South Memphis

The Mall of Murder? Really?



Though I have lived in Memphis for a good many years, I was never present during the days when the Mall of Memphis was in operation. And every time someone has referenced the Mall of Memphis, the term “Mall of Murder” is announced.

This fetches a moment of curiosity each time. How does a huge successful mall perish? What is the reason behind the catchy nickname? And, mostly, what is the reason for having a massive mall anyway?



One could debate a mall brings together a diverse group of people together in one centralized location, much like that of a park to partake in activities of walking and socializing. (Shopping is a +1 for the mall, particularly if you are in need of a kitten calendar, jeans, or a good pretzel.) And I will agree with this point because, although I scarcely attend a mall, when I do I enjoy the recreation of people-watching and certainly there is a wide variety of people in sight. Young kids get dropped off to buy something noteworthy at Hollister while they pass by and socialize with their peers for school social status. There are moms pushing strollers or children attached to parents because they have no choice in life, but maybe they’ll get a cookie or ice cream. Older humans speed-walk for exercise in air-conditioning. And that middle-aged man with facial hair is sitting on the bench waiting for his wife to emerge out of Dillards.

Certainly they are a diverse group in age with different interests and personalities but are they that much different in economic status? And did they not all use a car to get to the mall in the first place? Regardless, malls are still being built and people are still generating attendance to their nearest geographical mall, at least ones recognized as safe and appealing. So it’s a bit strange to hear a mall that was once deemed an appealing popular landmark, completely shut its doors even in the midst of nearby living neighborhoods and hotels, but it’s also quite intriguing.


To see an amazing slew of old Mall of Memphis commercials featuring a particular family who adores large mall pizza, glamour shots, and women partaking in aerobics, check out which will also bless you with additional fun factoids, memories, and interesting articles on the Mall of Memphis.

For a particularly fascinating article on fear being the foremost cause of the mall’s ceasing, read here:

Thanks to for providing images and a place to learn about this mall to someone like me who didn’t have the privilege of experiencing it in person.

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By Rebecca Phillips

I am a female born in the United States though I generally fear the border patrol. Buy me an ice cream cone and maybe I'll paint you something.

11 replies on “The Mall of Murder? Really?”

I’m pretty sure this is the first place I experienced ice skating as a kid. What a treat to get to go when were in the area! I never shopped there so I couldn’t tell you what kind of mall it was.. frankly there weren’t many stores when I was there. I wish it was still there.. I’d go today if I could!

The MoM was a big deal with it opening in 1981 in the 38118 zip code area of Memphis which was then a solid working class/lower level professional area of Memphis. The mall was also led to a development of a large shopping center across the street on American Way. The highlight of the mall was an ice skating rink with a large food court above.

The mall started declining in the mid to late 90’s. The solid neighborhood started declining and became thuggish. The new denizens began thinking of the shoppers and businesses as targets of opportunity and the mall soon became known as the Mall of Murder. Granted, the perception was probably as worse as the reality, but the affect was the same. Even after increasing security, shoppers were afraid to shop at the mall, and the anchor and national stores soon gave way to local urban type stores and some government operations.

Much has been written about the decline of this property and there is a dedicated website to the former mall. I have happy memories of this mall, and I hated to see it close (gee – thanks thugs) and am also saddened by how many people lost jobs and businesses at the mall and in the nearby shopping center.

Some blame the opening of competing malls in other sections of the SMSA, but none had a more central location than MoM and I believe that crime and the perception of crime destroyed this mall. I believe this mall would still be viable today if it wasn’t for the thuggery.

Malls lives matter!

I once pooped on the ice there. It turned into a turdsicle. Someone skated thru it, and I told them it was a melted 3 Musketeers Bar but it smelled like death so he didn’t believe me.

Yea I’m with you Jordan I wished it was still open had some good times there for sure my wife and family would drive 75 miles to go to the mall
Loved it

I’m only 20, so i never got to go to that mall. but there was a notorious murder case that tied into that very parking lot in 1984. it was the murder of Connie Johnson of Tunica, Mississippi. Connie Johnson was my grandmother. I never got to meet her. When that murder happened and her body was found in the parking lot, abandoned in her vehicle, a lot of views on the mall changed. That probably is what kick started some of the deadly shootings and robberies that happened in and around the parking lot area.

Your grandmother was murdered by her husband…for insurance money. Doesn’t have anything to do with the mall, except for the unfortunate decision to abandon the body there. Sorry for your loss, all the same

I am originally from Memphis (lived there for 25 years), but I left in 1977 and moved to Texas. My mother-in-law had a small house in Parkway Village (she later moved to Texas with us in 1989) and we used to visit the Mall of Memphis whenever we came back and I thought it was a nice enough mall. After my first wife died I took my 2nd wife to Memphis for a visit with my brother and sister-in-law. I recall telling my new wife that I would take her to the food court at the Mall of Memphis (August 2005) but when I drove down American Way, I was pretty shocked to find that the entire mall was surrounded by a chain link fence and all the buildings had been leveled. My brother told me the “Mall of Murder” story, or stories, and that the mall had actually shutdown at Christmas of 2003.

Joe Blow’s comment should be removed! How racist to blame this on all Black people. But I guess that’s acceptable.

Shame on that person.

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