Vintage Boise Mall Video Shows What It Looked Like 35 Years Ago
There’s no denying, the Boise Towne Square Mall has changed radically since it opened nearly 35 years ago.
You read that correctly. Boise Towne Square Mall will celebrate its 35th anniversary this October. In a day and age when videos of “Dead Malls” get thousands of views on YouTube and there are new posts on Reddit’s “deadmalls” subreddit every day, you realize how truly impressive that is. Even through all of its ups and downs, the Boise Towne Square Mall has continued to reinvent itself and that certainly hasn’t been easy.
Boise Towne Square Mall Faces Challenges Head On
Over the past decade, the mall’s lost quite a few stores with recognizable names through no fault of their own. Sears, Payless, Justice and Borders are just a few of the brands the mall lost because the retailers’ parent companies decided to wind down retail operations after filing for bankruptcy. Losing those stores was hardly a Boise-centric problem.
The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the mall far beyond when it re-opened in May 2020, after Governor Little’s “Stay Home” order was lifted. Almost a year later, stores were still monitoring capacity levels and using queue lines. Dressing rooms were still closed. Hours were still reduced. Overall, the pandemic created a less-than-ideal shopping experience for guests.
Perhaps the biggest challenge the mall has to overcome was making the public feel safe again after a shooting spree left two dead and four others injured in October 2021. Even a year and a half after the shooting, people were still on edge if something seems out of place at the mall. In January 2023, a large police presence responded after there were reports of someone carrying a gun through the mall. It turned our to be a group of teenagers carrying airsoft guns, but the community rather see police respond to a call that turned out to be nothing than ignore a call that could’ve led to another shooting.
Boise Towne Square Mall Continues to Reinvent Itself
By our count, the mall currently has more than 20 vacancies if you count the Sears building (and parking lot) that’s owned separately from the heart of the shopping center. That may seem like a lot, but they’re working on filling those with new tenants that Boise will love.
Earlier this year they added Vintage Stock EntertainMart, a movie, music, games and memorabilia retailer that will give you Hastings vibes. The Lululemon pop-up that opened in 2020 will get a more permanent location where Pendleton used to be. BoiseDev reports that Kids Empire plans to open an 11,000-square-foot indoor playground at the mall. We agree with Don that the pictures of their other locations will give ‘90s kids serious Discovery Zone vibes.
And they’ve hosted some cool limited-run events in the parking lot. The most recent was Paranormal Cirque, which was part cirque show, part haunted house. In October, it’s where you’ll find one of the largest bounce houses in the world.
Looking Back at the Grand Opening 35 Years Ago
It’s cool to see Boise Towne Square Mall continue to fight and evolve when so many other malls have just given up. That said, it looks REALLY different than it did on opening day. Back then, you saw bright neon lights flowing from the Food Court, tile floors that were both eye-catching and tacky at the same time, and full-sized trees and greenery cascading from the balconies. A lot of the décor remained in place until the mall was retrofitted with a more modern, minimalist aesthetic in 2008.
Having a hard time picturing it? Luckily, you don’t have to!! YouTube user Max Wilson, dug up this archived footage of opening day that originally aired on Channel 6. How many of these stores do YOU remember? Check out the videos and keep reading, to see if you remember the original restaurants/food retails that appeared on the directory back in 1988!