Memories abound at Stratford Square Mall as closure looms – NBC Chicago

A sense of sadness and nostalgia can be felt inside the Stratford Square Mall in suburban Bloomingdale as the once bustling ’90s mall is set to close its doors at the end of this month.

“If I ever wrote a book about working here, no one would believe me,” Stephen Miller said. “This mall was totally different. We had completely different stores and at Christmas we couldn’t park in the lot because we had too many cars.

Miller has been a janitor at the mall for nearly 40 years and told NBC Chicago he’s seen everything from new stores and the opening of the movie theater to renovations and accidents on the escalator .

“I saw fires, I saw store robberies, these are things I want to forget,” he said. “Then you see things like this person buys a puppy from Furry Baby and the puppy is so happy, it’s so sweet.”

Opened in 1981, the mall was previously run by Sears, Marshall Fields and Carson Pirie Scott. It has faced many challenges, like other malls across the country, trying to keep up with the changing retail landscape, the rise of online shopping and the economy.

“It’s amazing to watch all this unfold,” he said. “Sad, if they really wanted to, they could save this mall.”

The Village of Bloomingdale acquired the property and consolidated it earlier this year. The village administrator told NBC Chicago that they are working to finalize a redevelopment plan for the property, including a mix of restaurants, entertainment venues, housing and public open spaces.

“This is the wave of the future, so we really don’t know what’s coming, but we’re hoping to look forward to good things,” Sandy Hoffman said.

Hoffman spent 15 years at Marshall Fields before transferring to Woodfield Mall. She now walks the mall with her friends thinking about the memories and history she left behind.

“When this happened in 1981 we were thrilled and our children would come and spend their days here and we felt it was safe and now no one would let their children go to a mall,” she said.

As the remaining stores prepare to leave, Miller is still working until the final minutes, ready to close this chapter of his life saying he will miss the people.

The mall is scheduled to close on April 21.

NBC Chicago

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