Chandler Fashion Center Mall: Where Chandler, AZ Comes Alive

The Birth and Growth of Chandler Fashion Center

Chandler Fashion Center Mall, a beacon of retail and style in Chandler, Arizona, opened its doors on October 19, 2001. This marked a significant milestone in the city’s retail landscape.

The center began with an impressive roster of 229 stores, spanning a vast area and attracting diverse shoppers.

Five major anchors solidified the mall’s status: Sears, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Robinsons-May, and Harkins Theatres. Each of these anchors brought its unique flair and client base to the mall, making it a comprehensive shopping destination.

In the following years, Chandler Fashion Center saw several transformative changes. Notably, in 2006, the mall witnessed the transition of Robinsons-May into a Macy’s store.

This change introduced various fashion and home goods offerings, enhancing the mall’s appeal. Macy’s, known for its wide range of products and iconic holiday events, added a new dimension to the shopping experience at Chandler Fashion Center.

A significant point in the mall’s history occurred on January 5, 2011, when a shootout ensued within its premises. This unexpected event led to an immediate lockdown of the mall.

Thankfully, the swift response from local law enforcement ensured no injuries or fatalities. The incident underscored the importance of safety and security in public spaces.

In response, Chandler Fashion Center reinforced its security measures, thereby re-establishing a sense of safety for its patrons.

While challenging, this episode demonstrated the mall’s resilience and commitment to providing a secure environment for shoppers and employees alike.

Sears and Nordstrom: Former Anchors of Chandler Fashion Center

Chandler Fashion Center has seen changes in its anchor stores over the years. Once a key anchor, Sears announced in October 2018 its decision to close.

Similarly, Nordstrom, another major anchor, revealed plans in May 2020 to shutter its Chandler location, a move influenced by the broader impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These departures marked the end of an era for the mall and paved the way for new developments and tenant transformations.

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Amidst these developments, Chandler Fashion Center continued to thrive as a key destination for things to do in Chandler, AZ.

The mall’s evolution from its opening day to the present has been marked by a blend of consistency and change, reflecting the challenges and opportunities within the retail sector.

Architectural Brilliance and Design

A Unique Layout

Chandler Fashion Center is distinguished by its unique architectural design. The mall is conceived as an ‘A’- shaped structure centered around a bustling food court.

This central point is the hub from which three distinct wings radiate, each lined with various shops and services. The layout facilitates easy navigation and contributes to the mall’s spacious feel.

The wings are designed to maximize visibility and accessibility to the stores, providing shoppers a seamless experience as they move from one section to another.

Chandler Fashion Center
Chandler Fashion Center Joseph Plotz at en.wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Design Elements

The interior of Chandler Fashion Center is a testament to modern, contemporary design. The mall’s stone columns and marble floors combine elegance with functionality, creating a luxurious ambiance.

Large skylights further enhance the design, flooding the space with natural light and highlighting the sophisticated aesthetics.

These design choices make the mall visually appealing and create a pleasant shopping environment that encourages visitors to linger.

Arizona’s Scenic Beauty on Display

An outstanding feature of the Chandler Fashion Center is its homage to Arizona’s natural beauty. The mall has incorporated large photographic murals of iconic Arizona landscapes, such as the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and the Sonoran Desert.

These murals are strategically placed at the ends of each wing and at certain outdoor entrances, offering shoppers a glimpse of the state’s scenic wonders.

This unique blend of retail and art enhances the shopping experience while celebrating Arizona’s rich natural heritage.

The Village and Entertainment Plaza

The Village: A Hub for Entertainment and Dining

The Village is adjacent to the food court entrance, an outdoor entertainment and dining plaza integral to Chandler Fashion Center.

This lively area has various dining options and entertainment venues, including the popular Harkins Theatres and The Old Spaghetti Factory.

The Village serves as a social and recreational hotspot, allowing visitors to unwind and indulge in diverse culinary experiences or catch the latest movies in a comfortable setting.

