For many people under the age of 25, the Steeplegate Mall in Concord, New Hampshire is a landmark of the city. But, its early days were marked by uncertainty. In July 1990, the mall opened with the goal of providing a convenient shopping experience for New Hampshire residents, without overshadowing the businesses and atmosphere of Main Street. Several years before the mall debuted, Robbie Hoenig reported on the overall feeling of residents toward such shopping centers, and how the advent of malls impacted communities like Concord.
This month the mall turns 26, and most fears of the shopping center taking business away from Main Street have been largely dispelled. The mall has struggled to keep tenants, and the refurbishment of Main Street has revived Concord’s downtown. Though the mall has lost many of its “traditional” shopping attractions, new businesses have moved in to create a more unique mall experience.
Hatbox Theater and Bounce House Entertainment Center are two standout additions to the Steeplegate Mall, unconventional operations to be housed at a mall. The newcomers signal a change in the way that shopping centers attract business. Echoing the fears of the 1980s about shopping malls taking business away from downtown districts, malls are now struggling against the convenience of online shopping. As a result, it is likely that malls such as the Steeplegate Mall will have to broaden their services and tenants in attempts to lure shoppers away from their laptops and into the halls of large shopping centers.