The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

September 2, 2007

Retail Wasteland – A Tour of the Totem Lake Mall

Filed under: Kirkland, Malls, shopping, Wanderings — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 1:51 am

Totem Lake Malls Sign

Update 3/4/09: The Kirk land Reporter has reported that DDR is in the process of quietly putting the Totem Lake Mall property up for sale, which presumably means that whatever redevelopment plans might have been made for this mall are unlikely to ever come to fruition, at least in their current form.  You can find a few more details on at this post.

For those of you arriving here from deadmalls.com, you might also be interested in an article that I have written over at KirklandViews.com describing summarizing the current situation here, as well as what I know about the history and potential future of this mall.  Links to the three part article can be found here.

If you’re looking for something slightly less depressing to read about, check out the first part of a 4-part series of posts on Crossroads Mall in Bellevue, a small mall which was brought back from the brink of failure in the mid Eighties to be transformed into what is now a thriving neighborhood mall and a popular gathering place for the community.

Also be sure to check out the most recent post on my research into the history of this mall here.

One of the things you learn from spending time on the Internet is that no matter how obscure a hobby you engage in might be, there’s a good chance you’ll find a number of other people with similar interests.  For some reason, I’ve always had an interest in malls, not so much because I like shopping, but because I find it interesting to watch them over time and see how things change.  Some malls thrive, while others decline, and end up abandoned.  There are whole websites (and blogs) devoted to documenting some of these declining and defunct malls.  Over the course of the next few months, I intend to make a series of posts about some of the region’s malls, from those that are thriving to those that are failing.

One such mall is the Totem Lake Mall in Kirkland.  Originally built in 1973, The mall is split down the middle by a road, separating it into two halves (hence the name “Totem Lake Malls” as seen on the signs.)  The mall has faced a long, slow decline since the late 1990s, accelerated by the recent loss of three of its major anchor stores, leaving most of the enclosed mall portion of the property vacant.   The owner of the mall has submitted preliminary plans to the City of Kirkland for a major redevelopment of the property, although no new documents have been submitted since last January.  These plans seem to indicate that a majority of the existing property will be demolished and rebuilt.  Although (as you will see) this is badly needed,  After the jump, a tour of the desolation that is the Totem Lake Mall,

The North Side of the mall

From this side, things don’t look too bad.  On the north side of the mall, a number of stores can be found, and a fair number of cars are parked nearby.  The building looks like it could use a fresh coat of paint, but otherwise it’s not too bad.

When you take a look at the other side of the mall, things don’t look quite so nice.  Aside from the gas station at the end of the parking lot, the only store remaining on this side of the mall is the fly-by-night printer ink store.  The CompUSA store closed several months ago (along with more than half of the CompUSA stores in the country, and all but one of them in Washington.) 

Rite Aid

The Rite Aid which used to be next door moved out into a freestanding store built nearby last year.

As we move in closer to the mall, we can see a labelscar from the Gottschalks which used to occupy the anchor store space in the main mall area.  Originally, this space belonged to Lamonts, a regional clothing store chain which went bankrupt  in 2000 and was purchased by Gottschalks, which later took over most of the former Lamonts stores, then gradually closed down most of these locations. 

 

Up above, we see a badly weathered sign for the mall, where a number of pigeons seem to have taken up residence.  Incidentally, the tower crane in the background is being used for construction on the expansion of Evergreen Hospital, located next to the mall.

Please excuse us while we don't remodel

Please excuse us while we don't remodel

As we move inside, we are greeted by this rather optimistic sign at the front door.  As you’ll see, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of remodeling going on around here.

The former Gottschalks storefront

The former Gottschalks storefront

Here we can see the former storefront of the Gottschalks.  Note the lights on inside the store.  This space does see occasional use by assorted seasonal and transient businesses in need of a temporary space, and currently Halloween Express is in the process of setting up for their annual run. (EDIT 9/15/08: FINALLY remembered to replace the blurry photo with a new one.)

Looking to the north from here, we see two of the remaining businesses:  a Christian bookstore, and an Old Country Buffet (which has no entrance from the outside of the mall.)  A couple of soda machines are also set up here, in the unlikely event that anyone ever happens to show up.

Empty Storefronts

Across from the Old Country Buffet, we see a number of empty storefronts.  On the closest one, you can see a faint outline of a labelscar from Jay Jacobs, a long defunct clothing retailer.  Most recently, a consignment antique and collectible shop was here for a while.  At the end is a space which formerly housed a Radio Shack, which has since moved to a shopping center across the street. 

Looking back in the other direction, we see… Not much.  There’s the Christian bookstore, the Sleep Country USA store, and pretty much nothing else.

On a clear day, you can see forever...

More empty storefronts, and a trash can which was virtually empty.

Sweet Shop

At the end of the hallway can be found the restrooms, which may be the only reason anyone might come here anymore.  There is also this space which used to house a small candy and treat shop.  I seem to recall that when the place was open, there was a rather large model of Big Bird on top.

Rapid Refill Ink

And over here, we see the one remaining business on this side of the mall, the ink cartridge store.  They don’t even bother to open up their mall entrance, it seems.  I can’t say I blame them.

Is there anybody out there?

Moving on, we go around the back of the mall.  In the back there are a couple of these storefronts, which appear to have sat emtpy even when most of the mall was still occupied.  These have no connection to the enclosed mall space, and no visibility from the freeway (or the front of the mall, for that matter.)

The back entrance to the Gottschalks

Here we see the back entrance to the former Gottschalks store.  The sign on the door is to inform job applicants for the Halloween Express store when interviews are available.  Directly behind this, you will find the East Mall area:

East Mall

This also illustrates one of the major design issues with the mall that is probably responsible for a lot of its current woes.  To get from one half of the mall to the other requires crossing the street.

Not only do you have to cross the street, but getting  from the main mall area to the East Mall requires passing through the now empty anchor store space.  This means that with no store in that space, one would have to go all the way around to get from the front of the mall to here.

Wells Fargo

There’s a bank branch located here, but those tend to stick around regardless of the condition of the surrounding area.  After all, people need to get to their money.

Ironically enough, in spite of the separation from the main mall, the East mall seems to actually be in better shape.  Over on this side, we have a Trader Joe’s and a couple of miscellaneous businesses between the empty spaces.  The second story holds the mall offices, as well as a couple of other small offices.  Not pictured is a Hallmark store, to the right of these. 

Guitar Center and Trading Post

Next door we have Guitar Center running one blowout sale or another (they have a larger sign off to the left), and a small postal store, next to yet another empty space.

Denny's Pet World

A beauty supply store and Denny’s Pet World (a longtime fixture of the upper mall) are next down the line. 

Fossils

These fossils were dug up from somewhere near the Rite Aid store, and date back to the early nineties…  No, wait.  Those are just aquarium decorations found in one of the windows of Denny’s Pet World.  Beyond this (not pictured) is a Big 5 Sporting Goods store, a staple of lower end malls in the area.

Totem Lake Cinema

Finally, in a dark corner of the parking lot, we find the Totem Lake Cinemas.  The marquees are empty, and the theater looks like it’s definitely seen better days.  For all intents and purposes, it looks like it could be abandoned.

Bollywood Hits

Then again, maybe not.  Although the showtimes are displayed in a handy easy-to-read ransom note format, there are signs of life here.  The theater’s website indicates that the movies shown here are the latest new releases out of Bollywood for the thriving local Indian population.

So what does the future hold for the Totem Lake Mall?  According to documents available on the City of Kirkland website, the enclosed mall portion, and the majority of the East Mall are to be demolished and rebuilt as a mixed residental and commercial use property.  A new street is to be run through the former Gottschalks store to improve access to the East Mall area and create a “center court” to serve as a hub.  The current plans also seem to call for keeping the existing large retail spaces in the lower mall intact, although I suspect that the closure of the Rite Aid and CompUSA might result in a change of plans here.  Even if the current plans never come to fruition, I seriously doubt that the mall will ever reach the point of being completely abandoned, as has befallen a number of other malls.  For one thing, the land is too valuable, and even if the current owners never do anything with this, someone will.  For the time being, it looks like Totem Lake will remain a largely empty shell.

Next up: Factoria Mall, a mall in Bellevue with somewhat similar circumstances.  It hasn’t declined nearly as much as Totem Lake, but it hasn’t exactly thrived either.

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111 Comments »

  1. [...] NOTE: This is the second in a series of posts that wll eventually profile most of the major malls in the greater Seattle area.  For those of you who might have missed it, the first post in this series covering the Totem Lake Mall in Kirkland can be found here. [...]

    Pingback by Malls of the Seattle Area: A Tour of the Factoria Mall « The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 — November 16, 2007 @ 3:16 am

  2. Hey, cool. I live near this mall and I’ve been wanting to do a Dead Malls profile on it too, but I had no idea what the history of it was. Nice write-up!

    Comment by Kyouryuu — December 2, 2007 @ 4:32 pm

  3. [...] Retail Wasteland – A Tour of the Totem Lake Mall « The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0 [...]

