North Grand in Ames: How grand is it really?

Jenny Zhou, Visual Editor


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Some of my earliest memories take place while shopping with my parents. Almost none of them, however, include shopping at North Grand. Instead, I remember making a Build-A-Bear at the larger Jordan Creek in Des Moines. I recall getting ice cream at Coldstone and trying clothes on at kids GAP.

Established in 1971, North Grand Mall has been a center of hang-outs in our small town. Anchored by JCPenney’s on one side, and an ever changing cycle of stores on the other, the tiny shopping mall has experienced its ups and downs.

North Grand isn’t memorable and is just a little bit sad as well. The business is barely flowing, and you don’t see the crowd that you see at larger malls. The few stores that have remained over the years are the extremely large chains such as Victoria’s Secret or Express. They don’t depend on business in Ames to stay afloat.

Despite the businesses that take space in the mall, they hold many events. The only recollection I have of being at North Grand was winning a laptop from a scavenger hunt. However, I was unaware of what was going on until my friend and I arrived at the mall to hang out. We ran out of stores to go through and a shopkeeper told us about the contest.

With 340,000 sq ft of space, much of it is wasted. Instead of using the space to fit more stores for consumers to shop, there are homely kiosks advertising Proactive and selling phone cases. The larger Jordan Creek mall has 1,340,000 sq ft of space, a food court, stores for people of all ages and tastes. The sad mall has been depressing for years, and even a friend who visited Ames commented on how she pitied the residents that use North Grand as their primary shopping center.

So, North Grand, it’s definitely time for an expansion or an upgrade. Maybe a second floor. Who knows? There’s been effort to expand, clearly, with the addition of TJ Maxx, but step it up a notch! A bigger mall will definitely attract more consumers and a larger crowd looking for a place to hang out.