21 Food Destinations That Are No Longer at Boise Towne Square Mall
If you search through YouTube, you’ll find dozens and dozens of videos of “Dead Malls” from around the country. While Boise Towne Square Mall isn’t quite what it was on opening day in October 1988, these videos show you that all things considered…our mall’s actually doing pretty well!
We saw an article back in November that made us giggle. Only In Your State posted an article titled “The Massive Shopping Mall in Idaho That Takes Nearly All Day to Explore.” We were stunned that the article was about Boise Towne Square Mall. The author’s LinkedIn profile shows that she’s based in Idaho Falls, so we’re not surprised she’s aware of Boise Towne Square Mall. We just think it’s been a little while since she’s been here.
Boise Towne Square Mall Faces Both Unique and Not-So-Unique Challenges
Right now, the Boise Towne Square Mall’s directory shows 23 vacant storefronts. 24 if you count the Sears store that’s been vacant since 2019, but the defunct anchor and its parking lot are actually owned separately from the heart of Boise Towne Square Mall. The likelihood that it would take all day to explore the mall is slim, but the mall’s managed to stay relevant despite the challenges it’s faced in the last decade.
Losing Sears wasn’t a Boise-centric problem. Sears announced that they were closing locations nationwide in 2018, with Boise’s store closing the next year. Due to the ownership we mentioned earlier, there’s not much that the mall could do to fill the biggest vacancy in their building.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. Boise Towne Square Mall voluntarily closed its doors on March 24, 2020 ahead of Governor Little’s “Stay Home” order. They wouldn’t re-open until May 5, 2020. We recall a particularly frustrating shopping trip in February 2021 where stores were still monitoring capacity levels and using queue lines. Dressing rooms were still closed. Hours were still reduced. It was a real turn-off to shoppers.
Perhaps the biggest challenge the mall had to face was the aftermath of the shooting spree that killed two and injured four others in October 2021. Many people shared that it would be a long time before they felt safe going to the mall again. Even a year and a half later, people are still on edge when something seems a little out of place at the mall.
On January 31, 2023, there was a large police presence at the mall after someone made a report of someone with a gun. It turned out to be a group of 10 teenagers carrying two airsoft guns. Just a few days before we sat down to write this article, Boise police responded to a report of shots fired outside the mall. It turned out to be a car backfiring.
Boise Towne Square Mall Continues to Re-Invent Itself
It’s an uphill battle, but the mall keeps finding ways to be a destination for Boise shoppers that have a lot of other options, including The Village at Meridian. It recently welcomed Vintage Stock EntertainMart, a movies, music, games and memorabilia retailer that stirs up some Hastings nostalgia. They’ll also likely benefit from the construction of one of Idaho’s first In-N-Out Burgers where Pier 1 Imports used to be. (Yes, it’s actually happening. In-N-Out filed permits requesting permission to demolish Pier 1 back in January.)
Looking Back at 35 Years of Boise Towne Square Mall
While it’s exciting to see what the mall may become, it’s also cool to look back at what it once was. Boise Towne Square Mall turns 35 this fall and we happened to stumble upon a copy of one of the mall’s original directories on Flickr. For fun, we went to the “Food & Such” section of that 1988 directory to see what restaurants and food retailers used to be in the mall.
Here’s what we discovered and here’s what you’ll find in these original locations today!