Newark, Delaware, USA
Note: Posts through the summer focus on malls in or near vacation areas, mostly in the US I-95 corridor. Christiana Mall is 45 minutes to an hour south of Philadelphia, an hour north of Baltimore, and two hours north of Washington.
I began frequenting this mall over a decade ago on trips up and down the I-95 Corridor: I wanted some new towels from Macys on sale. And given a choice, I’d choose the Macy’s that didn’t charge sales tax—saving an additional 5 to 7 percent. (Christiana Mall is in the tiny state of Delaware, which doesn’t charge sales tax to distinguish it from its economically powerful neighbors of Maryland New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.) I bought the towels and revived my dormant Macys account during the purchase (for an additional 15% off). The net result of that experience: my Macy’s card gets regular workouts and I’ve been a regular visit to this mall ever since.
Its primary attraction was its sales-tax-free Macys. The mall didn’t impress me as much of anything special. One end of the mall was essentially dead when an anchor closed down and the selection of stores in the rest of the mall ranged from ho to hum (with the exception of Aveda, Pottery Barn, and Williams Sonoma).
Towards the end of the 2000s, Nordstrom’s announced plans to knock down the dead department store and build a replacement. In preparation, the mall gussied itself up. The exterior transformed with restaurants and other stores opening directly to the outside.
A new food court sprung up, with two of my favorites—the politically incorrect Chick-Fil-A and Carvel’s Ice Cream.
The store selection seemed to strengthen. Apple opened a store here and later, so did Microsoft. Target opened a large store. Fashion favorites like Armani Exchange, Anthropologie, Forever 21, and H&M moved in.
The restaurant selection strengthened, too. A California Pizza Kitchen opened up, as did a Panera—a notch above the food court in quality and a notch below a full-service restaurant in price.
Finally, after several years of construction, new on- and off-ramps from I-95 opened, somewhat fixing traffic patterns.
In other words, over the past decade, Christiana Mall has transformed from a mall I went to save a few bucks on sales tax at Macy’s to a mall I visit with some serious shopping intentions. Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels that way. If the information on the mall’s Wikipedia entry is correct, this mall is one of the top grossing malls in the US. Admittedly, it has not appeared on any top 10 lists I’ve seen but that doesn’t mean it’s not on a top 50 list and it might explain the significant improvements in the past several years.
Mall at a Glance
Anchors: Department stores: JC Penney, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Target.
Also: Cabela’s (separate building) and Cinemark Theaters.
National chains: Anthropologie, Apple, Armani Exchange, Aveda, Barnes & Noble, Clark’s, Disney Store, Forever 21, Francesca’s, Gap, H&M, House of Hoops by Foot Locker, Invicta, Kid’s Foot Locker, Microsoft, Oakley, Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret, White House Black market, Williams Sonoma, and Zales.
Outbuildings include: Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, hhGregg (appliances and electronics), Michael’s, Petco, Sear’s appliances
Variety of merchandise: Excellent. Exceptionally strong in fashion and accessories, computer-based electronics, and sporting goods.
Prices are middle- to upper-middle range.
Even after rebuilding the ramps, traffic flow from I-95 to the mall still backs up onto the highway, especially during heavy shopping seasons.
Traffic flow within the mall property can be a bit screwy; relies on 1-way roads in parts and returning to I-95 is never as easy as one thinks it should be.
But finding parking never seems to be a serious problem.
One more issue: According to its website, youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a supervising adult age 18 or over after 5 pm on Friday and Saturday.
Food court: A variety of options—some atypical of the standard mall food court. Options include Chick Fil-A, Carvel’s, MasterWok, McDonalds, Mrs. Field’s, Ruby Thai Kitchen, SaladWorks, Sbarro, Subway.
Other options exist: For a break: Starbuck’s, Teavana, the café at Barnes & Noble, and Jasmine Smoothie (among others) are available elsewhere in in the mall.
Several restaurants are also available, including fast-casual favorite Panera and full-service restaurants Brio Tuscan Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory, and JB Dawson’s.
Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christiana_Mall