Kirkwood Plaza Shopping Center, known today as Kirkwood Mall, is an enclosed regional shopping center in Bismarck that features more than 90 tenants, including six full-line anchors: Target, Scheels Sporting Goods, Herberger’s, JCPenney, I. Keating Furniture, and (as of 2016) H&M. At approximately 850,000 square feet, Kirkwood Mall is the largest shopping center in central and western North Dakota, second in the state only to Fargo’s West Acres.
Kirkwood Mall is named for Robert Kirkwood, who once served as Chairman and CEO of F.W. Woolworth Company. Mr. Kirkwood had previously served as store manager for the Bismarck Woolworth store from 1932-1939.
Woolworth was the first section of Kirkwood to be completed, opening in November 1970. At 72,900 square feet, it was one of the largest Woolworth stores in the Midwest at the time, leading to a common misconception that it was a Woolco store, the chain’s discount arm.
Kirkwood Plaza itself opened in April 1971 with 39 stores. In addition to Woolworth, Montgomery Wards, Herbergers, and Osco Drug were original anchors. Kirkwood was the city’s largest single development up to that point and the largest shopping center in North Dakota until West Acres opened the following year. The center was conceived of and developed by Paul H. Wachter, who had been considering the idea for nearly a decade.
With the opening of Kirkwood, the surrounding area quickly replaced downtown Bismarck as the region’s main economic hub, showcasing a diverse mix that included retail, restaurants, banking, housing, hotels, and other commercial interests. With the exception of newcomer Herbergers, all of Kirkwood’s anchors previously maintained downtown locations. Woolworth and Osco did, however, continue to maintain a downtown presence for a short time following the opening of Kirkwood.
Herbergers is the only remaining original anchor.
In 1977, Kirkwood began construction of a new south wing, which, when completed in 1980, would include two new anchors: Target and J.C. Penney. Scheels Sporting Goods was soon after established as a junior anchor upon its relocation from Arrowhead Plaza in 1984, becoming the company’s first “All Sports” location with a focus exclusively on sporting goods.
Woolworths – Kirkwood’s first store and whom’s namesake was former CEO – shuttered in 1985, but was soon replaced with Daytons, which went onto become Marshall Fields in 2001 prior to closing in 2005. Immediately after, the Fields space was torn down to be replaced by a brand-new Target store. Scheels soon relocated into the former Target space, which was adjacent to Scheels’ original location within the mall.
Herbergers greatly expanded their Kirkwood Mall location in late 1993, shuttering its Gateway Mall store immediately after.
Montgomery Ward Closure
Kirkwood saw its first – and longest – anchor vacancy in its northwest corner when Montgomery Ward closed in 1998, in response to the company’s bankruptcy re-organization. The space sat mostly empty until 2002, when I. Keating Furniture World occupied the space.
Plaza 3, the three-screen movie theater closed in 2001 and McDonalds departed in 2003. KB Toys and Wilson Leather have also since closed as a result of each company’s bankruptcy, leaving the once vibrant wing nearly void, but poised for an upcoming Scheels expansion.
CVS/pharmacy, an original tenant (as Osco Drug), relocated into a new freestanding store located directly northwest of Kirkwood Mall in January 2010. For a short time, its junior anchor space was occupied by the ND Department of Transportation while its main facility, located on the Capitol Grounds, was renovated. Later, the space hosted Hot Spring Spas and Pool Tables for a short time. Today, the space is home to Shoe Dept. Encore.
In 2012, Scheels greatly expanded its footprint, essentially enveloped the entire southwest wing once home to Target, McDonald’s, Wilson’s Leather, and the original Scheels junior anchor. The result was the company’s largest single-floor location.
H&M & Other Recent Developments
Beginning in 2014 with Coldwater Creek, and continuing into 2015 with Radioshack and Deb Shops, corporate bankruptcies saw the departure of several mall tenants. Arby’s, too, departed in 2015 after maintaining a presence at the mall since the early 1990s (most of which was at a different location nearest Herbergers). It was the first Arby’s in Bismarck.
In 2016, major construction commenced to renovate an existing 22,000-square-foot section of the mall’s south side, between JCPenney and Scheels, to accommodate North Dakota’s first H&M store – a Swedish apparel retailer.
The outlots surrounding Kirkwood Mall have also seen several recent developments, including the opening of Bismarck’s first Panera Bread and Caribou Coffee locations.
NOTE: The Woolworth store was the first section of the mall to be completed, opening in November 1970; however, the majority of the mall did not open to the public until April 1971. A grand opening celebration was held the following month with Robert Kirkwood in attendance.
>See also: Kirkwood Mall Directory Listings
Current Anchor Stores:
- Scheels Sporting Goods (1984-Present)
- Target (1980-Present)
- Herbergers (1971-Present)
- JCPenney (1980-Present)
- I. Keating Furniture (2002-Present)
- H&M (2016-Present)
- Shoe Dept Encore (Junior Anchor, 2014-Present)
Former Anchor Stores:
- F.W. Woolworth (1970-1985) Note: Woolworth was the first store to open
- Montgomery Ward (1971-1998)
- Osco Drug (1971-2010; converted to CVS/pharmacy in 2006)
- Daytons (1985-2001; 2001-2005 as Marshall Fields)
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