Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blue Mountain Mall

This...is the Walla Walla Valley's only mall. When I arrived in 2001 it was a pathetic excuse for a mall. It has only gotten worse. Currently the sign is only half correct; Sears and ShopKo are still there, but the Food Court and Gottschalks are long gone. Granted, our "food court" consisted of a pretzel and lemonade place and a Chinese food shop that may or may not have been laundering money. (We joke about that because no one could figure out how they stayed in business otherwise, and they had a sign up that they only accepted cash.) What you can see in this picture is actually a building separate from what used to be the mall. (The actual mall is behind this building.) A rich individual from California (or so I've heard) bought the property and was all set to fix it up...but this is the second time this has happened in the last five years and both times work was started and then abruptly ended without being completed. This building was supposed to be (at least partially) a Ross Dress for Less, but the sign saying "Coming Soon!" has started to fade over the months.

While the mall used to contain a hair salon, several jewelry stores, a health food place, a cutlery store, a Payless Shoe Source, a Bath & Body Works, a toy store, and a couple of other small things outside of the anchor stores listed on the sign above, they slowly closed, one by one, until all that was left was a jewelry store, the two food places, Sears, and ShopKo. Now all that is left is Sears and ShopKo, and you can't walk between them inside because the mall itself is closed and - if you could get to it to see it - open to the air outside because they knocked out several walls.

One of these days we may have a useful shopping area. Perhaps by the time my unborn children are in high school?

23 comments:

Jacob said...

That is pathetic. What a sad story. Don't you have any other decent places to shop in town?

Becky said...

We have a Wal-Mart! :) That's about it, seriously. There is a Macy's, but unless you're making triple digits, you can't afford to shop there. Then there's downtown which is full of boutique shops and cafes - nothing practical. So...we drive an hour away to Tri-Cities to do real shopping. They have a Costco, a real mall, a few Fred Meyers (which you may not have heard of, since it's a Western thing), and just about everything else you'd need.

Jacob said...

Well! A Wal-Mart! Whatever else do you need? ;-)

You can get some good deals at Macy's when they're having one of their 75% off sales!

An hour's drive is kind of a long way unless you stock up for a long time...

Maybe things will improve in the future. You might even get like Ocala. We have 3 Wal-Marts!

Becky said...

I can't see that happening any time soon. And honestly, I don't want to. I like the size of this town, I just wouldn't mind a few more shopping options. I'd also really like a smoothie shop. You'd think in such a yuppie town as this there would be one, but there's not.

Tami said...

It's too bad you didn't live here when it was a *real* mall. Book & Game Company used to be in there, JC Penney's (where Gottschalks was), Kits Cameras, an optical place, Kaybee Toys, Fred Meyer (became Troutman's Emporium), jewelry stores....Hickory Farms would set up during the holidays, Regis salon, Musicland, Triangle L -- you get the picture. Used to be you could actually shop there!

Anonymous said...

The business owner you claim was laundering money is still in business in Walla Walla. Freedom of speech doesn't allow slander.

Becky said...

Dear Anonymous:

It's sad that you feel so strongly about this but couldn't find the nerve to leave your real name. I do apologize, however, for what you feel is "slander" of the business owner I mention in my blog. You apparently missed the part where I pointed out that it was a joke, but I can see why you would feel the way you do. I'm glad this particular business owner was able to leave the failing mall and find a way to make things work elsewhere. Thank you for letting us know.

Mark said...

I remember when this mall was something else. (I live in Seattle.) Now it IS pretty awful. One would THINK that the Walla Walla Valley could support a mall... By the way, it's not exactly slander if you don't indentify the person, or if it's TRUE (I only mention THAT because a few years ago, I witnessed a city employee go into a restaurant - and it was the only restaurant on the block - and said to the owner "Have you been putting used cooking oil down the drain? The outside sewer is completely clogged." The owner said in a butter-wouldn't-melt (pardon me, LARD wouldn't melt) voice "no, that wasn't us".

Anonymous said...

To whom it may concern,

In eastern Washington, like North Dakota and western Oklahoma, an hour to shop is the norm and not an aberation. To survive, a shopping district must have a certain number of potential customers, "without competition".

I would like to see them do something fun with the mall, like an indoor putting range. When its five degrees fahrenheit, knocking around a few balls in shirt sleeves could be fun.

Good work, thanks for listening, take care, Gordy.

