The Founding and Early Development of Oakland Mall
Oakland Mall, a cornerstone in the retail landscape of Troy, Michigan, embarked on its journey in 1968. Developed by the Kogan Companies, a name synonymous with commercial real estate innovation, the mall emerged as a modern shopping haven in the late 60s.
Its opening marked a significant milestone in the city’s development, introducing a new era of shopping experiences to the residents of Troy.
At the heart of its early appeal was Sears, a retail giant already serving since 1965. The presence of Sears anchored the mall’s reputation, drawing in a diverse range of shoppers.
Joining Sears was Hudson’s, another prominent name in the department store industry, further solidifying the mall’s status as a premier shopping destination. Including an S. S. Kresge dime store added variety to the mall’s retail offerings, catering to a wide array of consumer needs.
The architectural design of Oakland Mall reflected the era’s trends, featuring a layout that combined convenience with aesthetic appeal. The mall’s structure was designed to facilitate easy navigation, allowing shoppers to move seamlessly between stores.
This design philosophy enhanced the shopping experience and positioned the mall as a model for future retail developments.
In the realm of things to do in Troy, Michigan, the Oakland Mall quickly became a focal point, not just for shopping but as a social gathering place.
Its early years were marked by a bustling atmosphere, where families and individuals would spend hours exploring the diverse range of stores and services.
The mall’s ability to blend retail with recreation made it more than just a shopping center; it became a community landmark, a place where memories were made and traditions were born.
As the 1970s drew close, Oakland Mall had already established itself as a key player in Troy’s retail scene.
Its blend of major department stores and smaller retail outlets created a balanced and dynamic shopping environment.
The mall’s success in these early years laid a strong foundation for the decades of growth and transformation that were to follow.
Expansions and Transformations Through the Years
1979 Expansion and JCPenney Addition
A pivotal moment in the history of Oakland Mall came in 1979, a year that marked a significant expansion of the mall’s footprint.
This expansion introduced JCPenney, a well-established department store chain, as a new anchor tenant.
JCPenney was not just an expansion of space; it represented a strategic move to diversify the mall’s retail offerings and attract a wider customer base. With its two-story wing, this expansion brought new energy to the mall.
Evolving Retail Landscape
The retail landscape within Oakland Mall continued to evolve dynamically over the years. In 1999, Borders Books & Music was a notable addition, marking the first instance of this popular bookstore chain opening in a Michigan mall.
This was a significant development, adding a new dimension to the mall’s appeal and attracting book lovers and music enthusiasts.
However, the turn of the millennium saw the closure of the mall’s movie theaters in 2000, a move reflective of the shifting entertainment preferences of the time.
21st Century Changes
The 2000s brought about further transformations within Oakland Mall. A major change occurred with the conversion of Hudson’s department store to Marshall Field’s in 2001 and subsequently to Macy’s in 2006.
This change was more than a mere rebranding; it was indicative of the broader shifts occurring in the retail industry.
The arrival of new stores like H&M and Dick’s Sporting Goods, with the latter moving from an across-the-street location into the mall in 2015, further diversified the mall’s retail mix.
These additions brought fresh energy and modern retail trends to the mall, appealing to a new generation of shoppers.
The Anchors of Oakland Mall
The Sears Saga at Oakland Mall
The story of Sears at Oakland Mall is a tale of beginnings, transformations, and an eventual farewell. Opening its doors in 1965, three years before the mall was inaugurated, Sears was the first to welcome shoppers to this shopping hub.
As an anchor tenant, Sears played a pivotal role in establishing Oakland Mall as a premier shopping destination in the region.
Over the years, Sears witnessed the mall’s expansion and evolution, including adding other major stores and the mall’s architectural developments.
However, Sears’ journey at Oakland Mall was challenging. The retail environment experienced major shifts, leading to Sears Holdings divesting 235 of its locations in 2015.
Among these was the Sears store at Oakland Mall, which became part of Seritage Growth Properties.
This move began a new chapter for the store’s space. In 2017, a part of the Sears store was transformed into an At Home.
The final chapter for Sears at Oakland Mall came in 2018 when Sears announced the closure of its Oakland Mall location as part of a nationwide plan to close 78 stores.
The store closed its doors on September 2, 2018, ending a more than five-decade-long presence in the mall.
This closure was a significant moment in the mall’s history, symbolizing the end of an era. In 2022, the residual space of the erstwhile Sears store embarked on a new journey, transforming into a Hobby Lobby.
This transition marked the continuation of Oakland Mall’s commitment to a diverse retail offering.
JCPenney: A Tradition of Diverse Offerings
Since its establishment in Oakland Mall in 1979, JCPenney has been a beacon of diverse retail offerings.
