As Wonderland Mall is facing demolition in the spring of 2004, let this photo essay serve as a reminder to this
early version of the shopping mall and some of the stores that we visited in our earlier days.
The mall was built in 1959 with Montgomery Wards serving as the anchor. It
also featured 2 more retailers that Michiganders know and love, Winklemans and Hughes and Hatcher. Like many
malls, it was originally designed as an open facility, then later converted to an indoor.
With the demise of Ward's, some of the smaller stores began to struggle as the design did not allow for many
exterior entrances. The retail world seems to be going away from indoor malls, with most new centers incorporating
a few large anchors with smaller stores clustered nearby, interspersed with parking. Examples of this would be
Fountain Walk in Novi and Eastwood Center in Lansing. As a result, some of the old indoor malls are being converted
back to outdoor, with Tel-Twelve in Southfield, Northland Center in Southfield and now Wonderland, which will be
converted to a "Power Center" with 2 or 3 larger stores surrounded by a few restaurants or coffee shops.
So the circle is complete, from outdoor to indoor to outdoor again! The truth however, is that the small indoor mall had
less character and local flavor than the traditional downtown retail district, and now the enormous "big box" centers
will complete the trend toward the total homogenization of the commercial landscape.
MORE DEMO FROM MIKE ENGEL