    Pingback by Mooiness! » Urban decay and deterioration — January 30, 2008 @ 7:52 am

  4. The pet store in the upper mall at Totem Lake is Denny’s Pet World. It is a wonderful, friendly place that has a long history at the mall (owner started a dive/fish store). Your summary was good, but short changed the original anchor triad of my youth here – Denny’s, the Totem Lake Book Store (sadly forced out due to higher rent and relocated to Snohomish, even if they drew in authors’ signings) and Big 5. Whether I was getting ready to learn mountain climbing or rafting, I could grab a book on the subject, then get some equipment and buy one more new fish for my tank. They may not have been the economic anchors, but getting ready for the weekend was much more fun at these than any bar.
    /
    My ideal vision for a new mall would be the “Evergreen Mall” with a GREEN-Washington theme of stores, and and an outdoor exercise pedestrian path that would dip into the boardwalk of the real Totem Lake. I’d love to see the return of a bookstore with a Northwest flavor…maybe a branch of Elliot Bay Books. This mall could draw people from Seattle if it offered green household and clothing products, as well as Northwest attitude in outdoor interests.

    Thanks for this web site.

    Comment by KGaston — February 15, 2008 @ 8:28 pm

  5. KGaston:

    Thanks for your comments. I do have to admit that when I wrote this originally, I didn’t have a lot of info to go on, and based it mostly on extemporaneous observations of a mostly empty mall. Since I wrote this, I did a bit of digging in the microfilm archives at the Bellevue Library, which found some Eastside Journal articles from 1973 with info (and ads) from the opening and original store makeup of the Totem Lake Center (as it was called originally.) I was short on time when I did the searching, so I focused my search mainly on the lower mall, but I intend to do some more searching when time permits. As soon as I get some more material together (and find some way to scan it), watch for either an update to this post or a new post detailing some of the history I found.

    Comment by Brian Lutz — February 15, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

  6. The movie theater must be so broke that they can’t buy actual film anymore – I’m pretty sure that’s a SATELLITE DISH on top there.

    Comment by reccaphoenix — March 2, 2008 @ 1:24 am

  7. FINALLY, someone wrote up something about this mall! I have a MILLION pictures because I was going to do a page about it, but never got around to it. In the lower mall the Rapid Refill Ink has since closed…another store bites the dust! No surprise, as I’ve never seen a single customer in there in the handful of times I’ve been there. I just go to see what else has left, as this dead mall fascinates me too!

    I’m very curious to know a few things, if anyone can accomodate me…
    -Did the upper mall ever have an “inside” mall like the lower one, or has it always been a strip mall concept? For some reason I suspect there’s this totally boarded up wonderland that exists beyond the walls of the outside stores…

    -Can anyone verify what year(s) a) Lamonts closed and b) when Gottschalks closed there?

    Thanks a bunch! xoxoxo -Emmy

    Comment by Emmy Watson — March 9, 2008 @ 2:25 am

  8. To my best memory Lamonts closed around 1999 and was remodeled by Gottscholks who closed about 2 years after that. This is my best guess until someone else gets better info. My foggy memory of the upper mall is the building where the current Trader Joe’s is was the dive shop (Denny’s) and there was a smaller two story building that were administrative offices next to it. Later the building where Big 5 is was built and the connecting upper mall stores. It never was “inside”. The parking lot was dirt with sawdust for a small time before being covered for parking.

    Memories of the lower mall include the recall of a much bigger lake (the real totem lake), without the current board walk. Blue herons, red wing black birds, muskrats, and tons of frogs. My family had picnics there after visits to see the newly built Kingsgate which had HUGE sign with wooden guardsmen/soldier with British appearing tall hats side by side on the entrance. I watched as huge pilings were driven into the soggy ground replacing cattails. The mall had large round timbers that made the whole structure inside look like a native long house. At the time, it seemed like a great memory of the Salish tribe that were the original residence of the surrounding hills. The store I remember best was Ernest Hardware that took up the space of the current shoe story and Ross.
    They gave free popcorn and yardsticks to kids like me. I actually didn’t grow up in the area, rather my parents repeatedly considered buying a home for rental in the area, so it became a favorite after church Sunday drive.

    Another store remembers on the lower mall was a travel agency on the northeast corner.

    Changing malls…other great memories ice skating lessons at the Crossroads Mall! It made a great summer for a group of junior high girls.

    Ms. Watson, please share your pictures, it may help to pull more memories from the lax brain cells.

    Comment by KGaston — March 10, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

  9. Wait… There was a skating rink at Crossroads Mall? I am working on Crossroads right now as the next entry in this series, but there’s a lot I still have to figure out about the early (particularly pre-1984) history of the mall.

    I would definitely be interested in getting more photos of Totem Lake in earlier days, especially in the old longhouse design (which I’m certain would have fallen to political correctness by now if it hadn’t fallen to modernization.) I’ve also got newspaper clippings from microfilm of the East Side Journal which show the old logo of the mall, as well as a number of ads from when it opened, and a complete diagram of what was in the lower mall when it opened (unfortunately the microfilm reader/copier couldn’t get the whole thing all at once, so that one is cut off at the edges.) I actually remember the Ernst store being there (I moved here in about 1995 or so, and I believe they went under in 1999,) and that Ernst actually had a mall entrance (which got sealed off when it got subcivided into Ross/Famous Footwear/Car Toys.) I also remember that the CompUSA was a Computer City store when I first got here.

    As soon as I figure out some way to scan the copies I made, I’ll post them. Unfortunately, the photos found on the microfilm are of poor quality, so they’re not of much use. It looks like the Redmond Historical Society just had archives of actual paper copies of the Sammamish Valley News donated to them, so when I get a chance I will need to check those to see if I have any better luck.

    As for Lamonts, check the Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamonts) which gives a surprisingly complete list of when all of the old Lamont’s/Gottschalk’s stores opened and closed, as well as what they turned into. It puts the Gottschalk’s opening at Totem Lake in 2000, and the closing of the Gottschalk’s store in 2004.

    Also note that I have put together a quick summary of what I have been able to determine so far about the mall and its history, See the post linked below for this.

    Thanks for everyone’s contributions. I still have a lot to figure out here.
    -Brian

    Comment by Brian Lutz — March 10, 2008 @ 9:12 pm

  10. [...] been able to learn so far with regards to the history of this mall.  When I originally wrote my Totem Lake Mall profile, just about all I had to work with was a mostly empty mall sitting in the middle of [...]

    Pingback by Totem Lake Mall: An Update and Info Dump « The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 — March 10, 2008 @ 11:28 pm

  11. Brian,
    Thanks for your great research into the history of Totem Lake Mall. The current condition is indeed sad. Let us all hope for a successful redevelopment of the area. It has so much potential.
    Keep up the good work. Historical reference and a sense of what has come before is very important. you provide a needed service to our community.

    Comment by Rob Butcher — March 12, 2008 @ 5:58 am

  12. There was an ‘inside’ to the upper (east) mall at first. The inside was a convoluted few hallways that accessed a couple smaller stores and the offices. The large space where Guitar Center is (used to be ‘Musician’s Friend)) where these few smaller stores were and the hallways (including restrooms). At one point there was also a WATER SLIDE built into the upper mall. It was two side-by-side water slides of the tube variety. You had to go outdoors and climb the 3-stories-or-so stairs to get to the top then you could choose a slide and slide down through the tubes that went throught the roof into a pool below. Very strange. Very short lived. The north end of the mall where the car toys store and Ross are is relatively new construction. It used to end there where Ross is and it terminated into an ‘ERNST’ store. Ernst was a chain of home center style stores. Hardware, sporting goods, gardening, lumber and that kind of thing. They were owned by the same company that owned Lamont’s. So was the store that was in the position that Rite Aid just vacated. “Pay-n-Save”. This company WAS the mall for a while, owning the three larges anchors. Also, where the CompUSA store sits was a GROCERY STORE and a TAVERN. The tavern was in the very end spot and the grocery store took up most of the area between it and the Rite Aid (Pay-n-Save) spot. Trader Joe’s was a camera store once too. ‘Totem Lake Camera’ as I recall. Inside there used to be a ‘Budget Tapes & Records’ store too. ~All this is from memory, I’ve lived here forever and remember it all. JOHN

    Comment by John — March 30, 2008 @ 11:02 am

  13. That’s so funny to stumble onto this page. I was JUST thinking this weekend, about Turbo Tubes, the Water Slide park that used to be at the upper mall, and none of my other friends remembered. Thanks to John’s comment, I know now I am not crazy!

    I grew up around there and am so sad at the state of the mall now. My brother and I for a time, would go see Santa at the mall, once Fredrick and Nelson’s cloed in Bellevue.

    I did used to like to go to Ernst with my dad though, since they handed out free popcorn!

    Comment by Sarah — March 31, 2008 @ 1:13 pm

  14. I finally got around to digging up a bit of the history of the upper mall, showing how the hallways inside were set up. I can’t say I’m all that familiar with the Guitar Center that’s there now, but based on what I’m seeing there were as many as 25 different shops in that area at one point, and some of those places had to be absolutely tiny. Also, if I’m seeing the map correctly, the old Trader Joe’s originally contained a mini golf course and a General Tire shop. By any chance, might the waterslides have been connected with the mini golf course?

