Back in the 1980’s a new mall opened in Bakersfield on the east side of town. That is when East Hills Mall was oficially born. Located at 3000 Mall View Road, East Hills Mall became the quieter, and smaller Mall than the much larger Valley Plaza Mall which was located in the southwest on Wible Rd. East Hills used to be a thriving mall with unique shops and a more modern 80’s style look which to this present time, upon it’s closure, never changed. As you view the photos, you will see not only how it has been abandoned, but that it has that run down look that never seemed to truly want to leave the 80’s generation behind.
East Hills used to include some of the most popular retail stores at the time. Mervyns and Gottschalks. Mervyns had another location in the Southwest which is now a Hobby Lobby. There was also a Gottschalks in the Valley Plaza which also closed down. East Hills hours differed from the Valley Plaza as they opened a couple of hours later, and closed an hour earlier. The East Hills Mall sign in the front of the mall looks somewhat beat up. But it is nice to see that the area around it, for the most part, had been kept up. It wasn’t covered in weeds like most abandoned places. The front entrance doors were not in the greatest of shape either. You can tell they were not updated or replaced. They were the same original doors. They didn’t open and close very well. You had to really pull them to get them open and sometimes you felt like they were going to slam right on you.
Several years later they built a movie theater inside. That, and also a clothing store called Sarah, was pretty much what kept East Hills Mall afloat for many years before it’s closure in 2017-2018. Most stores inside had generic signs made up that looked to be temporary than permanent. I think a lot of these businesses expected that they would not be able to survive in a mall that hasn’t done much business.
As you can see in these photos from inside the mall, it has that nostalgic 80’s appeal to it that it really never grew out of. If you have ever been inside this mall, you would agree that East Hills, in time, just went out of style. It never changed it’s look, on the outside, or inside. It had the same look as when it first opened. Which is possibly one of many reasons why many people lost interest in it. If you do not make changes to a place and keep it up to date, people just end up ignoring it. Which unfortunately many people did with East Hills Mall. It is a shame because my husband Sean and I used to prefer hanging out at East Hills Mall when we were teenagers more than Valley Plaza. Mainly because it was safer, not as big, and much quieter. We also liked the uniqueness which appealed to us at the time as well.
Another store that flourished within East Hills Mall was Touchdown Sports. When they officially closed the Mall, Touchdown Sports moved it’s East Hills location to Mount Vernon Ave. They also had a smaller location in The Marketplace on Ming Avenue. Touchdown Sports sold mostly Football apparel and collectables. But you could find most of the major sports, such as NBA basketball, NHL, MLB, soccer, and also some college football. Both Touchdown Sports locations have recently closed down. Which is such a shame because it was one of my favorite sports stores to shop.
Also inside the mall were stores that ended up closing down due to poor sales. Even more popular retail stores such as Footlocker and Game Stor didn’t last inside East Hills Mall as they did in other locations, especially Valley Plaza. You could take a look at an old map inside the mall that showed all of the stores that were still active. The list grew smaller as years went on. We went back a year later from when these photos were taken and they had even less stores than they did when I took these pictures which was back in 2015. Even the little clown bus was vacant.
The outside looks the worst. Some parts boarded up and condemned. Other parts where signs were missing and dilapidated. Payphones still existed by the front entrance. Even with old telephone books attached to them. I took a photo of one that has seen better days. When you drive by East Hills Mall and you see how it looks outside, plus the empty parking lot during business hours, you wonder how it possibly could have stayed open as long as it did. It survived like that for longer than I actually expected that it would. Walking through the mall made me sad because I remember the days when it thrived. It was never as popular or as busy as the Valley Plaza was. But it had stores inside that kept it unique and offered stuff that Valley Plaza didn’t. However, when Walmart and Target opened up nearby, East Hills Mall started becoming more and more obsolete. It went through different ownership that promised to revive the mall. However, it never did.
East Hills Mall is now a part of the past in Bakersfield. Eventually it will become a distant memory to many. To me, I will never forget East Hills Mall as it was one of my favorite places to go. It will always hold a special place in my heart and I will always remember it’s unique style and desire to be different. But in the end, it was that desire to be different that ultimately caused it’s demise.