EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Store owners called it the end of an era as they packed up decades-old Shore Mall properties in preparation for a partial demolition.
Demolition will begin next week, according to mall officials. Those without permanent leases are required to move out by Monday. Several stores will remain open, moving to the front of the mall, during the work.
Doug and Linda Keefe, owners of Beachcomber Coins and Collectibles, were breaking down their 12,000-square-foot shop. The store has been in the mall for 38 years and is moving to a smaller location in a former Wawa near Cardiff Circle.
The store has moved locations several times within the mall. These days, most of its business comes from the buying of precious metals. With a move to a space one-fifth of the size, the owners plans to sell less memorabilia, and streamline their displays.
“Everything has to be streamlined,” Linda Keefe said. “Instead of having six hooks for those rockets, now one hook will hold each rocket engine.” She said the moving process has been hectic.
“We’re selling showcases,” she said. “We’re trying to get permits. The phone company. It’s been kind of crazy, but we’re getting there.”
Jack White, who has sold used goods on the bazaar tables in the mall for 37 years, bought some of the Beachcomber’s shelves for his personal DVD collection.
White said he plans to retire when the mall closes for demolition. He remembers being one of several sellers at the bazaar table when the mall was booming in the 1980s. As the mall’s popularity waned, the others left. He’s been the only person working the tables for at least 10 years, he said.
Trina Byrd and Veronica McCoy, of Pleasantville, bought a wrench from White. Their favorite store, Boscov’s, will not be closing, but they have nostalgic memories of the mall’s golden years.
“It’s just sad, because everyone came here,” Byrd said. “Christmas, I remember bringing my son here to Santa Claus when he was 3 years old, looking at the mini-shops all around. I loved it.”
Ely Cohen, owner of Palace Diamonds, said he felt good about his new location in the English Creek shopping center, but he has memories from 18 years at the Shore Mall.
“It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “This mall is an active mall. It’s a local mall. It’s a lot of local businesses and not much corporation. It generates a lot of individualism.”
Cohen said he sold jewelry to Mike Tyson and Andrew Dice Clay in the 1990s. He pulled a photograph off the wall of himself with a makeup-less Alice Cooper. Cohen, a musician, said he jammed with Cooper in the back of the store.
In the mall walkway, where indoor trees once grew, construction workers built plywood partitions around stumps.
Many businesses were already caged up and cleaned out. Signs in front of the stores denoted their new locations.
Some shoppers had found new shopping locations years ago.
“I usually go to the Hamilton Mall anyway, because Walmart is out there, so I usually go out there anyway,” Trina Byrd said. “It’s just sad though. We’re going to miss it.”
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