Ross hasn't paid rent for months, probably further adding to the distress of the mall.
Why is it so empty?
I've been to the malls in Missoula and Billings and they were packed with stores and thriving. It's been a couple of years, so I may be completely wrong.
Is it online shopping? Are the rental prices too expensive? As a city, we should move to find out the issues and help them rectify the situation.
Great Falls Needs More Shopping
Up until a few years ago, Great Falls was a terrific place to spend the day spending money. There were so many stores to choose from and people literally came from miles around. Now, when I hear people are going shopping they're headed to Missoula, Helena or Billings.
At this time in Great Falls, you're hard pressed to find the wide selection we used to have. There are plenty of mom and pop stores on Central and scattered throughout town, but no department stores. The closest thing we have to that is Walmart. If you're lower middle class to poor, shopping at boutiques isn't something you can do. Even on a special occasion. Great anchor stores in the mall would completely fix this situation.
What would you do to fix our mall? Hit me up here, and I'll write a follow-up story.