THE BEGINNING: A VISION OF WHAT COULD BE
The plan for West Acres began in 1967 when William (Bill) Schlossman wanted to build a retail center in downtown Fargo. When the idea was rejected by the city, he purchased a wheat field at the crossing of I-29 and 13th Avenue South in Fargo. Bill and his
partners faced many obstacles, including obtaining financing, securing tenants, and completing off-site improvements such as sewer, water and roads. In fact, 13th Avenue south, which connected West Acres to Fargo, was not paved until 2 years after the
mall opened. West Acres opened it’s doors with 52 stores in approximately 230,000 square feet, plus two department stores. At the time the mall opened, Fargo was more than a mile away. 50 years – and minor and major renovations – later, West Acres is home to more than 100 stores that encompass approximately 950,000 square feet, creating the premiere shopping destination in our region.
1970s: The Start of Something New
AUGUST 2, 1972: THE GRAND OPENING
West Acres Shopping Center opened with 52 stores in approximately 230,000 square feet. de Lendrecie’s opened on that date in the former Herberger’s location (currently under redevelopment), occupying 110,000 sq. ft. of their 190,000 sq. ft. building.
• We opened without a sign on our main entrance.
• Sears had already opened in April of 1972.
august 1973: Dayton’s opening
Dayton’s opened it’s first store outside of Minnesota in West Acres in a 115,000 sq. ft. space.
1970s: A decade of events
From circus animals to chess tournaments, the 70s were a decade centered around action-packed events hosted by West Acres.
1979: Expansion + JCpenney
From March-August 1979, the mall expanded approx. 50,000 sq. ft., with space for 20 stores in the JCPenney wing.
JCPenney opened in August of 1979.
1980s: Remodels + New Additions
November 1983: west acres cinema opening
1984: Opening of Roger Maris Museum
When hometown hero Roger Eugene Maris (September 10, 1934 – December 14, 1985), was presented with the idea of creating a museum in his honor, he declined. An incredibly humble man, he eventually relented but requested that the museum be “put where people will see it.” He also requested that the museum be open to the public free of charge. True to Roger’s wishes, the museum opened in West Acres in 1984 and to this day remains visible, accessible and free.
1984: stores of the 80s
Many new things popped up in the 80s. Do you remember stores like Monson’s Luggage, Shotwell Floral and Port of Entry?
1984: Coors Belgian Hitch Team Visits West Acres
Events continued to be a strong theme throughout the 80s at West Acres with events happening almost every weekend.
1990s: All About Entertainment
August 1992: Celebrating 20 Years
William Schlossman stands on what is now US Bank, overlooking West Acres on its 20th anniversary.
For our 20th anniversary celebration, “Captain Dynamite” built a specialized coffin in the parking lot and blew it up with dynamite on live TV.
1993: The Original Customer Service
Before what is now termed “Guest Services,” located in the food court, there was a kiosk counter in the middle of the mall where customers could go for more information and assistance.
1997: Mallbeary’s First Appearance
If you made visits to the mall in the late 90s, you may remember our West Acres mascot – Mallbeary!
February 14, 1997: Massive Matrimony
On Valentine’s Day, West Acres held a “Massive Matrimony” event, a promotion done by a local radio station, where 4 couples got married and hundreds of others renewed their vows.
November 21, 1999: First Annual It’s A Wonderful Night
The first-annual community shopping event was a huge success with over 4,000 people in attendance and over $25,000 raised for charitable organizations in our community.
• Since it’s inception, in total, the event has raised well over $900,000 for local charitable organizations.
2000s: A Decade of Change
June 7, 2000: The Beginning of Construction
In 2000, West Acres began a major renovation and remodel. Work included a brand new 750 seat food court with 9 eateries, additional store space as well as a new main entrance.
November 14, 2000: “A Recipe for Sharing Launched”
Community members were asked to share their favorite recipe in support of the Great Plains Food Bank. For a donation of $25 they could purchase an 8” x 8” tile with their recipe printed on it to be located in West Acres’ new food court. Over 550 people in our community responded with recipes that you still see today surrounding food court columns.
