As Kalispell Center Mall is celebrating its 25th anniversary, it is interesting to note that it was ahead of its time. In 1986, it was one of the few malls in the country to be built with an attached hotel.
When I first visited the Kalispell Center Mall in December of 2000, the parking lot was packed with snow. People were dressed very casually, some without coats. I couldn’t help but notice their feet as some were wearing tennis shoes or flip flops.
As a New Orleans gal who was freezing her butt off, I was puzzled by this. I couldn’t imagine that they were not bundled up nor wearing snow boots.
When my family and I entered the mall, I thought it was cute. My eyes beheld a tiny, one story shopping center with no escalators – a mall that I could see from one end all the way to the other.
Being accustomed to two story malls with a hundred department stores and crowds of people, Kalispell Center Mall was very appealing.
Inside the mall was a Red Lion. With all of my big city ways, I hadn’t ever been into a mall with a hotel. I thought that it was pretty cool.
Now that I live in Kalispell, I regularly shop at the mall including the original anchors of J.C. Penney and Herberger’s. The Red Lion is still a classy hotel and I wish my parents would have been able to stay there when they had visited in 2007.
Feeling like a Montanan now, I also understand how people can go from their cars to the mall without a winter coat or snow boots. And I still appreciate the small stores and lack of crowds.
So although the shopping options are limited – I don’t think the retailer “The Limited” will ever come here – it doesn’t bother me a bit.
I am not a shopaholic and if I can’t find what I want in town, I can shop online at any store I want.
After all, it’s Montana I love, not the Gap.
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