The History of The Mall at Rockingham Park
When the Mall at Rockingham Park opened its doors in August 1991, it wasn’t just another shopping center; it was a transformative force in the retail landscape of Salem and the surrounding areas. Located in Salem, New Hampshire, the mall quickly became a magnet for shoppers from the Granite State and neighboring Massachusetts.
The mall’s opening ripple effect on the retail scene, most notably causing the Methuen Mall across the state line in Massachusetts to close its doors in 1997. This led to the rise of The Loop, a “big box”-style center that replaced the Methuen Mall.
The Mall at Rockingham Park also impacted its older neighbor, the Rockingham Mall, which had to convert into a “big box” center as well. The town of Salem could no longer support two traditional shopping malls, and the Rockingham Mall had to adapt or perish.
The mall has been a commercial success and a key player in the economic development of Salem. It has generated jobs, increased foot traffic, and contributed to the town’s revenue, making it an integral part of the community.
The Mall’s Architectural Design and Layout
The Mall at Rockingham Park is more than just a collection of stores; its architectural design and layout offer a unique shopping experience. The internal design features a circular walkway on both floors, providing easy navigation for shoppers. From this central circle, two major corridors extend at approximately a 140° angle, leading to anchor stores like Macy’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods (former Sears).
Accessibility is another strong suit of the mall. It is conveniently located adjacent to Interstate 93, and Route 38 surrounds most of the mall, offering several entrances. Exit 1 northbound on Interstate 93 has a ramp that provides quick access to the mall, making it easier for shoppers coming from different directions.
Parking is rarely a hassle here. A two-level parking lot is between the mall and Route 38 to the east. The upper level provides access to all parts of the mall, while smaller lots on the southwest side and north of Dick’s Sporting Goods offer additional parking options.
In 2015, the mall underwent a renovation that included the removal of the carousel from the food court. While some may miss this nostalgic feature, the change was part of a broader effort to modernize the mall and improve the shopping experience.
A Closer Look at Current Tenants and Anchor Stores
The Mall at Rockingham Park is a retail epicenter featuring a broad spectrum of stores that meet various consumer needs. Established stores like Macy’s and JCPenney set the cornerstone of this retail environment. These anchor stores draw a consistent flow of shoppers, offering a wide range of products, from fashionable apparel to essential household items.
However, the allure of the mall extends beyond these anchor stores. It is also home to a unique collection of specialty shops that add a distinct character to the shopping experience. Take AliCat Crystals, for example, where you can find an array of enchanting gemstones, or Art of Eyebrows, which specializes in eyebrow shaping and beauty services.
These smaller stores may not have the square footage of the anchors, but they offer specialized services and products that are hard to find elsewhere.
The mall is also a fashionista’s dream, with many clothing and accessory stores. Popular brands like American Eagle Outfitters and Forever 21 are complemented by more specialized stores like Lululemon and Lovisa. Whether you’re looking for everyday casual wear, a formal outfit for a special occasion, or unique accessories to complete your ensemble, the mall has you covered.
Tech fans will find their haven at the Apple store, while families with children can explore stores like Build-A-Bear Workshop and Kids Foot Locker. And let’s not forget the much-anticipated arrival of renovated Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is currently in the “coming soon” phase.
Once open in October 2023 will further enhance the mall’s appeal, offering a wide range of sporting goods and outdoor gear.
Delving into Dining Options at the Mall
The Mall at Rockingham Park is not just a shopping destination; it’s also a food lover’s paradise. The food court has an array of options that cater to diverse tastes. For those who prefer a lighter fare, Appleseed Crepe & Bread provides a variety of delicious crepes filled with fresh ingredients, perfect for a quick yet satisfying meal.
If you’re in the mood for something more substantial, Charleys Philly Steaks has got you covered. Known for their delectable steak sandwiches, this is the place to go when you’re craving something hearty. And when you’re short on time but still want a tasty treat, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels offers quick, delicious options for on-the-go snacking.