Armando said...

Back when the Blue Mt Mall in Walla Walla first opened I was part of the very first group of people that opened it and its doors. I mean I worked at Shopko when they opened their doors on the Malls grand opening day and to go back in time, well it was a great time for Walla Walla. It saddens me to see what a great job some “sorry ass fuck up” did to it and how much of an eye sore it really is now. They should of just left it alone and in time I am sure it would of made a come back. What is even sadder is that the City Government is just letting it stay that way and it seems like they don’t even care. I know they do but I mean come on, let’s get your shit together and fix it. With all the Wine Industry here and all the other events ass well as tourism we have now days and I know its only getting better as time goes by, we need our Mall back. Or maybe we just need to dump all the Cities present sitting government and start over with those who know what the hell they are doing. Ya! That’s it! Let’s get some one who care!

Anonymous said...

I am a Walla Walla native, now residing in N.D. I am so sad to see that the Blue Mtn. Mall is STILL in such a sorry state. As a previous mall employee, I was there for the grape-stomping contest that was a part of their 1 yr celebration, I believe. I truely hope that the leaders of the city of Walla Walla get off of their peverbial hind ends and do something to this property to benefit and enhance the city.

Lori K

Becky said...

I can't believe this post is still getting comments! It's true that it's a sad situation and I really wish they'd get some shops in there, but here's what I understand is the case:

The individual who last owned this property (an out-of-state billionaire) was accused of fraud and put on trial. The property was taken over by the government until the trial is over and then it will either be given back to the person (if found innocent) or otherwise auctioned off (again). Who knows when that will happen, so until then...we get to look at this eyesore for an indeterminate amount of time.

There's an update for you!

Anonymous said...

I am glad there is an update to this page. I am a walla walla native who moved to san diego last year. Lol I still cant get the image of my poor mall still being left in the horrible condition I last saw it. I cringed everytime I drove to home depot only to see a pile of rubble and graffiti all over it... Ahahaha.

Becky said...

Another update: I believe the owner has been given three years to fix up the property and get it going again. Glad so many people are enjoying commenting on this post!

Anne said...

I lived in Walla Walla during the mid to late 1990's and the mall was pretty nice, although lacking the selection of the Columbia Center Mall in the Tri Cities. Sad to hear it's a pile of nothing now. Maybe Center Cal Properties should come to the rescue. They bought the Valley Mall here in Yakima and turned it into a great place to shop! They are having to buy land to build more stores, it's impressive considering the economy these days.

JudoMMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JudoMMAn said...

OMG...I used to live in Walla Walla, from about 1991 (i was 3) till 2002 (when i was 14) and last i saw this mall was legit, my favorite thing to do was eat at the Chinese food then walk to my left to go to the arcades! :D Also Kaybee toys was cool. I haven't been back since then and was hoping to go back in a few months, (im 23 now) to visit my childhood memories. I live in Hollywood, CA now... Im so sad what became of one of my favorite spots in town...maybe ill return in 3 more years when they bring it back up.

Becky said...

Don't let this pathetic excuse for a developing site keep you from visiting WW! It's a lovely valley and there is SO much more to it than this mess. Come see what's changed...and what never will. :)

Becky said...

Oh, and another update: I don't know all the details, but the city has been given authority by a judge to fix this place up and get it running again...and charge everything to the owner, who is required to pay for the remodel/building/whatever is needed. Things are actually happening for the first time in about two years, which is exciting!

Unknown said...

It's been announced the Walla Walla Sears store will be in the first round of 2012 closures. It sounds like this "mall" will be reduced to a ShopKo store and nothing else. :-(

Becky said...

Yes, I heard this too, Anon. However, I'm still holding out hope that the city will clean it up and get a functioning mall in place again.

Anonymous said...

The Mall was sold (again) on September 17, 2012.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Walla Walla. Back in the 70s into the early 80s, Walla Walla had a real mall - Eastgate Mall. The anchor stores were Payless and Albertsons; although I wouldn't exactly call Alberstons part of the mall as it had a seperate entrance. The mall had many stores and was always busy. The mall closed in the late 80s. The "mall" building it still there; although it is no longer a mall but seperate stores now. Blue Mt. Mall was never really a mall to me. Why it was built nearly outside of town is beyond me. And it was never really that busy; not like Eastgate Mall. Now Blue Mt. is just an ugly eyesore. Very sad!!