I remember way back when I was 13 or 14 and my mom dropped me off at the Hickory Ridge Mall. I was there to meet my then girlfriend and I was super excited. First, I was on one of my first real dates, but also because I was at what we called "the good mall". My mom was pretty smart and made me bring my little sister along to chronicle the entire evening, to ensure that there was no smooching that evening. Well played Mom! It didn't work! She had to go to the restroom! LOL. I even remember going to the J. Riggins store and getting a sweater vest because my girlfriend said would look nice on me. The things we do for women!
Those were the days. Sadly lots has changed since then. I recently took a trip out to visit the Hickory Ridge Mall and see the state of the building myself. I must admit I wasn't expecting too much seeing how the once thriving Hickory Hill community has been reduced to a shell of what it used to be. When driving down Winchester it was weird to see the empty buildings and repurposed businesses. There's a huge Statue of Liberty in front of what was once Central Church. The old Seessels is now an International Market. The old Kroger is a Super Lo. Long gone are the days of Uptons, Old Time Pottery, Central Hardware, and mostly recently, Kroger. This was once the "it" part of town in Memphis. The mall was the highlight. It had everything from Dillards to Goldsmiths, there was a movie theater, and it also featured a carousel. Yes, I loved that carousel!
It's still the bright spot of the mall. Thankfully, it's still in operation and being used. I remember as a kid that it was all I wanted to do! Riding the carousel to me meant not only entertainment, but that we had made it! I grew up in Westwood and my parents moved to East Memphis a little later into my teens. I remember that living near the mall meant you were rich to us. We felt larger than life! We were finally out the hood!
Walking through the mall brought up all the great memories I had growing up. Hanging out in the food court, which still reminds me of a scene from Saved By The Bell, or having to hold my mom's purse as she shopped endlessly through Goldsmith's, which later became Macy's. It was sad to see that most of the mall isn't being utilized at all. There are a few businesses there, but no where near the the amount of the mall it once was. There is no Macy's or Dillards. No movie theater. No big retail outlets. Only 2 restaurants in the food court. It's mostly vacant. It was very depressing walking through the mall.
I know the area may never make a full recovery, but I wish it would. There is crime in the area and a huge police presence. It would take lots of effort and money to revitalize the Hickory Hill area. Being there is the equivalent of watching Michael Jordan at the end of his career playing with the Wizards. It was just sad. I love Memphis with all my heart and soul, but this truly hurt me to see. Something needs to happen, but sadly I doubt it will. So here's to all the memories Hickory Ridge Mall. It was an awesome time that I will never forget.
Life is for Living,