Bradley Square Mall, Cleveland, TN: Discover Remaining Charms

Launch and Establishment of Bradley Square Mall

Bradley Square Mall, a prominent commercial development, launched on February 13, 1991, in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Crown American spearheaded its development as part of a plan to boost the area’s retail offerings. The mall’s construction began in July 1989, marking the start of an extensive development period that continued into the early 1990s.

Originally, Bradley Square Mall housed four major anchor stores: Sears, J.C. Penney, Kmart, and Hess’s. These anchors were pivotal in drawing shoppers and additional retailers to the mall.

Each store brought a unique mix of products and services, catering to a broad demographic, including families, young adults, and seniors looking for things to do in Cleveland, TN.

Construction was largely completed by the fall of 1990. Hess’s was the first to open in September 1990, quickly followed by Sears in October, setting a precedent for rapid development.

Kmart opened its doors on March 13, 1991, shortly after the mall’s official opening, completing the initial anchors defining its early years.

This setup facilitated a bustling retail environment and positioned Bradley Square Mall as a central shopping destination in Cleveland.

Early Years and Tenant Dynamics

The early years at Bradley Square Mall were characterized by a lively retail scene, influenced by shifts among its major tenants.

Hess’s became Proffitt’s in 1992 and later Belk in 2005, marking notable changes in the mall’s retail atmosphere. These transformations mirrored wider retail trends and shaped how shoppers interacted with the mall.

Tenant turnover was a notable challenge during this period. The mall saw various stores come and go, which, from my perspective, speaks to the volatile nature of retail businesses in regional shopping centers.

The minor renovation 1999, which included an expansion of Kmart, aimed to rejuvenate the mall and attract more visitors. Despite these efforts, maintaining a stable tenant base remained a difficult task.

The impact of these changes was twofold: while they brought in new offerings and experiences for customers, they also led to periods of uncertainty when stores closed or changed hands.

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Observing these shifts, it becomes clear that the mall’s ability to adapt to changing market conditions was crucial to its survival and relevance in the competitive retail sector.

Striving for Revitalization

In 2012, Bradley Square Mall invested $18 million in a revitalization project. This initiative aimed to modernize the mall and enhance its appeal to new and returning visitors.

The renovations focused on the entrances and the interior and exterior spaces, signaling a fresh start for the aging shopping center.

The revitalization highlight was Carmike Cinemas’ introduction of a 12-screen theater complex in November 2012.

This addition was not just about offering movies; it featured a state-of-the-art “BIGD” auditorium, which promised an immersive viewing experience with a giant screen and advanced sound technology.

In 2017, AMC Theatres took over the management, continuing to draw crowds and adding a vital entertainment option to the mall’s offerings.

These changes, completed by April 2013, updated the physical structure, revitalized the mall’s atmosphere, and made it a destination beyond shopping.

Such efforts are crucial for maintaining relevance in an ever-evolving retail landscape. They demonstrate a proactive approach to consumer engagement and community involvement.

The Decline of Traditional Anchors

The decline of traditional anchor stores at Bradley Square Mall significantly shaped its recent history. Sears and Kmart, once retail giants, closed their doors, marking a pivotal change in the mall’s dynamics.

Sears closed in late 2013, transitioning the space to Dunham’s Sports, a shift that reflected changing consumer preferences towards more budget-friendly and sports-oriented retail options.

Kmart’s closure, announced in January 2016, was part of a broader trend affecting many malls nationwide.

The space it formerly occupied became a site for redevelopment, aiming to adapt to new retail landscapes.

This period highlighted traditional malls’ challenges in an era dominated by online shopping and changing consumer habits.

On June 4, 2020, JCPenney announced its operational strategy amid financial struggles, revealing plans to close approximately 154 stores nationwide.

The closures represented a critical step in JCPenney’s restructuring process under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which the company had filed for in May 2020. The mall store was closed in October 2020.

The shift from these traditional anchors forced Bradley Square Mall to rethink and re-strategize its tenant mix.

This adaptation was crucial to staying relevant in a rapidly evolving retail market, emphasizing the need for malls to diversify offerings and experiences beyond traditional shopping.