    Watch for a new info post coming soon. I think I’ve got just about enough info to have a good picture of what was there when each half of the mall opened, but filling in the blanks much beyond that is going to take some work.

    Comment by Brian Lutz — April 2, 2008 @ 12:24 am

  15. [...] of all, I’d like to welcome the influx of visitors that has arrived at my original profile of the Totem Lake Mall via deadmalls.com. Although I am a transplant to this area, and have only [...]

    Pingback by Totem Lake Mall Research Update - A Map of the Lower Mall from 1973 « The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 — April 9, 2008 @ 1:50 am

  16. I have lived in the Totem Lake area for nearly 20 years. I remember the mall from before the remodel. I can confirm that the Native American Lodge theme is indeed hidden under the current facade. The ceiling inside the mall has small perforations in it and if you look in the right places you can see some of the skylights that are still up there and shadows of the wooden log beams that are also still there. They simply built a new facade around the old structure. The same goes for the columns on the outside perimeter on the west side of the mall. Underneath the stucco covering, there are logs with some minimal carving. They boxed them in, covered them in foam and then stucco. The large vertical sign in the parking lot does indeed contain the original log type sign, which was made up with three large wooden poles. The original sign is visible in this advertisement from one of the other pages on this website. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v320/Vexorg/Sledgehammer/totemlake_moresoon.jpg

    I remember an interpretive sign somewhere near Totem Lake (the lake) that gives the history of the lake. I don’t recall what it was originally called, but they actually renamed it Totem Lake in conjunction with the mall name.

    In the upper mall I remember an auto repair business in the current Trader Joe’s location. I believe that it was called Metric Mechanic. Denny’s pet world used to be much smaller. Over time it expanded into several storefronts at various times. There used to be a Pietro’s Pizza next to the Trading Post. There was a Piccolino’s Restaurant in the vacant space next to the current teriyaki restaurant. The Wells Fargo Bank was a San Diego Federal bank when I first moved here.

    A few notes about businesses near the mall. The Carlton Inn behind the cinemas used to be a Clarion Inn. The building was originally built to be some sort of farmer’s market. I never went it it.

    The Yuppie Pawn was a Cowboy Steakhouse for a long time. Before that it was a Sea Galley restaurant.

    Cafe Veloce used to be a Shakey’s Pizza.

    Comment by Dave Clement — April 12, 2008 @ 7:13 pm

  17. Trader Joe’s used to be a Les Schwab Tires store. In fact, I think TJ’s actually replaced Schwab.

    The grocery store, when it closed, was a Thriftway.

    I also believe that Totem Lake Office Supply eventually moved to the rear of the main mall (from their front of the mall location; where Old Country is now) before eventually closing. There was also a TV repair shop and a travel agency there at various points.

    Comment by Dave H. — April 15, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  18. Thanks for the info on the mall dude ! I moved recently and I was planning on checking out the mall just to see how good it is. Reading your review saved me from wasting gas money ;)

    Comment by Pallavi — April 19, 2008 @ 8:22 am

  19. I grew up in the Kingsgate area, and we used to go to Totem Lake’s Upper Mall for amazing pretzel sandwiches at Pretzelwich. We alwsys looked forward to eating there! That was the best thing in the mall.

    Comment by Renee — April 21, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

  20. [...] than two years now since we’ve heard much of anything regarding the proposed redevelopment at Totem Lake Mall.  The last time the City of Kirkland website for the mall redevelopment was updated was back in [...]

    Pingback by Signs of Life at Totem Lake - A New Redevelopment Site Plan « The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 — May 6, 2008 @ 11:28 pm

  21. Hi There Again,
    It’s been a couple months since I’ve last visited this wonderful site! It’s cool to read other people’s comments about what existed at this facsinating mall! Waterslides, minature golf course, and skating rinks oh my!! It’s all too delicious =).

    As far as my pictures go, they’re all within the last two years, so pretty much the same as you’ve posted. I used to adore the store Lamonts, and I loved the fact that when the Gottchalks company purchased all of the Lamonts, they never remodeled any of them, they just slapped the Gottschalks name on all the locations. I’m incredibly fascinated with the history of Lamonts & Gottchalks in Washington state, and have a myspace site (that’s currently under construction) documenting with pictures the history of it’s short-lived existence in the Washington state area: http://www.myspace.com/gottschalks. As I said, I need to put all my pictures in order, etc. As of now, the only two I can visit are fairly far in distance–Lakewood (Tacoma) and Marysville.

    Among the photos I have of the Totem Lake Mall, I was able to take a lot of them inside Gottschalks when it was the Halloween store last year, as well as when it was The Workout Warehouse in 2006. What was odd (in an awesomely tacky way) was these two “seasonal” stores used up about 30% of the empty anchor’s space. They still have the cash register “islands”, mirrors, and of course…the infamous letter scars of Gottschalks. Did you notice in the mall that among all the letter scars, they now have like white blotches to somewhat mask what the words spell out. I thought if they went to all that trouble then they should have painted over the letter scars completely! I’m glad they didn’t though, because it’s cool to know what used to exist at each store. I would love it if they gave me the sign to the empty “Sweet Shop” store, along with the candy thing and ice cream bar that hangs by it. Maybe if they tear down the mall they will give it to me if I ask =P.

    I don’t know why they’re remodeling so many malls around the Seattle-Tacoma area with stores on the outside. I can understand the reason may be developers/owners want to keep things fresh and exciting for shoppers, as well as make stores more accesible. But considering we’re the notorious rain state, in my opinion the indoor/open-air mall concept is still very appropriate for the area we live in due to such inconsistent weather we have the majority of the time. For me, I personally like old-fashioned mall floorplans.

    I’m turning 30 years old on May 23rd, so as a child of the 80’s I can remember a lot of the defunct companies/stores that existed. Some that come to mind…Ernst, Drug Emporium, People’s department store, Frederick & Nelson, Pay’N’Pak, Pay’N’Save, Volume Shoe Source (now all Payless Shoes), Payless drugstores (now all Riteaids), the majority of the Thriftway grocery stores, Silo, Best electronics, Musicland, Camelot Music, and Osco drug store. The newest franchises being CompUSA, Mervyn’s, Skippers, and Suncoast Motion Picture.

    Comment by Emmy Watson — May 20, 2008 @ 7:00 pm

  22. [...] Retail Wasteland – A Tour of the Totem Lake Mall [...]

    Pingback by Sledgehammer 2.0 Turns 1.0 Today « The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 — June 6, 2008 @ 1:19 am

  23. I used to live about three miles from there, thanks for posting these. I live on the other side of the country now and miss WA so bad. I’ts nice to be able to still see some of it I Graduated from JHS and i used to go there a lot anyway bottom line is just thanks for posting these.

    Comment by Brian — June 23, 2008 @ 8:13 am

  24. Thanks Sledge for your informative Web site. Here’s what I learned: They want to start demolition at the end of the year on the portion of the mall nearest Totem Lake Blvd., but Ross Dress for Less, Car Toys and Famous Footwear will stay put, in the same buildings. You parobably already knew that from the updated plans on their Web site. What’s new is they’ve tied up Wells Fargo and are “nearly certain” of securing Trader Joe’s at a new location between Totem Lake Blvd and 120th. Someone also mentioned here on your site that the layout looks like a Target store. That sounds like a good prediction. They’re (DDR) about 90% certain to be one of the two “Big-Box” retailers there. Some bad news though, sounds like the movie theater is gone (possibly leaving Kirkland — If Parkplace doesn’t work out — without a Movie Theater!). If you live nearby or were hoping on seeing a cinema there, you’d better get organized quick and send them a petition or something. Also, due to the competition with Evergreen Hospital, it sounds like they’re rolling back plans for building offices there, too. Hope that helps.

    Comment by He Who Shall Not Be Named — June 23, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

  25. Interesting website~i stumbled on it from the YouTube video “Where in the hell is Matt”; this video has over 4 million hits; it is about a guy named Matt that does a certain dance all over the world. Matt is interviewed on his web page (I believe it is under his FAQ link) and in the inverview he was asked what the most depressing place he has been in and he said Totem Lake Mall. I was curious as to why a guy who has traveled all over the world would find this mall the most depressing! And it is…Matt is also from Seattle I believe so that may explain how he knows about it.
    I love your research and postings on ugly/loosing malls. I am from minnesota and there are plenty here.
    Go to http://www.wherethehellismatt.com
    in the interview you will read about Totem mall. and it is an interesting video.
    You have a great idea about this mall issue.

    Comment by QueenMalley — July 5, 2008 @ 9:46 pm

  26. I can remember when Fred Meyer was still at Crossroads in the late 70’s,you walked right in the front and the “fred meyer musicland” section was right there,walking in and out through the old silver turnstiles in front of that section,actually bought Foreigners “Head Games” lp there in 79′(ah albums..)can go back further than that..to the ice skating rink,the old hallmark store out front on the east side of the building,the front of the place had a big open court and a fountain with small dress shops surrounding it,there was “Ernst” (with they’re free popcorn)out back (where circuit city is)the old bellevue golf driving range(now a grocery store with a huge parking lot)the old crossroads cinema out front(now barnes and noble)there was even an old car wash up there in the back area near where “Michaels” crafts is,mall really has changed a lot since the 70’s..

