Why Paramus Park Mall in Paramus, NJ, is More Than Just Retail

The Birth of Paramus Park

On March 14, 1974, a new era dawned in Paramus, New Jersey, with the grand opening of Paramus Park Mall. Developed by The Rouse Company, known for its innovative approach to shopping center design, Paramus Park was envisioned as a retail haven.

The mall’s debut marked a significant moment in the commercial history of Bergen County, offering a modern shopping experience to the local community and beyond.

The initial anchors, Abraham & Straus (later transformed into Macy’s) and Sears, set the stage for a retail revolution in the area. These major department stores drew crowds, offering a wide range of products under one roof.

The mall originally housed space for 120 specialty stores, creating a diverse shopping environment. This variety catered to a broad spectrum of tastes and needs, making Paramus Park a one-stop destination for shoppers.

A standout feature at its opening was the mall’s second-floor food court, a pioneering concept in mall design. This innovation provided convenience and transformed the mall into a social gathering spot where people could enjoy a meal and take a break from their shopping endeavors.

Today, as we look for things to do in Paramus, NJ, visiting Paramus Park remains a popular choice, reflecting its lasting appeal and ongoing relevance in the retail landscape.

Architectural Marvel and Design

Paramus Park Mall stands out for its unique design, shaped like a zigzag with a central food court. This layout was not just about looks; it made shopping easier and more enjoyable.

The design allowed for a natural flow of foot traffic, guiding visitors effortlessly from one store to another.

The mall’s original charm included a 30-foot waterfall, a sight to behold, surrounded by lush greenery. This feature wasn’t just decorative; it created a tranquil atmosphere, making shopping a more pleasant experience.

The sound of water cascading down the terraces added a peaceful backdrop to the hustle and bustle of retail activity.

Over the years, the mall’s design evolved. The original glass elevator, a novel feature back in the day, was replaced in 1999 due to its popularity and the long lines it attracted.

The new elevators, positioned differently, continued to serve the practical needs of shoppers while maintaining the mall’s modern appeal. The food court, always bustling at lunchtime, became a favorite spot for local office workers, offering various dining options under one roof.

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The overall garden-like design, complete with trees and park benches under large skylights, brought a touch of nature indoors, enhancing the shopping experience at Paramus Park.

Retail Evolution and Anchor Changes

Paramus Park Mall has seen many changes in its store lineup. The retail landscape has shifted, reflecting new shopping trends and consumer preferences.

One of the most significant changes was the closure of Sears in 2018, an original anchor since the mall’s opening. This marked the end of an era but also the beginning of a new chapter for Paramus Park.

Paramus Park Mall
Paramus Park” by Nightscream is licensed under CC BY 3.0

The space once filled by Sears underwent a significant transformation, but not in the way initially planned.

While Stew Leonard’s supermarket moved in, bringing its fresh produce and animated store displays, the anticipated 12-screen Regal Cinemas theater did not materialize.

Despite this, the introduction of Stew Leonard’s alone marked a significant shift in the mall’s retail landscape, diversifying its offerings and attracting a new type of shopper.

The introduction of Uniqlo in 2018, after its move from Garden State Plaza, was another sign of the mall’s evolving retail mix.

Uniqlo, a popular Japanese clothing retailer, brought a fresh international flair to Paramus Park, offering its customers stylish, affordable fashion options.

These changes, among others, have kept the mall relevant and attractive to shoppers, ensuring its place in Paramus’s competitive retail market.

Community and Cultural Impact

Paramus Park Mall has been more than just a shopping center; it’s been a community gathering place. The mall has hosted various events that brought the community together, from holiday celebrations to charity events.

One notable cultural reference is its mention in Dean Friedman’s 1977 song “Ariel,” highlighting its place in local culture.

Beyond being a design element, the mall’s waterfall served a charitable purpose. Coins tossed by visitors into the water were collected and donated to local charities.

This tradition turned a simple architectural feature into a source of community support, reflecting the mall’s role in giving back to the community.

The unexpected turnout for the Hanson band performance in 1997 is another testament to the mall’s community role. Over 6,000 fans gathered in the food court, far exceeding expectations.

This event marked a memorable moment in the mall’s history and showcased its capacity to host large-scale community gatherings.

Sears Paramus Park Mall
Sears Paramus Park Mall” by Nightscream is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Economic Significance and Challenges

Paramus Park Mall has played a significant role in the local economy. As part of Paramus, New Jersey, a town known for its retail, the mall contributes a major part to over $6 billion in annual retail sales. This significant economic impact reflects the mall’s role in the local and regional markets.

The Great Recession of 2007-2009 posed challenges for many retail spaces, but Paramus Park adapted by attracting smaller, upscale stores.

This shift helped maintain its customer base when larger malls lost foot traffic. The mall’s strategy of diversifying its retail offerings and maintaining high occupancy rates has been crucial for its economic stability.

Current Anchors: Macy’s and Stew Leonard’s

Macy’s has been a cornerstone of Paramus Park Mall since its transformation from the original Abraham & Straus store.

Macy’s has adapted over the years to maintain its appeal to a broad customer base. Macy’s has managed to stay relevant in the ever-changing retail landscape by offering a wide range of products, from fashionable clothing to home furnishings.

The store is known for its holiday events, such as the annual flower show and Thanksgiving Day Parade, which have become synonymous with the Macy’s brand.

In Paramus Park, Macy’s attracts many shoppers, contributing to the mall’s foot traffic and overall appeal.

Stew Leonard’s, a newer addition to Paramus Park, has brought a fresh and innovative approach to the mall’s retail mix.

Replacing the former Sears location, Stew Leonard’s opened its doors to a welcoming community eager for a unique shopping experience.