Adaptive Reuse and New Directions

Bradley Square Mall’s response to the retail downturn involved embracing adaptive reuse strategies and introducing new directions for its commercial space.

This shift began to gain momentum after 2008 when the mall started diversifying its tenant mix beyond traditional retail.

Introducing non-retail entities such as a gym, a martial arts studio, a playground, and even a church reshaped the mall’s identity, reflecting a trend in malls nationwide to incorporate lifestyle and community-focused services.

In 2016, plans were announced to demolish the former Kmart store at the mall’s west end to create additional parking and new retail opportunities.

This development, completed in October 2018, included the creation of “The Shops at Bradley Square,” a strip mall section featuring new major retailers.

This move was strategic, aiming to attract a different type of shopper and fill the gap left by traditional department stores.

The changes at Bradley Square Mall highlight a proactive approach to retail management—adapting to new realities by repurposing space for various uses. These adaptations are crucial for maintaining the mall’s relevance and appeal.

Current Anchors and Their Roles in Bradley Square Mall

Belk is a resilient anchor at Bradley Square Mall, tracing its roots back to 2005 when Proffitt’s was converted into Belk.

This transition was part of a broader corporate rebranding, during which many of Proffitt’s locations across the Southeast changed their nameplate to Belk.

Over the years, Belk has remained a key destination for fashion, home goods, and beauty products, catering to a wide demographic with its southern-style merchandise.

Its sustained presence in the mall has been vital for maintaining shopper traffic and offering stability amidst retail changes.

In late 2013, Dunham’s Sports took over the space previously occupied by Sears. As a retailer specializing in sporting goods, outdoor equipment, and fitness gear, Dunham’s brought a new flavor to the mall’s commercial mix.

Its entry into Bradley Square was timely, tapping into the growing demand for sports and recreation products, particularly in a region known for its active lifestyle and outdoor pursuits.

Ultimate Bunker Games is a relatively recent addition to Bradley Square Mall, offering an interactive experience and retail store.

This entertainment venue provides Laser Tag, Arrow Tag, AirSoft, GellyBall, and Nerf, which have become popular activities for families, teens, and team-building events.

By introducing such a unique entertainment option, the mall has expanded its appeal to a younger audience and those looking for active, social outings.

AMC Theaters, which assumed management of the mall’s cinema complex in 2017, has become a cornerstone of entertainment at Bradley Square.

The theater, originally opened by Carmike Cinemas in 2012 as part of the mall’s revitalization efforts, features a “BIGD” auditorium with a three-story-tall screen, plush seating, and advanced audio-visual systems.

AMC’s branding and movie offerings draw considerable crowds, especially during blockbuster film releases, contributing significantly to the mall’s nighttime and weekend foot traffic.

A Look at Bradley Square Mall’s Vibrant Events

Bradley Square Mall orchestrates events that blend shopping with family-friendly entertainment. As we journey through 2023 and into 2024, the mall continues fostering a strong sense of community through engaging events catering to diverse interests and age groups.

Mistletoe Market: A Festive Gathering

The annual Mistletoe Market, held on December 9-10, 2023, transformed the mall into a festive marketplace.

This event featured over 150 vendors, offering various goods ranging from unique crafts to seasonal treats.

Activities such as petting zoos, pony rides, and visits with Santa provided families with joyful experiences, making it more than just a shopping trip​.

Magnolia Market Days: Springtime Celebrations

In 2024, the Magnolia Market Days enlivened the mall on March 23-24. The event offered a similar or even more enriched experience with over 120 vendors inside the mall.

Activities such as taking pictures with the Easter Bunny, enjoying food trucks, and visiting a petting zoo were planned to enhance the festive atmosphere, ensuring a delightful weekend for attendees.

Summer Storytime and More

Beyond these markets, Bradley Square Mall enriches the warmer months with its Summer Storytime series, making the mall a lively spot for families, even during weekdays.

Starting June 2024, these sessions offer children engaging stories and activities, fostering entertainment and educational growth.

A Hub for All Seasons

These events reflect the mall’s role as more than just a shopping destination; they are a cornerstone for community engagement and entertainment.

By hosting such diverse events, Bradley Square Mall not only boosts local commerce but also provides a gathering place that enhances the social fabric of Cleveland, TN.

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