How Great Lakes Mall is Redefining Retail in Mentor, OH

The Historical Journey of Great Lakes Mall

The Great Lakes Mall opened in 1961, becoming a cornerstone for shopping and social activities in Mentor, Ohio. Over the years, it has evolved to meet the community’s changing needs. The mall has undergone several renovations, each aimed at enhancing the customer experience and accommodate new retail trends.

Significant renovations have marked the mall’s history, transforming it from a modest shopping center into a sprawling retail complex. These changes have modernized the mall and expanded its footprint, allowing more stores and services. In 1988, the renovation included the addition of a state-of-the-art cinema and a modern food court, elevating the mall’s status as a go-to destination for entertainment.

The mall’s economic impact on the Mentor community is undeniable. It has created numerous job opportunities and has been a steady source of revenue for the local government through sales tax.

Moreover, its strategic location at the intersection of Mentor Avenue and Plaza Boulevard makes it easily accessible, drawing shoppers from surrounding areas like Willoughby, Kirtland, and even Cleveland.

The Great Lakes Mall has adapted to the digital age by incorporating online shopping options and pickup services, ensuring its relevance in today’s retail landscape. Its resilience and adaptability are vital to Mentor’s economic and social fabric.

Former Anchors and Stores: A Nostalgic Look Back

The Great Lakes Mall has seen a variety of stores and anchors come and go over its six-decade history, each leaving its imprint on the mall’s legacy. One of the most notable former anchors was Sears, which had been a part of the mall since its early years.

The store closed its doors in 2017, marking the end of an era. Sears was known for its wide range of products, from appliances to clothing, and its departure was felt by many in the Mentor community.

Another significant former anchor was Macy’s, which had a storied history at the mall. Before becoming Macy’s, the store was known as May Company and later rebranded as Kaufmann’s. May Company was one of the original anchors when the mall opened in 1961, and it underwent a transformation to become Kaufmann’s in the late 1990s.

The store eventually transitioned to Macy’s in 2006, bringing a new level of retail sophistication to the mall. The Macy’s store closed its doors in 2021, leaving a legacy of multiple brand identities that shaped shopping experiences for generations of Mentor residents.

Higbee’s was another anchor that left a lasting impression. Popular in the 1960s and 1970s, Higbee’s was eventually rebranded as Dillard’s in the 1990s. The store was mainly known for its holiday window displays and in-store Santaland during Christmas.

In addition to anchors, several smaller stores have left their mark on the mall. For instance, Waldenbooks, a bookstore once a staple in American malls, had a location at the Great Lakes Mall until the early 2000s.

The store was a favorite among book lovers, offering a cozy reading environment that is now fondly remembered. Similarly, RadioShack was a go-to place for electronics and gadgets until it closed its mall location in 2015 due to bankruptcy.

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The departure of these stores and anchors has made room for new tenants, but they remain a part of the mall’s rich history. These former establishments are often the subject of nostalgic conversations among Mentor residents, serving as reminders of how the Great Lakes Mall has evolved while continuing to be a central part of the community.

A Walk Through the Current Tenants

The mall houses a variety of department stores, offering something for every shopper. JCPenney and Dillard’s are among the anchor stores, providing a wide range of products from clothing to home goods. These department stores have been a part of the mall for years, serving as reliable one-stop shops for families.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is a prominent tenant at the mall in sports and outdoor activities. This store is a haven for sports enthusiasts, offering a wide array of athletic gear, outdoor equipment, and fitness essentials. Its presence in the mall adds a dimension of versatility, attracting a different kind of shopper keen on active living and outdoor adventures.

Specialty shops add a unique flavor to the mall’s retail mix. Stores like Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, and Pandora offer specialized products catering to consumer needs. These shops are often the reason people visit the mall, looking for that perfect gift or indulging in a little retail therapy.

The mall offers more than just shopping for those looking for things to do in Mentor, Ohio. Entertainment options abound, with Atlas Cinemas providing the latest movie releases in a comfortable setting. Additionally, Round 1 Bowling & Amusement offers a variety of games and activities, making it a perfect spot for family outings or gatherings with friends.