• The recipe tiles raised approximately $15,000 for the Great Plains Food Bank and were combined into a cookbook called “A Recipe for Sharing” which can still be purchased at Guest Services today with proceeds benefiting the Great Plains Food Bank.
• To date, West Acres, A Recipe for Sharing Cook book has raised over $45,000, $12.50 at a time.
September 6, 2001: Grand Opening of Food Court
The food court opened with 7 eateries, some of which included: Great Steak & Potato & Koya Japan.
June 2002: The Fountain of Abundance Opened in JCPenney Court
In the midst of construction and remodeling, the fountain, which was originally located in center court was moved and placed in the JCPenney Court where it now resides.
• The fountain artist, Richard Szeitz (1930-2022), reconstructed the fountain in its current location.
June 2003: Grand Re-Opening of Roger Maris Museum
The Roger Maris Museum was fully renovated in 2003.
June 2007: Launch of our Regional Showcase Program
The Regional Showcase program was created to serve as a catalyst for making great things happen in our community by showcasing inspiring regional artists, organizations and individuals who make a difference.
• West Acres features the largest collection of local and regional art in the state.
• West Acres hosts 80+ musical performances each year by local groups
• West Acres incorporates local art and artists into all design projects.
2010s: Pivotal Moments
July 2010: West Acres Joins Facebook
As a way to connect with our customers in a new way, West Acres joined the social media world in 2010!
• We now reach over 8 million people per year through our Facebook page
• We later launched our Instagram profile and reach over 2 million people a year
Find us at @westacresmall
October 2010: Forever 21 Opens
This was the first Forever 21 to open in North Dakota! Hundreds of people waited in line for hours to be the first in store.
2012: The Addition of the Mother’s Rooms
Being a family-friendly environment is extremely important to West Acres. We saw the need for mother’s rooms as well as remodeled family restrooms to make the experience for families even better.
• We started with 2 Mother’s Rooms and 2 additional rooms were added in 2015.
June 2014: The Launch of The Market @ West Acres
The Northern Plains Farmers Market at West Acres is a partnership between the Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society and West Acres. The Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society operates a vibrant market on the property of West Acres that contributes to the success of
regional food growers, gardeners, and producers, and supports a healthy and vibrant community, all while serving as a community gathering place.
Today, The Market runs every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from June-October, and hosts over 15 vendors each week!
December 2014: The Arrival of a New Santa Set
Designed by local artist, Emily Williams-Wheeler, Santa’s Whimsical Wonderland made its debut during the 2014 holiday season.
2016: That Start of the Retail Shift
2016 started the beginning of a shift in retail. In the years leading up to 2016, West Acres saw very little change, something that is not common in the retail industry. This made any new store announcements few and far between. Then, we started to experience a lot of change at once. This presented us with a unique opportunity for growth at a level we hadn’t been able to do since the expansion of the JCPenney wing in 1979. This turnover is how a mall grows even without getting bigger, and it is how the customer wins – having more variety and better products and services. We were able to replace poor performing stores with new ones that meet our customers needs. In a time when other malls were cutting back, we decided to double down, reinvest into West Acres, and create an even better experience for our customers. We’ve made many improvements since this time and we’re not stopping anytime soon!
February 2017: The Launch of our Artist in Residence Program
As a way to showcase amazing artists in our area, the Artist in Residence program was born. It serves as an interactive studio where our customers can observe and interact with local artists as they use the space as their art studio. Take a look at who we’ve had join us since the launch:
February – August 2017: Emily Williams Wheeler
January – February 2018: Ryan Fritz
March – May 2018: Ashley Kunz
June – September 2018: Eric Johnson
September – November 2018: Brandon LaPlante
January – March 2019: Elizabeth Rockstad
August – September 2019: Carmen Bruhn
September – November 2019: Tara Fermoyle
January – March 2020: Anna Johnson
July – August 2021: Fraklin Ugochukwu
February-April 2022: Tia Permenter
2017-2019: All About New
Amidst of all this change, we welcomed a lot of new stores during this time!
