While life is slowly coming back to Connecticut’s deadest enclosed shopping mall, at the Enfield Square Mall in Enfield, Connecticut, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. As of Oct. 2017, it is the state’s only mall with three large vacant anchor spaces as the result of department store closures. Quite a dead mall, if you ask me. This is based on information from MallSeeker which examined 11 indoor shopping centers throughout Connecticut.
On its leasing plan, the Enfield Square Mall in a Sept. 7, 2017 document, touted four soon-to-be opening businesses which included a 16,510-square-foot Party City, a 1,273-square-foot Main Street, an 1,108-square-foot Hickory Farms, a 3,120-square-foot Go Calendar, and a 4,365-square-foot Bright Start. Likely Hickory Farms and Go Calendar are just seasonal openings leaving those spaces vacant after the holidays. An Oct. 2, 2017 leasing plan stated that Party City, Main Street, and Bright Start have opened. In addition to those recent openings, Crystal’s Fun Stop, a 6,893-square-foot space featuring play areas for children and adults, like bounce houses, pool, air hockey, video games, and gated-off areas for younger kids, opened this past August, according to the Hartford Courant. WWLP-TV Channel 22 in Springfield, Mass. additionally reported that during the summer of 2017 T-Mobile opened a 3,300-square-foot store in the mall and Furnari Jewelers relocated to a larger 1,441-square-foot location away from the former Macy’s main store (which formerly was Filene’s back in the day) and in the center court closest to the former Macy’s Home and Men’s Store (which formerly was a Filene’s Home and Men’s Store).
The small one-level 787,000-square-foot mall, as of October 2017, features 35 businesses and is anchored by a 126,000-square-foot Target and a 55,008-square-foot Enfield Cinemas 12 with a total of 2,800 seats in 12 theaters, according to the Madison Marquette lease plan on the Enfield Square website. Madison Marquette is the leasing agent for the mall. The mall is home to a small indoor children’s playground called “Playtown,” located in the connecting concourse between Target and the former Macy’s Men and Home Store. Public restrooms are located inside Target and in the mall side concourse across from T-Mobile. The mall does not have a food court and currently it’s food offerings are limited to Panera Bread, with an outdoor patio facing the main parking lot currently used by shoppers, and Starbucks Café, inside Target. Additionally, the mall has several outparcel buildings housing a Starbucks, Subway, Outback Steakhouse, Figaro’s Restaurant, Wendy’s, and Friendly’s. There is also a 10,474-square-foot Sears Automotive Center in the parking lot of the former Sears Department Store. Enfield Square Mall also serves as a stop for CT Transit and the Magic Carpet Enfield Transit with a State of Connecticut bus shelter and a 350-vehicle commuter parking lot located near the former Macy’s Main Store.
Enfield Square Mall was previously anchored by a two-level Macy’s Main store that was 161,720 square feet, a one-level Macy’s Men and Home store that was 76,000-square feet, a 75,763-square-foot upper level in the Macy’s Home and Store building that was last utilized when it served as a J.C. Penney, and a one-level Sears that was 97,478-square feet. The Sears closed in April 2017 and both Macy’s stores closed in 2016. All three anchor spaces are still vacant and total approximately 410,961 square feet. The closest Macy’s to Enfield is currently 15 miles away at Holyoke Mall in Holyoke, Mass and 16 miles away at Pavilions at Buckland Hills in Manchester. The closest Sears is currently 13 miles away at Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Mass. (currently the mall’s only traditional anchor department store) and 16 miles away at Buckland Hills. While both Macy’s openings into the mall are covered with drywall and pictures, one can look inside the barren Sears through its metal gate, and see light coming from its back doors.
There are also 16 small-store concourse vacancies, totaling approximately 50,160 square feet, and four kiosk vacancies in the mall concourse. Concourse vacancies range from 152 square feet to 8,666 square feet. One of those vacancies is a former 4,832-square-foot Ruby Tuesday’s Bar and Restaurant that closed in August 2016. Express closed its store May 6, 2017. Customers report on social media that the busiest part of the mall is near Target while other portions have little in foot traffic.
On a recent walk of the mall, vacant retail spaces are covered with advertisements from stores open in the mall and drapes and curtains cover the windows. The former 4,713-square-foot Hallmark shop has the most decorative window covering not allowing shoppers to look into its barren space. Signs in the concourse warn that the floor is being repaired near the mall’s center court. There were few visitors at the mall and it’s becoming quite apparent that the mall is limping along and could ultimately die if Target or the movie theater decide to close. The 1,247-square-foot Vitamin World had “store closing” signs with a 60 percent off sale back in September and has since moved out of the mall as they are not listed on the October leasing plan. An article in the Hartford Courant stated the store first opened its Enfield Square Mall location in 1998. On a Monday morning, employees at the 2,854-square-foot Payless ShoeSource were seen just opening up their store at 11:15 a.m. while a 1,630-square-foot store called Most Excellent Marketplace had a sign stating that they are closed on Mondays. There was no overhead music on a recent visit.
Enfield Square Mall originally opened in 1971 and is located on 90 Elm Street in Enfield. Previous customers to the mall lamented on social media that they enjoyed the small size of the mall which matched the small size of the City of Enfield. The failure of the mall to have any successful traditional anchor department stores (besides Target) means its future lies in reinventing itself with unique entertainment options. A previous proposal to attract a casino, proposed to be jointly operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and Mohegan Tribe, owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun respectively, to the mall failed when city council gave its disapproval. The Hartford Courant reported that the casino proposed would have been 152,000-square-feet over two floors.
Ultimately, the demise of the mall is attributed by many due to 1) nearby competition from Buckland Hills, Westfarms Mall in Farmington, and Holyoke Mall in Holyoke, Mass, 2) online shopping, and 3) a growing trend for outdoor shopping centers and the mall has several surrounding it that are quite successful such as Elm Plaza, Brookside Plaza, Stateline Plaza, Stop and Shop Plaza, and Enfield Commons
Whether they subdivide the spaces or use them as they are, it’s important for the mall to develop the former Sears and both Macy’s spaces to drive more traffic to the rest of the mall, which is especially important for the small retail stores to survive and to fill the various vacancies that currently exist. Filling one of the anchor spaces could bring interest into having the other two anchors filled.
Here are some of the former stores and tenants in the mall in 1998