    Comment by MisterMall — July 5, 2008 @ 11:32 pm

  27. I used to work in the Mother of All Malls:
    Mall of America.
    Malls are now a fabric of human life and much of humanity considers the Mall of America as a town square. You can get married there, go to school there, and shop there.
    The MOA has also changed greatly over the years.
    I find malls in general, and this site in particular, fascinating.
    I also have a degree in anthropology and malls, market squares, etc. have been with us since we were around…
    great website, keep it up!

    Comment by QueenMalley — July 6, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

  28. Thanks for this page; I also came here via Matt’s Dancing page (mentioned above in comment #25) where he says in the FAQs: “What’s your least favorite place you’ve ever been? –– The Totem Lake Shopping Center in Kirkland, Washington. It’s the most depressing place I’ve ever been. I almost didn’t make it out. I think it might be some kind of gateway to the netherworld.” So thanks for allowing me to “see for myself”. Greetings from Berlin, Germany

    Comment by rabenaas — August 6, 2008 @ 4:34 am

  29. Some days you just stumble upon something on the Internet and go “wow”.

    I also graduated from JHS, so I spent a lot of time at this mall (sad but true). I remember the Pietro’s in the upper “east” mall — used to eat pizza there after our soccer games. I also remember seeing “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” at the theater — my friend and I scored the last two tickets of the first showing opening day and I watched the entire movie two rows back from the front and against the wall. My neck hurt so bad from the twisted viewing angle. Oddly, I was just thinking about that experience yesterday.

    I believe I had my last photo with “Santa” in this mall.

    I also seem to remember a seafood store (not a restaurant) in the upper “east” mall. Early 80s, perhaps? I think it was about where the teriyaki restaurant is in the picture above, but maybe I’m thinking of another mall.

    It saddens me to see this place in such a decrepit state. I remember it being busy with many people…

    Comment by BB — August 7, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

  30. [...] Sure, there are a number of malls that are underperforming with high vacancy rates, but even at Totem Lake(the Seattle Metro area’s current poster child for dead malls,) most of the upper mall area [...]

    Pingback by In Defense of the Traditional Shopping Mall - Part 1: The Reports of the Mall’s Death are Greaty Exaggerated « The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 — August 8, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

  31. I spent many hours killing time at Totem Lake and remember scraping up enough money for a 45 at DJ’s records, some candy at the candy shop (Charlie’s?) or a t-shirt at the T-Shirt shop in the upper mall.

    It’s a shame to see what it has become and it’s good to see there is hope for a revitalized use for the property.

    Comment by Andrew — August 14, 2008 @ 8:42 pm

  32. The 3 day breast cancer walk is stopping at this mall for a Starbucks fix. Friday Sept 12th, 2008 in the am….

    Comment by Leslie O — September 10, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  33. Great site!
    I was thrilled to find you while looking for updates on the Totem Lake Malls. I have lived in this area since 1977 and miss being able to pop down to Ernst and LaMonts for whatever I “needed”. I do LOVE the not so recent) addition of Trader Joes but feel like it’s a matter of time until Woodinville or Redmond build their own. We could use a Ben Franklin or Michael’s. Hopefully they would include fabric departments. Both the Redmond B.F. and Juanita Michael’s are awful and a total pain to get to. We could use a Target, a liquor store, a gym, and a bookstore (used is okay). Another grocery store and a McClenden’s would be a Godsend. We need our Hallmark type store and Denny’s Pet World. Dress Barn, Bed Bath & Beyond, and any other outlet type store fits our local income and I believe would draw from other locales that do not wish to drive to Lynnwood or South Center. This is a great location with easy access. What a waste of real estate!

    Comment by cheri z — September 17, 2008 @ 1:49 pm

  34. I’m rooting for a Half-Price Books.

    Comment by Colin H. — September 23, 2008 @ 12:27 am

  35. In the Totem Lake upper mall before it was Pietro’s Pizza place it was a Pizza Haven Restaurant They had all you could eat pizza and Salad on Wednesday’s I had to trained their before the Pizza Haven in Factoria Mall open in 1978, Pizza Haven in the upper mall was located where the New Attitude store is now located, and the Pizza Haven in Factoria was located were the Norstrom Rack is now located there used to be an outside strip mall in back of the inclosed Factoria Mall and the mall used to be called Factoria Square when it first opened.

    Comment by Ione — October 18, 2008 @ 6:47 pm

  36. Now this is going back to the mid 1960’s — I remember a roller skating rink at Crossroads to the east of the mall — went there many times as a teenager for their weekend dances. Kids from all over the area went to dance there. Loads of fun! There was a restaurant at the mall that was quite up-scale for the area. I believe it was called The Red Fox. I remember that when my parents went there it was for some occasion or another, not just a quick meal. I no longer live in the area and haven’t been to Crossroads in many years.

    Comment by Lin — October 23, 2008 @ 12:57 pm

  37. Totem Lake Mall was mentioned in the Seattle Times yesterday. The article was titled “Stalled Projects, Scarred Neighborhoods”. It semms they know even less than we do!

    Excerpt:

    Kirkland: Malls behind

    In Kirkland, the proposed redevelopment of Totem Lake Malls is occurring far more slowly than the city had hoped, said Eric Shields, planning director.

    In January 2006, the city approved a redevelopment plan of more than a million square feet of retail and office space, housing, and a multiplex cinema. Stores were to open by 2011.

    But as of this month, the city still was waiting on a design plan for the first phase of development and a sense of what stores might go into the new mall.

    Shields said he has been told the developer still is trying to negotiate leases for anchor spaces. Developers Diversified Realty, of Beachwood, Ohio, did not return calls from The Seattle Times.

    While Totem Lake Malls still operate, much of the main mall is vacant. The biggest sign of life is a retailer that temporarily moved into an anchor space to sell Halloween supplies.

    Comment by Colin H. — October 28, 2008 @ 9:32 am

  38. I went to the Halloween store earlier this week at Totem Lake Mall, and I’ve been flabbergasted and completely interested in it ever since. I keep picturing a mall with a lot of people in it at one time or another, and the slow decline. Just amazing.

    Comment by Ian — October 30, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

  39. I worked at the Computer City (later CompUSA) out there for a couple years between ’95 and ’97 and don’t have much to add that hasn’t already been said. Ernst closed during the time I was there, probably early ’97. The layout, as noted, is really, really bad (Lamont’s used to hate it back in the day when you cut through their store to get to the upper mall and even more when you cut back with a grocery bag full of lunch from TJ’s, but what else were you supposed to do?). Still, that’s an area so far away from anything else that you’d have to think that a mall of *some* type would be successful.

    The big snowstorm of 1995 may not have completely killed the location (as it was already teetering) but forced CC to shut down for a couple days and did extensive damage to what I think was a Lamont’s home store that was next to the regular clothing place. The roof of the mall collapsed in several places.

    Comment by John Craven — October 30, 2008 @ 7:03 pm

  40. HELP!While we’re waiting for Totem Lake Mall to be torn down, I have a burning question: Does anybody know what The Game Sports Grill & Bar on 100th opened as. I’ve seen the exact same building in Bellingham and Cheyenne, WY. I know it opened in 1975 and by 1992 it was called Babalooey’s or something, but nobody seems to know. I just need closure!

    Comment by Colin — November 2, 2008 @ 4:31 am

  41. Although I am not too familiar with that neighborhood I would guess you’re talking about this place?

    Comment by Brian Lutz — November 2, 2008 @ 10:34 am

  42. Yes

    Comment by Colin H. — November 2, 2008 @ 1:08 pm

  43. Re: The Game, I want to say “Trapper’s”

    Comment by John Butts — November 3, 2008 @ 11:45 am

  44. Aha! That’s it! Thank you so much.

    Comment by Colin H. — November 3, 2008 @ 4:26 pm

  45. I don’t know where else to post this but..
    [Most of] The Seattle area is now on Google Street View!!!!!! Luckily no one was home at the time!

    Comment by Colin H. — November 10, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

  46. I lived near the Totem Lake Mall in the late ’80s and early ’90s and it always had a sad feel – I don’t really know why. I seem to recall it even had waterpark features at one time (a brief fad for malls) but I’m sure the insurance premiums were too much. I think the last time I visited there was right after Trader Joe’s opened, and even then it seemed like that and Denny’s were the only compelling reasons to go there.

    On another note, I used to love Trappers – excellent gut-bomb breakfasts. Was very sad when they because a sports bar.

    Comment by Angela — November 20, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

  47. The 640 bed (Municipal jail, (200 for the East Side Cities and 440 for the City of Seattle), proposed for Kingsgate/Totem Lake will have an enormouse negative impact on this mall and this area. Inmates, mostly arrested in the City of Seattle will be held a short time, (average 9 days) and then released into the surrounding community. The NEC says they are “misdemeanants” but Kirkland City Council web site shows that they have previous long serious felony convictions and high rates of recidivism. Kirkland City Council refers to them as “Frequent Fliers”. Once released, many will filter through the surrounding residential communities and malls towards Kirkland,and/or the Bus Hub. Sounds like a “Catch and Release” plan to me. Catch in Seattle and the surrounding cities on the east side and release in our neighborhoods. This ain’t going to help the Totem Lake Mall thats for sure!!!