• Zumiez (September 2017)
• lululemon (November 2017)
• Legacy Toys (November 2017)
• Chick-fil-A (January 2018)
• Dry Goods (May 2018)
• Game On (May 2018)
• Make Room (June 2018)
• Best Buy (June 2018)
• Legacy Sweets (June 2018)
• Beauteous Activewear (September 2018)
• Aptitude Artist Studios (April 2019)
• Minn Dak Market (May 2019)
• Foss Swim School (October 2019)
• Nails Pro Expansion (October 2019)
• CRAVE (October 2019)
April 2017: The Inception of Installations
We have had the pleasure of working with amazing local and regional creatives and artists to bring exciting and vibrant installations and displays to the mall’s halls.
• Our first installation/activation was our Spring Expressions lounge in April 2017
• We have since done over 50 installations in many areas throughout the mall
June 2018: Best Buy Opens
Best Buy relocated into approximately 50,000 square feet of the space previously occupied by Sears. The new store, Best Buy’s most recent prototype, is larger and contains a more robust merchandise mix.
October 2019: Renovated Aquarium Court & Crave Opens
Our Aquarium Court got a major upgrade with the addition of Best Buy and CRAVE. To elevate the aesthetic of the court area, a full renovation took place, which included adding skylights, a bar top area, and updated furniture.
March 2020: Pandemic Hits & Closing Our Doors
In March 2020, we entered unprecedented times with so much uncertainty for what was to come. In order to keep our community, staff and stores safe, West Acres closed our doors from March 19, 2020 – May 8, 2020.
During this time, our team worked hard behind-the-scenes to deep clean the mall, support our stores and staff, find unique ways to serve our customers, and ensure that once we were able to open our doors, the mall felt safe and vibrant.
2020-Today: All the New
Since 2020, our stores have gone through much change. While we’ve said goodbye to some favorites, we’ve welcomed many much-loved stores to the West Acres family:
• Ragstock (August 2020)
• Go! Calendars & Games (October 2020)
• Athleta (February 2021)
• Phone N Fix storefront (March 2021)
• Ginza Ramen & Poke (June 2021)
• Sephora (August 2021)
• Legacy Toys relocation/expansion (October 2021)
• Hairology (November 2021)
• Drift (November 2021)
• Thai Street Food (January 2022)
• Bath & Body Works/White Barn relocation/expansion (January 2022)
• Label 4 (March 2022)
• JWW Sports Cards & Gaming renovation/expansion (March 2022)
• Daily Thread (April 2022)
• Pandora (June 2022)
• Amodco (July 2022)
• Guitar Center (coming soon)
• and more to come!
December 2020: Re-Inventing the Santa Experience
All the changes in 2020 propelled new ideas forward and allowed us to re-invent traditional events into exciting experiences. To accommodate safety protocols, we transformed an empty store into what now lives today as Santa’s Whimsical Wonderland: The Experience – a magical wonderland that elevates our Santa visits from just a photo encounter, to an entire, all-encompassing experience.
December 2021: West Acres Purchases Old Herberger’s Building
We officially purchased the former Herberger’s building (which was previously owned by a separate company). We are in the early planning stages of a complete transformation with exciting ideas and tenants in mind. It will become a vibrant part of West Acres!
August 2, 2022: West Acres Celebrates 50 Years
We are humbled looking back on the last 50 years with so much pride and gratitude. There is so much to celebrate as we commemorate the last five decades and look towards the future.
Please join us as we pay tribute to the history of West Acres and gain momentum for what’s to come.
Today: No Better Time Than Now
Today, West Acres is still locally owned and managed by an amazing, dedicated team. We have never been more grateful to look back at where we started and truly see how far we’ve come. Change is what propels us forward and gives us the ability to improve for our customers and our community. We have so many exciting new opportunities in the works and plan to continue our reinvestment into West Acres. 50 years later, we’re excited about where we are today and can’t wait to see where the future takes us. No matter what the next decades hold, we always look to maintain a connection to our roots.
Here’s to honoring the past, celebrating the present, and embracing all the things to come!
Thank you for joining us on this journey. Thank you for 50 fabulous years. We wouldn’t be West Acres without you.
Come celebrate with us! Click here to learn all about our upcoming birthday events.