Dining and Entertainment Options

The Village’s entertainment and dining options cater to various preferences. Patrons can enjoy a casual meal at Buffalo Wild Wings or experience fine dining at The Old Spaghetti Factory.

Including Harkins Theatres adds a dimension of entertainment, providing movie-goers with a state-of-the-art cinematic experience.

Escape the Room, another notable attraction offers an engaging and interactive experience for groups looking for a challenge.

Chandler Fashion Center
Chandler Fashion Center TrickHunter, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Transformation of the Dancing Waters Fountain

A significant change occurred in the Summer of 2014 when the Dancing Waters fountain, once a centerpiece of The Village, was demolished.

This fountain, known for its synchronized display of water, lights, and music, was a beloved feature. Following its removal, a charming new picnic area emerged, featuring cozy patio seating, lush lawn spaces, and a delightful splash pad for children.

This renovation aimed to enhance the mall’s family-friendly appeal, offering a space for relaxation and leisure amidst the bustling shopping environment.

Chandler Fashion Center’s Anchors and Their Stories

Macy’s: A Tradition of Style and Quality

Macy’s, a cornerstone of American retail, has been a significant presence in Chandler Fashion Center since 2006 when it transformed from Robinsons-May.

Macy’s, renowned for its comprehensive collection of apparel, accessories, and home essentials, consistently evolves to align with current consumer trends while upholding its dedication to quality and exceptional customer service.

Its annual events and sales have become eagerly anticipated, drawing large crowds and contributing significantly to the mall’s foot traffic.

Dillard’s: Fashion Forward and Customer-Centric

Dillard’s, a key anchor store, provides a wide-ranging selection of apparel, footwear, and accessories, catering to the fashion needs of the entire family.

Renowned for its fashion-forward approach, Dillard’s combines national brands and exclusive in-house labels, catering to a diverse customer base.

The store is also known for its exceptional customer service, adding a personal touch to the shopping experience.

Scheels: More Than Just a Sporting Goods Store

Opening on September 30, 2023, Scheels has quickly become a standout attraction at Chandler Fashion Center. Beyond being a premier sporting goods retailer, the store boasts unique features like a 45-foot Ferris wheel and a 16,000-gallon saltwater aquarium.

These attractions, along with an arcade and a wildlife mountain, transform the shopping experience into an adventurous outing, appealing to families and sports enthusiasts alike.

Best Buy: A Technophile’s Haven

Best Buy, a leader in consumer electronics, offers an extensive range of tech products, from the latest gadgets to essential home appliances.

This store, a favorite among tech enthusiasts, boasts expert staff and engaging interactive displays, ensuring it remains a top choice for those eager to keep up with the latest technology.

Barnes & Noble: A Reader’s Paradise

Barnes & Noble at Chandler Fashion Center provides a serene escape for book lovers. With a vast collection of books and magazines and a cozy café, the store has become a community hub for readers, writers, and students.

Regular events, book signings, and reading clubs further enrich the cultural atmosphere of the mall.

Harkins Theatres: Cinematic Excellence

Harkins Theatres adds a dimension of entertainment to Chandler Fashion Center. The theater is a favorite for movie buffs, offering a state-of-the-art movie-going experience with advanced projection and sound systems.

Its strategic location within the mall makes it a perfect plan for rounding off a day of shopping and dining.

A Kaleidoscope of Retail at Chandler Fashion Center

Chandler Fashion Center is a vibrant hub of retail diversity, showcasing a wide array of stores beyond its anchor tenants and dining options.

These stores, each with unique offerings, cater to many preferences and needs, enhancing the overall shopping experience.

Fashion and Apparel

Fashion enthusiasts are spoilt for choice with stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters, H&M, and Forever 21.

These outlets offer a range of styles, from contemporary casuals to trendy fast fashion. Ann Taylor and Express provide chic professional wear for those seeking more specialized attire.

