Remembering the Marketplace of the Midsouth

Raleigh Springs Mall

Raleigh Springs opened in the seventies with several anchors (Penny's, Woolworth's, Goldsmith's, Dillard's, and Sears). Present management took over in the early 90's. Woolworth's went under in the mid 80's or so, and it was not until the turn of the century that a movie theater was built with government funds for the benefit of a local chain of theaters. Up until this time, the space had been mostly vacant with the front being used for mom & pop candy and tobacco stores.

Penny's became a catalog outlet in the mid 90's. In early 2002, the store completely closed. Dillard's became an outlet store as well about this time, using two of the original three floors. It became something of a glorified rummage sale and ultimately closed along with Goldsmith's in April 2003. Goldsmith's got a lot of bad publicity as gang members on an initiation stunt shoplifted quite a bit of merchandise only to be caught after a traffic accident that resulted in a policeman being killed on the scene. Sears still remains as the malls only anchor.

(excerpted from a MallHistory.com report by Andy Morg)


June 28, 2010 Sears Robbed

Feb 10,2009 I grew up on Yale Road, 7 houses down from the Penney's corner of the mall. I remember it being a farm when we moved there in 1967. It was a hill covered in trees- bulldozed to the hole it became. My dad actually worked security at the mall while it was being built and I played on the constructions site. When the mall opened it was a great day- my dad worked in the men's dept of Goldsmith's sellign suits and the sporting goods dept. of Woolworth's. Some of my favorite foods were at the Woolworth diner- I loved the cheesecake- still have the recipe for it. My first job was at Suzy's there. I worked ther on and off for years and made many friends while working there. I lived in that neighborhood until the late 1990's and I have seen the mall go through many evolutions and changes- the saddest is the demise of it.

See also Mall Memories


Circa 1974 - picture courtesy of MemphisMemories.org

When Raleigh Springs Mall was built the area around it was rural. This picture shows the Mall in 1974 and close examination will reveal that there was no development on the other three corners of Yale and Austin Peay at that time.

Things Change

I went by the Raleigh Springs Malls today, Black Friday. The biggest shopping day of the year - the day after Thanksgiving. Most of the parking lot was empty. Most of the mall anchors are closed. Sears is still open and there were less than 50 cars around the Sears entrance. Walking through the mall revealed many storefronts closed. The mall has been remodeled in recent years and looks great. There was a decent amount of traffic walking the mall, but the signs of a slow death were all around. On the main mall lobby, the entrance to the now closed anchor Goldsmiths was covered with 5 or 6 tall, big potted trees. Smaller stores were just empty, no covering for them. It's hard to say what the future holds for this mall - it's still hanging on. It's nowhere near the scale of the Mall of Memphis, but still very large...
Doug F - Black Friday, 2005

When we moved to Memphis in late 1994, there were already signs that this mall had seen better days. It looked very dated and while it had a few good stores that we were interested in, it seemed as though the surrounding had gone downhill and it was already affecting the mall. In recent times, I have heard that they made extensive renovations to the mall, but it has not been in time to save the few anchor stores that are left. Even though they still have a Sears as an anchor store, I do not feel that it is long before this is the next mall to face the wrecking ball.
Deborah D. December 20, 2005

this was the mall that i spent the most time at during my life in Memphis. wow, it's so strange to look at the Dillard's that was once the nicest store in the entire mall just withered and dead. i remember there being a Goldsmith's, Sears, JCP, and of course the Dillard's. i remember that there was a Woolworth's that i would go to with my Grandmother, and we'd eat at the little cafe' inside it. i don't know what it was, but those hamburgers at Woolworth's were excellent! i lived in Raleigh for quite a while, so RSM was the place where i'd meet friends and hang out. we'd go to a movie, grab a Hot Sam's pretzel (with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese.... AWESOME!), or perhaps cruise down to the Musicland and check out the new tapes (yeah, tapes, ok?). i got my first Guns N' Roses t-shirt at that mall from that Musicland! i also got my first Swatch watch there (Dillard's), my first Polo shirt there(Goldsmith's), and went on my first (sort of) blind date there. actually, that was my only blind date ever, possibly due to the disappointment it brought, but that's another story entirely. basically, this was the mall where i really experienced many of the things that we all do during our formative years, and it's a shame to see it in such pitiful shape. that mall, as simple as it was (and is, i guess since it's not dead yet) was everything to me and my friends from a social standpoint, it was more than just a place to buy goods. it was our hangout, our safehaven away from the parents, and the place where we felt like we could be ourselves. i guess this mall was to me like the MoM was for so many others that have posted on this site. the MoM to me was mostly symbolic, but the RSM was where i grew up. Memphis has changed all over, and i don't think it's all for the better.
mc May 5, 2007

I was in the vicinity of the Raleigh Springs Mall earlier today and I was rather depressed to see the condition the mall was in. I grew up going there as much as I grew up going to the Mall of Memphis. While I was in the area, I went around to the side and the back and got a few pics of the empty anchor stores with my phone -- they're not the best, but I didn't have my digital camera on me.
JC Penney:
Goldsmith's:
Dillard's:
Sad, isn't it? The Dillard's is really depressing to look at. I have a lingering childhood memory of the place -- it was where my parents bought me a pair of white pants for something I had to dress up for in preschool. Also, I vaguely remember the escalators in the place were rather interesting -- I seem to think they were enclosed in a narrow and very tall passageway with reflective walls. All in all, I get the feeling either this mall or Hickory Ridge will be the next to go...
Clinton Yelvington, May 5, 2007

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