The Great Northern Mall is located in Clay, the largest suburb of Syracuse, which in turn is the fifth most populous city in the state of New York. As the name suggests, it is one of the largest shopping malls in Onondaga Country and provides retail facilities for all the northern suburbs of Syracuse. It covers over one million square feet of space, which means it is equal to four football fields from one end to the other.
However, with changes in consumer shopping behavior and other financial issues, this mall has seen more downs than ups. But there is still plenty to see and do, and there is hope that this mall will see a revival as new opportunities come up on the horizon.
History of the Great Northern Mall
On October 5th, 1988, the Great Northern Mall opened with great fanfare. It is reported that over 100,000 came by on its opening day to be part of the celebrations. Even professional football players like Larry Csonka were on site to sign autographs. James Wilmot, the Rochester native, and his family’s company, Wilmorite, drew up plans for this shopping mall in the early 1970s when they noticed how the population of Clay was steadily growing. Despite the legal pushback he faced when his company tried to buy land along the north side of Route 31, Wilmot was able to break ground and start development.
While this mall has seen many great days through the 1990s and early 2000s, it has been dealing with several setbacks as of late. In 2017 Macy’s closed its doors, then in 2015, Sears followed suit. In 2020 Regal Cinemas was forced to close, like many other theaters were during the COVID-19 pandemic. The same year Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it was relocating to another shopping center.
In 2022, a failed sprinkler system due to the January cold spell forced the mall to close for over a month. However, things seem to be back online as the Great Northern Mall has opened its doors again.
Things to Do at the Great Northern Mall
Specially designed with extra wide corridors and massive skylights, the mall streams in plenty of natural light, perfect for the trees planted on the main floor. It is meant to feel like a walk down an outdoor street, where you can stand on one end and see the other in front of you.
There are also plenty of soft seating areas, free Wi-Fi, nursing rooms, family restrooms, a play area for children, and parking for pregnant women.
Shop at Bath & Body Works
When it comes to incredibly scented fragrances, lotions, shower gels, and candles, look no further than Bath & Body Works. With new scent launches and sales throughout the year, you can always find something new or stock up on all your favorites. A Great Northern Mall fixture, this store is always a classic.
Drop the Kids at CNY Gym Center
This gymnastic environment is for all those boys and girls from the tender age of six months to 18 who want to learn and compete in gymnastics. They offer ninja warrior classes, birthday parties, back handspring classes, tumbling classes, and summer camps. It’s not just fun and games at the CNY Gym Center. Here there is also a team of highly trained and qualified professionals that coach competitive gymnastics teams from levels 2 – 10 and even Xcel.
Let the Kids Enjoy Niki’s Party Place
This family-owned business started in 2009 with the mission to combine fun, play, and therapy in a parent-approved safe environment. Here there is an open bounce arena for babies, toddlers, and children up to the age of 11 that provide all the exercise they need and keep those screens away. Niki’s Party Place also hosts birthday parties and special events and creates custom balloon arrangements. You can even drop your older kids off while you enjoy some shopping. It’s fun for everyone!
Let Your Inner Child Out at Time Out Amusements
This full-service video arcade will take you down memory lane as it serves all the nostalgia with retro sit-down video games. You will also find the latest simulators, candy kiosks, rides for the little ones, crane prize machines, and penny presses. You can win tickets and trade them in for a wide selection of prizes. Everything is family-friendly and rated G, so you can let your kids run free as they play all the different games.
Explore Larger Than Life Toys and Comics
This one-stop shop is the place for any comic book fan looking for vintage toys, action figures, statues, comics, decks, and packs. Here you will also find all the latest releases from all the famous lines like Avengers, X-Men, Operation Sin, Walking Dead, and Batman, to name a few. Larger Than Life Toys and Comics is more than just a comic bookstore. They also hold events for War Hammer and Magic the Gathering!
Shop at Claire’s
Claire’s has made a global name for itself as the favorite store for girls of all ages. The mission here is to empower and encourage girls to grow up and become strong women who play an active role in our country’s future. This company does this by providing a wide variety of jewelry, cosmetics, hair, and fashion accessories in all kinds of designs that are sure to catch the eye of every style.
Here you will also find a safe and sanitized area for piercing done by a trained professional who will provide all the aftercare instructions you need to know to ensure the piercing heals properly and stays healthy.
Shop at Hallmark Gold Crown
Find the entire range of offerings from one of the largest card manufacturers in the county. You will find everything from cards, children’s books, gifts, and more.
Ask Guest Services
Just off the Food Court is the Great Northern Mall Guest Services and Security kiosk, where the friendly staff is always available to answer any questions and provide any assistance. They offer many services such as:
- Free wheelchairs
- Discounts and special offers for various retailers
- Mall directory and map
- Information for upcoming mall events
- Information for mall walkers
- Lost and found
- First aid
- Bus schedules and directions
In the End
According to the latest reports, the Great Northern Mall is heading for a major renovation into a complete lifestyle center. So, if you are in the area, make it a point to stop by. Take some time to look around before the transformation begins. It’s the perfect place to spend time with family and friends and do some retail therapy.