By Steve Cichon
It was 30 years ago this month that the Walden Galleria opened. The date also marked an acceleration of the final decline of a handful of Western New York’s long-standing retail areas including a handful of older, smaller shopping malls and shopping on Main Street downtown.
Buffalo’s longtime local retail giants, such as AM&A’s, Sibley’s/Hengerer’s, the Sample, and LL Berger pulled out of other venues and paid much higher rents at the Galleria. Within three years, AM&A’s was the last local retail giant still standing. When AM&A’s closed in 1995, it also marked the end of the department store era on Main Street downtown.
West Seneca’s Seneca Mall was hit hard with opening of the Walden Galleria. Already on shaky ground with the opening of the McKinley Mall in 1985, Sibley’s/Hengerer’s, the Sample, Kleinhans and JC Penney all closed their Seneca Mall locations within a year of Walden Galleria’s opening.
These photos are from October 1990, with the mall’s future uncertain. After several years as little more than an indoor track for mall walkers, Seneca Mall closed in 1994. The mall buildings were demolished, and Tops Markets and Kmart opened on the site. The Kmart store closed in early 2019.