Saturday, March 24, 2007

Retro Mall Video - 1986 Universal Mall Boat Show

Universal Mall, Warren, Michigan (1986)

In March of 1986, our family rambled over to our favorite local shopping mall, Universal Mall, in Warren, Michigan, to look at all the fancy new boats and other vehicles on display at their annual indoor sportsman's boat & car show, which was an event we always enjoyed digging on over the years. This time we had our new RCA video camera along (which was the size of a Buick in those days), and my dad and I took turns capturing all the hot boat-on-car action!

Though we were mainly focused on said groovy vehicles that day, we still managed to capture a few glimpses here and there of a circa 1986 Universal Mall, along with its overall ambience--including the Easter Bunny, who was visiting in the mall's center court area (where Santa always sat, too).

Some of the stores you can just glimpse in the background (helps if you knew the mall well), most of which are long gone now, include: Gell's Sporting Goods, Spencer Gifts (yeah baby!), Cambridge, Crowley's, Radio Shack, GNC (still there!), Leather Loft, So-Fro Fabrics, Hit or Miss, Montgomery Ward (One Store To Rule Them All), Siddens, Circus World, and even the faintest blurry hint of Woolworth's in the distance just to the left of Circus World.

This was all a couple years before Universal got some major structural remodeling in '89 (when the Mervyn's wing was added, among other lame stuff), so things were still at least a little groovy in there at this point--the mall had undergone a major decor facelift around 1981, however, so this still doesn't reflect its truly vintage era of the 1970s, unfortunately.

Finally, please, PLEASE, if anyone out there has old photos, maps, brochures, or films of Universal Mall (which was originally called, Universal City), anything at all, please contact me! Material from the '80s or before--and especially from the '60s or '70s--I'd love to see. Just e-mail me if you can help.

Mall history: 1965 - present
Current website: here
Current aerial view
Info from Wikipedia
Previous entries: none


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just love watching this video. And I would LOVE to see some older pictures of this mall here too! Hopefully someone will come forward with some.

Sat Mar 24, 06:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The easter bunny was creepy.

Sun Mar 25, 04:22:00 PM  
Anonymous didi said...

I think if people knew I was watching a car and boat show stuck in a mall from 1986 they'd think I was very weird.

Mon Mar 26, 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

I always love when this site profiles malls in the 80's.

Tue Mar 27, 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Michigan sure does love its boat shows! My family would be as likely to own a Saturn IV rocket as a boat, but we dutifully showed up at Cobo Hall or wherever with everybody else to see how much progress had been made every year in improving on the SS Minnow.

Tue Mar 27, 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

Renault Beats Toyota! Who could forget "Le Car"?
Anyone remember the SNL knock off for "Adobe, the little car made out of clay"?

Wed Mar 28, 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

brick type floors! fountains! dark lighting and low ceilings! this reminds of the Naugatuck Valley Mall that used to be in Waterbury,it had a similar type of atmosphere to this mall.

BTW the bunny looked cute, more cuter compared to todays really big eyed 'monsters' that for some reason are trendy these days. (you know what I mean the eyes looking extremely big compared to the rest of the head)

Thu Apr 19, 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger Semen Rendi said...

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Sun Oct 12, 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you help me with a request. Universal City had in the early days, a tile mural of the galaxy on the outside. Does anyone have a photo of it or any information about what happened to the mural. I seem to remember it as a screen wall for Woolworths and Cunningham drugs loading area, next to Montgomery Wards. This would be around the time the mall first open until the mid 70s.

Also, does anyone have a photo of the storefront of Winkelman's at this mall. I remember a moat around the display platform with fish spigots recycling the water.

Wed Oct 07, 04:56:00 PM  

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