The Early Years and Original Anchors of Danville Mall
In 1984, the city of Danville, Virginia, witnessed the grand opening of Piedmont Mall, an establishment that would soon become a cornerstone of the community’s retail landscape.
Developed by Piedmont Mall Associates, this shopping center emerged as a modern commercial hub, reflecting the retail trends of the mid-1980s.
Its opening marked a significant milestone in Danville’s commercial history, introducing a new era of shopping experiences to the residents.
From its inception, Piedmont Mall was anchored by prominent department stores, each contributing to the mall’s early success and appeal.
J.C. Penney, Globman’s, and Belk-Leggett stood out as key attractions, drawing in crowds with their wide range of products and establishing themselves as household names in Danville.
Hills Department Store added to the diversity of shopping options, catering to a broad spectrum of consumer needs.
These anchors were not just stores; they were the pillars that supported the mall’s bustling atmosphere and drove foot traffic, making the mall a go-to destination for shopping and leisure.
The Closure of Globman’s and Its Impact
The closure of Globman’s in 1990, merely six years after the mall’s opening, was the first major shift in the mall’s retail composition.
The departure of Globman’s was a sign of the evolving retail landscape, where competition and consumer preferences were beginning to reshape the shopping mall experience. It was a moment that hinted at Piedmont Mall’s challenges in the coming years.
Piedmont Mall continued to be a central part of Danville’s social and economic fabric during these retail shifts.
It was not just a place to shop; it was a venue where memories were made, and families and friends gathered, making it one of the things to do in Danville, Virginia.
The early years of Piedmont Mall set the stage for its journey ahead, a journey marked by changes, challenges, and transformations that would redefine its role in the community.
The Arrival and Departure of Major Anchors
Sears Joins as a New Retail Powerhouse
In the 1990s, Danville Mall welcomed Sears, a renowned American department store chain, as its new anchor. This addition was a significant development, as Sears was known for its wide range of merchandise, from clothing to appliances.
The entry of Sears into the mall brought a new level of diversity and choice for shoppers, reinforcing the mall’s status as a premier shopping destination in Danville.
Transition and Closure of Hills to Ames
Another notable change in the mall’s anchor lineup was the transition of Hills Department Store to Ames. Hills, which had been a part of the mall since its opening in 1984, was sold to Ames, a regional discount retailer, in 1999.
However, this transition could have been more-lived. The Ames store closed its doors in 2001, a closure that mirrored the struggles of many discount department stores during that period. The loss of Ames marked the end of an era for the mall and left a noticeable gap in its retail offerings.
The Brief Tenure of Boscov’s
In a bid to fill the void left by Ames, Danville Mall introduced Boscov’s in 2005. This store was the first Boscov’s in Virginia, signaling a significant expansion for the Pennsylvania-based department store chain.
Despite the initial excitement, Boscov’s tenure at the mall was brief. The store closed in 2008, just three years after its grand opening.
The Final Anchors and Their Struggle
Belk’s Enduring Presence
Belk, one of the original anchors since 1984, remained a constant presence in the mall. Over the years, Belk underwent several renovations and expansions, adapting to changing market trends and consumer preferences.
Despite the shifting retail landscape, Belk continued to serve as a key anchor, offering a range of apparel, accessories, and home goods.
Dunham’s Sports Fills a Vacant Anchor Space
In 2015, Danville Mall welcomed Dunham’s Sports, a sporting goods retailer, into one of its vacant anchor spaces.
The opening of Dunham’s Sports was a strategic move to diversify the mall’s retail mix and attract a different segment of shoppers.
Dunham’s Sports offers a unique shopping experience compared to the traditional department store anchors, specializing in athletic equipment, outdoor gear, and sports apparel.
The Departure of Sears and JCPenney
The mall faced significant challenges with the closure of Sears in 2018 and JCPenney in 2020. Once a retail giant, Sears closed as part of a nationwide downsizing strategy, while JCPenney’s departure was part of a broader plan to close 154 stores nationwide.
These closures left Belk and Dunham’s Sports as the only remaining anchor stores, significantly impacting the mall’s foot traffic and appeal.
The loss of these major anchors was indicative of the difficulties faced by traditional department stores in the evolving retail environment.
The Retail Mix: A Diverse Shopping Experience
A Spectrum of Stores and Services
Despite the challenges faced by its anchor stores, Danville Mall continues to offer a diverse array of shopping options. The mall housed over 35 stores and services, catering to a wide range of customer needs.
Notable tenants included City Cap, Claire’s, and American Eagle, each providing unique fashion and accessory options. For tech enthusiasts, stores like T-Mobile offer the latest in mobile technology.
The presence of specialty stores such as Karen’s Hallmark and Spencer’s added to the mall’s eclectic retail mix.
