Friday, January 28, 2022

Heartland Mall Brownwood Texas October 2021 visit

 As many of you know, I have wanted to visit this mall for several years now. Brownwood is over 5 hours from where I live, and 2 hours + away from either Waco or Fort Worth Texas. I made the trek out here in October 2021, and this town was an awesome experience. Not only was this mall a fantastic retro treat, the City of Brownwood has some interesting sights as well.  

Heartland Mall is located in Early and right on the edge of the Brownwood city limits. This micropolitan area has a population of 38,000 residents. The mall is just under 250,000 square feet of retail space and opened in October 1980. CBL and associates built the mall, and several changes have happened over the years. The Regal 8 Movie theater was added in 2000 taking up about half of the Kmart corridor space. The mall underwent a small renovation in 2002 with updated exterior entrances, flooring, and fountain work. The mall opened with the common anchor lineup that small town Texas malls in the early 1980's had, Kmart, Bealls, and JCPenney. Kmart opened on October 8, 1980 and closed in February 1995. Since then the building was heavily remodeled, and has featured Burkes Outlet, along with the current Pierce Furniture Gallery store and Ranger College. JCPenney also opened in October 1980 and closed in June 2017. The JCPenney anchor and part of the mall corridor is now a Hobby Lobby store. Bealls which was also an original anchor to the mall moved out to a nearby shopping center, closing on July 17, 2010 to reopen on July 22, 2010 at the new center. The Bealls was later replaced by a Sears Hometown store in January 2016 which closed September 24, 2018. That anchor is now the Xtreme Jump trampoline park. The mall owners want to redevelop the mall, possibly closing off the interior mall. This is one of the few small town Texas malls that is still mostly intact with retro storefronts. Several similar small town Texas malls have been redeveloped and the mall corridors have been mostly if not completely shut down in those malls.

Here is the road sign facing US 377, the main commercial strip through the Early/Brownwood area.

The main interior mall entrance. The secondary entrance at the movie theater was gated off. Not sure if that entrance opens at a certain time.

Before we enter the mall, here are some more views from around the mall property.

Just about all of the visible space is the Hobby Lobby. The former JCPenney anchor took up about half of the space of this store.

Facing the main highway through town.

The back of the mall is fairly bland.

Back area of the Hobby Lobby.

This is the former Bealls/Sears Hometown building. The entrance to the store was to the right, but I just missed it while driving through the parking lot.

The movie theater stands out over the mall property.

This is listed as a mall entrance, but it did not appear to be open at this time.

The back of the former Kmart, now home to Ranger College.

The front of the former Kmart. Burke's Outlet was in this space at one time. Looking at the satellite images, this section of the building is an addition. 

The Pierce Furniture Gallery, even this part of the former Kmart building is unrecognizable. 

Here you can see the movie theater entrance, it still looks relatively new.

Hibbett Sports was in this space at one time. The mall entrance has the awesome 1980's wood panel storefront.

Now we head inside to see what is here. All I can say is Wow!

This fountain is awesome.

This Curiosities store had some interesting items.

The lights are on at Bon Worth, but nobodies home.

As you can see the mall comes to an abrupt end down this corridor. This was the former JCPenney end of the mall.

The interior of this store caught my eye.

Looking from the closed off mall corridor at the Hobby Lobby to the fountain.

Another view of the retro Bon Worth storefront.

Top Nail and Spa appeared to be an active business, but the gates were closed on my visit.

Sadly the Chik-fil-A was gone. But good news for Brownwood as the restaurant moved to a brand new free-standing building which opened on November 5th, 2020. This Chik-fil-A closed on October 17, 2020. Prior to closing, this location had a small electrical outlet fire on October 5th, 2020, and another small fire in a light fixture, on August 21st, 2020. 

And now for this perfectly preserved Corn Dog 7. Despite this location looking like it was still open, it had actually closed sometime in 2018. I was initially excited to eat here, but I settled for the nearby Taco Casa. Most of these have disappeared.

A lot of the fixtures were removed. 

And now for the tenant that keeps most malls going, Bath and Body Works. This is another classic store with the awesome fountain in the front of the photo. The store was quite busy and constantly had people going in and out with purchases.

This neon era Claire's is also perfectly preserved. I wish I could have turned on the lights to see the neon once again. Well after what happened at Chik-fil-A, maybe that would not be the best idea.

A vendor had setup some items on the Corn Dog 7 booths.

This Fitness Evolution space appeared to be empty. Not sure if they were about to move in or if they had moved out.

The gates were down to the movie theater wing of the mall. I am pretty sure that hallway leads to the back mall entrance we saw earlier.

Still going strong!

GNC had recently moved out. 

Looking from the gates of the movie theater towards the center court of the mall.

A random table at the edge of the movie theater mall corridor. As you can see, one of the chairs is missing the back rest.

Factory Connection, the only junior anchor left.

The former Bealls and Sears Hometown anchor. Xtreme Jump has some very good prices for entertainment.

More views of the center court of the mall.

The center corridor of the mall leading to the main exit.

Claire's with Corn Dog 7 in the background.

The mall management office with the retro candy machines lined up.

Social Security Administration office to the left. 

Time to leave for the day.

A look from the front entrance into the mall.

Army information kiosk. 

The mall logo at the front doors.

Hope everyone enjoyed this visit. It took a while to dig up all of the information about this mall, but I wanted to make sure to put this one on the blog.