When it comes to Nashville fashion, shopping, and events, the Hickory Hollow Mall isn’t exactly on my, or most people’s for that matter, radar. In fact, I’ve only been to the Hickory Hollow Mall once- and it was a short-lived experience…
I had recently moved to Nashville and was trying to establish my new shopping headquarters. After googling ‘Nashville malls’, I eventually came across Hickory Hollow Mall and decided to check it out. Although it was a long time ago I visited the mall, I remember the overwhelming feeling of retail abandonment, as I gaited past rows and rows of closed doors and empty stores. It was obvious shop owners had ditched their leases long ago, and there was little chance for retail regeneration.
A deserted Hickory Hollow Mall.
I later found out that Hickory Hollow Mall used to be a prime shopping center, housing popular retailers such as Victoria’s Secret, Express, Gap, and New York & Company. Over the years, these types of retailers have closed their doors, relocating to more attractive destinations in the Nashville area. Reviewers of Yelp account the moves due to gang violence, armed robbery, and auto thefts; one individual stated “most of the shoppers who would actually come to spend money refuse to go [to Hickory Hollow Mall] anymore.” Most reviewers simply comment on the dilapidated and dismal state of the mall. (Interesting tip: Check out the Security page on the Cool Springs Galleria website versus the Security page on the Hickory Hollow Mall website. Although both owned by CBL Properties, they are vastly different.)
Now, malls within themselves, not just Hickory Hollow, are a dying breed. Believe it or not, I actually wrote my Master’s thesis on mall shopping. Totally true. Although I concentrated on a specific population of shoppers (Generation Y) and their preference of entertainment malls (think Opry Mills pre-flood) versus traditional malls (think Cool Springs), I did a lot of research on shopping malls in general. If you would like to read all 118 pages of my thesis, I’d be happy to share that with you, but let me just give you a few highlights.
A 2001 study found that 19 percent of shopping malls were either dead or dying, and 85 percent of malls in America are more than 20 years old (Lukas, 2004). Moreover, the International Council of Shopping Centers predicted that the number of traditional retail malls is expected to shrink from 1,200 to around 900 within the next few years. A 2002 six-year study examining mall shopping behavior found that although mall patronage has significantly dropped, consumer spending is on the rise. This statistic recognizes that malls must revolutionize practices and adapt in order to be viable in the retail world (Nichols, Faun, Kranendonk, and Roscow, 2002).
My graduate research also lead me to a fascinating website, deadmalls.com, which chronicles dead and dying malls in the United States. Surprise, Hickory Hollow Mall is on there and with some not-so-great reviews, too.
So, why all the talk about Hickory Hollow Mall? Recently, I briefly met and chatted with Karen Johnson (former Board Member of the Adventure Science Center, YMCA, and Metro Nashville Public Schools) about new developments for the Hickory Hollow Mall. Karen turned me on to the Southeast Davidson County website where I learned about potential plans to redevelop the mall and completed a survey expressing my input on the matter. (Fill out the survey here.)
A September article from WSMV, details the $209 million plan to revitalize the 1.1 million square feet of Hickory Hollow Mall to include a community center, library, public health center, exposition center, and multi-acre public park. The most publicized facility, the exposition center, would house the flea market and other events currently held at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Here are some of the plans for the mall:
A major proponent of the Hickory Hollow Mall revitalization, Mayor Karl Dean said, “Southeast Davidson County is one of the fastest growing parts of our city, and it’s a community where demands for services continue to grow. These new public facilities will breathe new life into Hickory Hollow Mall and benefit the surrounding retail and commercial areas by attracting more visitors and creating a more stable business environment,” (Kumari, 2010).
The potential plan has fueled debate on both sides. According to WSMV, many Antioch-area residents oppose the public health center and insist the new plan will diminish property values, and many vendors of the Tennessee Flea Market wish to keep the TN State Fairgrounds as their home. Despite this, Mayor Dean has won his first council vote in favor of the proposal.
This story will definitely continue in the upcoming months, and it will be interesting to see the fate of the Hickory Hollow Mall.
Kumari, C. (2010, September 10). $209M plan unveiled to redevelop Hickory Hollow Mall. Retrieved from http://www.wsmv.com/news/24958547/detail.html.
Lukas, P. (2004, October 18) Our malls, ourselves. Fortune, 150(8), 243-256.
Nichols, J., Faun L., Kranendonk, C., & Roscow, S. (2002). The seven year itch? Mall shopping over time. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 19(2), 149-165.
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