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The Hutchinson Mall

The Hutchinson, Ks Mall is a sad site. I don't even think the mall staff would argue that point.

Ok really that's all the facts I got. The rest is my thoughts and opinions. I will need to throw a few rumors in there as well because I don't want to take the time to verify them or don't know how.

There is an opinion piece here (Hutch News, Western Front so I don't know if it will be there long) from a guy in Hays (not real sure why a guy in Hays is writing opinion pieces about Hutch Mall, but.. his business).

I disagree with him but not completely.

Here is my one sentence opinion: (and then I will get real wordy explaining it)

Hutchinson, Ks is not big enough population wise to support a Mall, a Walmart, a Target, a K-mart, and a Downtown Retail district, unless the Mall and the Downtown Retail District are very progressive and dedicated to succeeding. (I know, long freaking sentence, I don't care)

and ... They aren't. Well they aren't dedicated enough.

Walmart, K-mart and Target will be fine and if not, oh well.

Here's my thoughts/opinions/solutions/ramblings and this is where some of the rumors come into play.

1. The malls rent??? I really don't know the deal but, thats all your hear people talk about and they have been for years. Somethings up. If for nothing more than PR and the chance to get local businesses to contemplate moving there. They need to clear up the rumors and/or fix their rent rules.

2. The upkeep of the Mall - kind of a rumor because I guess there could actually be a reason why it is so crappy. The place is dirty and the sign, my God, fix the sign.

3. Downtown - I don't know the numbers and thats why this is a rumor. But, most people work from 8(ish) to 5(ish). If you really want my business, be open when my boss will let me go down there. Be open when, on a nice summer evening, several hundred people walk out of the Anchor Inn and want something to do. Be open 7:00 at night when I remember I need something for tomorrow but I couldn't get down there any sooner because I have a freaking job and kids and all that stuff.

4. Downtown - Fight like hell for Downtown - this is kinda a broad generalization cause I know Jim Sitenater and I know he is fighting. We have to convince the next person that wants to open any type of retail/food/bar establishment in Hutchinson, to do it either downtown or in the mall.
Make downtown a little bity mini version of the plaza in K.C.. A place where I can take my family/friends/just wife to eat, and then walk to our next destination. (Shopping, Bar, Ice Cream Place). Putting the next food establishment that comes to town at 17th and Lorraine or 30th and Plum does nothing to benefit these 2 districts. It also spreads Hutchinson's establishments wider than our population can support.

I know the owner gets to decide where it goes, but are these 2 groups fighting for it to be in their area? Maybe so, I am honestly asking.

Both could be great locations, and I do want to say that I know some people are trying with Downtown and I see progress, but neither can survive without taking drastic progressive steps.

I guess what I wanted to do here was lay out my thoughts and then provide a way for someone to answer my questions and tell me my thoughts were wrong. So, you can leave comments or email me from link on the right or even call me. Or just read it and cuss me.

Ok, I can definitely ramble, I am done , for now.


  1. Who owns the mall? That's all I have time to comment on right now...but I was curious.

  2. Good question,
    The website
    says it's owned by
    Rubloff Development Group, Rockford, IL..
    website =

  3. The mall sucks. Close the mall. Usually malls pop up because they are close to the interstate, but Hutch doesn't even have an interstate. If all those mall stores moved downtown, they wouldn't lose any business. Everyone downtown would prob gain business because they'd all be in the same place. It's not like it's a long drive to get downtown.

  4. Personally I think I agree with Scott. Realistically I think we gotta find some middle ground but go after it hard.

  5. cody-sorry for the "anonymous" comment...and the "no time" comment, too. i just wanted you to know i read your post and that was what popped into my head. i have some maybe crazy way distant connection to the owner so i was curious. to the's in sad shape. i would love to see the community embrace downtown and make it more lively past 6pm. does it have to be one or the other...probably, but can this community let go of a dying mall?

  6. Sarah,

    I don't think it absolutely has to be one or the other. I thin if both got aggressive and progressive (more so) they could both skyrocket their cool points.


  7. simultaneous skyrocketing of cool points...that sounds blissful!

    can i wish for a super target...hutch's cool points would increase in my books. i know i now i can drive 40 minutes to west wichita to go there and to many other shops already...which opens a whole new discussion. what are you thoughts on west wichita? i love the fact that i can go there (drop my kiddos off out my in-laws) and shop and come home to my cozy existence in Hutch.

