The Mall at Whitney Field, Leominster, MA: A Silent Sentinel of the Past

The Birth and Rise of The Mall at Whitney Field

In 1967, Leominster, Massachusetts, welcomed the opening of Searstown Mall. This new commercial hub would later become The Mall at Whitney Field.

The initial anchors, Sears, R.H. White, and Bradlees, attracted shoppers from all over the region. This period marked a golden era for retail, with large department stores serving as the pillars of shopping malls.

The 1980s saw the mall expanding significantly. After R.H. White closed, developers added a new wing to house a JCPenney store, broadening the mall’s appeal and enhancing its retail landscape.

In 2004, the mall underwent a major transformation. It changed its name to The Mall at Whitney Field. It was renovated extensively to modernize the space and attract a broader customer base.

This rebranding aimed to keep pace with changing consumer habits and retail trends. Amid these changes, things to do in Leominster, MA, started to evolve, reflecting the mall’s growing role in the community’s economic and social life.

The Evolution of Retail Spaces

The Mall at Whitney Field’s retail landscape shifted significantly in the 1990s. In 1992, Sage-Allen closed its doors, making way for Service Merchandise, a new player in the mall’s lineup. This change marked the mall’s first major retail turnover, signaling a new transformation era.

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw further evolution. In 1999, Service Merchandise bowed out, leaving a noticeable gap.

The mall responded by converting the space into a new wing, introducing Old Navy in 2000. This move was part of a larger strategy to “big-box” certain areas, adapting to the changing retail environment.

Circuit City also came on board, replacing the previous tenant and adding to the mall’s electronics offerings.

However, the early 2000s brought challenges. Bradlees closed in 2001, leaving a vacant lot empty until its demolition in 2002. This period saw a reshuffling of spaces.

Filene’s opening of a large two-level store further altered the mall’s retail composition. These changes reflected the mall’s ongoing efforts to adapt and thrive amidst a rapidly changing retail landscape.

Challenges and Decline

The mid to late 2000s and early 2010s marked a challenging period for The Mall at Whitney Field. The retail industry faced a downturn, and the mall was not immune.

Circuit City closed its doors in 2009, a significant blow given its status as a key tenant. This closure was a sign of the times, reflecting broader struggles within the electronics retail sector.

The challenges continued with the closure of Toys “R” Us in 2018 following the company’s bankruptcy announcement.

This was a major loss for the mall, as the store had been a popular destination for families and children.

The space was later occupied by a new occupant in Gardner Outlet Furniture in 2019. Still, the loss of Toys “R” Us marked a significant shift in the mall’s family-friendly appeal.

The departure of Sears in 2019 further compounded the mall’s difficulties. As one of the original anchors, its closure marked the end of an era and left a large vacancy.

This was followed by Macy’s closure in 2020, leaving Burlington and JCPenney as the only remaining anchor stores.

These back-to-back closures reflected a broader trend of declining foot traffic and changing shopping habits, posing significant challenges for the mall’s future.

Attempts at Revitalization

Hull Property Group took over The Mall at Whitney Field in January 2020, aiming to breathe new life into the struggling space. They started by renovating and seeking new tenants to fill the growing number of empty stores.

In 2022, they moved significantly by relocating Gardner Outlet Furniture into the first floor of the former Macy’s space, a strategic attempt to fill one of the large vacant areas left by previous anchor stores.

The same year saw the introduction of Launch Entertainment, a new tenant in the space previously occupied by Gardner Outlet Furniture.

This addition aimed to diversify the mall’s offerings beyond traditional retail, incorporating entertainment options to attract different customer demographics.

The mall also ramped up its community engagement efforts. They hosted events and contests, like the Easter photo event and the search for Leominster’s Next Great Pop-Up Shop.

These initiatives aimed to draw local residents back to the mall and foster a sense of community involvement and ownership.

The Mall Today

As of March 2024, The Mall at Whitney Field in Leominster, Massachusetts, is transitioning. The mall houses around 30 stores and services, with Burlington, Gardner Outlet Furniture, and JCPenney as the main anchors.

Despite the challenges, these stores continue to draw customers, providing a mix of apparel, home goods, and services.

Recent efforts to revitalize the mall have seen some success. The addition of Launch Entertainment and the relocation of Gardner Outlet Furniture have injected new energy into the space. Moreover, community events and contests have started to rekindle local interest in the mall.

However, the mall still faces challenges. The retail landscape continues to evolve, and the mall must adapt to changing consumer habits and preferences.

The future of The Mall at Whitney Field will depend on its ability to innovate and maintain relevance in a rapidly changing market.

Current Anchors and Their Stories


JCPenney has been a staple at The Mall at Whitney Field for decades, serving as one of the original anchors since the mall’s expansion in the 1980s.

