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July 20, 1976: Opening of the Ocean County Mall

Today, it is still Ocean County's only enclosed mall.

On July 20, 1976, the then owned by the DeBartolo Corporation, was opened.  The grand opening was a big deal to people in Toms River and the rest of Ocean County, as the area did not previously have a large shopping mall and people had to head to Monmouth or Atlantic Counties to get their shopping done.  Ownership has changed hands over the years, including CPI and current owner, Simon Property Group.

Stores have come and gone over the years.  Now-defunct chains, such as Woolworth, KB Toys, and B. Dalton Bookseller, all called at one point or another.  The mall also once had a two-screen movie theater and an arcade, both of which have now been gone for some time.  There are four anchor stores and a food court.

The recession has hit the mall particularly hard in recent years, forcing many stores out.

A-Ball July 20, 2012 at 11:36 AM
What a joke of a mall ! Just like the Ocean County Version of a lot of other things.
Once Loved NJ July 20, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Worst mall in NJ. I drive to Freehold or Short Hills, or just shop online. OCM has all crap cheap stores and the Macys is the most dissappointing because its like an smaller version of all the others.
jlkkhjgf July 20, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Dishwasher & Once LOved, the mall hates you too. You are such a disappointment to it because you are unemployed and do not have money to patronize it.
DT July 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM
I agree... That Macys blows... My wife and I went there to do our wedding registry, and wound up leaving and went to freehold. Freehold has 100X the amount of merchandise.
Martin July 20, 2012 at 12:55 PM
But she uses $10 worth of gas to go all the way up to overpriced, snooty Short Hills Mall for her Uggs.
pat gallo July 20, 2012 at 01:06 PM
"THAT MALL SUCKS"...Now I know why evey store is forced to close-up it's door...They should bull doze it and start over again...
SB Girl July 20, 2012 at 01:18 PM
It's no wonder it's fallen on hard times...there is no store worth going to in there!! Most other malls have expanded since the 70's...but this one is just as it was back then...I agree...it's time to build a new one...Ocean County has changed but this mall is still in the 70's!
jacob July 20, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Macys stores are dirty and have poor service in EVERY mall. This mall is small but does have a variety of things. There is enough shopping elsewhere in the area that there is no reason to expand this mall....what are they supposed to do? Build a bunch of restaurants and a big movie theater like they did at monmouth mall....then all you'd hear is ppl complaining about the traffic. Ppl like to complain....no matter what the situation is.
Rachel Tomasi July 20, 2012 at 07:56 PM
So true Jacob. If there's something I want a bigger variety in like uggs or a duff color I try it on for size there then buy online at the ugg site. There are much nicer malls but this one still suffices for many. If you want a Louie Vuitton yeah you gotta go to short Hills. Freehold has a few more stores but IMHO most of it is the same just bigger n more selections. But this one does ok for most needs in a pinch for those who can't make it further or don't have the desire.
Mrs. E Havens July 20, 2012 at 08:40 PM
I just get on the bus and head to NY. If you don't go at commuting times it is a mere one hour and 10 min trip. Well worth it to visit great stores inclunding the wonderful Macys there. Incidentlybefore the Ocean County Mall we had a lot of great specialty shops in Toms River, Lakewood, and Point.
jennyg July 20, 2012 at 10:41 PM
But does ny still have tax on apparel? That can really add up.
Lisa July 21, 2012 at 03:05 AM
The Ocean County Mall should just close its doors. The Macy's is dirty and worn out and has no selection. Maybe if they did something to improve the mall it would not be experiencing such hard times. Most of the Simon Malls are all a joke anyway.
Lisa July 21, 2012 at 03:06 AM
I agree with you Once Loved NJ.
Jethro Redman July 21, 2012 at 03:17 AM
I wont go to that mall no more, some fools messed with my 4 wheel drive truck years ago. I bought me one of them mac computers and I shop online now. its cheaper and I aint burning gas.
gussy July 21, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Your comment fits your name, Jethro.
Sue July 23, 2012 at 11:22 AM
I believe in supporting our local shops - if I can't get it in Brick I will go to Ocean County Mall.
Once Loved NJ July 23, 2012 at 12:18 PM
I agree to support locals however, the OC Mall is a nationwide corporation. I remember when local owners could afford the rent there like Harris Store, but they were forced out by the big chains..I wish malls had to lease 25% of their space to locals at a resonable rate then I would shop there more, also when you travel all malls would be unique instead of carbon copies of what you see at home.
Carol Aller July 24, 2012 at 02:40 AM
I never liked the Ocean County Mall and I've lived within walking distance ever since it was built. Toms River always does the same thing. They approve smaller versions of big chain stores which don't carry enough merchandise to choose from. So we are forced to go to Freehold or Eatontown, or even further away. Homegoods is a good example. I love that store and was so happy when I heard one was opening here. But once again, it's way too small with limited merchandise so I continue to drive to the one in Neptune as I did before. This Macy's is a joke. I had to go to Menlo Park Mall to get a dress for a wedding because of the lack of choices here in Ocean County. BTW...does anyone remember the year/day that a store named BEST opened? It was late 70's early 80's I believe. It used to be across from the OC Mall many years ago in the building that is now Bed Bath and Beyond. Mickey Mantle was at the grand opening. Anyone remember that? I stood in line for hours waiting for a Cabbage Patch Kid! LOL
Barry Fleckmann July 27, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I can remember when Macy's was known in New Jersey as Bamberger's. The Bamberger's at the Ocean County Mall had a good restaurant up on the second floor, where the appliance department now exists. I can recall when the J.C. Penney's store had a coffee shop, where the portrait studio now exists. It was, at the time, the BEST place to eat at the mall. Remember when the Tiffany's Bake Shop was located in the mall? I do. La Crepe? The Harris clothing store was in the mall, too. Now you have to go to the downtown Toms River branch. Woolworth's, with its soda fountain. Yeah, the Ocean County Mall WAS a big deal, back in 1976! Now you couldn't pay me to go there! Three restaurants (Benihana, Chico's and Friendly's have gone out of business. The mall doesn't have a bookstore, anymore, since The Walden and B. Dalton went out of business. The front parking lot resembles a gypsy camp, with tents featuring cheap furniture, rugs and bath equipment. The parking lot, itself, is falling apart, with grass growing-up from the cracks. The Sears store is owned by K Mart, now, so shopping carts can be found lurking in parking areas. It's a damn shame that the mall just looks SO shoddy! I agree with an earlier poster: They should just bulldoze the Ocean County Mall. It HAS become an embarrassment!

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