Historical Background: From Opening to Transformation
The Avenues Mall opened its doors on September 26, 1990, quickly becoming a central part of Jacksonville‘s community. Located on Southside Boulevard, it was more than just a shopping destination; it was where friends met, families gathered, and memories were made.
The mall’s early years were marked by excitement and novelty. The original anchor stores, JCPenney, Maison Blanche, and Sears, were the pillars of the mall, drawing crowds and setting the stage for a thriving retail environment. The transformation of Maison Blanche into Gayfers and then Belk in the late ’90s was a sign of the mall’s adaptability and responsiveness to changing consumer preferences.
In 2005, The Avenues underwent a significant renovation. A new entrance adorned with stained glass, Italian limestone on the ground floor, and modernized facilities were introduced. The $10.5 million renovation was a bold statement of intent, reflecting a commitment to maintaining a fresh and appealing environment.
Store Directory and Offerings: A Diverse Shopping Experience
The Avenues has always been home to various stores catering to different tastes and budgets. Anchor stores like Belk, JCPenney, Dillard’s, Forever 21, and Furniture Source have been the backbone of the mall, offering a diverse range of products from clothing to home goods.
Other notable stores have added to the mall’s charm. Brands like Aldo, rue21, H&M, Madrag, LOFT, Pandora, and Victoria’s Secret have found a home here, providing shoppers with more options and experiences. The mall’s offerings have evolved with time, reflecting the changing needs and desires of the community.
Dining options have also been a part of the mall’s appeal. The opening of Buffalo Wild Wings on the second floor in early 2014 added a new dimension to the mall’s food scene. From quick bites to leisurely meals, The Avenues has ensured shoppers have various choices to satisfy their culinary cravings.
Economic Challenges and Changes: Adapting to a New Retail Landscape
The Avenues has not been immune to the challenges the retail industry faces. The rise of St. Johns Town Center and the ongoing retail apocalypse have posed significant hurdles. Many of the mall’s higher-end stores moved to St. John’s Town Center, while others like Brookstone, The Body Shop, and Yankee Candle went out of business or left the market.
Despite these challenges, The Avenues has shown resilience and adaptability. The opening of Forever 21’s second-largest location in the country in 2010, occupying 116,000 square feet, was a bold move. This space represented 8.8% of the mall’s total area, signaling a willingness to innovate and adapt to changing retail dynamics.
The mall’s struggles have been confirmed, but so has its determination to thrive. The closure of stores has been met with new openings and renovations, ensuring that The Avenues remains a vibrant and relevant part of Jacksonville‘s retail landscape.
Community and Cultural Impact: More Than Just a Mall
The Avenues is a shopping destination and part of Jacksonville’s cultural fabric. Its role in the local economy, providing employment and business opportunities, has been significant. The mall has been a gathering place for families, friends, and visitors, fostering community and connection.
Cultural events and community gatherings have found a home at The Avenues. The mall’s architecture, design, and ambiance have made it a place where people come together to shop, socialize, and celebrate.
The mall’s impact extends beyond commerce. It has been a symbol of growth, change, and resilience in Jacksonville. Its story is intertwined with the city’s history, reflecting the ups and downs, the challenges and triumphs of a community that continues to evolve.
The Avenues Mall: Looking to the Future
The Avenues Mall continues to evolve, reflecting the changing retail landscape and the needs of the Jacksonville community. The recent developments at the mall showcase its adaptability and commitment to offering a diverse and engaging shopping experience.
Furniture Source: A New Chapter
In 2021, Furniture Source announced its plans to open in the former Sears space at The Avenues Mall in another significant development. The family-owned and operated furniture store has called it the “biggest furniture showroom in Jacksonville, FL.” The store opened in February 2022 and occupies the 125,330-square-foot, two-level space that Sears has occupied since the mall opened in 1990.
New Stores and Restaurants
In 2023, The Avenues Mall opened new restaurants, shopping, and service options. These include:
- Cielo Azul Cocina Mexicana: Serving Mexican food, this restaurant fills the space that Ruby Tuesday left, offering tacos, burritos, chimichangas, and fajitas.
- AO Market: This market offers curated spices, drink mixes, candles, and more, having relocated from St. Johns Town Center.
- Fundom: This store provides officially licensed anime merchandise, including comic books, TV shows, movies, and video games.
- Roots + Fruits Juicery: Specializing in cold-pressed juices, frozen juice blends, açaí bowls, juice detox programs, and juice cleanses, this juicery adds a healthy option to the mall’s offerings.
- Sugar Kids Spa: Providing mini manicures and pedicures, this spa offers a luxurious day of pampering for its young guests.
- VouPre: Selling skincare products, including facial cleansers, moisturizers, serums, and masks, this store adds to the mall’s beauty and wellness options.
- Eye Center Boutique: Offering eye exams, contact lenses, eyeglasses, and designer accessories, this boutique will be a new addition to the mall’s service options.
These recent developments at The Avenues Mall testify to its resilience and ability to adapt to changing times. The addition of new stores and restaurants and the transformation of the former Sears space reflect the mall’s ongoing commitment to providing a vibrant and diverse shopping experience. The Avenues remains vital to South Jacksonville’s retail scene, looking to the future with optimism and innovation.
The Avenues in Jacksonville, Florida, is more than a shopping mall. It’s a place of memories, experiences, and connections. From its opening in 1990 to its transformations, challenges, and triumphs, The Avenues has reflected the community it serves.
Its story is one of resilience, innovation, and adaptability. It’s a story that resonates with those who have walked its halls, shopped in its stores, and shared moments with loved ones. The Avenues is a testament to the enduring spirit of Jacksonville, a place that continues to inspire and connect.