Known for its wide range of clothing, home decor, and beauty products, JCPenney has consistently adapted to the evolving needs of its customers.
This adaptability has not only sustained its appeal but also cemented its status as a key anchor in the mall, drawing shoppers seeking both quality and variety.
Macy’s: The Evolution of a Retail Giant
Macy’s, which transitioned from Hudson’s and later Marshall Field’s in 2006, has been a pivotal anchor in Oakland Mall. This store is renowned for its wide selection of fashion, beauty, and home products.
Macy’s has maintained its allure by offering an array of high-quality goods and hosting events that enhance the shopping experience, reinforcing its position as a central attraction in the mall.
Dick’s Sporting Goods: A Sports Enthusiast’s Paradise
Dick’s Sporting Goods, which relocated to Oakland Mall in 2015, has been a game-changer for sports and outdoor enthusiasts.
Offering a comprehensive range of sports equipment, apparel, and accessories, this store has become a go-to destination for fitness and outdoor activities.
Its presence in the mall caters to a growing demand for sports-related products and adds a dynamic element to the mall’s retail mix.
Hobby Lobby: Crafting a Niche
Hobby Lobby opened its doors in Oakland Mall in late 2022, bringing a new dimension to its retail landscape.
Specializing in arts and crafts supplies, Hobby Lobby caters to a niche market of hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts.
Its extensive range of products, from home decor to crafting supplies, has made it a unique and popular destination within the mall.
At Home: The Home Decor Haven
At Home, another anchor tenant has transformed some of the former Sears space into a home decorator’s paradise.
Offering a wide array of furniture, garden, and home decor items, At Home has become a key destination for those looking to furnish and decorate their living spaces.
Its presence in the mall diversifies the shopping experience, appealing to a broad spectrum of customers interested in home improvement and decoration.
Specialty Stores and Attractions
Fashion and Apparel: A Hub of Trendy Outfits
Oakland Mall has become a hotspot for fashion enthusiasts with its apparel stores. Forever 21, known for its trendy and affordable clothing, has been a popular destination for young shoppers.
H&M, another fashion giant, offers a diverse range of stylish and sustainable clothing options, catering to a conscious consumer base.
Victoria’s Secret, a leader in lingerie and beauty products, adds a touch of glamour to the mall’s fashion offerings.
These stores and others create a vibrant and fashionable atmosphere, making Oakland Mall a go-to destination for the latest apparel.
Jewelry and Accessories: A Sparkle in Every Corner
The mall also shines in its selection of jewelry and accessory stores. Kay Jewelers, renowned for its fine jewelry, offers a range of exquisite pieces for special occasions.
Claire’s, catering to a younger demographic, provides trendy and affordable jewelry and accessories.
These stores enhance the shopping experience and cater to a wide range of tastes and budgets, making Oakland Mall a diverse marketplace for jewelry and accessories.
Food and Entertainment: A Culinary and Leisure Delight
The food court and dining options at Oakland Mall offer a culinary journey for visitors. With its famous doughnuts, Krispy Kreme provides a sweet treat for shoppers.
Charleys Philly Steaks offers savory options for those seeking a hearty meal. The food court, with its variety of choices, serves as a central gathering spot for families and friends.
This blend of dining and leisure options ensures that visitors to Oakland Mall enjoy a complete and satisfying experience.
Future Prospects and Plans
Ownership of Oakland Mall transitioned to CenterCal Properties in 2020. Two years later, in March 2022, the mall changed hands again, with Mario Kiezi taking over.
Kiezi brought fresh plans, aiming to revitalize the mall with extensive renovations. Kiezi, the founder of Troy-based MKiezi Investments LLC, envisioned a fresh start for the mall.
He has plans to bring back foot traffic and transform the shopping plaza into a family destination. Ideas for a farmer’s market in the parking lot, new anchor restaurants, and attracting national entertainers are part of his grand plan.
Kiezi intends to cater to evolving consumer needs by integrating physical and online shopping. He envisioned a “brick and click” concept where businesses could serve guests within the mall and ship orders to the local community.
The Community at its Heart
For Kiezi, Oakland Mall is more than just a commercial venture; it is a place of fond memories and personal significance.
He had grown up in the shopping center, shadowing his family members working at their store, Antoine’s Ice Cream. He recognizes the sentimental value the mall holds for many in the community.
Kiezi’s vision for the mall is centered on serving the community. He wants to establish a “non-elite” space serving the next generation of families, differentiating it from other nearby luxury retail centers. The Oakland Mall is envisioned as a place for local and national “makers” and small businesses.