Busy Susquehanna Valley Mall

Crowds move through the Susquehanna Valley Mall on Friday evening. While malls around the nation struggle, the Susquehanna Valley Mall is more than 80 percent full and has three anchor stores.

HUMMELS WHARF — Shoppers like to shop and a number of those individuals who visited Susquehanna Valley malls in the past week were not inclined to believe the end of the shopping mall era is anywhere near.

“I have been hearing that for years,” Katy Rothermel, 27, of Port Trevorton, said. “Yet, the malls are still here.”

Rothermel and her friend, Kristy Paige, 28, of Harrisburg, spoke while at the Susquehanna Valley Mall last week. They said they visit malls regularly in larger cities and both agreed the Susquehanna Valley Mall is a great place to shop.

“This mall doesn’t have some of the major stores like Macy’s or Lord & Taylor,” Paige said. “But if you want a nice enjoyable mall to walk around we always choose to come here.”

While some malls  are struggling nationwide — including the nearby Columbia Mall — malls elsewhere are still alive and well.

Two of nation’s five largest malls in terms of retail space are in Pennsylvania, according to a recent story on USATODAY.com.

The top mall nationally is the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. It is the largest shopping mall in the United States. Open since 1992, it features more than 500 high-end and chain stores, a variety of quick serve and sit-down restaurants and memorable tourist attractions.  

The mall may be best known for its seven-acre Nickelodeon Universe amusement park, complete with roller coasters. Approximately 40 million people visit the Mall of America annually.

Second on the list is the King of Prussia Mall outside Philadelphia, which opened in 1963 and has done nothing but expand. The mall is the largest on the East Coast and includes eight anchor stores and more than 400 others. There are also more than 40 restaurants.

“I have been to King of Prussia and, yes, it is a great mall. There is just so much to do,” Ben Ross, 34, of Glen Iron, said. “I’m not sure we would have the traffic for that type of mall in this area. Even in Harrisburg I am not sure it would work.”

Ross and his wife Jennifer Ross, 37, have no problem with smaller malls.

“Parking is easier and sometimes you just don’t want to be banging into people when you are shopping,” Jennifer Ross said. “There are times I do like to go to the bigger malls and look at the expensive stores and pretend I can afford some of the stuff they sell.”

Not all malls are dead

Deadmalls.com was created in 2000 by Peter Blackbird and Brian Florence, both of New York, who wanted to promote the history of malls, whether thriving or declining, and the impact of time and competition, according to the website.

The Facebook page is updated often with various pictures and news reports about mall or store closings and openings and expansions.

One recent update included an article on a former Georgia mall being transformed into a movie studio. Another post on Facebook included a link to a report from real-estate research firm Green Street Advisors, of Newport Beach, California, that says department stores need to close as many as 800 more locations of all anchor space in malls  in order to return to the levels of 10 years ago.

Email comments to fscarcella@dailyitem.com. Follow Francis on Twitter @scarcella11.

UPDATE: This story has been updated from a previously published version.

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