Plano’s Forgotten Mall
The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex- one of the most mall-dense areas in the country. From upscale NorthPark to the nearly demolished Valley View, shopping centers can be seen everywhere here in town. In Plano, when a typical person thinks of a mall, places like Willow Bend, possibly Collin Creek come to mind. However, there is one spot that has long been forgotten, but stands close to a bustling highway intersection – Plano Market Square Mall. I decided to head there to explore it and see what still remained(if anything).
Opened in the 70s, the mall served the middle-income families of the then-growing city. With three hallways, there was plenty of tenant space. It contained stores like T.J. Maxx, a rug shop, and various other retailers. A Garden Ridge served as its sole anchor store. I remember as a kid, my mother and I checked this place out. At that time(going back years in my long-term memory), there was still a constant stream of foot traffic. Unfortunately, when new shopping centers sprouted in the area, such as the Allen Premium Outlets and Willow Bend, business started to steadily go down.
Plano Market Square Mall first came back into my memory as I was watching urban exploration videos on YouTube. I just so happened to come by a clip talking about this mall, and thought to myself that this place would be pretty neat to venture thru. Before going, I did some research, and Google told me that an antique store was still open inside.
Upon arriving on the property, I drove around the perimeter, looking for any sign of life. Except for the parking lot on the side housing the antique store, which had some cars, there wasn’t anyone else to be seen at any of the other two entrances.
Inside, there were quite a few people shopping at the only store left, Plano Antique Mall. However, the rest of the mall was eerily quiet, and not a living soul was in sight.
Vandalism has been an issue here, and thus the portion of the mall beyond the antique store was closed off to the public. Thanks to the nice folks at Plano Antique Mall, I was able to gain access to see this piece of local history.
Once inside the shuttered area, I started checking out the stores in the main hallway, one by one. The first space I came upon was a closed aquarium store. Whoever rented this place didn’t really care for cleaning it up, as fish food was scattered in piles on the floor.
There was also an abandoned 75% Off Books. One of the stores I used to frequent as a kid, it was the place where Mom purchased a lot of books for me. Although we didn’t shop at this location, the layout seemed more or less the same. Rows and rows of tables were set up, complete with throws on them, but the books(and customers) were gone. I could just imagine how vibrant it must have been back in the day, when business was bustling.
Coming to the end of the main hallway, I saw this giant gummy ball machine. Like the empty stores around it, this thing just sat there collecting dust.
As I walked down one of the side exit hallways, I came across a few standalone booths, with empty display cases. This one looked like it belonged to a cell phone shop.
Remember phone cards? That sounds like something from the 2000s. I came across an old phone card dispensing machine, which didn’t appear to be working. Not sure how long this machine has been there. I guess if you didn’t want to use Skype, you could save 70% on calling anyone, in any city, in any state, in any country, in the world.
The exit at the end was locked, which made sense, since they didn’t want anyone in this area.
I then headed for the former spot of Garden Ridge, which was renamed to At Home prior to closing. It was located in the center of the mall, between the two side exit hallways. As I looked in this huge space, it was a sad reminder of better days.
Heading towards the other hallway, I saw something pretty cool – a vintage photobooth machine! From the looks of it, the thing hadn’t been working for some time. The controls were all broken, and the privacy curtain long gone.
Many kids must have come up to it, pounding on the controls and pressing the buttons, for management put up a sign telling everyone that this was not a video game.
Right behind the photobooth was an area formerly containing kiddie rides. All the machines have since been removed, leaving only the equipment mat sitting there.
Walking back towards Plano Antique Mall, I explored the stores on the other side of the hallway. There was an Asian artifact shop, which was packed full of stuff, but the grille was pulled down and nobody was in sight. This kind of reminded me of some of the stores I saw when at Valley View.
Not too far from it, was a gold and precious metals store. Except for a few display cases, there was nothing left in there.
Just next to Plano Antique Mall was a former beauty school. It was completely gutted, with no equipment remaining inside at all.
From there, I walked thru Plano Antique Mall.
As far as antique shops go, this was one neat and tidy place. Talking with Geralyn, one of the assistant managers, she told me that they have been open for over 23 years. There are around 150 vendors here, who bring in a steady stream of customers.
I love coming to antique shops, because you never know what you are going to find. From old radios to vintage aircraft models, every trip is a definite encounter with some cool stuff that the average millennial has never seen before.
Although this place seemed to have more antique craft and decorative items, there were also plentiful amounts of CDs and records for sale as well.
Closing out my visit, I asked Geralyn about plans for redevelopment. She told me that nothing has been set in stone as of yet. I believe that this place has great potential; with some major renovations and new tenants, it can serve as a local hub for shopping, dining, and more.
Regardless of what eventually happens here, I hope Plano Antique Mall sticks around, so that people can continue to enjoy the artifacts of the past!