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As West Acres nears 50, Fargo mall’s operators share trove of photos, memories

As West Acres nears 50, Fargo mall's operators share trove of photos, memories
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“The Godfather” was making offers you couldn’t refuse at the nation’s theaters.

And West Acres Shopping Center opened.

Back then, what quickly became Fargo’s shopping mecca appeared more of a retail Hail Mary.

The largest indoor shopping mall mallThe area was miles from any other urbanity, with the only thing that was there was a row of farms along the still-gravel stretch of 13th Avenue South.

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But it was close to the intersection of Interstates 94 and 29 and became a catalyst for the city’s growth, turning it into a regional shopping hub.

America was fully into shopping malls.

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The Twin Cities had its “Dales.” Fargo had West Acres.


As the mallNearing its 50th anniversary, operators shared photos of stores and events from their shops. mall’s past.

Brad Schlossman is the CEO of West Acres Development, whose father was a key player in the success of West Acres Development. mallBuilt, he sat down to share his memories with The Forum.

Schlossman was just 18 years old when he was selected for the award. mall opened.

Brad Schlossman, CEO of West Acres Development, LLP, stands by a holiday display in the Fargo mall on Nov. 18, 2021. (Chris Flynn / Inforum)

Brad Schlossman, CEO, West Acres Development, LLP, stands at a Fargo holiday display mallNovember 18, 2021 (Chris Flynn/Inforum)

Q: What was it like to be there?

A: It was something I’d never seen before. It was great to see it all come together. It felt enormous to us.

Q: How big is it?

A. When West Acres opened, deLendrecie’s, which is where Herberger’s recently was, and Sears were the only two anchors, so the mall ran … between those two. There was no food court, and only a small portion of the JC Penney wing had been completed.

The Dayton's store at West Acres in FArgo opened as an anchor store in 1973, a year after the main mall opened. It was the first Dayton's built outside of Minnesota. The chain was later purchased by Macy's, which still operates today. (West Acres Photo)

The Dayton’s West Acres store in FArgo was established in 1973 as an anchor store. This was one year after its main location. mall opened. It was the first Dayton’s outside of Minnesota. Macy’s later bought the chain, which is still in operation today. (West Acres Photo).

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Q. Q. mall?

A. My memories … of the early days of the mallwere always bustling. I was always impressed by the number of people who were there. mall.

Q. Q. mall?

A. TEAM Electronics was my favorite store as an 18-year old. They had these huge speakers and fancy stereo systems that no one would ever think of buying today.

Q. Q.

A. County Seat is one example of a store which was for a time a favorite in the area. mallAnd then lost favor. We’ve seen stores come and go.

In the early 1980s, The Limited was the hottest thing. They left after a while, but it never recovered.

A fashion show is held in front of the Dayton's store in the West Acres Shopping Center in Fargo in this undated photos. (West Acres Photo)

A fashion showThis undated photo shows her standing in front of the Dayton’s store at the West Acres Shopping Center, Fargo. (West Acres Photo).

Q. Q. fashion show in front of Dayton’s. How often was that this kind of thing ever repeated?

A. Fashion shows were quite common a few years ago. We’ve held fashionShows have been occurring for a few years now. They’ll happen from time to time. They have been scaled down in size. They were once major productions. fashion showcompared to the stores that did them, they were less productive.

Q. Q.

A. I spent three summers here working out mallDuring college summers, I worked as an outside maintenance crew member. We would often go to lunch places. The Dairy Delight is something that no one would ever forget. Walgreens had a restaurant, Dayton’s had a restaurant, JC Penney’s had a restaurant that opened later. Country Kitchen was another favorite of many people.

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Hardees, which operated out of Evereve today, was a huge success back then. Coolbird Creamery is now the A&W at the center court. Virgo’s Pizza. Virg Estenson was a great operator; we will miss him.

An arm wrestling tournament, seen in this undated photo, was one of the events held at Fargo's West Acres Shopping Center. (West Acres Photo)

Fargo’s West Acres Shopping Center hosted an arm wrestling tournament. (West Acres Photo).

Q. Q. mallThe addition of the food court was in 2009. How did that help? mall out?

A. Our No.1 gathering place is the food court. The food court is the No. 1 gathering place in the mall. Both the food stores as well as the food court have enjoyed great success with the food court. mallIt is a huge success with customers.

We were required to have 400 seats when we designed the food court. We thought, well, we like our space so we almost doubled that number and made it 750 seats. It turned out to be the right decision.

Kay Bee Toys was a popular stop for children for many years in the West Acres Shopping Center. At one time, the chain had more than 1,300 stores and was the second-largest toy seller in the U.S. The corporation went out of business in 2009. Contributed / West Acres

Kay Bee Toys was an iconic stop for children in the West Acres Shopping Center over many years. The chain was once the second-largest seller of toys in America, with more than 1,300 stores. In 2009, the corporation went out-of-business. Contributed / West Acres

Q. Q.

A. Kay Bee Toys. Our young children were great customers of Kay Bee Toys at that time. B. Dalton Bookseller. Musicland. These stores no longer exist. They used to … things that we wish that we could still have at the mall. But if customers don’t need those stores, then we have to move on. Legacy Toys has added a more interactive version of a toys store to our portfolio. We’re delighted to have that as the major player in the mall.

Q. Q.

A. West Acres is more festive during holidays. It’s not just the decorations, it’s the music. We host around 80 live performances in the venue. mall, school choirs, etc. It feels very festive here, thanks to all of these things, and the general hustle-bustle of the season.

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Santa is surrounded by children and parents in this vintage undated photo taken in the West Acres Shopping Center. (West Acres Photo)

Santa is surrounded in this vintage undated photograph taken in the West Acres Shopping Center. (West Acres Photo).

Q. Q. mall evolved?

A. Shopping centers are always evolving. It may not be obvious, but anyone who returns to the shopping center will notice it. mallAfter being gone for 10 years, a third of the stores would have been demolished. One third of the stores would have changed, expanded, moved or contracted. One third of the stores would remain as they are. This happens about every ten years. It’s astounding. We’re going through very rapid changes right now. (We’re) very optimistic about the future.

A crowd gathers for the grand opening of the West Acres Shopping Center on Aug. 2, 1972. Note that the mall's sign was not yet installed. (West Acres Photo)

A crowd gathers at the grand opening ceremony of West Acres Shopping Center in August 1972. Notable: mallThe sign for’s was not yet installed. (West Acres Photo

Q. Q.

A. COVID had a significant impact last year, but maybe it was less than we were afraid might occur because of COVID.

COVID didn’t have any impact on this. This is very significant because we are currently seeing shoppers at unanticipated numbers. The mallStore sales are at an all-time high. We never imagined that 2021 would bring about a slow, long-term recovery. Instead, it’s been pedal on the metal. We are seeing sales we never imagined.

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