Carolina Mall in Concord, NC: Adapting to a Changing Market

Construction and Early Years

Construction for Carolina Mall began in 1968, led by North Hills, Inc. The mall opened its doors on September 21, 1972. At that time, it housed only 25 stores.

Carolina Mall was among the first fully enclosed shopping centers in the region. This design provided a comfortable shopping experience regardless of weather conditions, attracting a steady flow of visitors.

North Hills, Inc., known for developing large retail projects, focused on creating a mall that catered to a growing suburban population.

The early tenant mix included a variety of retail stores. Notable names were Sears, which was a major draw, and several regional retailers. The mall’s single-story layout, with the exception of the two-story Sears, made it accessible and easy to navigate for shoppers.

Carolina Mall’s opening was a major commercial event, bringing a new retail experience to the area. This development influenced local shopping habits, reducing the need for residents to travel to other cities for a wide range of shopping options.

The focus on creating a diverse shopping environment made it a popular destination for both locals and visitors seeking things to do in Concord, NC.

Expansion and Renovations

In 1987, Carolina Mall added JCPenney, which changed the retail landscape in Concord. The new JCPenney led to the closure of its downtown Concord and Kannapolis stores and centralized more shopping activity at Carolina Mall.

By 1998, the mall needed a refresh. A major renovation project began, which brought in new stores like American Eagle Outfitters, LensCrafters, and Staples.

Sears also relocated to a new space within the mall. The renovation included building a food court, which added more dining options for shoppers.

The Belk store, a long-time anchor, also underwent a renovation during this period. The update modernized its look and expanded its retail space. This effort aimed to keep Belk competitive with newer stores and enhance the shopping experience.

JCPenney also expanded its store during the 1998 renovations. This expansion increased its product offerings and improved the store layout.

These changes made the mall more appealing and helped attract more visitors.

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The combination of new stores and updated facilities revitalized Carolina Mall and kept it relevant in the local market.

Competition and Challenges

In 1999, Concord Mills opened, changing the retail scene in Concord, NC. At more than twice the size of Carolina Mall, Concord Mills featured a mix of entertainment options and outlet stores, dredging many shoppers away from traditional retail centers.

Despite this new competition, Carolina Mall remained a key player. It caters to those who prefer classic mall stores over outlet shopping.

The focus on traditional retail offered a different experience from the more entertainment-driven Concord Mills.

Over the years, Carolina Mall faced various challenges. The rise of online shopping and changing consumer habits made it harder for many brick-and-mortar stores to thrive.

National chains like Sears began closing locations, impacting malls across the country, including Carolina Mall.

Keeping up with modern retail trends also posed a challenge. Shoppers sought more than just stores; they wanted experiences.

Malls like Concord Mills, with their blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment, set a new standard. Carolina Mall had to adapt to stay relevant in this evolving market.

Changes in Ownership and Management

In April 2002, Hull Property Group bought Carolina Mall. This company specializes in managing and revitalizing retail properties. Their focus was on maintaining the mall’s relevance in a shifting retail landscape.

Hull Property Group’s management brought changes. They introduced new marketing strategies and worked on improving the mall’s tenant mix.

Their goal was to attract more visitors and keep the existing customer base engaged.

Hull Property Group focused on community engagement. They hosted events and collaborated with local businesses to drive traffic to the mall.

One challenge they faced was the increasing number of vacancies. With national retailers closing stores, filling these spaces became crucial.

Hull Property Group needed to balance attracting new tenants with maintaining a diverse retail environment.

Recent Developments

In November 2020, Sears announced it would close its Carolina Mall location, and by January 24, 2021, the store shut its doors for good.

This closure left a large vacant space. Managing this and other empty spaces has been a priority.

Staples, Belk, and JCPenney remain anchor stores, which continue to draw regular customers. However, the mall needs more variety to thrive.

Security has been a growing concern. Several incidents, including robberies and shootings, have occurred nearby. In response, the mall has increased security measures to ensure a safe shopping environment.

