Barbara Farragher

Barbara Farragher

Barbara Farragher

As the news broke that Monmouth Mall is set to close its doors, a wave of nostalgia swept through the hearts of many who grew up frequenting this beloved shopping center. For decades, Monmouth Mall was more than just a retail destination; it was a cornerstone of the community, a place where memories were made, friendships were built, and countless Saturdays were spent wandering its halls.

The mall first opened its doors in 1960, quickly becoming a bustling hub for Eatontown and the surrounding areas. By the 1980s and 1990s, Monmouth Mall had firmly cemented its status as a cultural landmark. During these vibrant decades, the mall was a microcosm of the era’s fashion, music, and social life.

Walking through Monmouth Mall in the 1980s, you would have encountered the latest trends at stores like Chess King and The Limited. Who remembers Bambergers, which later became Macy’s?! Teenagers flocked to Sam Goody to browse the latest vinyl records and cassette tapes, while kids tugged their parents towards Kay-Bee Toys for the latest action figures and dolls. Food stops like Orange Julius and Friendly’s offered a quick respite, where shoppers could refuel and continue their mall adventures.

The 1990s brought its own wave of iconic retailers. The mall evolved with the times, welcoming stores like The Gap, Victoria’s Secret, and Hot Topic. Who could forget the hours spent at Suncoast Motion Picture Company, flipping through posters of the latest blockbuster hits, or the excitement of entering the neon-lit arcade? The food court became a central meeting place, with its array of fast-food options like Sbarro and Cinnabon, offering a slice of pizza or a sweet treat to cap off a day of shopping.

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Monmouth Mall and others like it were more than a shopping center; it was a rite of passage for people of a certain age. It was where we bought our first CDs, where we hung out with friends, where we experienced the thrill of independence as teenagers, and where we got a break from classes at Monmouth College. It’s where a 20-year-old Barbara made some extra money working at Gary’s Tux Shop measuring bridal parties for tuxedos. It’s also where my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I were hired to walk around A&S as A-Bear-Ham and Straus the Mouse to promote the holiday season!

As I got older, I would go to the mall with a roll of quarters to feed the miniature dinosaur and car rides for my toddlers. The mall’s closing feels like the end of a chapter, not just for the community, but for all who hold these memories dear.

As we bid farewell to Monmouth Mall, we are reminded of the simpler times it represents. It was a place of first jobs, first dates, and countless small but significant moments. Though the stores may be closing, the memories created within those walls will endure. Monmouth Mall will always hold a special place in our hearts, a time capsule of an era that, while gone, will never be forgotten.

Here’s to Monmouth Mall – thank you for the memories.

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