Auburn Mall: The Hidden Gem of Auburn, ME

A Look Back at the History and Development

Nestled in the heart of Auburn, Maine, the Auburn Mall stands as a beacon of the city’s bustling commercial life. This shopping center opened its doors to the public on a sunny day on August 7, 1979, and has been a community cornerstone for over four decades. It’s not just a mall; it’s a place where memories are made, people come together, and the heart of Auburn beats.

The mall’s early days were marked by the presence of its original anchor stores, J.C. Penney and Porteous. These stores were more than just retail outlets; they were the pillars that supported the mall’s early success, drawing in shoppers from all corners of the region and beyond.

They were places where families would spend their weekends, teenagers would hang out after school, and holiday shoppers would flock for the best deals.

The Auburn Mall evolved like a living, breathing entity as the years passed. It mirrored the changing retail landscape, adapting to the times while maintaining its unique charm. Stores came and went, each leaving its unique footprint on the mall’s rich tapestry.

Porteous, a long-standing anchor, bid its final goodbye in 2002. This marked the end of an era but also the beginning of a new chapter in the mall’s history.

Express and Gap followed suit, closing their doors in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Yet, despite these closures, the mall continued to thrive, demonstrating its resilience and adaptability.

The Guiding Hand: Ownership and Management

Behind the success story of the Auburn Mall is a key figure – its owner, George Schott. Taking over the reins from Equity Property and Development in 2005, Schott has been the guiding hand steering the mall through the changing tides of the retail industry.

His management strategies have been instrumental in maintaining a diverse mix of stores and services, ensuring that the Auburn Mall remains a one-stop destination for shoppers.

Schott’s vision for the mall goes beyond just profit. He sees the mall as a part of the community, where people can come together, shop, dine, and enjoy. His commitment to this vision has been a driving force behind the mall.

Auburn Mall
Auburn Mall

More Than Just a Mall: Economic Impact

The Auburn Mall is more than just a shopping destination. It plays a significant role in the local economy, providing employment for many residents and contributing to Auburn’s revenue through sales and property taxes.

The mall’s economic impact extends beyond its walls, influencing the surrounding area’s commercial activity and shaping the economic landscape of Auburn.

The mall’s role in the economy is not static. It changes and evolves, reflecting the broader economic trends and the community’s changing needs. Yet, through all these changes, the mall remains a vital part of Auburn’s economic engine.

Auburn Mall
Auburn Mall

In the News: Recent Developments

The Auburn Mall continues to make headlines with its recent developments. A new chapter in the mall’s culinary offerings was written with the opening of a Quebecois restaurant in the former Papa Gino’s space in 2019. This unique dining option added a new flavor to the mall’s food court, offering shoppers a taste of Quebec’s rich culinary tradition. Unfortunately, it is permanently closed now.

The mall has also been a training ground for service dogs, with a training organization conducting sessions there. This initiative has added a unique dimension to the mall’s offerings and highlighted its commitment to inclusivity and accessibility.

A recent lawsuit filed by the service dog training organization against Maine Mall alleging discrimination has sparked conversations about accessibility and inclusivity in public spaces. While this incident didn’t directly involve Auburn Mall, it has brought to the forefront the importance of creating inclusive and accessible spaces for all.

Auburn Mall Clock
Auburn Mall Clock” by Just Us 3 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Gazing into the Future: Prospects and Possibilities

The Auburn Mall faces a future filled with challenges and opportunities as we look ahead. The retail industry is seismic, with online shopping increasingly prevalent.

This shift poses a significant challenge for traditional shopping malls. However, with its diverse mix of stores and services and strong community ties, the Auburn Mall is well-positioned to navigate these changes.

The future may also see further expansion or renovation of the mall. These enhancements would add to its appeal to shoppers and ensure it remains a vibrant part of Auburn’s commercial landscape. As it has done in the past, the Auburn Mall will continue to adapt and evolve, reflecting the community it serves.

The Auburn Mall is more than just a building filled with stores. It’s a place where memories are made, where community is built, and where the spirit of Auburn comes alive. As we look back on its past and future, we can’t help but feel a sense of excitement and anticipation for what’s to come. Here’s to the next chapter in the Auburn Mall’s story.

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