Birchwood Mall, Port Huron, MI: Past and Present

Origins and Early Success

Birchwood Mall opened on October 10, 1990, and was developed by General Growth Properties. The initial anchor stores included Sears, Target, JCPenney, and Prange’s. The mall quickly became a popular shopping destination.

Located in Fort Gratiot Township, near Port Huron, Michigan, Birchwood Mall drew in Canadian shoppers from Sarnia, Ontario. The mall’s proximity to the Blue Water Bridge made it accessible. This cross-border shopping added to the mall’s early success.

The mall featured over 100 stores and a food court. Popular stores included The Gap, Foot Locker, and Bath & Body Works, which contributed to the bustling atmosphere.

On opening day, the mall hosted various events aimed at attracting more visitors. The grand opening celebrations were a hit, marking the beginning of Birchwood Mall’s journey in the retail landscape.

Expansion and Changes in the 1990s

In 1992, Younkers replaced Prange’s, which brought a new vibe to the mall. Three years later, Hudson’s decided to join Birchwood Mall. Hudson’s opened its doors in 1997, adding a touch of class.

The late 1990s saw more changes. Old Navy opened in the Younkers wing. Dunham’s Sports also came into the picture. Both stores added variety to the shopping experience.

Chuck E. Cheese’s joined the mall in 2004. It offered a fun place for families. This addition helped draw in more local visitors. Despite the new stores, the mall kept its core anchors strong.

Throughout the 1990s, Birchwood Mall evolved. Each new store brought in different crowds, keeping the mall lively and relevant. It was a place where you could find everything from fashion to fun.

Challenges and Store Closures

Lowe’s Home Improvement opened next to Birchwood Mall on February 2, 1999. This addition aimed to boost traffic. However, it wasn’t enough to stave off future closures.

Hudson’s rebranded to Marshall Field’s in 2001. This rebranding aimed to refresh the store’s image. In 2006, Marshall Field’s became Macy’s. The retail landscape was shifting rapidly.

Old Navy closed its doors in late 2007. Planet Fitness later occupied this space. This shift marked a trend toward more service-oriented tenants. Retail was changing, and Birchwood Mall had to adapt.

Decline in the Late 2010s

In January 2013, the Younkers store changed its name to Carson’s. This was a rebranding effort by its parent company, Bon-Ton. However, the change did little to stem the tide of retail decline.

USA Quiz

How many questions would you like?

Your result:

By January 2016, Sears announced its closure. Sears has been a cornerstone of Birchwood Mall since its opening. The store closed in March 2016, leaving a large space in the mall.

Later, in March 2016, Carmike Cinemas announced a two-week closure for remodeling. The remodel aimed to update the theater and attract more visitors. However, it was a temporary fix in the face of broader retail challenges.

On January 3, 2018, Macy’s announced it would close as part of a nationwide downsizing plan. The store closed in March 2018, marking another loss for the mall.

Carson’s followed suit, closing on August 29, 2018, after Bon-Ton went out of business. This left Birchwood Mall with only two anchor stores: JCPenney and Target.

Birchwood Mall
Birchwood Mall” by TenPoundHammer is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Recent Developments and Ownership Changes

In February 2021, the Kohan Retail Investment Group purchased Birchwood Mall for $5.6 million.

This acquisition brought new management and potential for redevelopment. Kohan Retail specializes in struggling malls, so hopes were high for a turnaround.

Later, in 2021, CubeSmart Self Storage opened in the former Macy’s space. This marked a shift from traditional retail to mixed-use spaces. It showed how malls are adapting to changing market demands.

Despite these changes, the mall continued to face challenges. Several large retail spaces remained vacant, and efforts to attract new tenants and revitalize the mall were ongoing.

Most recently, Great Lakes Gaming announced it would close on July 28, 2024. This closure highlights the ongoing struggle for many businesses within the mall. The future remains uncertain, but efforts to revitalize Birchwood Mall continue.

