Remember the Fox Run Mall’s Old Rival, the Newington Mall in New Hampshire?
Every morning on my way into work, I pass by a lighted sign I’ve seen from the highway since I was three years old: “JCPenney.” I take note of it every day because of the bittersweet feelings it brings.
I think about how Newington, New Hampshire, used to be the place to go for a day of shopping, gaming, or general tomfoolery. But the feeling is fleeting, as the next place in my line of vision is a Spirit Halloween store – where Sears once stood. And a furniture store that occupies the space of the epicenter of fun on the Seacoast: Bowl USA and Chuck E. Cheese’s. That’s right, bowling balls and ski balls under the roof.
It's nothing new to mourn the once-great Fox Run Mall. But what you may not realize if you moved to the Seacoast within the past quarter century is that our mall scene used to be so good – we actually had two within walking distance of one another.
You may know it as “The Crossings at Fox Run,” or “the Best Buy place," but from the '70s into the early '90s it was The Newington Mall – an interconnected dwelling stocked as fully as its rival, the Fox Run.
Just rattling off the stores in conversation brings back nostalgia I didn’t even realize existed. First, you had Montgomery Ward – “Dad’s Store.” I don’t remember exactly what they had, but I think it was a mix of polo shirts and lawnmowers – nipping at Sears to keep them on their toes.
Then there was “Mom’s Store” – Porteous. I’m not sure what they had, either, as I typically blacked out from begging to leave. But I know that when Mom got something to wear from Porteous, it was a BIG DEAL.
Finally, there was my store – Bradlees. They had everything. Wiffleball bats, Wrestling Buddies, and of course, Ghostbusters toys. In fact, it was Bradlees where I finally located the elusive Janine Melnitz action figure to complete my collection.
What I miss most about the Newington Mall was its tremendous Trick or Treat Night, where they actually turned the entire mall into a haunted house. That’s the kind of thing we’re missing as malls die out; I’ve yet to see an Amazon drone dress up as Dracula and hand out Twix.
Sadly, that’s where the memories fade. I vaguely remember a toy store, and I’m pretty sure it was once home to a Shaw’s. But as I look back on my weekly trips to the malls (yes, malls plural!) with Dad in the late '80s, I wish I could remember more.
Do you have any recollections of the all-but-forgotten Newington Mall? Tell me the stores you remember. Did it have a food court? An arcade? What was your favorite hangout spot? I’d love to hear them.
Send them to: Jonrineman@townsquaremedia.com.
Who knows? Maybe we could remind people how great malls like Fox Run can be, create a few jobs for people on the Seacoast, and let kids grow up with the memories we have of spending the day with a loved one.
Below: John Havlicek and the Celtics Go Shopping at Bradlees