New Jersey malls were a necessary destination for every family member. It was a place to go to get everything you need for you personally and for birthdays, holidays and special shopping. And the coolest part was that it was all located under one roof.

You could eat, get a haircut, see Santa, have your teeth cleaned, shop for Aunt Betty and pick up something nice for yourself. It was a place where you dropped off the teenage kids to beat the blazing heat of the summer or the cold snowy days of winter.

New Jersey was a mecca for malls. After all, the first all covered inclusive mall east of the Mississippi was built right here in New Jersey. The Cherry Hill Shopping Center, now known as the Cherry Hill Mall had the esteemed honor of being the first mall in the east.

It opened in October of 1961 and is still open today. Based on the success of the Cherry Hill Shopping Center, malls sprung up all over Jersey within the next few years. The mall business was bustling.

Enter Amazon and online access shopping to your favorite stores. Anything and I mean anything you need is at the touch of a keyboard and delivered to your house, in some cases, the very next day.

We have become so busy that this is the way we now do our mall shopping and for that matter our grocery shopping as well. As of last year at the end of 2019 malls have experienced a crushing blow with anchor tenants like JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears, Lord & Taylor, Payless and others all pulling out and closing their stores.

Add the pandemic of 2020 and the losses that the malls are experiencing are insurmountable. When malls saw the writing on the wall a few years ago, they did what any other business would do to survive; they poured millions into trying to revive the malls to make them more appealing and a center for destination once again.

2020 was so unkind to us all but it was devastating to the malls. I wish that wasn’t so and I wish all the mall workers, the tenants and owners sincere best of luck. If New Jersey can be the first state to have a mall on the east coast, maybe we can also be the first to figure out how they return to the bustling industry they once were.

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