Oak Hollow Mall: Lost Retail Paradise in High Point, NC

The Birth and Growth of Oak Hollow Mall

Introduction to Oak Hollow Mall

Once a bustling retail hub, Oak Hollow Mall opened its doors on August 9, 1995, in High Point, North Carolina.

From its inception, the mall was poised to become a significant player in the local retail scene. Spanning a vast area, it offered a diverse range of shopping options to the residents of High Point and its surrounding areas.

The mall’s opening was a landmark event in the city’s retail history, marking the beginning of a new era in shopping experiences.

Mall Specifications and Initial Appeal

At its peak, Oak Hollow Mall boasted over 80 stores, making it a central shopping destination. With a total retail floor area of 1,262,000 square feet, it was the second-largest mall in Guilford County, surpassed only by Greensboro’s Four Seasons Town Centre.

Its strategic location at the intersection of Eastchester Drive and East Hartley Drive enhanced its accessibility, drawing shoppers from across the region.

The mall’s design and layout were tailored to provide a comfortable and engaging shopping experience, making it a preferred destination for various shopping needs.

Impact on Local Retail Landscape

The opening of Oak Hollow Mall had a significant ripple effect on the local retail landscape. It played a pivotal role in the decline of Westchester Mall, another local shopping center in operation since 1970.

The new, modern facilities and diverse offerings of Oak Hollow Mall attracted shoppers and tenants alike, leading to a shift in the retail dynamics of High Point.

This shift symbolized the changes occurring in the retail industry during that period, as consumers sought more comprehensive and diverse shopping environments. 

Major Stores and Attractions at Oak Hollow Mall

Anchor Tenants and Key Stores

Oak Hollow Mall was anchored by several major department stores that were key to its success.

Dillard’s, JCPenney, and Belk were among the primary attractions, drawing significant foot traffic to the mall.

These anchor tenants provided a wide range of products, from fashion to home goods, catering to the diverse needs of shoppers.

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Dillard’s, known for its wide selection of brands and quality merchandise, occupied a substantial space within the mall.

JCPenney, another anchor tenant, was a popular destination for family apparel and home furnishings.

Adding to the mall’s appeal, Belk offered a mix of modern and southern styles in clothing and accessories.

Changes in Store Lineup Over Time

Over the years, Oak Hollow Mall witnessed several changes in its store lineup. New stores opened, while some existing ones either relocated or closed.

This dynamism was part of the mall’s response to the evolving retail trends and consumer preferences.

Notable stores that once graced the mall include Circuit City, known for electronics, and Pier 1 Imports, which offered unique home decor items.

The mall also housed a Regal Cinemas, providing entertainment options to shoppers and movie enthusiasts.

However, the retail landscape began to shift with the closure of Circuit City in November 2008 and the departure of Pier 1 Imports in June 2015, signaling changing consumer habits and economic challenges.

Unique Attractions and Services

Apart from shopping, Oak Hollow Mall offered a variety of attractions and services that enhanced the overall customer experience.

The presence of a Regal Cinemas theater was a major draw, offering the latest movies in a comfortable setting.

The mall also hosted seasonal events and promotions, creating a vibrant and engaging visitor atmosphere.

These events often included holiday-themed activities, sales, and special appearances, adding to the mall’s appeal as a community hub.

The combination of diverse retail options, entertainment, and special events made Oak Hollow Mall more than just a shopping destination; it was a place where people could enjoy a variety of experiences under one roof.

Major Stores at Oak Hollow Mall

Store Name Size, sq ft Details
Dillard’s Clearance Center 153,000 The initial anchor, later converted to a clearance center
Target (Outparcel) Opened in 1997
Barnes & Noble Closed January 2020
Belk 142,000 Closed April 2014, Relocated to the Palladium shopping center
Circuit City 30,000 Closed November 2008, Now High Point University Department of Physicians Assistant Studies
Golden Corral 9,700 Closed April 2012. Building later demolished
Goody’s / Steve & Barry’s University Sportswear 35,000 Goody’s closed in August 2005, Steve & Barry’s closed in December 2008, later became Sears Operations Center (Call Center), departed in early 2017
JCPenney 86,200 Closed July 2011
Sears 126,000 Closed April 2012
Pier 1 Imports 8,400 Closed June 2015
Regal Cinemas 22,600 Closed October 2012

Economic Challenges and Decline of Oak Hollow Mall

Early Signs of Decline

The early 2000s marked the beginning of challenging times for Oak Hollow Mall. Signs of decline became evident as several interior stores started shuttering their doors.

This period saw a gradual decrease in foot traffic, a critical indicator of the mall’s waning popularity.

