Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio was built in 1975 and expanded several times. Sears was the first anchor and by the end of the first year, there were 50 stores. JC Penney opened the following year and new extensions were built adding more stores, a food court and aquarium among other things. There was an extensive renovation in the mid-80s to modernize the mall and create a more unified floor plan. Target opened in 1995 bringing the total to 140 stores, 5 of them anchors, as well as the cinema and food court.
Rolling Acres Mall was one of the biggest shopping malls in Ohio at the height of its popularity however Target moved out in 2006 and some of the smaller units had already been vacated. The remainder of the mall was closed in 2008 except for Sears and JC Penney which closed in 2011. The entire mall except 4 of the anchors was bought in 2010 although plans to redevelop the site are yet to emerge. It is currently abandoned aside from a Storage Of America outlet in the former Target store and a recycling centre.
This is an account of the mall by local resident Theodore Mallison.
For special occasions, you drove a little further, to a hill on the outskirts of town, atop which sat a retail wonderland the likes of which, in Akron, in the 1980s, was unmatched. These were the days before Howe Avenue became a nonstop gridlock of commerce, back when Montrose was a dusty crossroads between four tracts of farmland. This was Romig Road, in its heyday. It was the only place with a Toys R Us. Oh, yeah. AND a Children’s Palace. And a McDonald’s with an indoor playground. Those things were rare back then. Most McDonald’s restaurants had a couple of those weird fryguy rocking horse thingies outside by the picnic tables, but an indoor playground? It was the only one I knew of.
And then there was the mall itself.
Rolling Acres. It had two levels. Two! The other malls each just had one. To this day, Rolling Acres is the only mall in Akron with two levels. It had a food court! The other malls didn’t have food courts. And the atmosphere… Light. Hope. Happiness. Skylights abounded, entire sections of ceiling were completely glass, with crisscrossed steel beam supports. Huge vaulted ceilings. The whole place was bathed in natural light. And there was a glass elevator! An actual glass elevator, like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You actually did kind of feel like Charlie Bucket when you were six years old and walking around Rolling Acres. It was that kind of place.
It was the mall. The mall you wanted to go to. A toy store, two software stores, a B. Dalton and a Waldenbooks, a food court, an arcade (a BIG one), green plants everywhere. And in the center of the whole thing was a gigantic fountain that resembled a futuristic city, with a dozen or so mirrored-glass skyscrapers from out the top of which gushed a billion gallons of water, surrounded by a moat of orange tile. I fell into that fountain more times than I can remember.
Location: Akron, Ohio, USA