Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Mall Memories - San Mateo Fashion Island
Rummaging through my mall directory collection, I found this vintage directory for San Mateo Fashion Island. Lasting barely a decade, this mall opened in the early Eighties with Bullock's, Liberty House, JC Penney, and Montgomery Ward as anchor tenants. It also featured a movie theatre and food court surrounding an elegant ice skating rink. The mall opened to great fanfare and was popular for a short time. However, both Bullock's and Liberty House nearly simultaneously shuttered their Northern California stores. They were locked into leases at Fashion Island, so both stores had their only Northern California location here. Each barely dropped a dime into advertising. Bullock's closed first and Liberty House nearly a year later.
This directory was printed between that time, about 1983-4, and features the hottest in Eighties fashions (including red nylons).
Eventually, the mall's vacancy rate skyrocketed. The Bullock's was built with a unique Teflon tent roof, which made it costly to heat and cool. No store wanted to take on such a liability. A sports store eventually moved in, but it failed shortly thereafter. The empty Liberty House once housed a Whole Earth Access store, which closed after the concept failed. Eventually, the mall was sold and renamed "The Island." It was to be rebranded as an entertainment destination since the theatre and ice rink both remained popular. Eventually, Montgomery Ward's fell into hard times and closed. Penney's, too, decided to close. The mall was torn down and replaced by a power center, Bridgepointe.
How I do remember the brown tile floors. I also remember the layout being confusing because you were constantly questioning which direction to walk. If you made the wrong turn, you ended up outside, the food court, or somewhere else. In addition to the failures of the anchor stores and the strength of San Mateo's other mall, Hillsdale Shopping Center, I think Fashion Island's layout was the nail in its coffin.