Miller Hill Mall Nostalgia

I know we should all strive to shop as locally as possible for all of our holiday gifts but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. I was at the Miller Hill Mall yesterday and realized how much that place has changed in my lifetime. My biggest memory of the mall was the old movie theater and the McDonald’s right across the way. Not to mention going to Mr. Bulky’s to get candy to sneak in. What are your biggest Miller Hill Mall memories of stores that are no longer there?

32 Comments

Barrett Chase

about 8 years ago

Though I never spent much time there, I'd have to say Aladdin's Castle. That place seemed like a wonderland to me as a kid -- pitch dark, full of awesome electronic possibilities. But I never had enough quarters to really get into it, and my parents didn't enjoy hanging around the food court while I wasted their change jar on Joust.

Rij

about 8 years ago

Orange Bowl?  Robin Hood? I think I remember smoking being allowed.

Danny

about 8 years ago

I have very distinct memories of the big expansion when the mall shape went from a rectangle to a big, upside-down gun.  The big deal then was the Sears.  Mr. Bulky's was pretty exciting for a little fat kid like me, and I remember being enthralled with the gigantic, baseball-sized jawbreakers.

B.I.N.G.O.

about 8 years ago

Colder By The Lake's "lost in the mall parking lot" video -- a funny classic from the 1990s?

baci

about 8 years ago



I used to work at Hickory Farms (first job @ 16) -- I'd stand in the main corridor and hand out slices of my beef stick.

brian

about 8 years ago

I thought you had to be 18 to hand out your beef stick.

heysme

about 8 years ago

Cheese pizza at the Orange Bowl, the movie theater, and I believe it was National Grocery store.

The back-to-school-clothes-child-in-me does not miss Montgomery Wards.

in.dog.neato

about 8 years ago

Did you guys have a Wicks n Sticks and Rings n Things? Our mall always seemed to have one of those. I always liked the rustic ey looking knife and tobacco shop.

BadCat!

about 8 years ago

I used to work up at the comics/game store (Collector's Connection). It was an awkward time when pre-teenish boys were still into kids games, but also starting to discover girls.

I don't know if it was more annoying to sell Pokemon to boys who were "experimenting" with way too much cheap cologne, or the ones who hadn't figured out how to not obviously stare at a woman's chest.

Dorkus

about 8 years ago

Chuck-e-Cheese.

/thread

meb

about 8 years ago

Chuck E Cheese. My older brothers had birthday parties there but it closed down before I was old enough to fully experience the place. I'm still getting over that. And the movie theater, dark and dank, and the arcade games in the lobby. 

I avoid the mall, and go there once every year or two, but I made my annual trip last week. I saw the Spencers store is still there, and had a moment of feeling like a pre-teen again, when I thought that was the coolest store ever. I thought, "wow, I can't believe that place is still there." Then I saw lady with a kid in a stroller roll on in. Ahh, Spencers.

Swan

about 8 years ago

+1 to to Aladdin's Castle. Played endless Tempest, Battle Zone, Centipede, Astroids and pinball there. Yes, a slice of cheese pizza at Orange Julius across from Glass Block, then on to Spencer's Gifts and buying selvedge Levi's jeans at the County Seat. I saw Empire Strikes Back at the movie theatre on the right side as you walk in the main entrance. Also many late night showings like Apocalypse Now and Pink Floyd the Wall. 

When did the mall open? I remember it being 1976???  "Join your circle of friends at the Miller Hill Mall..."

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

The Miller Hill Mall opened in 1973. It originally had 663,000 square feet of shopping area.

A $23 million expansion in the late 1980s added Sears, the food court and about two-dozen small stores.

Personal mall fact: The scar on my forehead is from when I split my noggin open falling down stairs at the mall as a toddler. (I'll see if my mom has a sad photo of that to share.)

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago



The News Tribune attic notes that before there was a food court at the mall Montgomery Ward had a "buffeteria."

Another attic post features this 1979 aerial photo.

Sanchette

about 8 years ago

So many vintage mall memories:

This time of year, the mall put up Christmas displays which had little houses you could peek into. There were animated characters baking cookies and making toys. Very magical for a little kid -- late 1970s maybe? 

+1 for the Orange Bowl! Also, Musicland, Stewart's, Tivoli, Spiegel, Brooks, Hickory Farms, Wards, Glass Block, Fanny Farmer, Wicks N Sticks, Capezio, Kinney Shoes, Bakers, Robin Hood Restaurant ... Wallgreens and JCPenney's had restaurants too. In the late 1980s/early '90s I worked at the Dairy Queen/Karmelkorn/Orange Julius right across from the Movie Theater, Reinhold's and Tape World.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

PDD founder Barrett Chase -- the first person to comment on this post -- is on the far left in this mall photo from the summer of 1988.



I'm pretty sure this is in the Montgomery Ward store.