The mall is also a food lover’s paradise. Dining options range from casual eateries in the food court to sit-down restaurants like The Brew Kettle and Fuji Japan Steakhouse. These dining establishments provide a welcome break for shoppers, offering diverse culinary choices that satisfy different tastes and preferences.

Amenities and Services at Great Lakes Mall

Convenience is a key focus at the Great Lakes Mall. Amazon Lockers are strategically placed, allowing customers to conveniently pick up or return their Amazon packages.

Parents can pause their shopping activities while their children have fun at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Play Area. Situated close to JD Sports in the Main Concourse, this designated space is filled with creative stations designed to stimulate curiosity and invite youngsters to engage in playful activities. It’s a safe and fun environment where children can be entertained while parents take a breather.

Multiple charging stations are available throughout the mall for those needing to recharge their devices. These stations are conveniently located in soft seating areas in the main concourse. They offer a comfortable space to rest while your phone or tablet charges, ensuring you stay connected during your visit.

Accessibility is another important feature of the mall. Accessible parking spots and accessible entrances are available at all mall entrances. Accessible restrooms are also located in the Food Court, making the mall an inclusive space for everyone.

Community Engagement and Events

The mall is more than just a shopping destination; it’s a community hub. The Mall Walker Program, sponsored by The Cleveland Clinic, encourages a healthy lifestyle. Doors open at 10 am daily for mall walking, and the length of one whole lap, including every side concourse, is one mile.

The Yard is a community gathering place near Planet Fitness and SHOE DEPT. ENCORE. It features traditional family-friendly games like cornhole, ping-pong, and oversized chess. The Yard is free to the public and open during mall hours, offering a casual space for community interaction.

The All Smiles Aboard train ride adds a whimsical touch to the mall experience. The train takes children on a delightful ride around the mall, starting from its depot near Build-A-Bear. It’s a hit among families and adds an element of fun to any shopping trip.

Great Lakes Mall Ohio
Great Lakes Mall Ohio” by pcmcgovern is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Security is a top priority at the mall. With a dedicated security team, shoppers can enjoy their time at the mall with peace of mind. Security can be reached anytime during your visit by phone, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.

The Latest Developments and News

As of May 2023, the mall welcomed a new general manager, marking a new chapter in its history. The new leadership aims to enhance the mall’s operations, plan on-property events, and work closely with local media to inform the community about upcoming activities and promotions.

Financial challenges have been a part of the mall’s recent history, including a bankruptcy filing. However, strategic planning and community engagement have led the mall to recovery. New stores are opening, and customer footfall is increasing, signaling a positive trend for the mall’s future.

Upcoming events and promotions are in the pipeline to attract more visitors. Seasonal events, holiday sales, and community gatherings are planned to make the mall a bustling hub of activity.

The mall is also focusing on sustainability and green initiatives. Efforts are underway to reduce energy consumption and waste, making the mall more environmentally friendly. These initiatives reflect the mall’s commitment to social responsibility and its aim to lead in sustainable retail practices.

The Future of Great Lakes Mall

As retail trends continue to evolve, the Great Lakes Mall is poised to adapt and grow. Plans are in place to introduce more experiential stores and interactive spaces to make the mall a destination rather than just a shopping center.

Sustainability initiatives are also on the horizon. The mall is exploring options for solar energy and waste recycling programs. These efforts align with a broader vision to make the mall a model for sustainable retail practices.

Community involvement remains a cornerstone of the mall’s plans. Partnerships with local organizations and schools are being explored to host educational and cultural events. These collaborations aim to make the mall a community engagement and social interaction center.

In summary, the Great Lakes Mall is not just surviving; it’s thriving. Its wide range of stores, amenities, and community programs continues to be a significant part of Mentor’s social and economic fabric. The mall is poised for a promising future as it adapts to new retail trends and consumer expectations.

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