Nostalgia Alert: Stores That Used to be in Missoula’s Southgate Mall
When they announced Missoula was getting a mall it was an exciting time. When we found out the mall was going to be within walking distance of my house, I could hardly wait! We would walk over while construction was happening and we were wondering where the "anchor" stores were going to be located. The Southgate Mall opened in August of 1978 and it still stands today. It has been a mainstay in shopping for now over four decades, and over the years, there have been a lot of stores that have come and gone.
Around the office, we were all throwing around stores that we remembered. So, here is a list of some of the stores that we have said goodbye to over the years. This is by far not a complete list, so feel free to let us know what we have forgotten. Let's take a walk down memory lane.
I remember getting jeans from JC Penny for back to school. They were the cheap ones, so it seemed like it took a year to try to break them in. I also more recently bought a suit from them before they closed their doors for good.
Sears was such a great store. It had everything. You could get a set of tires, some new clothes, a vacuum, a circular saw, a washer and dryer, lingerie, and a toy all under the same roof.
The busiest pet store at the time. It was so wild that they let anyone go in there and pet the animals. I always felt like those animals had to have been traumatized by all of the kids that would bang on the glass of their cages all day.
Kay Bee Toys
I spent a lot of time in this toy store. A lot of time! I never had the money to afford any of the big toys, like remote-controlled cars or video games. The good thing was they always had small toys that were cheap enough for me. I remember getting those little rubber bouncy balls and we would try to see if we could bounce them as high as the roof of the mall. Yes, we lost many a ball on that roof because we couldn't judge distance too well.
King's Table restaurant was a buffet. It was located right in front of the mall and boy did it get busy. I was a dishwasher at King's Table for a year. It seemed like it was the longest year of my life, the dishes never seemed to end and the bread pudding pans were by far the most difficult to wash.
Taco John's was in the mall for a while. It was a hot spot for high schoolers to go grab a quick lunch. I still to this day dream of potato ole's. The good news is you can still hit Taco John's here in town.
The Learning Tree
I would take my kids into the Learning Tree. It was a great store with just the right amount of toys and books. I felt like I did learn something every time I went in there.
I never felt like I was cool enough to step foot in that store. I didn't wear enough black or leather clothing.
Nordstrom Take Two
I always went into Nordstrom, even though we could barely afford anything there. I talked my mom into buying me a Generra shirt from there. I think I still have pics of me in that shirt somewhere. I wasn't cool, but at least I felt like it for a moment.
I never spent that much time there. It wasn't fun enough for me.
My mother worked at Hennessy's for most of her career, so that is probably why I never spent any time at Hart-Albin. Hennessy's eventually became Dillard's.
Since my mom worked at Hennessy's/Dillard's that is where we spent most of our time shopping. So I never spend too much time in there either.
Hart-Albin became Lamont's and I think that was mostly geared toward men's clothing. As you can see I didn't spend much time in this store.
Dairy Queen/Orange Julius
I can't tell you how many blizzards I have had over the years wandering around the mall. The inside Dairy Queen was fantastic because when the Higgins Street DQ would close for the season you could always go to the mall. I remember all the plastic oranges that were in the display case in front of Orange Julius. I would get one occasionally thinking I was having something "healthy".
Aladdin's Castle was the premiere arcade in the mall. I can honestly say I spent more money in Aladdin's Castle than any store in the entire mall, and I walked out with nothing. Occasionally I would be able to put my initials in a video game on the high score list, but that was rare. Every time I met anyone at the mall we would always meet at Aladdin's Castle.
Bob's Pizza was fantastic because you rarely had to wait. You saw the pizzas and you got a slice and a pop and it was cheap. Another great place to go to lunch when in high school.
Lambros Real Estate
Lambros Real Estate had a store in the mall. I always looked at the pics of the houses they would have in the windows. But I was a kid, so I would just keep on walking.
Hickory Farms used to give out samples. I always liked their sausage and cheese. They would also have samples of "banana chips"-- I never would eat those things.
Lucky's Market was not in the mall for very long, but we would shop there occasionally and they had really good ramen!
Technically not a store, but when my kids were growing up and it was a rainy or snowy day and they were driving me crazy we could always take them to the train at the mall and let them run it out. Every time I would sit and watch my kids play some kid would want to walk along the circular seating and I would always be in the way.
I have a lot of memories of Southgate Mall. It feels like it has been a part of Missoula my entire life. I know we are forgetting a lot of stores from the past so feel free to comment and we may do a part 2!