Friday, May 26, 2006

Bergen Mall documentary

Paramus, New Jersey
"A short documentary film about a very unusual mall in NJ, full of strangeness and colorful characters."
Short film by Robin Groves, on the venerable old Bergen Mall. Well done. Very nice job, Robin!

Mall history: 1957 - present
Current aerial view
Current website: here

Note: Video is Flash format. If you don't see it, you must temporarily disable your ad-blocking programs.


Blogger JM said...

Brilliant! She certainly captured the essence of this mall which seems frozen in time.

Fri May 26, 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Don't know the mall personally, but I agree it's a great little documentary.

Thu Jun 01, 09:16:00 PM  
Anonymous margie said...

kieth out of all your photos i just loved this i even watched it twice oh yeah jm i like picture

Sat Jun 10, 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger hushpuppy said...

good news! Century 21, the fabulous New York-based discount department store is getting ready to open in the old Stern's Department Store in the Bergen Mall. This is sure to give the mall a much-needed shot in the arm, as well as a great place to get bargains on tax-free clothing

Fri Jul 07, 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger karen said...

I went to this mall today...never really go there but my mom likes it.

It's definately in a time warp but in a cool kind of way. Century 21 was's layout is weird where one rack might have shirts priced around $15-20 where the rack next to it has $250 Cashmere sweaters. Personally, I think if you're gonna have stores with such a huge different price ranges I would at least have the stuff separated...ya know like a different area of the store with the expensive things.

The chapel is definately interesting I went to it today to check it out. My mom says it's packed on holy days to the point where they have sliding glass doors that they slide open and the people stand out in the hallway to hear the mass.

It's a slowpaced, lazy kinda mall for if you don't want to deal with huge crowds like GSP or Willowbrook.

Sat Sep 09, 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous JGM said...

Wow, just wow. This is nothing short of amazing. One mall seems to have escaped the great white-washing that Malls seem to be going through these days. I'm almost willing to drive out to NJ (from CT) to check this place out.

Wed Dec 13, 08:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

The first time I visited the Bergen Mall was in the autumn of 1983, about 14 months before me and my family moved to Bergen County. It was the first mall in NJ I ever went to. Aside from Sterns, they also had Orbach's (later Steinbach) on the other side. The mall also had a Playhouse, which was a theatre venue. When I went back to the mall again in early 1985, Carole and Paula (of "The Magic Garden" fame) were performing there (as seen in a large poster outside the Playhouse).

I don't recall too many of the stores there (this was not the mall of choice for me or my family--who went to either Paramus Park or GSP, although my mom came here to go to Linens and Things-which the exterior sign was seen on the parking lot level). This mall had JJ Newberry, which was a large five-and-ten (Marshalls is now in that location). One of the things I remember about Newberrys by the time I moved to NJ and was at BM again (early 1985), the ceiling was peeling off so badly it was like being at Alexander's (across from GSP) before that store closed.

Back to 1983--there was one store I recall being located on one of the side halls called "(something) Imports", which had a treasure trove of stickers and interesting paraphenalia; sort of a cleaner version of Spencer Gifts.

BM also had a Merns Mart right across from Orbach's.

I stumbled across this web site a few short days ago and now I am constantly looking up dead malls all across the country. BM proper is not totally dead; it's in serious condition--it's the East Arcade that is dead (I have pictures).

The '70s irregular lamps hanging from the ceiling are still intact; the basement is a walking time capsule; the Village Mall is still there as is the brown/gold tiling along the walls--so are some of the old school signage on top bearing the signs "Chapel" and "Auditorium". Some parts are totally abandoned, with peelings and decay along walls and one eerie dark area with a staircase leading up to who-knows-where. The outside of where Merns Mart used to be (across from what used to be Orbach's) still retains the red/yellow large bold tiles. There is also a '70s wood design pattern in the middle of the mall, opposite where Stern's used to be (now Century 21). I took a lot of pictures inside and outside of this mall today so I'd love to share them with you.

Robin's movie was nice. Little has changed except that the red and yellow-tiled fountain is gone, along with the odd-looking seats. They also changed the promenade area leading to the basement. The last time I was inside that mall prior to today was ages ago; last time I remember being there (more than 15 years ago), the promenade area was blue/aquamarine/red/orange tiled (emphasis on the blue tiles). Now it's white and pastel-colored.

