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The student news site of Dowling Catholic High School

The Dowling Catholic Post

The student news site of Dowling Catholic High School

The Dowling Catholic Post

    Changing the Face of Shopping

    J. Umstead
    One of the many empty storefronts that line Valley West Mall.

    What comes to mind when you think of the Jordan Creek Mall? Busy? Overwhelming? Most of the time when people want to go to the mall, they change their minds because of how long it takes to find a good parking spot and how many people they bump into while trying to shop. But, when you look inside Valley West Mall, it’s the complete opposite. No one goes into that mall anymore. Now, why is that? Is it because of the decrease in stores? Is it because of the location? In this article, you will hear a high school student and a high school teacher give different perspectives on what might’ve happened to the “ghost town mall”. You’ll also read about a former worker at Valley West Mall and what he thinks about what is happening to the once-beloved mall. 

    The empty Von Maur in Valley West Mall (J. Umstead)

    Annmarie McConville (‘24) gives her opinion on the old Valley West Mall. She now shops at Jordan Creek due to the loss in the Valley West Mall stores. “I used to shop at Valley West a lot when Von Maur was there and also Boot Barn and American Eagle,” McConville mentions. All those shops are now closed in the Valley West mall.

    Von Maur opened at Jordan Creek back in late October and after that, Valley West was buried more profoundly than ever. McConville even mentions the last time she shopped at Valley West. “I shopped there about 3 months ago and haven’t gone back and probably won’t, due to the loss of stores.”

    Many people think that the layout of Jordan Creek Mall is much better than the Valley West Mall but many people disagree. “I believe the mall could be much better than what it is now.  I like how small it is and how it wasn’t so busy when I shopped there; I liked that about it,” says McConville.

    McConville mentions that it is always a good thing to have a variety of malls around Des Moines due to the number of people moving here. McConville wishes that Valley West Mall could still be a great place to shop if they had more stores but sadly, that is not the case. 

     A high school teacher shares her opinion about the old mall. Her name is Jenny Umstead and she has had a lot of fun memories at Valley West Mall. “Valley West Mall was the place to be as a kid,” Umstead says.

    Umstead speaks of her favorite memory as a kid and what it was like to be in that amazing mall at the time. “We did this thing called the lock-in and they would lock the doors and we could sleep inside the mall,” Umstead recalls.

    She remembers running all through the halls of the mall and having a lot of fun with her friends and waking up the following day and having freshly made donuts. Unfortunately, Valley West no longer has the lock-in.

    Stores closed throughout the mall (J. Umstead)

    Umstead says she doesn’t shop there much anymore but has gone there recently to find a pair of Birkenstock shoes. “I shopped at the Fit-To-Be-Tied shoe store and of course, there was only one person and that was the employee. But, I did end up finding Birkenstock shoes in my size.”

    Umstead usually shops online instead of going into the stores due to the number of people, especially at the Jordan Creek Mall. “I love online shopping because I get to skip all the lines and I don’t have to bump into people everywhere,” Umstead says. Umstead wishes Valley West Mall was still popular because of how many hours she used to spend there with all her friends. “It’s very depressing when I walk in there now. It makes me feel very sad.” Umstead wonders what the future holds for these malls and if online shopping will take over the rest of the malls just like Valley West Mall.

    How does the “ghost town mall” look behind the scenes?

    Paul Stender used to work at Valley West as the general manager.

    “I am no longer at Valley West Mall as of July of 2022,” Stender says.

    His job was to oversee the management of the property, which included cleaning, maintenance, security, marketing, leasing, and redevelopment of the property.

    The question comes up about how much the mall has been struggling with the many stores that have left and what might have caused that. Stender gives his own opinion. “The changes to Valley West Mall have been due to various market factors, which include local market changes as well as national markets and economic impacts which would include the effects of COVID,” Stender says.

    Empty halls inside the mall (J. Umstead)

    Did Stender ever want to change the mall for the better? Did he try to turn it around in any way? Stender speaks of that. “We were working on bringing in new users as part of a redevelopment of the mall.  The plan was to turn Valley West Mall into a mixed-use project with the main focus being entertainment, restaurants, apartments, and retail.”

    Stender left the Valley West Mall due to new management changes and says it wasn’t a good fit for him. He gives his own opinion about the future of the old Valley West Mall.

    “I think Valley West Mall will need to be redeveloped into something other than a mall. I believe the best use for the property is to turn it into a mixed-use entertainment project.”

    The Valley West Mall has been issued a foreclosure that was made back in October of 2022.

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    About the Contributor
    Averi Langin
    Averi Langin, Editor-in-Chief
    Averi Langin is a senior at Dowling Catholic High School. She has been involved in Newspaper for 2 years and is now the Editor-in-Chief of the paper. She has been involved in cross country, Ut Fidem, yearbook, National Honor Society and golf. Averi loves to read in her free time and golf with friends when it is nice out. Averi is hoping to choose a college to attend next fall and she hopes to double major in business and journalism.

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