Health and Beauty

Beauty and wellness seekers will find their haven in stores such as LUSH, Bath & Body Works, and The Body Shop, each offering an array of skincare, fragrances, and beauty products. Sephora is a one-stop shop for high-end beauty brands and makeup essentials.

Specialty and Lifestyle

The mall also caters to specialty interests. For the tech-savvy, the Apple store offers the latest in technology and gadgets. The LEGO store provides endless fun for children and adults, while stores like Zales and Kay Jewelers offer exquisite jewelry collections.

Chandler Fashion Center
Chandler Fashion Center Joseph Plotz at en.wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Athletic and Outdoor

Athletic and outdoor enthusiasts are included, with stores like Athleta and Lululemon providing high-quality activewear.

For those looking for sporting goods and outdoor equipment, Champs Sports and Zumiez are the go-to destinations.

Each store at Chandler Fashion Center contributes to a rich tapestry of retail, making the mall a comprehensive and varied shopping destination.

A Diverse Dining Experience

Culinary Delights for Every Palate

Chandler Fashion Center offers diverse dining options that satisfy various culinary tastes and preferences.

From quick bites at fast-food joints to leisurely meals at fine-dining restaurants, the mall ensures that every visitor’s culinary needs are met.

Whether you’re in the mood for a casual lunch, a family dinner, or a quick snack, the mall’s dining landscape has something to offer.

This diversity enhances the shopping experience and turns the mall into a gastronomic destination.

Signature Restaurants: The Cheesecake Factory and Benihana

The Cheesecake Factory and Benihana are popular destinations among the many dining choices. The Cheesecake Factory is known for its extensive menu, offering everything from salads and sandwiches to hearty entrees, not to mention its famous array of decadent cheesecakes.

Benihana provides a unique dining experience with its Japanese teppanyaki-style cooking. Skilled chefs prepare the meal right before the guests, making it both a culinary and a visual treat.

These restaurants are not just about great food; they’re about creating memorable dining experiences.

Unique Offerings: Auntie Anne’s and Creme De La Creme

Chandler Fashion Center houses unique eateries, such as Auntie Anne’s and Creme De La Creme, for those looking for something different.

Auntie Anne’s, famous for its freshly baked pretzels, provides a perfect snack option for those on the go. On the other hand, Creme De La Creme offers an array of delightful baked goods and pastries, ideal for satisfying a sweet tooth.

These specialty dining spots add a unique flavor to the mall’s food offerings, ensuring there’s always something new and exciting to try.

The Aquatic Wonder of Chandler Fashion Center

In 2023, Chandler Fashion Center enhanced its shopping experience with a remarkable addition: a 16,000-gallon saltwater aquarium.

This stunning aquatic display in the newly opened SCHEELS store has quickly become a focal point of attraction for visitors of all ages.

An Underwater Journey in a Mall

The aquarium is an architectural marvel featuring over 600 diverse fish species, creating a vibrant tapestry of marine life.

This immersive experience lets shoppers glimpse the ocean’s wonders while browsing the latest fashion, technology, and sports gear.

The aquarium serves as an educational and entertainment feature, showcasing the beauty and diversity of marine ecosystems.

More than Just a Store

SCHEELS, renowned for blending retail with entertainment, has transformed a mall section into a mini-oceanic world.

The addition of the aquarium aligns with their philosophy of offering customers more than just a shopping trip – it’s an adventure.

The store also includes attractions like an indoor Ferris wheel and arcade games. However, the aquarium stands out as a unique element, adding an educational aspect to the shopping experience.

A New Dimension to Retail Experience

The 16,000-gallon aquarium at Chandler Fashion Center exemplifies the evolving nature of retail spaces, where shopping, education, and entertainment intersect.

This addition enhances the mall’s appeal and provides a memorable experience for visitors, solidifying the mall’s status as a premier destination in Chandler, AZ.

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