For many years, Portage’s Crossroads Mall has been a sort of epicenter for the local area. Built in 1980, this two-story Mall houses 100 stores, and in 2000 under new ownership the Crossroads Mall added a food court. While the day and age of buying almost everything online was yet to come, Crossroads Mall gave people from the surrounding townships a place to shop and entertain. Recently, the Mall has been repurchased by a company based in New York, which leaves me with the question of: What will happen to the Crossroads Mall?  

Growing up, the Mall was generally the only large shopping center in the area due to Kalamazoo being surrounded by such smaller towns. During those years of heavy foot traffic, stores and restaurants were crowded. However, within recent years (even before the struggle Covid has placed on businesses) the Crossroads Mall has become underinvested and underappreciated by the local residents. If people aren’t buying online, they are traveling to Grand Rapids or Detroit for more access to stores, restaurants, and entertainment.  

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Food Court 

With the decrease in foot traffic comes the decrease in restaurants because there just aren’t enough people stopping to eat while they shop. Seeing as the main entrance to the mall is through the food court, let's start with how much this area has changed. Not even a decade ago that cafeteria was bursting with different kinds of restaurants: McDonalds, Oriental Grill, Paulie’s Cheesecake, Japoni Grill, Treat Street, etc. Now, however, the only restaurants to remain are Sbarro and Subway. Though, you cannot forget about Auntie Anne’s Pretzels or Gloria Jeans coffee further into the mall.  

Now, here is when I personally start to get concerned: the merry-go-round. While this might relate to just myself, when I was younger, I thought the Mall was spectacular because of the double-decker merry-go-round. Since being sold unexpectedly at the end of 2019, then with the impact of Covid-19 in early 2020 the Mall has very clearly begun to decrease in size. Now that the merry-go-round is relocated to Miami, you can tell parents are less inclined to bring their children to the mall because there is no longer that one guaranteed source of entertainment. 

Stores 

Due to the fact that the Mall was established in 1960, clearly there have been some changes in stores throughout its time. Although, with JC Penny closing many locations nationwide and the possibility of the one in the mall being one of them, it doesn’t gleam a bright light for the future of Crossroads. Then when you take into consideration the fact that JC Penny was one of the two defining stores for the mall since its opening, without this store it is only expected that other stores will follow suit in closing.  

For generations of locals the only place you could go for your one stop shopping experience was Crossroads Mall. Though there remains a decent number of relevant stores today, there is also a surplus of stores in the neighboring areas of Kalamazoo and Portage that offer just as much convenience and variety as the Mall. 

While my perspective of Crossroads Mall is now more as an outsider than a local since I’ve been out of the area for a few years, I could be wrong and the mall is still very much the shopping center it has always been. Does anyone still visit the Crossroads Mall? If so, are there specific stores you go to, no others? Or is the majority of the foot traffic still people walking around casually to up their daily step count? And if the mall does end up closing, what should it become or be used for, any suggestions? 

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