Over the years, JCPenney has adapted to changing consumer trends, offering a wide range of clothing, home goods, and beauty products.

Despite the retail industry’s ups and downs, JCPenney at Whitney Field has managed to maintain its presence, continuing to attract customers looking for quality and affordability.

The store’s resilience and adaptability have made it a key player in the mall’s lineup, contributing to its ongoing foot traffic and appeal.


Burlington, formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory, brought a new energy to The Mall at Whitney Field when it opened in 2014.

Filling the space left vacant by Circuit City, Burlington expanded the mall’s fashion offerings with its wide selection of brand-name clothing, accessories, and home decor at discounted prices.

The store quickly became a go-to destination for budget-conscious shoppers seeking value without compromising style.

Burlington’s success at the mall underscores the growing demand for off-price retail options, providing a steady stream of customers and helping to stabilize the mall’s tenant mix during a period of significant change.

Gardner Outlet Furniture

Gardner Outlet Furniture is a relatively new addition to The Mall at Whitney Field, having moved into the first floor of the former Macy’s space in 2022.

This move shifted the mall’s retail composition, introducing a large-format furniture and home decor store into the mix. Gardner Outlet Furniture’s presence in the mall reflects a broader trend toward incorporating non-traditional anchors to attract different customer segments.

By offering quality furniture at outlet prices, the store appeals to home-focused shoppers. It contributes to the mall’s goal of diversifying its retail offerings and driving new types of foot traffic.

Launch Entertainment at The Mall at Whitney Field

Launch Entertainment in The Mall at Whitney Field, Leominster, MA, redefines family fun with industry-leading attractions.

Unlike a typical trampoline park, Launch offers a unique mix of activities for all ages, making it the perfect spot for kids, teens, and adults to engage in active entertainment together.

This venue is about creating memorable experiences, whether challenging yourself, battling with friends, or simply enjoying time with family.

Launch Leominster’s attractions are tailored to ensure everyone has a fantastic time. The Ninja Course invites you to become the next ninja warrior, with lanes suited to various skill levels.

Here, you can tackle obstacles like the trapeze, spider wall, swinging monkey bars, and the warped wall. At the same time, the arcade comes alive with a blend of timeless and modern games.

Here, you can challenge friends to races, strive for the top scores, and collect tickets to exchange for exciting prizes.

Dodgeball takes an exciting twist at Launch, transforming into a high-energy game on trampoline courts. This isn’t your schoolyard dodgeball; it’s an elevated experience that tests your agility and aim.

For food enthusiasts, the Krave Restaurant serves up favorites like in-house cooked pizza, appetizers, slushies, and ice cream, catering to all your cravings.

The trampoline areas at Launch are not just about jumping; they’re about launching yourself into new heights of fun.

For those seeking an immersive experience, the Omni VR station offers a virtual reality adventure, providing a fully immersive experience that transports you to another world.

Launch Entertainment at The Mall at Whitney Field is more than just a trampoline park; it’s a destination for active entertainment and family bonding, ensuring that every visit is filled with fun, challenges, and unforgettable moments.

The Future of The Mall at Whitney Field

As of 2024, the Mall at Whitney Field stands at a crossroads. The retail industry’s shift towards online shopping and the impact of recent global events have reshaped consumer habits.

The mall’s management is now focusing on diversification and community engagement as key strategies for the future.

They are exploring new types of stores and experiences that can draw people back, such as more entertainment options and local pop-up shops.

To create a mixed-use destination, the mall’s future may also see an increase in non-retail services, like fitness centers or medical offices. This approach aims to provide reasons for visitors to go beyond traditional shopping.

Additionally, the management is considering hosting more community events and activities to strengthen local ties and increase foot traffic.

Adapting to the changing retail landscape will be crucial for The Mall at Whitney Field. The management’s ability to innovate and respond to consumer needs will likely determine the mall’s long-term success and sustainability.

The Mall’s Impact on Leominster

Since opening in 1967, The Mall at Whitney Field has been a significant part of Leominster’s economy and community life.

It has provided jobs, shopping options, and a place for people to gather. Despite recent challenges, the mall continues contributing to the local economy, albeit in evolving ways.

The mall’s struggles and transformations reflect broader economic and social trends affecting Leominster and similar towns.

As the mall adapts, it could serve as a barometer for the community’s financial health and resilience. The success of revitalization efforts at the mall could spur further development and investment in the surrounding area.

The community’s support and engagement with the mall will be crucial. The Mall at Whitney Field’s ability to remain a central part of Leominster’s identity depends on its adaptation to new realities and its continued relevance to the needs and interests of local residents.

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