  8. The whole Wichita thing is a hard one for me. I love to keep it local but at the same time shopping Wichita kicks ass. The fact you can be there in 40 minutes like you said is awesome. Selection is incredible. I think Hutch has to try to be real good at what it is gonna do and not try to do everything or else it all gets diluted and Wichita is the better choice. As far as a Super Target, all for it. They can have the whole mall. Theres a discussion for you. What if target had gone into the mall instead of building. What if Chilis had gone into a cool building Downtown instead of building. I don't know if any of that is possible but that (In my opinion) is where we are lacking, not getting those new businesses coming to town to support one of the 2 areas.

  9. Nate Diggity DoggApril 10, 2008 at 8:30 AM

    All that "we" can do for the mall is voice a huge concern about its condition and lack of options to the local management, but also to Rubloff Development Group. The problem as I see it is that it is a big corporate numbers game ran from Rockford, IL and the whole "working with the community for a win-win partnership" probably isn't very possible.

    Personally, I'm not sure or just don't know how much retail business our town and the surrounding area can support. Maybe we don't need MORE options to be successful...maybe fewer would allow us to focus on what we have?

    So if "we" want to do anything, I suggest it starts with some sort of signature campaign (electronic or otherwise) voicing our concern and support of an improved mall. That could spark some awareness, but the action I feel would still have to come from the "man" in Illinois.

    As far as downtown, that is another post for another time...

  10. Nate,

    I think your post is right except for one thing.

    Downtown is not another post!!

    One thing is for sure this town cannot support the two of them directly fighting each other.

    What if they got together and said "As a team, working together, we are gonna do 2 things...
    1. We are going after national chains like crazy, good ones and we are gonna work together to fix up the mall develop new rent structure and all national retails chains we are gonna push them to fill up the mall. As a team. Jointly. Combined resources.

    2. We are gonna, as a team, develop Downtown in a little-bity-mini- KC PLaza. All new food and drink establishments. All new Local shops. Art galleries. Coffee Shops. Cold Stone Creamery (Holy shit I want A Cold Stone in Hutch,that's another post). Those places need to be pressured by both sides to go downtown. I think Hutch could possibly support them in the egos and the "We do it like this cause we always did it likes this" attitudes went away a little more.

  11. The Mall and downtown Hutchinson.
    I like to shop in Hutch - it's closer than Wichita to Pratt. Since Pennys closed in Pratt, Hutch is the next best choice for my family.
    When talking 'population', other towns should be included in the factor. After all, what do the small towns around Hutch have to offer consumers? Little or nothing!
    Twenty years ago, Downtown Hutch was still the place to go - I miss that. We still had quality "stuff" in Pratt then. But, the selection was limited for 'buy it now' "stuff". We'd have to wait a few days for an order to arrive on things we needed today.
    Sure, we have a Walmart super store here in Pratt; and that's the reason downtown Pratt has so many vacant shops. But, our Wally World isn't as super as the one in Hutch.
    With the price of gas for the car ever rising, we aren't really saving money by going to another town to shop, unless we have a lot of things we need.
    Thanks for you blogs Cody.
    Ross G. Hoyt - retired

  12. Ross,

    Thanks for another great comment.

    You kinda made me feel like an idiot for not discussing surrounding communities populations in my originally post. I am only 32 years old but I can remember when Hutch's population shot up on the weekends as people from the west came to shop.

    Walmart has effectively destroyed that. I lay no blame on WalMart. It is all of our faults for shopping there. (Thats another post, please don't screw this great discussion up with I hate Walmart comments I will delete.)

    You also bring up great points about selection in small towns and Gas prices. Pretty much we can't change those issues so...

    We improvise, we adapt, we overcome, We Buhler????

    We Buhler???

    How the hell does that little town support those huge retail stores.

    2 reasons.

    They market like mad: Good Marketing, not generalized crap marketing. They don't say "Please come to our town", They say hey, we have the best little store around if 'THIS' is what you are looking for". They don't claim to have something for everyone, they claim to be the best at having what a select group of people want. Either it's working or they are selling dope out the back door, cause they have been afloat for a long time and it sure isn't their population.

    2nd Reason Buhler is succeeding: Not one single chain store. They use Hutch for that and it doesn't dilute their space.

    Could Hutch be the best and not the biggest and maybe admit we should rely on Wichita for somethings? Admit we don't need one of every chain restaurant in the world cause it kills our local restaurants. Back our local joints, I am not saying get rid of the chain restaurants, I really don't know if my plan here is good. But, I feel good typing it. I want feedback, honestly, I am not claiming to be right, I am claiming to be less than completely knowledgeable.