    Comment by Kateliz — December 18, 2008 @ 12:35 pm

  48. That seems like a perfectly reasonable site for a jail to me? It’s light industrial, tucked away so you don’t really have to see it (I’ve lived in this area for decades and never had a reason to even go down that road), and the low-level offenders would have to walk up a big hill to get into any real residential trouble. Honestly, until long-overdue justice system reforms are enacted, we are going to have to put large numbers of minor offenders somewhere. Now to justify my pet issue rant with a tangentially related on-topic sentence, the mall site would make actually make for an awesome jail!

    Comment by John Butts — December 19, 2008 @ 11:00 am

  49. http://www.ddr.com/site.php?center_id=805&state_path=washington

    Here’s a link to DDR’s current development propaganda including a site plan. They’ve been working on this redevelopment for years, which is largely the reason the mall is so vacant. They want all the tenants out in order to (mostly) raze and redevelop. It is a great retail location, visible to interstate, and well positioned relative to the other shopping opportunities (Bellevue, Woodinville, Redmond). Great demographic profile in the area.

    DDR has had success in the past with similar reclamation projects (see Chris Town Mall no known as Phoenix Spectrum in Phoenix AZ)

    Looking at the site plan… 158,000sf would presumably be Target… but in my opinion, there’s no way they would accept the configuration of this center as drawn.

    Comment by Chris — December 29, 2008 @ 8:16 am

  50. The Game Sports bar in Juanita was originally a local Diner chain called Trappers Restaurant. They had Small Jukeboxes on each table. I had two friends that were cooks there in the 80’s. Dennys pet world at Totem Lake used to be to the north of its current location. After they moved out. It was a video game place for awhile. Turbo Tubes waterslides were just to the left of Big 5, which used to be SportsWest. By Guitar Center there was a loop inside with a few stores including the Pretzlewich, and a Post office. Where Country Buffet was there was a coin and stamp shop, Kinney Shoes, and an office supply. We used to go to the Big Scoop ice cream parlor where sleep country is now. They had a huge picture menu in the entrance with all there ice cream dishes. They also served good food. A grocery store, Donut shop, and Sit’N Bull Pub used to be where Comp USA was. (I was at the grand opening of the mall when I was 7, and spent my 21st Birthday at Sit’n Bull eating Bull Chips and having $5.00 Pitchers of Bud. Cafe Veloce was a Shakeys Pizza. Underhills Furniture was a Convenience store and a Liquor Store. I could go on and on. I have lived within 2 miles of this location since 1970.

    Comment by Mike — January 1, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

  51. This is to correct the opinion that the Old Country Buffet was closed due to redevelopment of the mall. This is not the case… The parent company of the Old Country Buffet, (Buffets Inc.) is currently going through bankruptcy proceedings. As a way to reconstruct their finances, they closed a number of their “low volume” locations. Locally it was the Totem Lake location, and one month prior, the Shoreline location. (Select locations in other states). Buffets Inc. was 2 years in to a 5 year lease with the Totem Lake mall owners prior to closing. It was strictly business financial failure, and in no way related to future planning of the mall.

    Comment by Former District Manager of Buffets Inc. — January 16, 2009 @ 12:46 am

  52. This is a response to Mike (#50) Thank you for bringing back such fond memories by mentioning the Sit’n bull tavern. I have not heard that name in years. I also miss the old Sea Galley restaurant and the Pizza Haven between New attitude and trading post. Piccolinos had darn good sandwiches too…

    Comment by Kevin — January 16, 2009 @ 12:54 am

  53. Great to read all the comments. I remember going to Totem Lake Mall with my mom back in the mid 70’s, shortly after it opened but all I can remember at five years old is that it has a more log cabin look and a really cool totem that was the sign for the mall. Interesting to read that it is still there but covered up. My mom said she didn’t remember any skating rink or water slides at that time but she does remember Ernst, Sit N Bull Pub, Totem Lake Cinemas and Lamonts. By the way, I could never believe that Lamonts stayed in business for as long as it did because that store was always so quiet.

    Comment by Adie — February 1, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  54. I’ve only had one experience in the Totem Lake Mall. A cousin’s son requested a birthday dinner at the “Old Country Buffet” so my wife and our two small children joined the 20-odd relatives to celebrate. My 3 year old was getting bored so I took her for a walk up and down the long empty corridors. Because the place was tumbleweed-quite, I didn’t have a problem letting my daughter roam on ahead of me, and occasionally run from one empty window to another. And that’s when the security guard appeared and *commanded* me to control my daughter. I looked around, and saw nothing that she could disrupt, and looked back at the guy with disbelief. He was serious, and shadowed us from 20 feet as we continued our walk, barking at me any time I let her hand slip out of mine.
    Eventually, we got back to the door of the “Old Country Buffet”, but our party wasn’t gathered yet so we had a bit longer to wait. From the photos, you’ll recognize that the seating kiosks are perfectly designed to attract a 3 year-old and my daughter still had some energy to burn. She climbed up on the seat and stood up, and that’s when our security shadow barked back for me to “control” my child or I would be ejected from the mall. By then, my cousin was standing with me and he too looked around in disbelief to confirm that “this guy is serious”.
    We were bringing hundred of dollars into the mall, and this guy wanted to kick us out because my daughter was running in an empty airplane hanger? I’m not saying that this cardboard cop drove away CompUSA, but he’s doing a good deal to make those lonely soda machines a bit more lonely.

    Comment by Shaughnn — May 11, 2009 @ 6:38 am

  55. Country Buffet and New Attitude arent their anymore.

    Comment by Lost Traveler — June 2, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

  56. I have lived near there since it opened. And I have seen the gradual decline of that mall.
    The best use of this space is something innovative – maybe a “green” type mall? Although I am definitely not an environmentalist, that may work, and may be worth exploring.
    My suggestion is to have a “folk-life” mall. If they can find a way to remove the paint from the rocks and put in the original paint, the longhouse could serve to be a location that vendors selling goods from different cultures could offer their wares. That would be a draw for tourists, as well as local Seattlelites. And it could be a stop-off before going to the various tourist activities in the nearby central Sammamish Valley.

    Comment by Mr Happy Man — June 10, 2009 @ 11:09 am

  57. Old Country Buffet is gone now.
    So I’m not sure what is left there, but not much.

    Comment by Terry — June 30, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

  58. I worked @ Computer City for about a week in October 1997. The mall definitely began declining soon afterward. Even though CompUSA was there, it always seemed that the mall was mostly dead. Even the CompUSA store seemed a lot less busy in the final 5 years or so that it was in business. Nowadays, about the only time I visit the mall is to drop by Denny’s Pet World for flea medication for our pets. The rest of the time, I either visit Woodinville, or go to Redmond, etc, for whatever I need.

    Comment by John — July 19, 2009 @ 1:38 am

  59. Kirkland really doesn’t have a lot going for it. It doesn’t have any room to expand. My family usually goes to Redmond for medical needs and to Woodinville for restaurants. Bellevue for shopping. Totem lake mall is Kirkland’s only large commercial area. And they’re wasting it.

    Comment by Colin — July 21, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

  60. Some interesting updates.
    First, North Shore Hopelink (food bank) is relocating to the Totem Lake Mall soon. It was mentioned at the 7/21/09 Kirkland City Council meeting, where 20T was asked for, for moving costs. The 11011 120th Ave., N.E., location is being combined with the existing Kirkland Hopelink. I would have said save the move of Tent City to the Holy Spirit Church location and just have it set in the inside location where CompUSA use to be, but….

    Second, there is a sign on the door by of the old CompUSA location that it is dangerous…only emergency personal are allowed in. I did some checking around and understand that the water level from the lake is making the structure unstable. The person that told me this also addressed that there are some issues now as to its wet land status that will need to be addressed before it can be sold. Not sure how accurate this is, but the sign is there for all to read.

    Third, if you have a quick peek at DDR’s financial picture it is starting to look up. Since 7/22 the line has been traveling up and maybe it all will pull back together after all.

    Comment by KGaston — July 26, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

  61. Correction to the above the food bank will be across the way at 11011 120 Ave NE, by Gold’s Gym.

    Comment by KGaston — July 28, 2009 @ 9:46 am

  62. Hi there–love this post. Is there a lake at Totem Lake? I’ve been covering the agonizing demise of Newport Hills’ much smaller shopping area, but missed badly nonetheless here at http://www.red-apple-elegy.blogspot.com
    Is there anything sadder than watching a mall slowly decay?

    Comment by rbentley — August 8, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

  63. This is like asking if there is a spring in Palm Springs…Confirmed – beautiful lake just south of the upper Totem Lake Mall. One of the last placed to see the Western Golden Finch, Red Wing Blackbirds and muskrats. Please bring a bag to pick up some trash when you come. One of the best examples of native bear grass (Huge!) also to the left on the main walk out ramp.

