WESTERN MALL
West 41st Street and South Western Avenue
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

The Mount Rushmore State's first regional-class, fully-enclosed shopping facility was built on a 40-acre site, located 2.4 miles southwest of downtown Sioux Falls. The land parcel had previously contained the Sioux Skyways Airport.

Development was initiated by the Western Land Corporation, of Minneapolis, who announced plans for the shopping center-to-be in December 1966. Its designers were the Thorsen & Thorshov Associates firm, also of Minneapolis. Ground was broken on October 31, 1967.

In December 1967, the interests of the Western Land Corporation were acquired by a joint venture of Thorsen & Thorshov and Minneapolis' Crawford-Mertz Construction Company. An entity known as Western Mall Properties was formed soon after. It would complete the shopping center.

The first operational WESTERN MALL store, a 1-level (127,000 square foot) Montgomery Ward, opened for business on October 3, 1968. Seven inline stores were dedicated on October 31, with an additional eight commencing operation on November 14. A (60,000 square foot) Tempo variety store made its debut March 5, 1969, followed by a (17,000 square foot) Walgreen Drug, on April 10, and (40,000 square foot) Britts, on April 14.

Charter inline tenants included Three Sisters ladies' wear, Geyerman's ladies' wear, Osborn's men's wear, Brodies Home Appliances, Musicland records, Hubbard's Old-Fashioned Candy & Ice Cream Kupboard and Western Mall Liquors.

The ABC North Central Theatres West Mall Theatre showed its first feature on November 22, 1968. A second auditorium was added. The venue, now known as the West Mall Theatres 1 & 2, opened on December 25, 1974. A third auditorium was created in 1984, with the venue renamed as the West Mall Theatres 1-2-3.

WESTERN MALL built its first expansion in the early 1970s. A 50,000 square foot -twenty-six store- South Wing was inaugurated on March 31, 1973. New stores and services included Western Mall Sporting Goods, Mall Pet Center, Satter Carpets, The Photo Sketch, Briar & Leaf Pipe & Tobacco Shop, Team Electronics and the Fireside Lounge cocktail bar

Unfortunately, the glory days for WESTERN MALL were short. In September 1975, SIOUX EMPIRE PLAZA {.6 mile west, in Sioux Falls} was completed. SIOUX EMPIRE quickly established itself as the region's preeminent shopping center. Expansions completed in 1978 and 1988 increased its size to over 1 million leasable square feet.

Back at WESTERN MALL, Britts had closed and re-opened, as a Sioux Falls-based Shriver's. This change took place on March 25, 1979. Shriver's was in business until April 1986. The store was followed by a Richfield, Minnesota-based Best Buy, which began business on October 1, 1986. 

Tempo had been shuttered in December 1978. Three supermarkets leased the store space during the 1980s. Phar-Mor Drug set up shop on December 6, 1989. This store closed in August 1995. Best Buy renovated the structure, creating a downsized (40,000 square foot) store. They relocated into it in the fall of 1996.

WESTERN MALL had been in various stages of decline since the late 1970s. The situation had become critical by the late 1980s. Walgreen Drug, Hubbard's Kupboard and Geyerman's pulled up stakes during 1988. These store shutterings were followed by those for Wise Buy Foods and Toy-riffic, in February 1989, which left the mall 50 percent vacant.

On the positive side, store space in the southeast corner of the mall was reconfigured as a new movie house. The Mid-Continent Theatres (Midco) West Mall 7 showed its first features on  June 24, 1988. The 3-plex on the other side of the mall closed.

Montgomery Ward had shuttered their WESTERN MALL store on July 29, 1981. It was followed by an Omaha-based (Gordmans) 1/2 Price Store, which was dedicated in March 1982. By August 2001, this had gone dark. The abandoned building was demolished and replaced with a 3-level (109,000 square foot), Fargo-based Scheels All Sports Megastore. This opened on August 1, 2002. In August 2005, the East Wing mallway was closed off. South Dakota Furniture Mart expanded into the space.

By the 2010s, Scheels All Sports was planning a major expansion of their store. Construction began in September 2012. The existing building was doubled in size, to 200,000 square feet, with a south side addition. The new super-sized store included a 45 foot-high ferris wheel, shooting gallery, mini-bowling alley and various sports simulators (golf, baseball, football and hockey).

Moreover, lines of sporting goods, outdoor footwear and apparel were greatly expanded. Topping off the store's many features were Gramma Gina's Cafe and Starbucks Coffee. The 25 million dollar store renovation had been completed by May 16, 2014.

Sources:

The Argus Leader
www.greetingsfromsiouxfalls.com
Minnehaha County, South Dakota property tax assessor website
www.bestbuy.com
Comment posts by "Bill In Jax" and "Lefty"
www.lloydcompanies.com
http://www.scheels.com
www.cinematreasures.org