OPINION

WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: Thoughts on Midway Mall

By Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat

Usually, when people around Texoma talk about malls, they are focusing on the former ‘Sher-Den Mall,’ which was the first in the area; in fact, it was the first between Dallas and Oklahoma City having been built in 1970. That’s only 14 years after the first indoor mall in the U.S. was open in Minneapolis. Southdale Mall was dubbed ‘Hugedale’ by the locals because of its size and first of its kind status.

But there is another mall in Texoma, which has fallen on hard times, Midway Mall. As an experiment, I’ve spent the past five years – checking once per year- what’s happening at the indoor retail edifice on Texoma Parkway.  In 2016, there were 28 businesses in the mall. The next year, 22 were left. By 2018, there were 18, and in 2019, only 12 businesses had their doors open. I still checked during the pandemic year just to keep it going. Eight stores were there.

Early in June, I decided to check the former mainstay in Texoma and only five places of business were open. That’s including Jump’N Land which isn’t a store. There are only four retail stores left. Management has closed off half the mall completely, something I’ve never seen in my visits. You’ve only got Dillard’s and Burlington, both with outside entrances, and two stores inside. Only the front door to the mall is unlocked for customers.

Wow! I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of retail management, but this seems like it shouldn’t work. I certainly don’t understand it all, but the point is that our local hotspot is no more for all intents and purposes. The ‘Town Center’ concept has driven everyone outside during the past 20 years and the new ‘village’ concept will probably drive the ‘centers’ to the brink someday. All I know is that it is sad…

Midway Mall opened in October 1986; I remember because it was the same month that we moved back to Sherman from a short four-year stint in the northern suburbs of the DFW Metroplex. I always have thought it was cool to move back and basically have our own mall open up for us! It was built on the site of the former Sears store between Sherman and Denison. I have some history with that old building as my mother worked there in the 1970s; and my mother-in-law put in 35 years at the longtime retailer.

They built the mall around the building; I don’t remember how they did it exactly. I’m sure someone could write me and explain, but I just remember how the mall was anchored by that store and incorporated it into the mall design. For all I know, the old building may have been torn down. All I know is that Sears was left in its original place as to be close to its Service Center on the other side of Frisco Road behind the mall.

The new retailer to the area, Mervyn’s, J.C. Penney’s and Dillard’s were the other big box retailers which anchored the mall at each corner. There was also Beall’s and a couple of other smaller name brand stores inside (Beall’s had an outside entrance). The Great American Cookie Company stood in the aisle in one ‘arm’ of the hallways. Old Navy was another big store inside, while Walden’s Books (later B. Dalton’s) was there, too. And who can forget Victoria’s Secret? (It only closed in the past couple of years.)

And the Food Court was awesome! It was the place I first had Chick-fil-A’and what about the Corny Dog place?! The movie theater holds many memories for me as well; it slowly closed down Cinema IV at Sher-Den Mall over the years; even the Pink Theater at the intersection of Texoma Parkway and US 82 succumbed to Movies 5. (Then, Cinemark in turn crushed Movies 5! Wow, the cycle continues)

I remember the mall walkers; I even walked the mall a few times myself. I remember Santa in the center chair every year. I remember the grocery store; the dentist and the golf place. GNC was a mainstay as well having moved from Midway Mall and then, back. The candy store near the front entrance was incredible. I don’t remember if there was a restaurant, but if there was it would have been at the beginning in the late 1980s. Oh, well, my memory!

I often wonder what will happen to our ‘other’ mall; I hope it will be something spectacular at that site someday. Then, we can go back to enjoy a collective time as a community; and make new memories together.

Dwayne Wilder

Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at cmandad17@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.