While New London County’s only enclosed shopping mall, the Crystal Mall in Waterford, is just completing a , its two-level anchors are still small and offerings not diverse as compared to other shopping centers.
The 793,000-square-foot mall is anchored by an 115,000-square-foot Macy’s, a 150,000-square-foot Sears, and a 90,000-square-foot J.C. Penney.
At the smaller Auburn Mall, Macy’s has a 165,000-sqaure-feet main store and a 87,500-square-foot home store for a total of 252,500 square feet, or more than twice the size of its Waterford store. Auburn’s 165,120-square-foot Sears store with separate detached auto center is more than 15,000 square feet larger than the Waterford store.
At the Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester, J.C. Penney has a 128,000-square-foot store, almost one and a half times the size of Waterford.
While the Crystal Mall’s newly renovated food court looks beautiful, it is still home to non-food tenants. I recommend the mall open a Popeye’s Chicken, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Ben and Jerry’s like Providence.
The mall's tiny WOW Family Amusement Arcade is disappointing if gamers experienced Dave and Buster’s in Providence. South Shore Plaza opened a new Dave and Buster’s and the Crystal Mall should do the same.
At the least, I wish the mall would bring back the motion simulator turbo ride.
An even smaller Wakefield Mall has something the Crystal Mall doesn’t, an independent book store while the Manchester Parkade features a Majesty Bible and Books store. Opening something along those lines could compliment Books-A-Million in the nearby Waterford Commons Shopping Center.
The mall should consider opening a Funny Bone Comedy Club and a Toy Stop like Manchester.
The mall could also take a page from West Farms Mall and open an Apple Store, Harry and David, and Pottery Barn.
However, there are several ways the mall has improved and continues to improve.
The Day reported that a Charley’s Grilled Subs is slated to soon open in the food court and Yellow Cupcakes, a high-end cupcake eatery, will soon open on the upper level near J.C. Penney.
The mall was smart in adding a lively Buffalo Wild Wings to their lineup of sit-down restaurants which include Longhorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden, both outparcels.
The Christmas Tree Shop and Bed, Bath, and Beyond, like the above mentioned restaurants, are unique to eastern Connecticut and quite popular.
The family restrooms near the children’s play area and the new "soft seating areas" with comfy chairs were great additions to the mall.
The new pattern tiling, brown carpeting, and stone finish on the staircases and escalators helped the mall get rid of the old hospital white theme. The upper level carpeting eliminates the glare from the skylights that used to be burdensome on sunny days.
Patch readers: What suggestions do you have for retail, food, and entertainment offerings at the Crystal Mall? Do you prefer shopping at another mall in the tri-state area? Which one and why?