Fashion and Apparel Choices
Fashion and apparel continued to be a strong suit for Danville Mall. Stores like Hot Topic, Aeropostale, Rue 21, and Cato offered trendy clothing options for a younger demographic.
Suit City provided more formal attire options, catering to a different segment of shoppers. Including these diverse fashion retailers ensured that the mall remained relevant to a broad customer base despite the evolving retail landscape.
Health, Beauty, and Wellness Services
The mall also adapted to the growing demand for health and wellness services. Outlets like General Nutrition Center (GNC) and Deluxe Spa & Nails cater to health-conscious shoppers, while Bella Spa & Nails provides beauty and personal care services.
These establishments diversify the mall’s offerings and contribute to creating a more holistic shopping experience.
Danville Outpatient Clinic: A Beacon of Health in Danville Mall
Serving the Community’s Health Needs
The Danville Outpatient Clinic, located within Danville Mall, has emerged as a vital healthcare facility for the Danville community.
This clinic, part of the VA Salem Health Care system, offers various medical services, addressing the needs of veterans and the local population.
Its presence in the mall signifies a unique blend of retail and healthcare services, providing convenient access to medical care in a familiar and accessible location.
A Commitment to Veterans and the Local Community
The establishment of the Danville Outpatient Clinic within the mall is a testament to the evolving role of shopping centers in serving community needs beyond retail.
By housing a healthcare facility, Danville Mall has expanded its function as a community hub, playing a crucial role in the well-being of its patrons.
The clinic’s location in the mall also underscores the importance of integrating essential services into everyday spaces, making healthcare more accessible and less intimidating for those who need it.
The Danville Outpatient Clinic stands as a symbol of innovation in community service, bringing essential health services closer to the people.
Its presence in Danville Mall is not just a convenience; it’s a lifeline for many, marking a significant step forward in community-centered healthcare.
Challenges and Controversies
Navigating Economic Shifts and Competition
Danville Mall faced significant challenges in adapting to the rapidly changing retail environment. The rise of e-commerce and the increasing popularity of online shopping platforms posed a substantial threat to traditional brick-and-mortar stores within the mall.
Additionally, the mall had to contend with competition from other shopping centers and retail outlets in the region, further strained its ability to attract and retain tenants.
Addressing Incidents and Safety Concerns
The mall also had to navigate through various incidents and safety concerns. One notable event was the shooting in 2022, which raised questions about security measures at the mall.
This incident not only impacted the mall’s reputation but also led to heightened concerns among shoppers and tenants about safety.
In response, the mall management implemented stricter security protocols and worked closely with local law enforcement to ensure the safety of its patrons.
Strategies for Overcoming Challenges
To overcome these challenges, Danville Mall explored various strategies. This included diversifying the tenant mix, attracting new and unique businesses, and enhancing the overall shopping experience.
The management also focused on marketing initiatives and community outreach programs to rebuild the mall’s image and regain consumer confidence.
A Glimpse into the Future: Potential Revitalization
As the city of Danville looks towards the future, plans are being explored to repurpose the Danville Mall into a mixed-use property.
These proposals include introducing multi-family housing or townhouses at the site and transforming parts of the mall and surrounding areas into residential spaces.
The city of Danville is looking to add more residential units due to the anticipated growth in population and businesses spurred by developments such as the construction of Caesars Virginia.
The city has already started to convert former downtown warehouses into housing and has secured a developer to add more at the former White Mill, now known as Dan River Falls.
This concept is common to Danville. Across the country, there’s a rising trend in urban planning to repurpose shopping malls to create more residential space in critical locations, addressing housing shortages while simultaneously revitalizing underutilized spaces.
Predictions for the Mall’s Future
Experts in retail and urban planning were cautiously optimistic about the future of Danville Mall. While acknowledging the challenges, they pointed to the potential for innovation and adaptation in changing consumer behaviors and market trends.
The future of Danville Mall, much like many other traditional shopping centers, depends on its ability to evolve and reinvent itself in an increasingly digital and diverse retail landscape.
Reflecting on Danville Mall’s Journey
The story of Danville Mall, from its inception as Piedmont Mall in 1984 to its current state in 2024, is a narrative that mirrors the broader trends in the retail industry.
Once a bustling center of commerce and community in Danville, Virginia, this mall has navigated through various phases – from the excitement of its early days to the challenges of the modern retail era.
The journey of Danville Mall encapsulates the evolution of consumer habits, the rise and fall of major retail brands, and the shifting dynamics of shopping centers across America.
The Mall’s Role in the Community
Throughout its four-decade history, Danville Mall has been more than just a shopping destination; it has been a community landmark and a gathering place for residents of Danville.
The mall’s ability to adapt by introducing new stores, hosting community events, or implementing safety measures reflects its enduring significance in the local landscape.
Even as it faces the present challenges, Danville Mall continues to hold a special place in the hearts of those who have seen it evolve.