StrayPointer

about 8 years ago

Spent too much time and money in Aladdin's Castle, Software Etc and to a lesser extent, Babbages.  The manager at Software Etc was kind enough to let me play a demo floppy on their Amiga 500 that I received from a 7th grade pen pal in Denmark.  This was ~1990 if I recall correctly.

Lauracurtisspalmer

about 8 years ago

I used to be the assistant manager of Glass Block Beauty Salon back in the late 1970s. I can still remember customers and staff crying like crazy because word went out that Elvis had died. I was so sad to see Glass Block had ended. It was a beautiful store. I used to spend my lunch breaks watching the gift-wrapping department do its thing. It was amazing to me how beautiful they made the gifts look. Great days. 

Glass Block Memories from the News Tribune Attic

Slim Jimmy M

about 8 years ago

My great aunt ran a clothing boutique in the Miller Hill Mall called Tivoli.  The store's slogan was "Tivoli!  I love it spelled backwards!"

northland85

about 8 years ago

I worked at Tape World across from the Karmelkorn. Many memories of working there. But 3 stick out clearly. In the front of the store, two splash tables were set up with budget-priced cassette tapes. 3/4 of the walls were lined with cassettes and then cds down the middle. Other audio items were on the fourth wall. I was cleaning up the table at the front of the store one day and this guy looks at me and asks, "do you have any scotch tape?" I pause, slowly looking around the store and respond, well, no we do not. But, I am sure Walgreens does. The second was the one Salvation Army bell ringer. Man, she had an arm made of iron. Her ringing was consistent and firm (and quite loud).

meb

about 8 years ago

This might merit its own post, but if you want a real blast from the past, visit the Mariner Mall in Superior. Or "mall" as most of it is empty storefronts and non-retail space. My son goes to daycare there, which still seems weird to me. They put up super creepy, old Christmas decor this time of year. I can even remember the song: "Every day is a Mariner Mall celebration, come for the shopping, stay for the fun!"

Lauracurtisspalmer

about 8 years ago

My ex-husband ran the bar at the restaurant that had the ship-shaped bar in it while he was going to the culinary school at the Mariner Mall. I can remember going across the hall to my dentist's office for dental work.  He was a close friend of ours.  After the dental work he locked up his office, we walked across the hall to the restaurant and visited with my husband and had a bloody Mary. They served the best bloody Marys with huge shrimp in them.  Which brings up a great restaurant that used to be at the Miller Hill Mall down the hall from Glass Block toward the Montgomery Ward department store.  Can't remember the name of the restaurant but every Friday the restaurant had happy hour at 5 p.m. and served the best drinks and huge wonderful battered onion rings and a whole bunch of us from the Glass Block Salon would go down to eat, drink and listen to whoever was playing music at the time. Fun days!

pats

about 8 years ago

I think you mean the old Robin Hood restaurant.  They had a cozy bar with live music, and the food wasn't half bad for mall fare.

baci

about 8 years ago

I do remember Miller Hill pre-mall ... a lovely hill with trees and a trout stream running in front. Would go by it on the way to Target or Shakey's Pizza.

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

Duluth had a Shakey's Pizza?  I always thought Shakey's was a local Omaha business.

Zeito

about 8 years ago

I remember the animated Christmas display houses quite well.  I recall them from the early '80s, probably from about '81 to '85.  I wish someone could dig up some info or photos of those.  As a small child they were mesmerizing.

sarafenix

about 8 years ago

Don't forget that back in the day there was a Walgreen's with a lunch counter. They got rid of the counter before they moved across the street. A&E Supply was there, also. It was the only place to buy art supplies in town. The greatest part was the fact that they had not constructed those random parking barriers and you could hit the ice and seemingly spin forever. They just had to get "uppity" and turn it into a clone mall attempting to get us to believe this was a "hip" place to be.

skyline

about 8 years ago

There was a pet store that sold gold fish.  There is and was also a small wishing pond full of water.  My childhood MHM thoughts drift back to freeing those poor goldfish from the pet store.

lojasmo

about 8 years ago

Excellent memories.  Thanks for sharing.  The MHM for me was all about movies.  Saw my first movie there, and most of the movies of my childhood.

And yes, Duluth had a Shakeys.  I believe it was on the west side of Hanes road, across from where Outback currently stands.

ETA: The Duluth Elk's Club currently occupies the former Shakey's pizza building.

DECk37

about 8 years ago

Remember the seating areas in the mall, like pits that you would step down a couple stairs into? The big silver cylinder thing, (though I don't remember it), that JCPenney had windows with displays?

Suzy

about 8 years ago

I remember back in 1981, as a Crossing Guard for Congdon Park, the Duluth Police Dept. rewarded all the Duluth Public School Crossing Guards with a big movie day at the Mall.  We saw Chariots of Fire and as we left we were each handed a pocket knife.  The knife had a white plastic cover and had Duluth Police Department written on it.  We were all sixth graders.

I also remember that smoking was allowed in the movie theater back then too.  As smoking was allowed practically everywhere back then.

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