Coffee lovers will find their sanctuary at Starbucks, where various brews and pastries await. Regarding desserts, Dairy Queen / Orange Julius is the go-to spot for ice cream treats and refreshing smoothies, making it a perfect place to indulge your sweet tooth.
If you’re contemplating things to do in Salem, New Hampshire, don’t overlook the culinary adventure that awaits you at the Mall at Rockingham Park. It’s more than just a pit stop for food; it’s a gastronomic experience that complements the shopping journey. With its wide array of dining options, the mall ensures that each visit is a multi-faceted experience, satisfying your shopping needs and culinary desires.
The Mall’s Economic Impact
The Mall at Rockingham Park is more than just a shopping destination; it’s an economic powerhouse. As of March 2015, it was Simon Property Group’s highest-grossing center, with annual sales of $2,105 per square foot. These impressive figures are partly due to New Hampshire’s lack of sales tax on most goods, attracting shoppers from tax-heavy states like Massachusetts.
The mall also plays a significant role in local employment. With 135 stores and various dining options, it provides numerous job opportunities for residents of Salem and the surrounding areas. This, in turn, contributes to the local economy, making the mall an essential part of the community’s financial health.
However, it’s not just about numbers and sales figures. The mall has been a venue for community events, adding a social dimension to its economic contributions. For example, the Salem Farmers Market has found a home at the mall, offering local produce and goods to shoppers.
The mall’s economic impact extends beyond its walls. Its success has a trickle-down effect on nearby businesses and the real estate market, making it a cornerstone of Salem’s economic landscape.
The Mall in the Age of E-commerce and Pandemic
The retail industry has faced significant challenges in recent years, from the rise of e-commerce to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mall at Rockingham Park has not been immune to these changes. In August 2018, Sears announced it would close its store at the mall, signaling the end of an era for traditional brick-and-mortar retail.
However, the mall has shown resilience and adaptability. In 2020, a Cinemark Theatres complex opened near the original Sears Auto Center site, offering a new entertainment option for visitors. This move indicates the mall’s willingness to diversify and adapt to changing consumer preferences.
The pandemic also led to the closure of Lord & Taylor, an upscale specialty department store, in August 2020. While this was a loss for the mall, it also will allow new tenants to come in and for existing stores to expand or renovate.
Despite these challenges, the Mall at Rockingham Park continues to be a bustling hub of activity. With safety measures in place and an increasing focus on online shopping options, the mall is well-positioned to navigate the complexities of the modern retail environment.
Community Engagement and Events
The Mall at Rockingham Park is not just a commercial space; it’s a community hub. One of the most notable events is the relocation of the Salem Farmers Market to the mall in 2023. This move provides a venue for local producers and adds a community-centric feature to the mall’s offerings.
Social media plays a significant role in the mall’s community engagement strategy. Platforms like Facebook are used to keep the community updated on new store openings, special deals, and upcoming events. This online presence helps maintain a connection with the local community, even when they are not physically present at the mall.
During the holidays, seasonal attractions like the Santa Photo Experience add a festive touch. These events are not just about shopping; they allow families to create lasting memories, making the mall a part of their traditions.
Special promotions and events also keep the community engaged. From back-to-school sales to Black Friday deals, the mall ensures that there’s always something exciting happening. These events boost sales and create a vibrant, dynamic atmosphere that keeps people returning.
The Mall at Rockingham Park is a testament to retail spaces’ ever-changing yet enduring nature. It has adapted to shifts in consumer behavior, survived economic challenges, and continues to serve as a community hub. Its rich history, diverse tenant mix, and economic impact make it more than just a shopping destination; it’s a cornerstone of Salem’s community and economy.
As we look to the future, the mall’s adaptability and resilience suggest that it will continue to evolve, offering new experiences and remaining an integral part of Salem’s landscape. It’s not just a place to shop; it’s a place that reflects the community’s needs, aspirations, and spirit.