WANTED: LONGEST RUNNING RESTAURANTS AND STORES IN WOODFIELD MALL

 

When I was at Woodfield Mall about two months ago, I stopped by the Guest Services Desk and asked the staff if they knew which restaurants and stores had been in the mall the longest.

The mall opened in September 1971 with Marshall Fields and Sears as the first two anchors. J C Penney opened in October and Lord & Taylor opened two years later in 1973. But, outside of the anchors, what were the oldest establishments? Were there any that have been continuously operating since the mall opened?

We batted it around a bit and surmised that the longest running restaurants were A&W, McDonald’s and Sbarro Pizza. Struggling to come up with the longest running stores, we could only think of Eddie Bauer as a possibility. Then, a light bulb went on and the staffer thought it might be some of the jewelry stores. With that, I had something to start with.

To research the question, I took a look at the list of stores on Woodfield’s website and compared it to the 1982 Schaumburg phone book, which is the oldest in our collection.

The only two restaurants listed on both the website and in the phone book were McDonald’s–and one we hadn’t considered–Baskin-Robbins. After checking the Daily Herald, it looks like both restaurants opened around 1977. Sbarro opened in 1984 and A&W opened either the same year or in 1985. So the restaurants are:

  • McDonald’s
  • Baskin-Robbins
  • Sbarro
  • A&W

The jewelry stores wound up being a good guess because both C.D. Peacock and Rogers & Hollands were on both the website and in the phone book–along with the following businesses:

  • C.D. Peacock
  • Rogers & Hollands
  • Fannie May
  • Foot Locker
  • The Gap
  • Hickory Farms
  • New York & Company (formerly Lerner Shops)

I then checked these against the 1971 Daily Herald to see if any of them were mentioned in articles, ads or classified ads. Lo and behold four of them were here in either September or October of 1971.

  • Hickory Farms (September 1971)
  • Lerner Shops/New York & Company (September 1971)
  • Fannie May (October 1971)

Think about it, Woodfield Mall is two years shy of celebrating its 50th birthday and, outside of the anchors, three stores have been in business for the entire duration. Imagine the number of customers who’ve gone through their doors, the number of times they’ve changed locations, renovated their stores and how many employees from Schaumburg Township worked for these retailers. What an amazing run they’ve had!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

 

6 Responses to “WANTED: LONGEST RUNNING RESTAURANTS AND STORES IN WOODFIELD MALL”

  1. Diana Dobrovolny Says:

    I worked for Lerner Shops as one of the first employees when Iwas in high school. We unboxed inventory before the Mall opened and set up the store. We were all trained to sell on the floor and work the cash register. I started on the floor and enjoyed the interaction with customers and higher pay. Somewhat to my dismay I was faster at math, making correct change (no digital registers with amounts shown) so they moved me to casheir. Worked there until I went to college.

  2. Dan Says:

    My understanding was that Sears actually opened prior to the mall’s official opening in September of 71. I believe it was in August… I had read an article about that maybe on this blog.

    Foot Locker actually wasn’t created until 1974 as a spin off of Woolworth’s Kinney Shoes subsidiary. So maybe the Foot Locker was Kinney’s when it first opened in Woodfield?

    • jrozek Says:

      You are correct Dan. I’m not too sure where I found that reference. I will update the blog.

      Thank you!

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library

  3. Tracy Says:

    I remember a lot of the stores, and I’m amazed just how may have come and gone (out of business and just left the mall!)
    and how few have always been there! Things change so much, but shopping a Woodfield has always been something I look forward to doing when I have a day off! Still one of the best places to shop and dine!

  4. Cynthia Luck Says:

    My 1st job was through Conant High School’s work program in the Woodfield Mall at Jackie’s Dress Shop when it opened.

  5. jrozek Says:

    This comment was also sent to me:

    I want to thank you for these lovely tidbits about our local history. The latest one on Woodfield mall brought back fond memories.

    I had a Girl Scout troop that was mostly girls with various learning disabilities. They hated nature walks. I turned to the mall to get them to walk with stops at a few stores. We always ended up at McDonalds. The treasure hunt always started with “What’s a store with a coin in its name?” (J C Penney)

    The amazing thing was 15 minutes into a nature walk, I heard “are we done?” In the mall it was the leader asking for a break after almost two hours.

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