Remembering the good old days at Crossroads Mall

Now that we’re all quarantined and not able to enjoy being out in public, it seems like a good time to wax nostalgic about the spaces we used to collectively enjoy, especially the ones that are no longer with us.

These days, any trip to a mall is a miserable experience for me. It’s the same cheap shit in every store but marked up to absurd prices for the quality, and there’s too many people, and they’re all shrines to capitalism. But before I was a professional curmudgeon, I was a mallrat in my teenage days, and there was no better place to spend a Saturday than Crossroads Mall. My friends and I would hang out all day, pester store employees, and get into very mild mischief.

Here’s my 5 favorite places from Crossroads Mall:

The Arcade

This was obviously the top place to be as a teenager in the 1990’s at a mall. Most of the friends I met at Crossroads were other miscreants that would hang out and play Tekken for hours. Once we got to know the staff, who were mostly early 20’s dirtbag nerds like us, they’d hook us up with free tokens or even crack the machines open and put on the Free Play Mode. Sometimes on the weekends, we’d hang out at those dudes apartments and smoke weed with them, which in retrospect is really weird and creepy, but they needed friends and we needed those golden coins to play games.

The Hobby Shop

Right next to the arcade was The Hobby Shop, which was a massive, two-story store that sold gaming supplies, model airplanes, and all sorts of geeky stuff. I barely spent money there except occasionally buying booster packs of Magic: The Gathering cards, but it was always a trip to browse through. They had a huge library of RPG books back when D&D was still a fairly fringe affair, along with a lot of Warhammer 40K figures, and all the paints you needed to decorate them. A lot of these games are pretty mainstream stuff now, but back then, The Hobby Shop was like walking into a different world.

Smoke Spots

As a bunch of dirtbag sk8r boys, we were always looking for places to smoke on the sly so security didn’t catch us and call our parents or whatever. Often, the more brazen spots were best, but depending on which mall cop was working, we’d have to get creative and look for weird spots outside the building to share a Marlboro Red. For a while, the McDonalds and A&W had smoking sections, which is insane to think about now, but nobody would ever bother us there. Speaking of which…

The Food Court

Usually, I’d spend whatever money I had saved from my weekly lunch money to buy a bean burrito from Taco Mayo. That’s where I learned the trick that I use to this day that you can ask for lettuce, tomato, and onions and there’s no upcharge for all that extra food. But if I had a few extra bucks, I’d hit up the Orange Julius, or perhaps S’Barro’s for a slice of pizza that I regretted ordering every time.

Eastern Treasures

There was one apex cool spot at Crossroads Mall, and no, it wasn’t Hot Topic, Gadzooks, or even the pet store. It was Eastern Treasures. This place had it all, from ninja throwing stars to dragon swords. They even had those light-up framed animated pictures things of stuff like waterfalls or Jesus crying. There was even a while when I remember seeing t-shirts about cockfighting displayed proudly in the window display.

I’ve got dozens more memories about this mall that I could talk about, including a very fucked up one involving the Dillard’s 3rd floor bathroom, but those are tales for another time. What are your remembrances of this ancient monument to capitalism?



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29 Responses

  1. LeMans was cool.

    1. Especially the bumper car track!

    2. I still remember the smell of that place (LeMans). Early on they had the bumper cars in there. I can’t believe Spencer’s Gifts wasnt mentioned in this article! That place was a must visit when in Crossroads Mall. Ah, memories of the late 70’s/early 80’s!

  2. I was a teen in the late 70’s & early 80’s. I remember when they built this mall. (Telling my age). It was THE place to go. Sadly, the gangs ruined it. It was never the same.

  3. I remember when you walked into the mall you could usually smell the chlorine from the fountain. : )

  4. One million points for including “Eastern Treasures”. All my money went there for years.

  5. The candle store in the corner by the pet shop. Man they had some of the most lifelike wax sculptures (candles.) There was a parrot so real I got in trouble so many times for touching it:)) And it smelled so great! This was of course before every store had a wax knock you over aisle. Me and my little sister spent so much time running around that mall we owned it as far as we were concerned. I miss her and Crossroads it was always cozy and bright or maybe that’s just my memory.

  6. I grew up in Edmond and I remember my mom practically packing a suitcase and lunch to go to Crossroads. There was no Quail Springs yet. It was an exciting road trip back then!

    1. I remember doing that too….we’d drive from Edmond to Crossroads and spend all day there…it was a simpler time in the late 70’s/early 80’s

    2. That’s a great memory. I’ve seen old photos of when Quail was just built in 1980, and it looked like a real oasis on the prairie! And it, too, had a flavor of that Crossroads decor.

      Penn was pretty much like what the Outlet is back then, right? With anchor stores?

  7. I hope we don’t have to create new memories at Crossroads. That is, “ I remember when I spent six weeks there recovering from COVID-19. It made a great makeshift hospital! They even reopened Babbages.”

