For plenty of lifelong Idahoans, it's been hard to stomach the fact that Idaho's first indoor shopping mall no longer exists as they once knew it. 

More than 107,000 square feet of Karcher Mall was demolished in early 2020 to make way for a project called "Karcher Marketplace." Basically, the idea was to reduce the footprint of the mall and have any of the remaining tenants use exterior entrances only. The COVID-19 pandemic would throw a major wrench in the plans to get the project underway.

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Flash forward two years and the project has been rebranded "District 208." Last June, BoiseDev reported that under the new name, a similar plan would be moving forward. In addition to a handful of new retailers, there would be apartments built behind what was left of the mall. Nampa's permits are a little hard to navigate compared to other municipalities, but it looses like they issued a permit for a 3,820-square-foot clubhouse for the apartment complex to be built last June.

Image via Google Maps
Image via Google Maps

Other than that, we're not sure where the project stands right now. What we do know is that after demolition Mor Furniture has been separated from the other remaining tenants. We know that some of the old mall tenants like Big 5 Sporting Goods, JoAnn Fabrics and Ross and Discount Furniture and Mattress are still there. We also know that most of those retailers have locations elsewhere in the Treasure Valley, so right now there's nothing really unique about the project.

It's a little bit sad because when the mall opened in 1965, it was a big deal! With its first three anchor tenants, Buttrey Food and Drug, Rasco-Tempo (a discount store) and Kinney Shoes, it became the first indoor shopping mall in the entire state. It was the premiere shopping destination, not just for Idahoans but folks from Eastern Oregon as well.

The mall provided our community with so many fantastic memories, like visiting Art Yensen, the man that many families in the Treasure Valley considered the REAL Santa Claus, during the holiday season. Plus who could forget the orange carpet and the polar bear?

Karcher Mall was also home to these four stores that your parents shopped at that don't exist anymore! (Ok, you may have shopped there too, but your parents or grandparents may have been the ones handing over the cash at the register!)

Buttrey Food & Drug

It's only natural to start the list with one of Karcher Mall's first anchor tenants. The very first Buttrey stores were department stores, but the brand expanded to grocery stores in the mid-1930s. Founded in Montana, Buttrey eventually sold its food stores to the pride of Boise, Albertsons, in 1988.

Apparently, the impending deal didn't sit well with everyone. According to a 1987 Spokane Chronicle article, a Boise woman placed an anonymous call claiming that her husband had placed bombs at five Buttrey locations because he was upset by the sale. Three of those five locations were on track to become Albertsons locations, while the other two would close. Luckily, there were no bombs found at the stores and no one was injured in the incident.


According to Mall of Fame, Karcher Mall was home to a Woolworth's. Woolworth's was one of the most well-known five-and-dome businesses in retail history. The one at Karcher Mall eventually moved into the Rasco-Tempo storefront when the discount store closed.

Several people in the "Boise and the Treasure Valley History" Facebook group fondly remember having sundaes at Woolworth's lunch counters around the Treasure Valley. The group had trouble remembering exactly where the location in Downtown Boise was, but we know there was one in Hillcrest Shopping Center. According to Jim Duran's book Central Bench Historyit was one of the early tenants in the shopping area.

Troutman's Emporium

Troutman's Emporium, came to Karcher Mall after J.C. Penney decided to new rival, Boise Towne Square MallAccording to Mall of Fame, the Oregon-based department store took over the lower level of the old J.C. Penny in 1988. They also had locations in Boise's Five Mile Plaza and Northgate Shopping Center. All three locations closed in 2003, not long after the company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Burlington eventually took over the old Emporium space in Nampa.

KB Toys (aka Kay Bee Toys)

Ok, this is one that you probably shopped at too. 90s kids remember KB Toy's fondly. You couldn't always convince your parents to take you to Toys R Us, but they had a hard time saying "no" to taking you in to browse the mall-based toy store chain. For some reason, my clearest memories of shopping at KB Toys are of looking at Crash Test Dummies cars with my dad. Those toys hit the peak of their popularity in the early 1990s.

KB Toys outlived Tyco's Crash Test Dummies. According to this Idaho Statesman article we found on Flickr, the Boise Towne Square Mall lost its store early in 2004. It was one of the very early tenants at Boise Towne Square when it opened in 1988. The article mentioned that Karcher Mall's location closed a month earlier.

If you had fun with that trip down memory lane, you should check out this "Vintage Karcher Mall" group on Facebook. Devan Drake has uploaded a TON of old photos of the mall there!

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