    Comment by KGaston — August 15, 2009 @ 4:17 pm

  64. I’ll be there with bag in tow. Thanks!

    Comment by rbentley — August 17, 2009 @ 9:06 am

  65. Can we kill this comment feed and/or kill this whole site? I Google Totem Lake Mall every few months in desperate hope that I’ll see a grand posting about the impending, approved, big budget remodel of the mall I have to drive through every day on my way home. But NO, I get this instead…and I read it again…and I get depressed every time I read it! A well designed mall combining moth midrange and upscale shops…something akin to Westlake/Pacific Place would do very well, if you look at the economic demographics. DDR was right to buy it but their stock plunged when the stock market burped. DDR was cash strapped during 2Q09 couldn’t afford to build, but NOW is the time to build. The economy is holding, if barely, and that’s the time to build, if you have the cash. With an average household income of over $100k within 3 miles, it can easily compete with Bell Square, and Redmond TC, but a solid mid-price range of stores will also help to serve that portion of the community that doesn’t live the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

    I think we ned to start sending DDR some motivational emails :) Their stock is turning up again. They ned some solid reminders of why they bought that piece of property in the first place!

    Comment by KTiller — August 20, 2009 @ 1:04 pm

  66. Brian, are you still around?? I’m curious to know, are you only interested in just the Totem Lake Mall and other local eastside malls, or do you also like other abandoned/dead malls around the country? For me, I’m into dead malls and RETRO related things, especially retail wastelands!! If you’re into 70s/80s retail history about Lamonts, I have some stuff I obtained that will blow your mind! I’m not sure what you’re into, so the reason I asked above… would depend if you’d like the stuff I got or not (about old, OLD era Lamonts)… and by the way it’s *not* from the eastside. ~Ms Emmy

    Comment by Ms Emmy — August 23, 2009 @ 5:24 pm

    • Yes, I’m still here, but I’ve been seriously slacking on the Malls project lately. I’d definitely be interested in seeing what you might have on Lamonts, the whole Pay ‘n Save corporation’s history is so closely tied to that of many of the local malls and other shopping centers around here that it would be virtually impossible to talk about the malls without talking about stores like Lamonts, Pay ‘N Save and Ernst.

      As for other stuff on dead malls and retail history, deadmalls.com is the obvious site for that (doesn’t seem to get updated too often these days though,) but a couple of others I’d recommend are labelscar.com (the link is in the blogroll on the sidebar,) Pleasant Family Shopping (ditto) and the forums at groceteria.com (which deal mostly with the history of grocery stores throughout America, but there are also active forums about other types of retail history as well. Just be warned that the moderators are sticklers for keeping things on topic.)

      If you’d be interested in sharing some of what you found on Lamonts, feel free to shoot me an e-mail (the address is also in the sidebar as well.)

      Comment by Brian Lutz — August 23, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

  67. Matt Harding’s website sent me.

    Congratulations. Totem Lake Mall is now the greatest claim to worldwide fame that Kirkland, WA has.

    It could be worse. My hometown is “famous” for incinerating inmates and a sitting federal judge in prison.

    Comment by George — September 5, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

  68. Great! So… I was heavily involved with the remaining Gottschalks liquidations earlier this year… specifically the Lakewood and Marysville locations! I bought a lot of items which would be considered memorabilia, like a Gottschalks customer service sign, a few other smaller signs, and misc. items with the Gottschalks logo. So here is my cool report! They were selling *all* of their file folders, and one 5 drawer folder was *stuffed* with papers from several former Lamonts locations from the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s.

    It turns out they were *supposed* to shred all of the papers, and they did shred 49 of the 50 file folders except the one with the Lamonts papers, it was like a sign from above they overlooked it! I know this because I literally combed every single last one of those file cabinets!!!! In fact, just to see what his response would be, I asked the manager if they had any old documents for sale, and they said they shredded everything, and even if they did have some still available they wouldn’t be able to legally release them…

    Well, I purchased the huge metal file folder stuffed with the Lamonts papers, and borrowed a dolly, and with *all* my strength I lugged it out to my vehicle. The trunk and backseat of my vehicle were absolutely stuffed with all of the papers after I unloaded them!!!! I’ll tell you the goodies specifically included in my secret purchase…

    Vintage color photographs from about 5 Lamonts locations in the Seattle area, and 1 from Alaska, old carpet samples for the first remodel of the Northgate Lamonts, invoices, a million misc. other various papers, some Pay N’ Pak papers as well. So in other words, a retro retail junkie’s dream come true! I’d say I have *at least* 200 photos, dating as far back as the early 1970s, I’d love to scan some and post them online, but I’m *so* afraid of people stealing them and copying these gems!!

    So, how cool is all of that?? Owning 1,000s of these papers, and 100s of the pictures from these Lamonts?? The fact they overlooked they were supposed to destroy these things, I’m telling you, *and* like I mentioned earlier… there must have been a greater power from above to have left these for me, considering the fact I would have paid BIG bucks for these papers, when all I paid was the $30 for the file cabinet, so I legally own them!!

    Lastly for people who didn’t put a few things together, in late 1999 Gottschalks bought out all the Lamonts department stores… explaining
    the reason why Gottschalks had possession of the Lamonts papers and photographs to begin with!! Again, a dead retail’s dream come true, an absolute jackpot for me!!!! :D
    ~Ms. Emmy

    Comment by Ms Emmy — October 29, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

  69. I lived in the Finn Hill area from 1971 until 2006 and even back in the ’70’s Totem Lake Mall was nothing but a ghost town. The whole thing was poorly conceived and it is time to pull the sheet over this corporate corpse. I say demolish it completely, and then turn over the property to nearby Evergreen Hospital/Medical Center for some much-needed auxilliary offices and clinics to compete with Bellevue’s Overlake complex so that folks in the Bothell-Kirkland-Woodinville area can have quality health care without having to trek clear over to Seattle.
    Good-bye Totem Mall, at least I enjoyed some of the good buffets at the Country Buffet and I sure miss the Piccolino Greek-Italian specialty store in the upper mall, but please leave what little is left of the real Totem Lake so that the wildlife can still have some wetlands left!

    Comment by thomas — October 30, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

  70. Here’s a few more notes I’ve gathered on the mall from the perspective of the the Lynnwood Enterprise. If you ever write an overwrought and nit-picky history of the mall, these fun facts may be of some use.

    -A store called Stein, Inc. was located at the mall in 1973

    -Lynnwood Hobby moved to the mall from the Lynnwood Shopping Center in April of 1974.

    -John Patrick’s Hair Styling was a tenant in 1976, He also had locations at the Everett Mall and near the old Edmonds High School

    -Pizza Haven was somewhere near the mall (or in it) in 1976-77

    -Cheri’s was a women’s apparel shop in the mall

    -The first Taylor Rental Center franchise in Western Washington opened near the mall (12411 NE 124th) in March of 1977 (big whoop)

    -Odyssey Furniture Company was at the mall in 1977

    Comment by Colin — November 2, 2009 @ 8:38 pm

  71. [...] In any case, there are no real adventures to be had, despite their lack of crosswalks and excess of overly friendly theater staff. In truth, I only ventured into Bothell once, but spent a lot of time in Woodinville and Totem Lake (specifically the totally defunct Totem Lake Malls) [...]

    Pingback by Suck it Blog « Letters to Hank — November 4, 2009 @ 11:10 pm

  72. thank you so much. this post was a walk through my childhood. please don’t pull it down.

    Comment by sean alexander — January 4, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

  73. Thanks you so much for this!

    I hate to see this blog die just like the mall!
    Although im only 18, I still have wonderful memories of this place from the 90’s. I have a pretty vivid image of that giant Big bird at the snack stand, and all the different treats below it that I never got. Even with all the good memories, It has always had a sad feeling to it. I Only heard yesterday the mall was Indian themed, then remodeled but it has fascinated me all day. After reading all these blogs, I decided to drop in to see if anything was different from the most recent pictures posted here, and to take a look around after knowing the history of the place.

    Of course, I was the only person in there (for the most part) and as usual, there was nothing new to see. While I was in there I noticed that all the payphones are gone, as well as the vending machines.

    The most interesting part of my visit was the ceiling. You see just barely see through it in certain angles, sometimes it is possible to locate a beam from the previous model. I wanted to see the skylight, but today was overcast so I couldn’t.

    Honestly, I think they have a perfectly good mall here already, Its just covered up. If they could get rid of that terrible ceiling and clean up the skylights, then I think you have some amazing potential for something special. It looks like they realized in the 80’s that 70’s styles were terrible, so they wanted to give it a more modern redesign kind of like bellevue square.

    I wish there was an Arcade in the anchor spot or something, I would definitely go all the time! Anything really, Everything is far away and here we have a perfectly good mall with tons of potential. Its not even worth knocking down because it has that street running through the middle which makes it impossible to improve. It dosent seem like it will be going anywhere with the economy like this, might as well tear down the ceiling and have a “re”model. These days it wouldn’t look half bad, especially since most people don’t remember or even know the way it looked before. To see it go from a cave, to a bright, naturally lit authentic looking mall would most likely benefit someone. Its in such terrible shape outside it makes me sick. If they just cleaned it up then I wouldn’t mind looking at it for another ten years!