Carolina Mall continues to engage with the community. During the 2023 holiday season, the mall hosted a variety of festivities.

These events included holiday decorations, visits from Santa, and special promotions from stores. These activities aimed to create a festive atmosphere and encourage more visitors to the mall.

The management’s efforts to boost community engagement seem to be paying off. Shoppers have responded positively to the holiday events, contributing to the rise in sales.

The mall’s focus on community events highlights its role as more than just a shopping destination but also a community hub.

Famous Stores at Carolina Mall

Carolina Mall boasts a variety of well-known retail stores that cater to different tastes and preferences.

Fashion and Apparel

American Eagle Outfitters stands out with its trendy casual wear and popular denim collections. This store draws teens and young adults looking for the latest in fashion.

Aéropostale also caters to the younger crowd with its stylish and affordable clothing, making it a go-to for casual wear.

Hot Topic offers a unique shopping experience with its pop culture merchandise, including band tees and accessories that appeal to music and movie fans.

Maurices provides a wide range of apparel for women and is known for its fashionable options and inclusive sizing. This store is a favorite among shoppers seeking both casual and dressy outfits.

Rainbow attracts a diverse audience with its affordable fashion for women, offering everything from everyday wear to stylish evening pieces.

For children’s clothing, The Children’s Place is a top destination, offering a variety of apparel and accessories for kids. Parents appreciate the store’s frequent promotions and wide selection.

On the men’s fashion front, G Menswear delivers trendy and high-quality clothing, making it a popular spot for stylish male shoppers.

Beauty and Accessories

Claire’s is a favorite among young girls and teens for its affordable jewelry and fun accessories. Known for its ear-piercing services, Claire’s is a must-visit for those looking to add some sparkle to their style.

LensCrafters combines fashion with function, offering a wide selection of eyewear and professional eye care services.

Jewelry enthusiasts have several options at Carolina Mall. Jewelry Mine and Newman Jewelers offer a range of fine jewelry, from everyday pieces to special occasion items. These stores are trusted for their quality and excellent customer service.

Bath & Body Works is another crowd-pleaser known for its scented products, such as lotions, candles, and body care items. The store’s seasonal collections and frequent promotions attract a steady stream of visitors.

Electronics and Entertainment

Located as an outparcel, Carolina Mall Cinemas offers a different kind of anchor for the mall. This cinema provides entertainment, drawing moviegoers to the area and complementing the retail environment.

With multiple screens and the latest in movie technology, the cinema plays a crucial role in bringing foot traffic to the mall, especially during weekends and holidays.

Books-A-Million is a haven for book lovers, offering a vast selection of books, magazines, and gifts. The store also features a café, providing a cozy spot for readers to relax and enjoy their purchases.

T-Mobile serves tech enthusiasts with the latest smartphones and wireless plans, while Gadget offers a variety of electronic accessories and repair services.

Xtreme Play is an entertainment venue that offers games and activities for all ages, making it a popular spot for families looking for fun things to do in Concord, NC.

This venue adds a unique dimension to the mall, enhancing its appeal beyond just shopping.


Dining options at Carolina Mall are diverse and cater to different tastes. Carolina Grill Company offers a variety of grilled dishes, from burgers to steaks, in a casual dining atmosphere.

El Vallarta Mexican Restaurant attracts diners with its flavorful Mexican cuisine and vibrant atmosphere. Sogo Express provides quick and tasty Asian cuisine, making it a popular choice for a fast meal.

Chick-fil-A, known for its chicken sandwiches and friendly service, is a favorite stop for many visitors. Honey Baked Ham offers delicious hams and sandwiches, along with ready-to-eat meals for home.

For those seeking healthier options, Subway’s customizable sandwiches provide a fresh and quick dining alternative.

Dairy Queen, famous for its ice cream treats, and Jade Express, serving Chinese cuisine, round out the diverse food offerings at the mall.

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