    Holy Crap Ross, you got me all riled up, this is way to long for a comment...


  13. I was inspired by everyone's interest in this, and the positive feel that I got from everyone that posted a comment.

    So, I went to the Rubloff Development Group website, and found a way to send an email to the contact person for the Hutchinson Mall within the Rubloff Development Group. I then sent them this email
    Hi Folks! Here is a blog that you might find interesting. This blog post was recently launched due to recent conversation among our local media about the frustrations that our Convention Bureau has had in generating conversation with the Hutch Mall. This blog gets quite a bit of traffic, and would be a great spot for you to start reading, and heck, if you are on board, disagree, or agree with anything said, then jump in with a comment! I am a Hutch native, moved away for 4 years to California, and am back raising a family, running a business and living life. I want our mall, our community to be the best it can. We can do so with your help ! I urge you to contact someone from the Hutch Chamber to discuss this - you would make many people very happy! BLOG:

    The person at the chamber is Dave Kerr Phone number is 620-662-3391.

    Again, Thanks for your time! Tamara Heitschmidt

    In just a little under an hour, I got an email back from them stating this:

    Thank you for your e-mail. We appreciate your interest in the Hutchinson Mall.
    Our leasing manager for the Hutchinson Mall has been in contact with David Kerr within the last two weeks.
    Our director of Property Management has scheduled a trip to meet with the chamber.

    Steven St. Peter

    Pretty Exciting Huh?

  14. Interesting blog Cody, and since I haven't lived in town a long time I dont really have any strong opinion. I had hopes that downtown would redeveop with the antique shops, development along the creek and a few restaurants--but it never really happened. As for the mall, it has gone downhill since Orange Julius closed and Bally Aladin's got rid of "gyrus", the best video game of all time.

  15. Orange Julius was a little sour for me. At least thats how I remembered it. I also hated NU-Way, the sloppy joe with no sauce or flavor that fell apart when you touched it.

  16. You just didn't like Nu-ways because of the mustard.

  17. Cody, et al: I want to provide some factual tidbits as I understood from a few years back.
    First, retail chains and restaurants use a formula to decide where to open new establishments. I know this is particularly true of national chain restaurants. This formula heavily depends on the population within a 30 mile radius. No matter how hard a community campaigns for or against an establishment in their community - if the numbers do not work you are out of luck. (A community tends to have a little more luck keeping an establishment out of a community - but even that is difficult if the numbers work.) End of factual tidbit.

    Here are some of my opinions:
    I tend to agree with the less government is better thinking, but if you want to control sprawl, then your local governments must have business zoning and enforce it. Hutchinson could have zoned so that new establishments would have to move into the downtown area and that new businesses fit into a "look" for the town. Mc Donald’s just built a new building in my parent's town of historic Clarkesville, Ga. You can barely see the arches and it looks like the building had been there forever. It has to be one of the prettiest McDonalds I have ever seen. Have you ever used the words pretty and McDonalds in the same sentence before? I haven’t.

    Much of what we are discussing here takes progressive, visionary leadership - I don't know that we have had that in our local governments.

    Can I add a question? Isn’t what we are talking about here about more than just where we shop? Isn't also about community? The benefit of shopping in my local community and getting to know people, running into neighbors, etc? This element is called many things - the commons, the community living room, social capital - whatever we call it, I miss it and I want more of it in Hutchinson. And I want the mall to not be an eyesore in our community.

  18. Kate,

    Great comment:

    My quick response...

    I understand the numbers game and that it can be hard to dictate where national chains go. But you gave 2 great examples of how people have done it, and if we stick to limiting only who we want it will make it more attractive to others that we want as well. Right?

    Not letting everybody and their dog set up in town creates and exclusivity that we need. A little bit of "You are gonna play by our rules or not play on our court is good, right?"

    In answer to your question...

    I am gonna challenge a little here.

    It is everything to do with where we shop, where are the dollars going?... To some people.

    It has everything with community and running into neighbors and liking what you see.... To some people!

    Some people are right in the freaking middle of both of those and care about both.

    Some people don't care about it at all.

    We need to get the first three groups of people to not worry about why it matters and just worry about what the hell we are gonna do and then go do it.

    The group of people that just don't care, really... that's ok too. Just don't bitch about it if you don't care enough to help fix it.

    Damn do I talk as much as I type, comments should be shorter than mine are.

  19. It is now 2012 how did it turn out? Where you able to save all three?


I love the discussion in the comments.. so... GO FOR IT!

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