4 Treasure Valley Stores Your Parents Shopped At But Are Gone Now
For plenty of lifelong Idahoans, it's been hard to stomach the fact that Idaho's first indoor shopping mall no longer exists as they once knew it. More than 107,000 square feet of Karcher Mall was demolished in early 2020.
When the redevelopment is completed, only four of its tenants will be left standing: Mor Furniture for Less, Big 5 Sporting Goods, JoAnn Fabrics and Ross Dress for Less. Each of these tenants have locations elsewhere in the Treasure Valley, so it doesn't leave the remain "mall" portion of what's been rebranded Karcher Marketplace with anything unique.
It's a little bit sad, because when the mall opened in 1965, it was a big deal! With its first three anchor tenants, Buttrey Food and Drug, Rasco-Tempo (a discount store) and Kinney Shoes, it became the first indoor shopping mall in the entire state. It was the premiere shopping destination, not just for Idahoans but folks from Eastern Oregon as well.
The mall provided our community with so many fantastic memories, like visiting Art Yensen, the man that many families in the Treasure Valley considered the REAL Santa Claus, during the holidays season. Plus who could forget the orange carpet and the polar bear?
Karcher Mall was also home to these four stores that your parents shopped at that don't exist anymore! (Ok, you may have shopped there too, but your parents or grandparents may have been the ones handing over the cash at the register!)
Buttrey Food & Drug
It's only natural to start the list with one of Karcher Mall's first anchor tenants. The very first Buttrey stores were department stores, but the brand expanded to grocery stores in the mid 1930s. Founded in Montana, Buttrey eventually sold its food stores to the pride of Boise, Albertsons, in 1988.
Apparently the impending deal didn't sit well with everyone. According to a 1987 Spokane Chronicle article, a Boise woman placed an anonymous call claiming that her husband had placed bombs at five Buttrey locations because he was upset by the sale. Three of those five locations were on track to become Albertsons locations, while the other two would close. Luckily, there were no bombs found at the stores and no one was injured in the incident.
According to Mall of Fame, Karcher Mall was home to a Woolworth's. Woolworth's was one of the most well known five-and-dome businesses in retail history. The one at Karcher Mall eventually moved into the Rasco-Tempo storefront when the discount store closed.
Several people in the "Boise and the Treasure Valley History" Facebook group fondly remember having sundaes at Woolworth's lunch counters around the Treasure Valley. The group had trouble remembering exactly where the location in Downtown Boise, but we know there was one in Hillcrest Shopping Center. According Jim Duran's book Central Bench History it was one of the early tenants in the shopping area.
Troutman's Emporium, came to Karcher Mall after J.C. Penney decided to new rival, Boise Towne Square Mall. According to Mall of Fame, the Oregon based department store took over the lower level of the old J.C. Penny in 1988. They also had locations in Boise's Five Mile Plaza and Northgate Shopping Center. All three locations closed in 2003, not long after the company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Burlington eventually took over the old Emporium space in Nampa.
KB Toys (aka Kay Bee Toys)
Ok, this is one that you probably shopped at too. 90s kids remember KB Toy's fondly. You couldn't always convince your parents to take you to Toys R Us, but they had a hard time saying "no" to taking you in to browse the mall based toy store chain. For some reason, my clearest memories of shopping at KB Toys is looking at Crash Test Dummies cars with my dad. Those toys hit the peak of their popularity in the early 1990s.
KB Toys outlived Tyco's Crash Test Dummies. According to this Idaho Statesman article we found on Flickr, the Boise Towne Square Mall lost their store early in 2004. It was one of the very early tenants at Boise Towne Square when it opened in 1988. The article mentioned that Karcher Mall's location closed a month earlier.