Monday, October 8, 2012

Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio

description by Nicholas Eckhart (
Exterior pictures by Nicholas Eckhart and Mike Kalasnik
interior photos by Justin Higgins

     To kick off our second season of new posts we decided to post on the Rolling Acres Mall in Akron; one of Ohio's most infamous dead malls!

     The Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio was officially opened to the public on August 6, 1975. The mall was developed by Forest City Enterprises (who owned several area shopping centers and the Forest City Lumber chain). At the time of the mall's opening the main anchor was a 151,933 square foot Sears and a new 160,000 square foot JCPenney store was under construction. The original one story tall part of the mall from 1975 looks to have been built for just three anchor stores, but JCPenney built their two story tall store in a spot to enable a future addition of the mall to the south. By 1977 a third anchor had been built onto the mall. The third anchor was a 125,821 square foot Montgomery Ward store built onto the west side of the mall. In 1978 the two story expansion to the south became reality; this new addition included a food court, O'Neil's as a forth anchor store (89,404 square feet), another indoor crossroads, a General Cinema movie theater, and a site for a fifth anchor store to attach to the mall (planned to be two stories).

     The only major changes to the mall in the 1980s was the closure of Montgomery Ward in 1986 (which became Higbee's directly afterwards), and O'Neil's was re-branded as May Company as a result of the 1989 merger between the two chains. Also, in the late 1980s development started on the Montrose shopping district about five miles to the north along Interstate 77.

     Into the early 1990s May Company and Higbee's were acquired by other chains and rebranded (Higbee's became Dillard's in 1992 and May Company became Kaufmann's in 1993). In the 1990s competition would continue to grow with the Montrose shopping district and other stores close to the mall like Kmart (relocated to a new supercenter store in Montrose and a traditional store in Barberton) and other nearby stores like Children's Palace (closed 1992) and later Handy Andy (closed fall 1995 and was formerly Forest City Lumber). Actually, only one major addition happened in the area in the 1990s. Remember that site for a future two story anchor I mentioned in the first paragraph? Target opened a new single story 98,000 square foot store there in 1995 (about 15 years after the mall first planned to build a two story anchor store on the site).

      In the late 1990s many stores inside the mall closed and anchor stores experienced a steep decline in customers. This decline caused two of the anchor stores to convert to outlet stores; Dillard's in 1997 and JCPenney in 1999. Forest City then sold the Rolling Acres mall to Banker's Trust in 2000 after years of decline. The Ames store (formerly Gold Circle then later Hills) was the most notable closure nearby in the early 2000s.

     Then the mall itself started to die. In early 2006 Target abandoned their store at the mall for a new store about five miles away in Wadsworth, Ohio. Later, in the summer of that year the Dillard's Clearance Center store closed due to its low profitability. Kaufmann's was re-branded as Macy's in the fall of 2006 as part of Macy's phase-out of the Kaufmann's banner. The Macy's only lasted about a year and a half until it too threw in the towel in early 2008. This left only Sears and JCPenney Outlet left as anchors. After Macy's shuttered it seemed all hope for the mall to remain open died.

     In the spring of 2008 many mall fixtures were auctioned off and the number of stores still open inside dwindled down to less than ten. In October the inevitable shut-off of electricity caused the remaining stores inside to start reducing their inventory or find somewhere else to relocate. The mall remained open to the public until electricity was cut-off on October 31, 2008. The few remaining stores inside packed up their inventory and fled the mall. In 2010 the empty mall was sold to Invest Commercial LLC and Sears decided to close down their store at the mall. The Sears closure left JCPenney Outlet as the only retailer on the site. JCPenney decided to close all Outlet stores in early 2011, however the JCPenney Outlets were purchased by SB Capital Group in the fall of that year and some such as the one at Rolling Acres were rebranded as JC's Five Star Outlet. Now the entire JC's Five Star Outlet is closing.

     Today the Rolling Acres site sits pretty much abandoned with the exceptions of the former Target (which is now Storage of America) and the soon to be vacated JCPenney Outlet. The exterior of the mall looks mostly intact except for the fact that weeds are starting to take over the parking lot. Inside the mall there are deserted hallways and stores with the debris of old ceiling tiles lying on the floor and plants that live off the water that leaks in through the roof. Luckily, we have some interior photos of the Rolling Acres mall later on in this post!

2001 store list

Screen-capture of the 2001 Store Directory from

Photos by Nicholas Eckhart (November 2013)

JC's Five Star Outlet (former JCPenney)

Inside of mall as visible from JC's

Exterior of Mall

Sears department store

Back of Mall

Montgomery Ward / Higbee's / Dillard's / Dillard's Clearance Center

 Former Target (now Storage of America)

Rolling Acres Cinema

 A little bit of the empty parking lot

Interesting statue in front of O'Neal's

Former O'Neil's / May Co. / Kaufmann's / Macy's

Photos by Mike Kalasnik (July 2013)


Back of mall

Montgomery Ward / Higbee's / Dillard's / Dillard's Clearance Center

Target (now Storage of America)

South side of mall
JC's Five Star Outlet (former JCPenney)

O'Neil's / May Co. / Kaufmann's / Macy's

Older photos by Nicholas Eckhart (2012)

JCPenney Outlet Store
JCPenney Outlet Store

The main mall entrance

The main mall entrance. Note; the far right door is kicked in.

Former Montgomery Ward / Higbee's / Dillard's / Dillard's Clarence Center

Former Montgomery Ward / Higbee's / Dillard's / Dillard's Clarence Center
Former Montgomery Ward / Higbee's / Dillard's / Dillard's Clarence Center

Former Montgomery Ward / Higbee's / Dillard's / Dillard's Clarence Center
See the bulls-eye?

Former Target
The entrance to the former target store. Storage of America was one of only two places still in operation as of 2012 (the other is JCPenney Outlet).

Former Rolling Acres Cinema
Former O'Neil's / May Company / Kaufmann's / Macy's store

Nature is now taking over.
Former O'Neil's / May Company / Kaufmann's / Macy's store

A long forgotten entrance for O'Neil's / May Company / Kaufmann's / Macy's

Interior photos from Justin Higgins

looking towards the Center Court

The Center Court fully complete with plywood bike ramps
The Center Court
The former Customer Service stand at the Center Court
This was at one point a fountain!
looking towards the former Montgomery Ward / Higbee's / Dillard's entrance. Do you see the former Dillard's Label-scar?
Former Claire's

Former MasterCuts

One of the surviving JCPenney signs.

The entrance into the JCPenney Outlet Store (still open as of 2012).
Beware the drop to the first floor!

The old food court

More of the food court and the entrance to restrooms.

The former entrance to Target. The Target is now Storage of America. I believe the store to the right was Bellastanza's Furniture.

The entrance to the former Target.
A section of the former of the former O'Neil's / May Company / Kaufmann's / Macy's store

The former entrance for O'Neil's / May Company / Kaufmann's / Macy's

One of the chandeliers left behind.

The main hallway.

More abandoned hallway

They even left the plants behind. People inside JCPenney Outlet can still get a peak into the mall.