    Hopefully a miracle will happen, but we have to be proud that we got to have some memories here no matter what. Whether It was leaving Denny’s pet world with a goldfish in a plastic bag, going down a water slide, getting popcorn at Ernst, or even just shopping a Lamonts, It was a privilege to be a part of this place!

    Comment by Ashton — February 24, 2010 @ 1:49 am

  74. The SitNBull Pub, a dark, smoky place, sat on the south side of the mall for a few years. I watched the Cotton Bowl there in 1978. That Pub has been gone a long time, so far as I know it was the only drinking establishment in Totem Lake Mall.

    Comment by Kevin Osborne — March 25, 2010 @ 9:20 am

  75. I always thought this would be a terrific place for an Asian mall. The there isn’t an Asian supermarket between Overlake in Bellevue and Central Market in Mill Creek or H-mart in Lynnwood, it could be set up like the Great Wall in Kent/Renton or the H-Mart mall, there are plenty of Asians in / moving in to the neighborhood since the 1990s.

    You forgot to mention the card / collectible shows that seem to be when the most people show up in the mall.

    Comment by awarthurhu — April 19, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

  76. Hi there. I was just looking at the Seattle sites.. but then came across the Totem lake site..

    I am from the UK. But between 1976 – 1978 I lived in the USA (Seattle) Well in Kirkland. very beautiful area. Totem Lake shopping was my first introduction to American shopping, just a short drive from home in Kingsgate, and stores open until 9pm ( unheard of in the UK then) My Favourite store was always Lamonts.. I still have goods purchased from there even now.

    I dont remember all the shops there at that time, but always loved going there.. I do remember getting two pairs of spect

    Comment by cyn — May 14, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

  77. I worked at a business park at Totem Lake in the mid-90’s. Getting on and off I-405 in this area was always a real turkey and traffic in the area wasn’t much fun to deal with. I went to the Red Apple market more often than the mall, which wasn’t on the mall grounds. I stopped shopping in the area when I no longer worked nearby.

    Comment by Dave Cannon — September 4, 2010 @ 2:54 am

  78. Here is another tidbit of information.

    At one point in the late 80’s or early 90’s someone in the family briefly owned/operated the candy stand/shop inside Totem Lake Mall. At the time I believe it was called “Sundaes”.

    I remember back in 2001 going to Computer City/CompUSA to purchase 2 – 30GB hard drives for my computers on a hot ad sale for $130 each. We still make the rare but occasional stop at Denny’s Pet World (within the past few years they expanded and renovated their live fish selection) or the Big 5. I was intrigued by an independent restaurant tucked away in a separate building just south of Big 5, but it closed before I could go there. On a somewhat related note, I had a birthday on the other side of I-405 at the former restaurant chain named “Rax” where they served roast beef sandwiches like Arby’s. It was where the current Wendy’s is located.

    Great information here as I eat up old school information of the Puget Sound of yesteryear.

    Comment by seatowner — October 16, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  79. Hello friends! The mall here in Totem Lake is coming back to life, with two full line furniture stores. We are called Totem Lake Furniture http://www.totemlakefurniture.com and our neighbor is Eagle Furniture. Recently openings include a fitness club, martial arts instruction and a moving shipping company. Stop by the mall the next time you can to see the life we are brining back to Totem Lake Mall!

    Comment by Totem Lake Furniture — October 18, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

  80. Ignore above. Here is a link to a photo I took of the Totem Lake Mall Mallmanac:

    Comment by Ellyn — December 12, 2010 @ 7:34 am

  81. It should also be noted that I been to this mall and born witness to the various changes and deteriorations it has succombed to. My parents bought a lot of my “back to school” clothes at that Lamonts. I remember one white ruffled blouse in particular, a la the Seinfeld episode. Pretty high fashion for a 6th grader at A.G. Bell in 1993. I also happened to buy my first LSD there, from a friend of a friend working at the candy and popcorn counter. Good times, good times…

    Comment by Ellyn — December 12, 2010 @ 7:58 am

  82. Why do I not think that two discount furniture stores and 8 trucks for a moving company constitute bringing life back to Totem Lake Mall?

    Comment by TR Set — December 28, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

  83. Sigh. I am from Kirkland, started 2nd grade at Carl Sandburg in ’76, then on to Finn Hill Jr High & JHS. I still live in greater Seattle and often pass by Totem Lake Mall but hadn’t actually visited the place for a long, long time. Well, just yesterday I was on 405 and decided that the time had come for me to darken Totem Lake’s doors, this for the first time in 20 years or more. Initially, I was surprised to find that the mall itself was actually open, even though the only stores occupying the place (Sleep Country, Family Christian Bookstore, a moving company and a tae kwan do place) were all accessible from the outside. I could see my breath as I walked through the lower mall’s cold corridor, each abandoned storefront wth its grated metal sliding door in place. I can’t really describe what I felt as I contemplated this utter and total wasteland – it was like a funeral but nobody showed up. Desolate. Nuclear winter. But as I wandered around, I found myself getting kinda emotional as memories began to come. I remember the album cover for Van Halen I that I saw for the first time at DJ’s records. I don’t know why, but I always liked going into the AT & T phone store. One time when I was a sophomore in high school my friends got drunk on gin and passed out in front of Pizza Haven at the upper mall. My girlfriend worked Totem Lake Cinema. She’d let me in for free while i waited for her to finish her shift. I must have seen ‘Purple Rain’ about a thousand times. What I’m saying is that all these memories from my youth came flooding back to me that I had totally forgotten, and I flashed back to what it was like when I was a kid and all the memories that people like me must have, like Titanic survivors.

    Comment by David — January 5, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

  84. I have many memories of Totem Lake Mall

    My earliest is that candy store. I remember the Big Bird statue on top of the candy store. I’m 25, but I still remember this store quite well.

    I remember getting clothes for school at Lamonts. I remember the Computer City. I bought lots of stuff there that would now be considered ancient. Then it turned into CompUSA. I was 12 and saved up enough to buy a 8GB HD to complete my computer. That was a great day

    As a kid I remember getting dragged over to the East Mall to look at the shops. I loved Denny’s Pet World (which is still there). Even as a kid I remember my Mom joking about it being a “living dead” mall.

    I just moved back in the area, so I’ll make an update post soon with pics

    Comment by tromafan — January 11, 2011 @ 3:53 am

  85. This place is infamous. This was just posted today:

    History of Totem Lake Malls: http://www.seattlepi.com/sound/433359_sound113414884.html

    http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/east_king/kir/news/113414884.html

    Comment by KG — January 13, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

    • I saw the Kirkland Reporter article yesterday (it sounds like it’s intended to be a five-part series too.) Expect a post on it soon.

      Comment by Brian Lutz — January 13, 2011 @ 11:05 pm

    • I was just at the Bellevue Library today, looking at old microfilms of the Eastside Journal with the exact same pictures in the Kirkland reporter. Talk about Ironic! Why am i so obsessed with a dead mall?

      Comment by Ashton H. — January 13, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

  86. Here’s a bit of irony in response to the comment made by Totem Lake Furniture: Eagle Furniture is going out of business! HaHaHa!

    Comment by Colin — January 13, 2011 @ 11:38 pm

    • Hahaha!! I went in there just to take one last look at the former compusa, mostly to see the old Sit n’ bull but that seems to still be separate.

      Comment by Ashton H. — January 13, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

    • A furniture store going out of business? Not exactly the most shocking thing I’ve heard all day. I swear, if you wander down Andover Park East in Tukwila there’s about half a zillion of these fly-by-night furniture stores, and it seems like at any given time half of them are going out of business. And the other half just haven’t done their annual going-out-of-business sale for the year just yet. It seems like that part of Tukwila has turned into some sort of Purgatory for furniture or something.

      Comment by Brian Lutz — January 13, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

  87. What’s Sit N Bull?

    Comment by KG — January 15, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

    • Sit n’ bull was a tavern/bar in the lower mall. The old entrance is that unmarked door on the very corner of the building just left of chevron. After the tavern shut down the walls on the inside that seperated it were tore down to expand the space for computer city (later comp usa).

      Comment by Kevin L — January 16, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

  88. http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/east_king/kir/news/113414884.html

    Has some very clear pictures that are pretty Interesting, some of them are included in the Kirkland Reporter. The second photo on the Flickr photostream shows the current Wells Fargo in development, as well as a map of the upper mall.

    Comment by Ashton H. — January 17, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

  89. Please check out the Kirkland Reporter’s second part of our five-part series on malls: The fall of the Totem Lake Malls (we also mentioned this Web site in the story): http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/east_king/kir/news/114239234.html

    Enjoy!

    Comment by Carrie Wood — January 19, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

  90. Totem Lake Mall makes the news again in the Kirkland Reporter!

    Upscale Flea Market opens in Totem Lake Mall (Video)

    Check out the video too

    http://www.kirklandviews.com/archives/23903

    A new upscale flea market has opened at the Totem Lake Mall. The Shopsmart Bazaar which has over 70 vendors occupies the building which formerly housed Lamonts and then later Gottschalks. Treasures of all sorts can be found around every corner. The flea market is open on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    The following is their ad found on Craigs List:

    SHOPSMART BAZAAR NOW OPEN WEEK-ENDS! Saturday from 9:00 – 5:00 and Sunday 11:00 – 5:00. Upscale collectibles, art, jewelry, arts and crafts, clothing, gifts and more. Unbelievable bargains! Indoor mall environment.

