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Friday, June 13, 2014

The Orchards Mall- (Benton Harbor, MI)

Located over an hour from Grand Rapids, The Orchards Mall is a one floor mall situated on Pipestone Road, minutes from Interstate 94 E/W in Benton Harbor, MI. The malls current anchors are:

In 1974, a company called Meyer C. Weiner proposed a mall to be built in the township of Benton Harbor called Pipestone Mall. By March of 1976, The Hudson's Department Store chain rumored that it would host as an anchor to the malls construction.

A differednt development company, Westcor, acquired the land in August 1976, where the future mall would be built.

By 1977, Sears Department Store and JCPenney were confirmed as anchor stores, with negotiations underway for Elder-Beerman as the third anchor.

The Orchards Mall was bulit in 1979 by the Edward J. DeBartolo Corp., with Westcor as the primary leasing agent to the stores in the mall. Both department stores relocated from there downtown locations to the mall.

Many other stores filled the mall as it opened, such as Walgreens Drug Store, York Steak House, which later turned into a Ponderosa Steak House and a food court and many more.

Some early pictures are displayed in the mall now to show its vast history of different stores and events that were in the mall over the years, looking back to when the mall was popular, would soon be over.

What is now a Vintage Sears sign seen in 1988

Mall under renovations

Mall celebrating one year anniversary in 1980

Jo-Ann Fabrics opened in the former Walgreens location in 2012

Elder-Beerman opened in 1992.

 Elder-Beerman, before in converted to Carson's in 2011.

 Elder-beerman, after it changed to Carson's Department Store.

The mall started to go south in the mid-90's, when Walgreens closed in 1992 and some stores began to close.

Sears announced in 2009, that it would close its Orchards Mall location by the summer.

Sears in the early 2000's.

Sears after it closed in 2009.
Former Sears Department Store

Jo-ann Fabrics as well as a smaller Sears hometown opened in 2012.

Other than some shoe stores and a few eateries, the mall in mostly vacant now.
Here is what the mall looked like in July 2012:

What does Sears know about driving?

Close-up shot of former Sears

Outside the former Sears

The only mall I've ever been to that displays its history of past stores and events to the public, more malls need to do this.


  1. When I was here in 2004, the mall was half empty even then. f.y.e., B. Dalton, Great Steak & Potato, Pearle Vision, and of all things, Limited were still in business. A book outlet operated out of the former Lerner in the Sears wing, and the former Walgreens and Ponderosa were long since vacant. Famous Footwear still had that old logo, looking more like it belonged in an outlet mall. A Shoe Sensation store opened in center court and didn't last a year. This mall has the problem that it's completely invisible from all side roads -- you can't see it from I-94 or Napier, and it's hard to get to from either.

  2. I never thought much about this before. But now that I think more about it, it sadly is true! Don't forget the sign from Pipestone Road(east entrance from that street that leads to this mall's ring road), it does NOT jump out as much to you as a typical shopping mall sign should!

    Surprised Penney's is hanging on at Orchards, and didn't make the 2017 store closings list. I worry that'll make a future round of store closings, though.