A Glimpse into the Heart of Dalton: Events at Dalton Mall, GA

The Foundation and Early Years of Dalton Mall

Dalton Mall, initially named Walnut Square Mall, marked a significant milestone in the commercial landscape of Dalton, Georgia. The inception of this shopping haven dates back to a groundbreaking ceremony in 1979, orchestrated by CBL Properties, a name synonymous with retail development.

The site chosen for this ambitious project was the former Patterson Horse Racing Arena. This space soon transitioned from a sports venue to a bustling commerce and social interaction center.

July 23, 1980, heralded the mall’s grand opening, signifying the culmination of meticulous planning and construction and the beginning of a new era in Dalton’s retail sector. The mall’s debut was spectacular, with a five-day celebration that attracted locals and visitors alike.

The presence of notable figures like Steve Gipson and the futuristic allure of Fubar the Robot added a unique flair to the festivities. At its inception, the mall boasted anchor stores such as Sears and Belk, setting a high standard for quality and variety in shopping options.

Loveman’s, a Chattanooga-based department store, further enriched the mall’s retail portfolio when it opened its doors on August 20, 1980, adding to the new shopping center’s allure.

A vision of growth and excellence characterized the early years of Dalton Mall. The mall’s architecture, store lineup and commitment to providing a top-notch shopping experience set a precedent in the region.

As the mall grew, it became more than just a shopping destination; it evolved into a community hub where people gathered, shopped, and created lasting memories.

The foundation and early years of Dalton Mall laid a robust groundwork for the decades of retail service, community engagement, and economic contribution that were to follow, making it a pivotal landmark in Dalton, Georgia.

In the context of exploring local attractions and activities, things to do in Dalton, GA, include visiting historical sites, enjoying the natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes, and, of course, experiencing the retail and cultural offerings of Dalton Mall. In this place, the city’s past and present converge.

Tenant Evolution and Structural Changes

The narrative of Dalton Mall is one of continuous evolution, marked by a series of tenant turnovers and structural modifications that reflect the changing tides of retail trends and consumer preferences.

The 1990s were particularly transformative for the mall, beginning with a comprehensive renovation introducing a fresh facade, modern tile flooring in the courts, and a vibrant new color scheme.

This renovation was not just a facelift but a reimagining of the mall’s identity, aimed at enhancing the shopping experience and reinvigorating customer interest.

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In November 1990, coinciding with the mall’s 10th anniversary, a grand re-opening celebrated these renovations, signaling a renewed commitment to the Dalton community.

This period also saw the construction of the Goody’s Family Clothing pad, filling a long-vacant space and adding a new dimension to the mall’s retail offerings.

Goody’s opened its doors in 1992, occupying the space between Chick-fil-A and Peanut Shack, and remained a retail anchor until its closure in 2009 due to the company’s bankruptcy.

Goody’s departure led to another significant transformation. In 2010, The Rush Fitness Complex took over the space, introducing a health and fitness dimension to the mall’s offerings.

This transition was short-lived, however, as Rush Fitness was acquired by Gold’s Gym in 2014, only for Gold’s to close its doors in 2019.

The space was occupied as Fitness 1440 stepped in early 2020, continuing the location’s legacy as a center for health and wellness.

These shifts reflect the mall’s adaptability to changing market dynamics and its role in catering to the evolving lifestyle needs of the Dalton community.

Cinematic Influence and the Decline Phase

The cinematic chapter of Dalton Mall adds a rich layer to its historical tapestry. The Martin Triple Theater, managed by the Hurst family, was a cornerstone of the mall’s entertainment offerings.

In 1993, a development reshaped the local cinematic landscape when Carmike Cinemas, after closing the Plaza Five Theater managed by Dale Hurst, expanded the Martin Triple into a cutting-edge nine-screen complex.

This expansion positioned the Carmike Cinemas 9 as Georgia’s largest inline cinema at the time, setting a new standard for movie-going experiences in the region.

However, the mall’s cinematic glory was not immune to the broader challenges facing the retail and entertainment industries. In 2007, following Dale Hurst’s promotion to a corporate role, Carmike Cinemas 9 shut its doors, coinciding with the opening of the new Carmike 12 behind the mall.

The closure of this cinema marked the beginning of a decline phase for the mall, as the space, once bustling with movie-goers, was repurposed for mall storage, gradually falling into disrepair.

The decline was not confined to the entertainment sector. Other tenants, too, faced challenges, leading to a series of closures that signaled a period of uncertainty for the mall.

In 2015, JCPenney, a long-standing retail anchor, closed its location at the mall, followed by the bankruptcy and subsequent closure of RadioShack and Deb. These departures marked a significant shift in the mall’s tenant composition and necessitated reevaluating its role and strategy in the evolving retail landscape.

Rebranding and Revitalization Efforts

In 2016, CBL and Associates passed the torch to Hull Property Group, a Georgia-based company known for revitalizing shopping centers.

This change in ownership marked the beginning of a new chapter focused on rebranding and rejuvenating the aging mall.

Hull Property Group wasted no time reimagining the space, renaming it Dalton Mall, a move that symbolized a fresh start and a renewed commitment to the community.

The renovation efforts were extensive and multifaceted, touching every mall corner. The facades were updated, giving the exterior a more contemporary and inviting look. Inside, the changes were even more pronounced.

The dated decor was replaced with a modern color scheme, and carpet flooring was laid throughout, creating a warmer and more welcoming ambiance.