  8. I grew up in Lawton, so a trip to Crossroads felt like NYC. My friends and I thought we were so slick. Coming back on a bus from a junior high vocal music trip (yup – slick and cool) we spent an afternoon there and I got arrested for trying to steal a pair of Z Cavaricci shorts at Macy’s. I didn’t go to jail, but I had to wait in a stuffy office in the creepy long hallway of the mall until Mr Blomgren came to get me. He made me sit next to Antonietta Maria Figueroa in the back of the bus all the way home, which is another story, too, and totally made the attempted theft worth it.

  9. I saw that wynnewood tiger guy there one saturday. he had a great big tiger in a cage and for 20 bucks you could get in there and take a photo with that thing. My girlfriend, crystal, kept pushing me to get in there with that animal and she even offered to pay the 20 bucks for the picture. I took one look at the size of hairy smelly monster and said hell no, but I did get one with the tiger. I think crystal had designs on my husband, gawd rest his sole. good times.

  10. My memories of Crossroads were of B. Dalton and Waldenbooks, it was a kind of paradise for me. Two bookstores under one roof, three if you counted Zondervan’s. I even followed Waldenbooks when they moved upstairs.

    There was a weird variety you don’t see anymore, the piano and organ store, often with a man playing the organ, was 2 doors down from Frederick’s of Hollywood.

  11. That hobby shop was a crazy two storied trip, I loved going in there!

  12. When I was a kid I loved waking up and down the big ramp that took you from one floor to the other in the center of the mall. Don’t ask me why but I loved it. I remember how cool it was that there was an indoor McDonald’s, and spent a ton of money at Le Mans, Waldenbooks and B Dalton.

  13. Eastern Treasures was one of the last places to close. Im convinced they were a cover for drug smuggling. How many samurai swords are you selling in any other wise empty mall?

  14. Eastern Treasures, Steve & Barry’s, the cool pet store, Chick-Fil-A, Regal Movie Theater, KBToys — Man. Even after it’s downfall I still had to hang around there. It was my youth. Plaza Mayor made me feel sad and empty. Then of course, the Mexican circuses and swapmeets. It still kills me to drive past it at night and see just this big, black, empty void.

    1. Do not despair Smokie! The Father Stanley Rother Shrine Corporation will very soon be making an offer on the Plaza Mayor. Those millions of pilgrims will need hotels with hot tubs, themed-restaurants, the Great Wolf Lodge, and a place to park their pilgrimage Winnebagos. A sky bridge to the old Brookside Golf Course will whisk pilgrims across the I-35 and I240 interchange. Crossroads Mall will be the Condos for Catholics before you know it.

  15. Who remembers Chess King. I used to manage that store and got to be friends with all the nice old guys who walked the mall every morning. Afterwards they had their coffee in front of the store.

  16. The two big ones not mentioned were the pet store near Wards on the upper level – amazing birds there.

    The second is the indoor McDonald’s, second floor, across from a smoking bench that overlooked the first floor. No handicap ramps, so going in there with a stroller was a nightmare.

  17. I practically grew up in this mall! However, the last time I went was in 1996 on a date with my soon to be wife. We went to the Orange Julius. I had a pocket full of change and right before we ordered, I discretely dipped my change in the fountain. Then when I went to pay the money was all wet as if I had stolen the fountain wishes. An OLD Jack Benny joke that paid off. We still laugh about it 24 years later.

  18. What a neat idea for a post. Would love some memories, maybe from a contributing writer, of the other malls in the metro. As a kid we lived closer to Shepard Mall so that was our family’s go to. This was the early to mid 80s. I vaguely remember Penn Square and later Quail Springs coming on the scene. Crossroads wasn’t on my radar because it was so far south. But I loved reading about these memories from there! A little history on the implantation of all these malls would be a fascinating read too. Even some of their predecessors. None I have off the top of my head but I’m sure my mother who grew up in downtown OKC in the 50s and 60s could give me some names. Even the history of Paseo. She said she remembers that being a very sheek and upscale shopping area in the 50s. Thanks for the fun posts!

    1. Hell I’m so old I remember when Penn Square was an outside mall. And the bank closing in 1982. Not really the “good old days” but strangely similar to today.

  19. LeMans, Eastern Treasures, Athletic Village, Babbages, Garfield’s, the list goes on and on. The most vivid memory though was being in LeMans when a suspicious package was left at the photo mat right outside JC Penney and the bomb threat being called in and the cops rushing us out of the mall screaming there was a bomb…..

    1. I totally ate at Garfields a bunch! Across from that was El Chico, but before that I think it was Felix’s.

  20. I remember being told not to go to the restrooms alone because someone was stabbed or raped there. This was in the late 70’s. It was on the news and seemed like a big deal.
    There were some cool stores but everything seemed overpriced.

  21. I remember standing at a cash register on the second floor of Penney’s not long after the mall opened and feeling the floor start shaking. It was scary until the Penney’s employee told us that the mall was built that way on purpose and that the floor shaking was not unusual.

  22. I worked at Champs right by the Tinder Box. It had that awesome smell of pipe smoke when you walked by.

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