Only in York County

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Black Friday special: More on the West Manchester Mall

Kohl's sign being added to the West Manchester Mall
Workers install letters for a Kohl's sign at the east end of the West Manchester Mall on une 30, 2010, in this Daily Record/Sunday News archive hoto by Brad Jennings. Kohl's was the last major store to open at the mall.

So, what better topic for Black Friday, day of shopping and discount wonder and craziness, than thoughts and memories of my local shopping center, the West Manchester Mall?

You have probably heard already that the mall is up for sale. What will happen to it is anyone’s guess, but it’s been through so many changes in my lifetime that even with it still in existence, we’ve got a ton of memories from readers of how it “used to be.”

Previous posts
May 10, 2011: The West Manchester Mall through the years
Feb. 12, 2011: Memories of the original stores at the West Manchester Mall

In response to those posts and also to the news of the mall’s pending sale, I received even more memories and comments!

Scott C., who had written before about certain places at the mall, writes, “I just wanted to correct myself about the York County High School. It started out in the former Bonanza restaurant but moved to a new location near USA Optical when the movie theater came along in the late 1990’s. I do remember the Allied Hobbies shop, which was located near Chick-Fil-A.” He also said, “There was a pet store in the West Manchester Mall called Doktor Pets. There was also Vinnie’s Bow Wow Shoppe, which was located near Hecht’s (now Macy’s). It has since relocated to Route 30 in Thomasville.”

Coworker Emily O. says, “West Man used to have a pet store that I would beg to go to when I was little. I can’t remember the name, but I seem to recall orange walls or an orange sign. More importantly, they had puppies, which I was obsessed with watching. There was also an Irvings shoe store that my parents were seriously loyal to. I didn’t even realize other shoe stores existed until middle school. They measured your feet every time and kept a jar full of pretzel rods on the counter.” (I bought my current Very Large Dog from the pet shop in its Vinnie’s Bow Wow incarnation, where he was a Small, Cute Puppy. Now, he’s 90 pounds of horse.)

Maria says of the pet store, “I bought my cat from there and still have him, at that was at least 11 years ago.”

Walmart under construction at West Manchester Mall
Work takes place on what later became a Super Walmart at the West Manchester Mall in this October 2003 photo from the York Daily Record/Sunday News files. Long before there was a Walmart at the mall, Hess's occupied that end of the shopping center; an earlier incarnation of Walmart included an entrance directly into the mall, but that was walled off when this construction took place.

Bill Schmeer says, “Prior to Artesian Pools taking over the spot, there was always an optical place there. The first one was Duling Optical, which was there quite a long time. I believe the next to move in was USA Optical. Rex, an electronics store was in front/back of Duling Optical. The entrance to Rex was to the left of the mall entrance. They later expanded and you could also enter the store from the mall entrance hall. We are still using a 19″ Sharp TV that we bought at Rex in July of 1995.” (Um, WOW! I know what I’m buying Bill for Christmas!)

Commenter Floyd writes, “Remember ‘The Wall’? So much for the ‘lifetime music guarantee’ (remember the blue stickers?)! Damn you wall! You lied to us! *shakes fist*” This is totally funny to me because, not only do I remember that guarantee, but I had a CD purchased in The Wall’s heydey during my high-school years that JUST broke this week. Crap. Guess I’m not getting a free replacement?

Jen shares that memory as well. “I remember those blue stickers from the Wall! There was a Hess department store at the end where WalMart is now. I remember the mirrored wall out front. There also used to be a Lerner’s, a Victoria’s Secret, an Express, and a neat country gift shoppe type store that sold Beanie Baby’s and Boyds. And there was a variety store that sold just about everything including puppies! It was there where Fishbone is now. Aw, good times at that mall. So sad it’s all changed so much.”

Former Value City at the West Manchester Mall
John Tierney of West York submitted this photo of the vacant Value City at the West Manchester Mall to the Daily Record/Sunday News online businesses gallery in June 2010. Later, that space became Kohl's.

And perhaps the most “Only in York County” comment came from Mark Quickel.

Mark says, “I didn’t realize until recently that you worked for the YDR and when I found out I immediately told my wife I used to be in Youth Group with a celebrity.” Yes, I’ve known Mark for more than 15 years, amazingly!

He says, “I was recently reading a piece you wrote on the old York Mall and I thought I’d drop out and tell you that I thought it was a fantastic piece. I can’t recall where the discussion started but my brother Matt and I were debating something about the York Mall location and we came across this article. We were also discussing the old West Manchester Mall. It would’ve been when you were young, like myself, but the mall used to be ensconced in brown and I recall it had fountains and cigarette smoking was allowed. Some of the stores we recalled were Allied Hobby, Camelot Music, Hess’s, McCrory’s, the latter of which my grandparents used to take us to in order to see the dogs and have a hot dog (ironically). Any chance you have any pictures in the archives of the WMM in its hey-day? Now that I see it up for sale again, it’s interesting to think of what it may become. Right now, just about anything would be better except being totally vacant.”

I loved seeing Mark’s memories of the “WMM,” because that ensconced-in-brown look is totally what I remember, with its sunken areas in the center for seating. I almost liked it better than the current salmon-pink decor?! Yet, try as I might, I’ve been unable to find any photos of the mall with that look. Are there any readers out there who could help? I’d love to see such images and share them!

If you’re Black Friday shopping today, do be safe and, please, treat those retail workers with respect. It’s the most hectic day of the year for them, and they’re working hard to get you your discounts!

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