Known as the “World’s Largest Dairy Store,” Stew Leonard’s offers fresh food and grocery items and an animated, family-friendly shopping environment.

The introduction of Stew Leonard’s to Paramus Park marked a significant shift towards combining traditional retail with experiential shopping, making the mall a destination not just for apparel and accessories but for groceries and fresh produce.

This anchor has attracted a new demographic of shoppers, revitalizing the mall’s atmosphere and contributing to its ongoing success.

Stew Leonards at Paramus Park
Stew Leonards at Paramus Park Jibreel23, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Famous Stores at Paramus Park Mall

In the bustling corridors of Paramus Park Mall, a diverse array of stores beckons shoppers from all walks of life, each offering its unique brand of retail therapy. Certain names draw in crowds with their renowned products and distinctive shopping experiences.

Fashion and apparel stores form the heart of the mall’s retail landscape. With its youthful vibe and trendy offerings, Aeropostale is a magnet for teens and young adults seeking the latest casual wear.

Not far away, Chico’s offers stylish, comfortable clothing that appeals to women looking for sophistication in their wardrobes.

Old Navy, a haven for families, offers affordable fashion for men, women, and children, making it a go-to spot for updating seasonal wardrobes without breaking the bank.

Torrid stands as a beacon of inclusivity and style for those searching for plus-size fashion, offering trendy clothing and accessories designed to celebrate every curve.

And then there’s Victoria’s Secret, synonymous with elegance and allure, offering an extensive selection of lingerie, sleepwear, and beauty products.

The sparkle of jewelry and the allure of fine accessories are to be noticed. Brighton Collectibles, with its exquisite craftsmanship, offers a range of jewelry, handbags, and accessories that add a touch of elegance to any ensemble.

Nearby, Pandora invites shoppers to create personalized charm bracelets, offering a unique way to commemorate life’s special moments. With its dazzling array of precision-cut crystals, Swarovski offers jewelry and accessories that catch the eye and captivate the heart.

Health and beauty enthusiasts also find their haven within the mall’s confines. Bath & Body Works, with its fragrant body care and home scents, provides a sensory delight and a perfect spot for picking up gifts or personal indulgences.

Sephora, a temple for beauty lovers, offers an extensive range of makeup, skincare, and fragrances from top brands, inviting shoppers to explore and experiment with the latest beauty trends.

Not to be outdone, Ulta Beauty presents a comprehensive selection of high-end and affordable beauty products, making it a one-stop shop for all beauty needs.

Macy's at Paramus Park
Macy’s at Paramus Park” by TMBLover is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

As shoppers meander through Paramus Park Mall, these famous stores offer more than just products; they provide experiences, memories, and the joy of discovery.

Each store uniquely contributes to the tapestry of retail excellence that defines the mall, making every visit a new adventure.

Dining Delights at Paramus Park Mall

Paramus Park Mall offers a feast for the senses with its diverse dining options. BBQ Box serves smoky barbecue favorites for those seeking hearty meals.

At the same time, Bear & Moose Cotton Candy offers whimsical treats for the sweet-toothed shopper.

Charleys Grilled Subs delivers mouthwatering cheesesteaks. Chick-fil-A satisfies fast-food lovers with its famous chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.

For a taste of the Caribbean, Cuban Eddie’s dishes out authentic fare like Cuban sandwiches and empanadas.

Mini Melts provides a cool respite with its unique cryogenically frozen ice cream, perfect for a quick, sweet treat. Dessert lovers will find joy in Mr. Cupcakes’ inventive flavors.

Nathan’s Famous brings classic American hot dogs and fries. At the same time, Nori Japan offers fresh sushi rolls and bento boxes for a quick, flavorful meal.

Panera Bread is the go-to for those seeking soups, salads, and sandwiches in a relaxed setting. Ray’s #1 Pizza offers hot, cheesy slices for pizza enthusiasts. Starbucks caters to coffee lovers with its wide selection of beverages and pastries.

Stew Leonard’s, though primarily a grocery store, also features ready-to-eat meals for a unique dining experience. Lastly, Wetzel’s Pretzels rounds out the mall’s food offerings with its variety of pretzels, from classic to almond crunch, ensuring there’s something for every palate at Paramus Park Mall.

Paramus Park Mall
Paramus Park Mall” by Nightscream is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Transformative Developments at Paramus Park Mall

The landscape of Paramus Park Mall is set for significant changes, marking a new chapter in its storied history.

Recent developments indicate a shift towards a more integrated community space, blending residential living with retail and entertainment facilities.

A notable development is the plan by Russo Development to introduce a 360-unit apartment project adjacent to the mall.

This move is part of a broader trend where malls are evolving into mixed-use spaces, offering more than just retail options.

Introducing residential units next to Paramus Park Mall is expected to bring a new dynamic to the area, potentially increasing foot traffic and providing a built-in customer base for the mall’s stores and dining establishments.

This transformation aligns with changes across Paramus, including the proposed redevelopment of Garden State Plaza.

This project could add as many as 1,400 apartments alongside new shops and public spaces, signaling a significant shift in the suburban landscape of Bergen County.

These developments reflect a growing trend of creating more holistic, self-contained communities where living, shopping, and entertainment converge.

Comments: 2
  1. Avatar of Bobby

    I’ve been going to Paramus Park since it opened. Today it is a mere shell of what it used to be. It makes me sad when I go there. Even Dunkin’ Dounts left. So may stores are closed. It is like the Mall of the Living Dead there. After seeing Paramus Park in it’s heyday it is a sad site today. Hope they can bring it back to it’s former glory.

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Witnessing the decline of a beloved spot like Paramus Park is indeed disheartening. However, every downturn has the potential for rebirth. Let’s stay optimistic and look forward to what the future holds for the mall.

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