The Magic Of Parmatown

Parmatown Mall, now the Shoppes at Parma, is a big part of the regeneration of a great city. I’m happy to see things being built and updated, especially since the only things that draw folks to Parmatown today is Walmart and Chipotle. There’s a few scattered stores here and there now, but ask anyone... it’s like a ghost town.

I grew up in Parma, during the beginning and heyday of Parmatown. They broke ground in 1959 for the May Company, which was also the year I was born. At the bottom of the escalators in the May Company you could get a pretzel or a small chocolate malt in a Styrofoam cup. That was one of the first things we did as kids when we went to “The Mall.”

Kresge was in the mall, too. A store that has gone by the wayside, but was one of the last “dime stores” in America. They had ducks in their window and made the best grilled cheese sandwiches.

In the mall there were also the giant concrete seals. If you are from Parma and over 40 years old you remember the seals. That’s a given. 

I’ve heard that the Shoppes at Parma is supposed to be a cross between an outdoor mall like Crocker Park and a mall like Southpark. (Or is Southpark called Westfield? I’m not from Strongsville so I don’t really care.) Crocker Park is considered more “yuppie” than Southpark, because they have a Trader Joe’s, but Southpark is where the kids can “hang.” 

I’m not crazy about malls in general. Too many people, too much noise and not enough character. Malls are just a bunch of stores trying to entice the young and old to come in and spend money.  

Parmatown had character. There was a feeling of community when you told your neighbors you were going to The Mall. There was always parking available. You didn’t have to drive around for 15 minutes just to get a spot. Or you could walk to the mall. 

One of the best memories I have of Parmatown is having a picnic in front of the May Company one rainy summer day. It was someone’s birthday and my mom was taking a group of us kids on a picnic in the park. The clouds rolled in and the sky opened up and it rained cats and dogs that day. So, instead of cashing it in and going home, mom took us to Parmatown with all our gear. 

We spread our blankets on the mall floor and opened our coolers and thermoses. We ate a typical picnic lunch and while mom got the cake out we played on the concrete seals until it was time to sing “Happy Birthday.” What a blast! 

If the Shoppes at Parma can capture even a little bit of the magic that was the Parmatown of my childhood, then the development and growth that is happening now will help create a bright future for the City of Parma, its surroundings and its people.  



Maura Prentiss

1977 Valley Forge Alumnus 1983 Graduated Miami University in Oxford, OH w/ degree in Journalism - I was a Yeoman in the US Navy. I have 2 kids.

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Volume 6, Issue 5, Posted 12:35 AM, 05.02.2014