Perhaps the most dramatic change was the covering of vacant storefronts with murals that celebrated local heritage, transforming empty spaces into canvases that told the story of Dalton’s rich cultural and historical tapestry.

In 2018, the mall underwent a significant structural change when over 240,000 sq ft of the building was demolished. This bold move included removing the JCPenney, Carmike Cinemas 9, and the Sears wing, a decision that reflected a strategic shift in the mall’s direction.

Despite these substantial changes, the mall retained key tenants like Belk, Gimme A $5, and Fitness 1440, ensuring that while its physical landscape was evolving, its core retail offerings remained strong.

Current Anchor Stores: The Pillars of Dalton Mall

The anchor stores of Dalton Mall have been instrumental in defining its identity and drawing shoppers. Belk, a stalwart in the retail industry, has been a part of the mall’s journey since its inception in 1980.

Over the years, Belk has adapted to the changing retail landscape, evolving its product offerings and store layout to meet the needs of the Dalton community. Its resilience and commitment to quality have made it a trusted name among shoppers and a key player in the mall’s success.

Formerly known as “Gimme A $5,” the store has transformed, rebranding itself as Keevado. This change isn’t just in name; it embodies a shift towards a broader, more inclusive retail experience.

The store, which takes pride in its diverse inventory, ensures that patrons can access a wide array of items, from electronics and automotive accessories to beauty essentials and home decor, all under one roof at the mall.

Fitness 1440’s entry into the mall in early 2020 marked a new era in the mall’s focus on health and wellness.

Occupying the space that once housed The Rush Fitness Complex and Gold’s Gym, Fitness 1440 brought a fresh perspective on fitness, offering state-of-the-art equipment and a variety of classes to cater to the health-conscious demographic of Dalton.

This addition underscored the mall’s commitment to providing a holistic shopping and lifestyle experience.

While not within the main building, AMC Walnut Square 12 is an outparcel, contributing significantly to the mall’s entertainment offerings.

As a modern cinema complex, AMC Walnut Square 12 attracts movie enthusiasts across the region, offering the latest releases in a state-of-the-art setting.

Its presence complements the mall’s retail experience, providing shoppers with a convenient option for entertainment before or after their shopping expeditions.

Diverse Retail and Dining Options

Dalton Mall’s strength lies in its anchor stores and diverse retail and dining options, catering to a wide range of tastes and preferences.

Fashion-forward shoppers find paradise in stores like American Eagle Outfitters, Rue 21, and Aeropostale, each offering a unique blend of style and trendiness.

For those seeking a more specialized shopping experience, The Children’s Place and Hot Topic provide niche products catering to specific demographics.

The mall’s commitment to variety extends beyond apparel. Tech enthusiasts explore the latest innovations at Gadget, while book lovers immerse themselves in the literary world at Books-A-Million.

Accessory lovers are included, with stores like Claire’s and Zales offering a range of jewelry and fashion accessories.

The presence of specialty stores like Brow Designs and Oxford Jewelers adds to the mall’s comprehensive retail experience, ensuring that there is something for everyone.

Dalton Mall presents a delightful array of dining options. Fast-food favorites like Chick-fil-A offer quick and delicious meals, while those searching for a more leisurely dining experience can indulge in the flavors of Bamboo Express or Japanese Grill.

The recent addition of The Juicy Seafood, taking over the long-vacant Ryan’s Buffet building, introduces a new dimension to the mall’s culinary offerings, promising a unique seafood dining experience.

These varied eateries guarantee that guests can experience an entire day filled with shopping, fun, and delicious meals conveniently located within a single venue.

A Year of Revival and Celebration: Dalton Mall in 2023

In 2023, Dalton Mall emerged as a vibrant hub for community events, business initiatives, and social gatherings, highlighting the mall’s role in revitalizing local commerce and fostering a sense of community.

One of the most anticipated events was the “December to Remember” series, which aimed to sprinkle holiday magic over the city.

The series featured various festive activities, with the Jolly Jingle Jams and Pictures with Santa capturing the essence of the holiday spirit.

This event wasn’t merely about shopping; it was a platform for families to create cherished memories and for the community to celebrate​​.

Business and commerce also saw a significant boost with events like the Business Expo 2023, aptly themed “Cheers to 20 Years.” This event underscored the mall’s commitment to fostering business relationships and providing a stage for local and regional businesses to shine.

The inclusion of City Entertainment as a partner added an extra layer of excitement and engagement, ensuring that the expo was not just a networking event but also a celebration of local entrepreneurship and community spirit​​.

The Dalton Summer Showcase was another highlight, showcasing the mall’s role as a community nucleus. This event celebrated local food, entertainment, recreation, and health, allowing businesses to be recognized as a “Dalton City Favorite.”

This initiative reflected the mall’s dedication to supporting and promoting local businesses, strengthening the local economy and community ties​​.

Furthermore, the mall’s commitment to social causes was evident through events like “Color for a Cause.” This live mural coloring contest and shopping event were about fun, engagement, raising funds, and awareness for various organizations.

It was a testament to the mall’s role in weaving together the threads of commerce, community, and charity, creating a tapestry rich with social responsibility and communal support​.

2023 was a transformative year for Dalton Mall, marked by events that elevated the shopping experience and nurtured the community’s social fabric.

The mall’s focused approach to community involvement, support for local businesses, and commitment to social causes set a precedent for how shopping centers can play a pivotal role in shaping the identity and dynamics of a city.

Dalton Mall’s journey through 2023 was more than just about business; it was about crafting a legacy of community, celebration, and collective growth.

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