31 Days of Nashville – Mall Memories

14 - Mall Memories

All across America, the concept of “the mall” is changing. It’s not just in Nashville. Most everywhere is going away from the one indoor building holding multiple stores to the multiple buildings in an area where the stores are all outside. It’s almost like the days before malls where everything was in a strip mall. I can honestly say that I am not a big fan of the new outdoor mall concept. I miss going into one building to visit several stores all inside, away from the heat, the cold or the rain. I suppose I can see the appeal of driving to the one store you need to go into, and not having to walk past several other stores to get there, but if there’s a second store you need to visit, you’re probably going to drive there instead of walk. Of course, as I say that I miss the old-style malls, I haven’t really been much of a mall shopper in the past several years, anyway, and do a good bit of my shopping online now. I guess either way, I’m not walking as much as I used to walk ūüôā

Anyway, the idea of this blog post is not to debate which style is better. I wanted to relive the memories I have of the great times I had when going to the mall. In the 80’s and 90’s when I was a teenager, THE Mall was THE place to be. Early in my youth, Nashville had 3 major malls, Hickory Hollow Mall, Rivergate Mall and One Hundred Oaks Mall.

One Hundred Oaks Mall¬†was the first to start fading away, and tried a few times to revamp and come back, but never quite recovered. My memories of One Hundred Oaks go back way far and are a bit blurry, but I do remember¬†Harveys¬†had the giant carousel horse hanging on the wall beside the entrance to the store. The last time I remember One Hundred Oaks being a mall was in the very late 90’s, and even then about the only store worth visiting was the video game store to trade in your old NES games for newer games. One Hundred Oaks is now home to¬†Vanderbilt Health¬†on the second floor, where many of the outpatient clinics of Vanderbilt are located. It’s interesting to go inside now if you have a memory of the old mall, because it still kinda¬†sorta¬†has the same look. The first floor that faces outside has several stores and is pretty much like the outdoor malls that are more popular today.

I grew up living closer to Hickory Hollow¬†Mall, so we went there more often than the others. I remember we almost always went into the mall through the back entrance of JC Penney. It didn’t matter if we needed to shop in JCP or not; we just always entered through that door. 9th grade was about the time that I started noticing fashion and no longer wanted to get my clothes at KMart and WalMart, so the mall was where you had to go to get name brand clothes, like Skidz and I.O.U….oh, and Hypercolor! I never talked my mom into buying Skidz pants but I did have two I.O.U. shirts that I treasured. I also wanted some Doc Martens, but my parents seem to think that was way too much money to spend on fake combat boots, so I inherited a pair of my dad’s old combat boots that he had retired for a newer pair for his Army National Guard job. David said recently that real combat boots were probably much more cool than Doc Martens, but my teenage mind didn’t quite see it back then. I haven’t been to Hickory Hollow Mall in at least 5 years (maybe more). It started going downhill and attracting criminal acts. They are trying a comeback again this year with Global Mall at the Crossings, with a branch of Nashville State Community College one of the old anchor stores. A branch of the Nashville Public Library and an ice rink managed by the Nashville Predators is also planned for the future.

Rivergate Mall is where I frequented more often after I started driving. Most of my high school friends lived on the north side of Mount Juliet (where I lived on the south side), so Rivergate was closer when I was with them. Rivergate had most of the same stores that Hickory Hollow had. To my knowledge, Rivergate Mall has never shut down, even temporarily like Hickory Hollow, but I believe they are also trying to regain popularity.

Other malls, have come and gone in the Nashville area, but these three are the malls of my memories. What mall memories do you have in Nashville or where you live? 

This post is part of a series I am writing,¬†31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy.¬†

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31 Days of Nashville – Memories of Opryland

7 Opryland

Once a week I’m going to post about a memory I have of Nashville. I wish I could say that Opryland is more than just a memory and that you could enjoy some amusement park fun, but Opryland closed it’s gates for the last time in 1997 and Opry Mills mall took it’s place a few years later.

I’m far from the only Nashville native who wishes we still had a theme park instead of a mall. I have many fond memories of summer days spent riding the Wabash Cannonball, Grizzly River Rampage and Flume Zoom (known to the kids as the Log Ride), then ending the day with a funnel cake. I remember driving the Tin Lizzies as a kid and thinking how cool it was to be driving a car! And how cool was it to ride the Sky Ride high in the sky to get to the other side of the park.

Then later, they started adding bigger rides like Chaos, The Screaming Delta Demon and the Hangman. These arrived in just the right time of my life as a teenager excited to ride bigger and better rides with even more adrenaline rush thrills.

Even better than going once or twice a year was getting a Season Pass. My home church took the youth group once a week, which allowed us the freedom to roam the park to our heart’s desire, as long as we were back on the bus by the end of the day.

When the powers that be decided to close Opryland and turn it into a mall, it seemed like no one in Nashville supported this crazy idea. We already had malls but no other theme park. Why did we need yet another mall.

Almost 20 years later, most residents still feel this way, and last year we almost got our wish when Dolly Parton announced that she was going to buy the land across from Opry Mills and turn it into a theme park similar to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This was exciting news for me and most everyone else in Nashville, but the deal fell through, and Dolly backed out.

We still hope Dolly or someone else will revisit the idea and that one day Nashville will be home to another theme park, but for now we’ll just have to live the with awesome memories and experiences we had at Opryland.

Did you ever visit Opryland when it was still a theme park? What was your favorite ride or favorite memory? 

This post is part of a series I am writing,¬†31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy.¬†

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