The decline was gradual but slow as the mall struggled to keep up with the changing retail landscape and consumer preferences.

Closing smaller stores gradually eroded the mall’s diverse retail mix, one of its major attractions.

Economic Downturn and Competition

The economic downturn that hit the United States in the late 2000s further exacerbated the challenges faced by Oak Hollow Mall.

Consumer spending reduced significantly, impacting the sales and profitability of stores within the mall.

Additionally, the mall faced stiff competition from retail centers in nearby cities like Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

These competing centers, often newer and with more contemporary offerings, drew away a significant portion of the customer base that once preferred Oak Hollow Mall.

The shift in shopping patterns, influenced by broader economic factors, played a crucial role in the mall’s declining fortunes.

Anchor Store Closures

The closure of anchor stores marked a significant turning point in the history of Oak Hollow Mall.

The Dillard’s store at Oak Hollow Mall downsized by closing one of its two levels, converting the remaining space into a chain outlet.

JCPenney, one of the mall’s key anchors, closed its doors on June 1, 2011. This closure was a major blow to the mall, as JCPenney had been a significant draw for shoppers.

The company’s decision to close the store, citing an inability to meet new profitability thresholds, reflected traditional department stores’ broader challenges in adapting to new retail realities.

Another major setback was the departure of Belk in 2014, which relocated to a newer store at the Palladium shopping complex.

The loss of these anchor tenants reduced the mall’s retail offerings and significantly diminished its appeal as a shopping destination, leading to an inevitable decline in visitor numbers.

High Point University’s Acquisition and Plans

Purchase by High Point University

In a significant turn of events for Oak Hollow Mall, High Point University announced the purchase of the property on February 24, 2011, for $9 million.

This acquisition marked a new chapter in the mall’s history, shifting its role from a purely commercial retail space to one with educational and community purposes.

The university’s decision to buy the mall was part of its broader expansion and development strategy.

The initial plans for the mall under the university’s ownership only partially signaled a shift away from traditional retail usage.

Current Usage by the University

Since its acquisition, High Point University has repurposed the Oak Hollow Mall space for various uses.

The university has utilized the former mall area for community events, particularly in the HPU Community Center space, and as a temporary home for the Roy B. Culler, Jr. Senior Center.

Additionally, the university established a mail sorting center within the mall premises, handling all university mail, including postal service, Amazon, and other courier deliveries.

This initiative has streamlined the mail flow not only for the university but also for the residents of the city.

The vast parking area of the mall has been used for major events like HPU Commencement and the High Point Furniture Market, showcasing the university’s innovative use of the space.

Future Prospects and Limitations

The future of the Oak Hollow Mall site under High Point University’s ownership remains a subject of speculation and interest.

The university continues to evaluate options for the property, considering its potential for further development.

However, the Dillard’s Clearance Center, which adjoins the property and is still operational, poses certain limitations to the redevelopment plans.

The university’s approach to the mall’s redevelopment is expected to be a careful balance between preserving the site’s heritage and adapting it to contemporary needs, potentially transforming it into a mixed-use space that could serve educational and community purposes.

The Final Days and Closure of Oak Hollow Mall

Announcement of Closure

The fate of Oak Hollow Mall was sealed with the announcement in January 2017 that the mall would be shutting down.

High Point University, the mall owner, made the difficult decision to close the once-thriving shopping center.

This announcement came after years of declining foot traffic and losing key tenants. The closure was scheduled for March 10, 2017, marking the end of an era for Oak Hollow Mall.

The decision was influenced by the closure of the Sears call center, one of the last remaining operational units in the mall, which was scheduled for the end of February 2017.

Last Days of Operation

The final days of Oak Hollow Mall were marked by a sense of nostalgia and loss among the High Point community.

As the closure date approached, the mall, once buzzed with shoppers and visitors, stood mostly empty.

The few remaining stores offered clearance sales, attracting a last wave of customers seeking to reminisce and grab final deals.

The atmosphere in the mall was reflective, with shoppers and store owners recalling the mall’s better days and expressing sadness over its closure.

Community Reaction and Impact

The closure of Oak Hollow Mall significantly impacted the local community. For many residents of High Point, the mall was not just a shopping destination but a social gathering place, a venue for community events, and a symbol of the city’s growth and development.

The loss of the mall was felt deeply, with many expressing their disappointment and concern over the future use of the space.

Local businesses, particularly those near the mall, also felt the impact, as the mall had been a significant driver of foot traffic.

The closure of Oak Hollow Mall thus marked the end of a substantial chapter in High Point’s retail and social history.

Reflecting on Oak Hollow Mall’s Journey

Summarizing the Rise and Fall

The story of Oak Hollow Mall is a narrative of the rise, glory, and eventual decline, mirroring the life cycle of many American shopping malls.