Last, but, bot least, Orbach's is now boarded up completely. When I was there today, there was a ladder in the middle and outside the mall, the entrances had chains sound the doors. The parking lot was maybe 15% full by noon. The doors have "Bergen Town Center" on the front-which is to be the new name of the new shopping center which is to replace the already existing mall. Art renditions of the exterior are posted inside the mall along the walls, and virtually no trace of this mall will remain. I took a lot of pictures today of this soon-to-be dead mall.

Wed Jan 17, 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Thanks for all the kind words about my movie! It was actually shown in Fort Lee a few weeks ago in the auditorium at the Fort Lee Historic Park, as part of a Women In Film series thingy. I'm glad people like this movie and also might be prompted to go check out the mall, which is really cool and might be renovated soon, which would be a shame.

Thu Mar 22, 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was an awesome video.
i've been to the mall many many times - but NEVER have I been downstairs. I never even knew there was a downstairs until eating at the Nathan's one day and I saw the sign. I can't get over the 'village' of stores. How ODD.
it's amazing this mall was frozen in time for so long, as with retail space you would think being at such a preimum in the area. crazy!
i actually went into that Corset store before it closed, it was run by two older ladies rocking bee-hive hairdos, they were more frozen in time than the mall! they had the craziest old stuff there!
i think pastryland closed, too. ValueCity is gone as well.

I imagine with the addition of Century21, the mall will see a facelift which is kind of sad because it really is a different and odd place. thanks again for the video!

Thu Jun 28, 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

For the 80's fans: Tiffany's mall tour, "The Beautiful You", Celebrating The Good Life Shopping Mall Tour '87 began at the Bergen Mall in Paramus, New Jersey on June 23, 1987. This tour was set up by Shopping Center Network and was sponsored by Toyota, Clairol, and Adidas.

Thu Oct 11, 10:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is pure garbage and it's not a "FILM" by the way. It's another lame home video. Go to a film school like "NYU" asap and study the medium!

Sun Dec 30, 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not a "Film", it's another home video online. Go to a "Film" school like NYU asap and study the medium!

Sun Dec 30, 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live about an hour away from this mall. I've gone there from time to time to shop at places like Century 21, and off 5th. Yet I never knew there was a chapel in the mall. Anyway, the mall is under construction as I write this. When Sterns went out, Macys came in. There was also a value City, but it didn't make it there. I'm guessing that they are planning a total revamp of the mall. I'm anxious to see how it develops. Thanks for this wonderful blog. As a person that has worked in Retail for 23 years. It's interesting to see how these malls looked in there early days.

Sun Jan 20, 07:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous:

Did she say she was using this video to promote herself as the next Spike Lee or someone, you braindead idiot? It's a home video meant to stir up nostalgia and bring a few chuckles. So what's your problem? You can't tell the difference between this and the Sundance festival? You're just a bored teenager who needs to go back to your homework. Oh, I forgot. You must study at NYU because you critique others so eloquently. If you are an NYU student, you must be really COOL and IMPORTANT to be spending time and energy on this site.

Grow up and go away, moron. YouTube is waiting for your brilliant comments.

Tue Feb 19, 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neat Little movie.

The Bergen Mall opened soon after the GSP (I believe). I worked at Stern's as an Exec. Trainee upon graduation from college in 1969. The GSP - by the way -was at that time an outdoor mall - all stores were accessed from each other by walking outside down garden paths, like in California. The Bergen Mall at that time was a upper middle class place, with Strens as the main store. It had a good restraunt - Tavern on the Mall, which had a hige bowling alley below it in the lower level. The Mall also had JJ Kressges (sp?) 5 & 10, also gone the way of the dodo, and Wolf's NY Deli Restraunt. All gone. Sad!

Tue Apr 21, 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger robin.g said...

Well, the Bergen Mall is completely renovated. Sure it has a Target and a Whole Foods now, but we vintage-lovers will miss the weird vibe of the place and the cool old decor. But, progress must happen! They need to bring shoppers in and make money (especially since malls are closed on Sundays in Bergen County) so I cannot blame them.

Sun Apr 04, 11:18:00 AM  
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Mon May 28, 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Alan Hyams said...

I am trying to find pictures of the fire fighting competitions held at the mall in the 60's. Living in Maywood the at that time, we would always go there to watch fire companies from the county compete to out a flaming barrel of ignited oil out. Alan

Tue Jul 16, 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Joseph Kazlau said...

The store was called "World Imports"

Sun May 31, 10:35:00 PM  

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