    Buyers-We provide great values, secure shopping, free parking, and treasure hunting fun!

    Sellers-We provide space, advertising, security, and table and chairs.

    ShopSmart Bazaar
    Totem Lakes Mall
    12601 120th Ave NE
    Kirkland, WA 98034

    To inquire about vendor space call: 206-450-9190

    Comment by seatowner — January 25, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

  91. It looks like the ShopSmart Bazaar is closing due to a dispute with the property owners (See news link below). Just when business and mall shoppers started to pick up. I went there a few weekends ago, and there were quite a few vendors and was a comfortable and nice place to browse the variety of goods and vendors. What a shame.

    Kirkland’s Totem Lake Malls sheds largest retailer – ShopSmart Bazaar out after dispute with mall owners

    http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/east_king/kir/news/116979698.html

    Comment by seatowner — February 28, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  92. Just a huge thank you for a long trip down memory lane! I remember watching the pilings being driven into the ground for the foundation and my excitement in watching the mall come to life. I sat down and tried to make a list of all the stores I remembered: Ernst, The Iron Gate Restaurant, Radio Shack, Kenney Shoes, Jay Jacobs, The Shady Lady, Big Scoop, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Lamonts, Warren’s Jewelers, Pay N Save, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, John Fitzpatric Hair, The Dry Cleaners on the back corner. I think there was even a locksmith tucked in there somewhere. My friends and I would buy a half gallon of ice cream at Thrifty Foods and a package of spoons and share with people at the center of the mall. Funtastic Carnivals came every year for a while. It was a great place to grow up in the 70’s and 80’s… so sad to see it fade to black like this. Funny thing, as a kid, I was told a story about a locomotive that sunk in Totem Lake swamp. The man that told the story said that Indian legend said that nothing was to disturb the swamp… maybe they were right? Hmmm

    Comment by Mindy Bick — August 2, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

  93. ..

    Comment by Mindy Bick — August 2, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

  94. thanks for the memories I still shop at Dennys Pet World thee very best pet supply store EVER!!!!

    Comment by symphony gal — August 11, 2011 @ 11:56 pm

  95. Growing up in the Juanita area in the 70’s i remember quite a bit about Totem Lake Malls. A burger and fries were always a good treat at Big Scoop. I remember following my Mom around in Nobles Christian store, then I’d sneak over to an adjacent store and check out posters of rock stars like Bowie and Ozzy. At the opposite end of the mall from where Earnst was located was a candy store. I used to get candy cigerettes that you would blow into and powder would come out simulating smoke. (Probablly not available these days.) I remember listening to Toto’s Hold The Line when it first came out as when I was in the upper mall area. Finally, perhaps the most impactful memory was the day the Super Sonics won the NBA title over the Bullets. I was at a Kindergarten party at Pizza Haven when the Sonics won. I can still see Gus throwing the ball up in the air with great jubilation as the Sonics secured a spot in the Anals of Seattle sports history…..Yep, Totem Lake Malls will never be forgotten by me.

    Comment by Joel C. Wolverton — January 15, 2012 @ 10:26 am

  96. DDR had a strong month 1.5% gain and the dividend pay out is up to 8 cents – growth and increasing pay out :-) Just hope they put some of their announced small business support directed towards the mall. source: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/02/4233710/ddr-launches-set-up-shop-new-incubation.html Other positive changes are a new auto parts store Autozone???? (stand alone from the mall on the northwest side), where the Shucks turned O’Reilly was (and they moved to where the Underhill furniture was) and Washington Sport Physical Therapy (stand alone to mall on Northeast of lower mall) just is re-outfitting with new training equipment and an MRI. Increased traffic to the area is what keeps stores alive. The next three years (before interest rates rise and inflation makes it too hard to build) will really tell the story of if new life can come behind the many past pleasant memories of this area. Hope the new KCC looks at ways to put a carrot in this equation.

    A couple of additional (very vague) memories – upper mall about 1983 a Lady’s Fitness club, remember it having a purple sign, around the same time frame across the road from the lower mall where there is currently a dry cleaners there was a cresant sandwich shop with a name like Petite Boulangerie – more recently the really upbeat guy that ran the expresso shop out of the garage part of the Chevon station at the SW corner of the lower mall parking lot around the early 90’s and the great party store replaced by a dollar store next to the Regis hair salon. Across from the party store was the Warren jewlery store that now exists in the mall to the west of the freeway. Also moved to the otherside of the freeway is the vitamin store that was near Trader Joe’s. Then reflections off other posts….I too remember buying seafood (abalone) in the upper mall, from the guy at the dive shop – the brother of the current Denny’s Pet store owner. The memories of the playing Donkey Kong either at Shakey’s Pizza or the Sitting Bull….Shakey’s had some kid’s riding machines (?horse) and a host of gumball like machines in the front door area. Don’t remember exactly where either upper mall or Kingsgate strip mall around 1983-4 there was a vacant store front that had clothes sold very inexpensive (.75 – $1) out of rows of cardboard boxes. I recently saw some of the sweaters I gave my mother from there in her closet. Funny the things that will unlock a new stream of memories. Still crossing my finger for new developments to occur!

    Comment by Kgaston — February 3, 2012 @ 6:12 am

    • Wow. These comments especially the list of stores Mindy had bring back memories. I lived in Firloch near Kingsgate from 2nd through 5th grade and remember going to totem lake to get school clothes at Lamonts, buy records at DJs Sound City, stuff at Radio Shack and so on. we even went there occasional ly after we moved to Woodinville, but even in the early 80 s there weren’t a lot of people going there. To add to the businesses there were banks in both malls parking lots.

      Comment by Tim r — February 26, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

  97. I was born in Kirklland, WA (1959) I lived up the hill from the Totem Lake Mall. Before the mall was there my buddies and I would ride our bikes on that land. When I was in 8th grade I bought a Craig 8 track home stereo system from the Pay and Save Drug store. My mother shopped at the Lamonts. Dad shopped at the Ernst hardware store. I enjoyed going to the Radio Shack. There was a cool Pizza Haven in the back mall. My wife and I went to see Rocky III at the movie place around back. I have many memories of Totem Lake.

    Comment by Mark Van Bebber — April 9, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

  98. I grew up in the kirkland/juanita are in the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s – we shopped at totem lake alot – ernst – paynsave – djs sound city – the big scoop ice cream parlor – western optical – radio shack – lamonts – sportswest – schucks – sitnbull pub – pretzelwich – just to name a few

    Comment by paul schoenfeld — April 24, 2012 @ 11:24 am

  99. Those no-visibility storefronts seem like they’d make good campaign offices. So that’s six months’ occupancy every four years…

    Comment by nlpnt — January 21, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

  100. I’m 27 now but still remeber when the mall was hopping. I remeber Ernst faintly. I really miss the Cowboy Steakhouse. It always seemed super packed and the food was awesome. I actually worked at the Big 5 and Schucks for a couple years. I was shocked that the upper mall was built like the lower mall and had a main hallway. Wow….small stores.

    My best memory was being 13-14 and they used to hold big Wizard of the Coast shows in the hallway of the big mall. Bunch of us geeks playing Magic and trading cards haha.

    It would be interesting to look up but i’m pretty sure the store that is AutoZone (Schucks when I was working there) is not technically part of Totem Lake Mall. I remember Totem Lake Mall was desperate and would put fliers in the newspaper for 20% off at any store in Totem Lake Mall. Our boss constantly reminded us that we couldn’t accept those coupons because we were not actually a part of Totem Lake Mall.

    Comment by Michael R — February 4, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

  101. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails
    with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Thank you!

    Comment by towing in case grande — April 9, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

    • I think if you uncheck the “notify me of follow-up comments by e-mail” option that will turn it off. Not sure why it would be sending multiple follow-up e-mails though; might be an issue on the WordPress side.

      Comment by Brian Lutz — April 12, 2013 @ 11:11 pm

  102. Was looking what happened to the old Sea Galley restaurant I used to eat at back in the mid 80’s and found this site.

    I lived in the Kirkland area since the early 50’s as a boy and remember all the changes to what locals call the “East Side.”

    Totem Lake mall thrived for only a very short time, but never had a successful future. The comment made by someone in this forum said that The Totem Lake Mall is the only commercial place in the Kirkland city proper. And that the are wasting it. I believe that that is an accurate statement.

    Totem Lake mall was owned by a California based company for years. Now that should tell anyone something about its long standing economical failures.

    Comment by B. Hill — August 10, 2013 @ 9:36 am

    • Sea Galley. Wow, that’s a blast from the past. Totally forgot about it, but we used to eat there. Didn’t they have the commercials that sang, “We’ve got crab legs…” ?

      Comment by timothyrreeves — August 10, 2013 @ 6:14 pm


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