Opening in 1995, it quickly became a central hub for shopping and social activities in High Point, North Carolina.

The mall’s initial success was marked by a bustling atmosphere, a wide array of stores, and a significant impact on the local retail landscape.

However, as the retail industry evolved, Oak Hollow faced numerous challenges, including economic downturns, changing consumer preferences, and increased competition.

The closure of key anchor stores further accelerated its decline, leading to its eventual shutdown in 2017.

Contemplating Broader Implications

The closure of Oak Hollow Mall is not just a local event but also a reflection of the broader shifts in the retail industry.

It highlights the impact of economic changes, the rise of online shopping, and the evolving needs of consumers.

The story of Oak Hollow serves as a case study in the lifecycle of modern retail spaces, offering insights into the factors that contribute to their success and failure. It also raises questions about the future of retail spaces and their role in communities.

Acknowledging the Evolving Nature of Retail and Community Spaces

Oak Hollow Mall’s journey from a bustling retail center to a closed facility underscores the dynamic nature of retail and community spaces.

It reminds us that such areas must continually adapt to remain relevant in an ever-changing economic and social landscape.

The mall’s transformation under High Point University’s ownership into a space for education and community events is a testament to this adaptability.

As we reflect on Oak Hollow Mall’s history, it serves as a poignant reminder of the need for innovation and flexibility in the face of changing market and community needs.

Comments: 14
  1. Avatar of Gail Potts
    Gail Potts

    It’s a shame Oak Hollow mall closed! We need a mall with different retail stores to choose from. Not everyone wants to fight the traffic to go to Greensboro and Winston Salem to their mall! High Point is ALWAYS BEHIND TIMES :cry:

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Oak Hollow Mall. I completely understand the frustration of traveling to neighboring cities for shopping. I hope High Point will see new retail developments catering to the community’s needs.

  2. Avatar of Rhonda Hunter
    Rhonda Hunter

    High Point University takes away Everything in High Point! High Point Mall, Barnes & Noble and now College Village Shopping Center! All those signs around High Point saying “ We love High Point University “ is a lie! I have grown to despise HPU and many, many people I know feel the same!!! Nido Quebein has taken High Point over, even naming a street after himself! How dare he?

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thank you for expressing your concerns regarding High Point University’s influence in the area. Everyone’s voices need to be heard. I believe that collaboration between the university and the community can lead to a more prosperous and inclusive High Point. Let’s stay hopeful for the future!

    2. Avatar of

      I swear it’s like the city greedy for money he flashes some money in front of then and that’s all it take sold he took so much it hurt our community the city isn’t the same

      1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
        Spencer Walsh (author)

        Thank you for expressing your views on the city’s economic choices. A balanced approach that benefits the community as a whole is essential for sustainable growth.

  3. Avatar of steve j.
    steve j.

    High point still needs a mall no matter what the city or economist say. We should not have to go to winston or greenboro to shop. :cry:

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thank you for expressing your concerns about the lack of a mall in High Point. I agree that having retail options close to home is essential for a thriving community.

  4. Avatar of Vicki Alston
    Vicki Alston

    City politics hung over Oak Hollow Mall like a looming dark cloud from its conception to its demise. A pity and a shame that High Point residents had to travel to Greensboro and/or Winston Salem to shop…then and now.

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      I share your sentiment about the demise of Oak Hollow Mall. Seeing such potential go unrealized is a pity, forcing residents to look elsewhere for shopping.

  5. Avatar of K B S R
    K B S R

    Born and raised in a city which has always had a Mall….2 at one time once upon a time. Trying to figure out how smaller cities which surrounds the furniture capital of the world have thriving malls and here we are discussing a failed one. Think it’s time to revisit the root of the problem and get High Point a Mall !!!!!!!

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thank you for your emotional comment. A well-functioning mall can greatly benefit the city. Exploring the underlying issues is a step towards potential solutions.

  6. Avatar of Ron

    At old age now, adding 2+2 of what I’ve seen over the years, the constant minimum wage increases for the sake of votes always caused the same problems. Higher wages, then higher prices, people going on strikes all over the country demanding more until everything evens out and NOTHING was really accomplished. That scenario over and over caused us, as a country, not to be able to compete with other countries and caused stores also not to be able to make a profit. Who won in the end? The government through a burst of tax revenue for a while until things evened out. Usually, an increase would be a nickel, then a dime then a dollar and this time 5 dollars which is really showing what minimum wage hikes do.

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Reflecting on the broader economic patterns you’ve observed over the years is insightful. The balance between wages and economic sustainability is a complex issue impacting many community aspects.

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