Community Impact and Local Business Efforts

Great Lakes Gaming, a gaming store, had been a part of the mall for several years. Its closure marked another chapter in the mall’s ongoing struggles. Despite this, local businesses have been trying to make a difference.

Efforts to revitalize the mall include new eateries. Red Pepper, a new restaurant, is set to open soon. This addition aims to draw in food lovers and create a new hangout spot. These small steps contribute to keeping the mall alive and relevant in the community.

The mall has been a hub for community events. One notable event is Cruise Weekend, which takes place across Fort Gratiot and Port Huron.

Drivers will take their cars around the area, starting at Krafft Road near Birchwood Mall. Events like these help draw people to the mall, boost local businesses, and foster a sense of community.

Sears - Birchwood Mall
Sears – Birchwood Mall” by Kzoo Cowboy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Current Anchors and Their Stories

JCPenney has been a staple at Birchwood Mall since its opening. It survived numerous retail downturns and continued to attract shoppers.

JCPenney offers a wide range of products, from clothing to home goods. Its presence has been a constant amid the mall’s changes and challenges.

Target opened in Birchwood Mall in 1991. It quickly became a destination for shoppers looking for affordable yet stylish merchandise.

Target’s broad selection, including groceries, electronics, and apparel, makes it a key anchor. It remains one of the few stable elements in the mall.

Dunham’s Sports moved into the former Carson’s location in September 2020. This addition provided a boost to the mall, especially among sports enthusiasts.

Dunham’s offers a wide array of sporting goods and activewear. Its presence attracts a diverse crowd, adding to the mall’s foot traffic.

CubeSmart Self Storage opened in the former Macy’s space in 2021, marking a shift from traditional retail to a more service-oriented use.

CubeSmart provides storage solutions that appeal to residents and businesses. This adaptation showcases the mall’s efforts to stay relevant in a changing market.

Birchwood Mall
“Dunham’s Sports – Birchwood Mall” by Kzoo Cowboy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Famous Stores by Types

Apparel and Accessories

Bath & Body Works is a favorite for personal care and fragrance products. It offers a variety of lotions, candles, and body sprays, attracting a loyal customer base.

Buckle specializes in casual apparel and accessories. It caters to a younger demographic with its trendy clothing options.

Claire’s is well-known for its wide range of accessories and jewelry. It’s especially popular among younger shoppers looking for affordable fashion items.

Hot Topic provides pop culture—and music-inspired clothing and accessories. It stands out with its unique product range and appeals to fans of various subcultures.

Kay Jewelers offers a selection of fine jewelry, including engagement rings and watches. It attracts shoppers looking for quality and luxury in their purchases.

Food and Beverage

Auntie Anne’s® Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels is a popular spot for snacks. Its fresh, soft pretzels are a mall staple, drawing in customers with the enticing aroma.

Flaming Wok offers a variety of Asian cuisine. It provides a quick and tasty option for mall-goers looking to grab a meal during their shopping trip.

Sbarro serves New York-style pizza and other Italian dishes. It’s a convenient choice for a hearty meal within the mall.

Entertainment and Services

AMC Theatres provides movie entertainment, drawing visitors who stay to shop and dine. It’s a key component of the mall’s entertainment offerings.

Planet Fitness caters to health and fitness enthusiasts. It adds a wellness aspect to the mall, bringing in a different set of customers.

The Gaming Lab offers a unique space for video game enthusiasts. It’s a modern addition that appeals to a younger, tech-savvy crowd.

Specialty Shops

Good Times Boutique features a variety of trendy clothing and accessories. It’s known for its unique and fashionable selections.

Peace of Cake Bakery offers delicious baked goods and custom cakes. It’s a sweet spot within the mall, perfect for satisfying dessert cravings.

Spencer’s specializes in novelty items, gag gifts, and pop culture merchandise. It’s a fun and quirky store that adds diversity to the shopping experience.

Add a comment

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: