In this undated photo, customers enjoy the shops at Stones River Mall in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo submitted)
Before Stones River Mall was constructed in the 1990s, fashionable residents traveled out of Rutherford County in search of chain stores.
Of course, there were always shops on Murfreesboro’s historic Square, but nothing like Hickory Hollow Mall or Cool Springs Galleria existed in the area some 20 years ago.
Sears Roebuck changed all that with the opening of one store that would eventually become Stones River Mall, as more retailers were added until it became a regional, enclosed mall.
This is perhaps the most unique aspect of the shopping center, said Heather Rose, marketing manager for the mall.
In celebration of Stones River Mall’s 20th anniversary and to thank shoppers, the mall is hosting 20 days of deals and a birthday bash this month.
“This shopping mall has touched many, whether they were here to see the birth and evolution of the center, or witnessed the more recent transformation,” she said. “We’re looking at the 20th anniversary as a way to celebrate and give back to the people that have kept us in business – our loyal shoppers.”
While the mall provides a slew of shopping options for residents, it serves a purpose far beyond retail. Murfreesboro Planning Director Joseph Aydelott remembered when Stones River Mall was first proposed, saying “the whole city was very excited about it.
“We felt that it was going to launch the city of Murfreesboro into a bigger league and, to a considerable extent, we were right,” he said.
The city’s retail options have grown extensively since the launch of Stones River Mall with various shopping strips and, of course, the multimillion dollar investment of The Avenue Murfreesboro.
But the mall holds strong in the shopping district.
“Stones River Mall is the only regional enclosed mall serving Murfreesboro and its surrounding cities with an array of stores, dining and amenities,” Rose pointed out. “We strive to maintain a dynamic shopping environment, with retail that appeals to a variety of shoppers. We have very different department and specialty stores than do other shopping centers in the area, and that allows us to remain competitive. We’re very fortunate to be part of such a thriving retail landscape.”
Following Sears’ commitment to Stones River Mall in 1990 were Wal-Mart – which was eventually replaced by Castner-Knott and then Dillard’s – and Goody’s Family Clothing.
“JCPenney opened a few years later along with more popular, national retail stores, making it the largest development on Old Fort Parkway,” Rose added.
Some residents may remember a massive redevelopment and expansion that began in 2005. During phase one, JCPenney, Dillard’s, the movie theatre and mini food court were demolished.
Brand new JCPenney and Dillard’s – home to the city’s first escalator – were built in addition to a six-unit, 400-seat Food Court. The complete interior makeover included new arched ceilings, enhanced lighting, Italian tile and marble floors, stacked stone entrances, soft seating, landscaping and a new children’s soft play area.
The renovations also welcomed the addition of several regional and national tenants, including Electronic Express and junior anchor, Books-A-Million.
“The mall is almost unrecognizable post-redevelopment,” says Rose. “Most people probably remember the fountain in center court, and the red, white and blue tile floors.”
The second phase of construction consisted of The Shops at Stones River addition, which boosted the mall’s square footage from 300,000 square feet to nearly 700,000 square feet.
This new open-air expansion is anchored by Dillard’s and features hot-list retailers including A’GACI, Forever 21, GAP, Parmida Home, Shoe Carnival, Bink’s Outfitters, Versona Accessories and more.
Over the past several years Stones River Mall has continued to add new shops and restaurants.
“The redevelopment and expansion has paved the way for great new retail and has allowed us to expand our shopping and dining options,” Rose said of the changes to the mall.
While there are no major plans for expansions around the corner, Rose said the mall is always on the lookout new stores that will be complementary to the center.
For more 20th anniversary news and a complete list of 20th anniversary promotional partners, visit www.stonesrivermall.com or call 615-896-4486.