Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rich's at Gwinnett Place Mall

The guys at Labelscar saved me the trouble on having to go back to Gwinnett Place again. In 2006 I was working during the summer while in college as a driver. The car I was driving wasn't in the best repair, and the car quit on me while there. While it turned out to be something that I overlooked as a result of their poor maintenance, I managed to find myself stranded at the mall for several hours. I pretty much visited every angle of the mall, but failed in that opportunity to photograph it since I obviously wasn't there for pleasure. My lack of mechanical abilities didn't bode well for that job, either.

On the first photo, sign crews begin removal of one of the signs near the west entrance. The second photo shows another side-angle view of the south entrance.

For those in Atlanta, everyone knows that Gwinnett Place has seen its better days. The traffic around the mall is more chaotic than anywhere in the entire city, and traffic jams getting onto Pleasant Hill Road from I-85 (ironically named road the mall is on) will leave you sitting for a half-hour. The scene around the mall is also my least favorite, too. The area around the mall is disected by huge high voltage lines, which makes the place seem very ugly and makes the fact it is nothing but sprawl city stand out even more.

Photos of the mall entrance. The top photo is of the first floor with more visible backlighting. The second photo was an attempt at a shot of both floors simultaneously. The last is a view from the second floor.

However, before the 2006 incident I still braved the area traffic to come and photograph one of the very last of the Rich's stores to still be flanked with the Rich's logo during the first couple months of 2005. For those of you who know this store, this is the unique Rich's store completely covered in black glass that today leaves a very obvious labelscar from when it was Rich's. The Macy's that is there now was previously in the old Davison's store, now being renovated for an Asian discount/department store known as Super M Mart. When I took those pics in 2005 and 2006, the store was still known as Rich's-Macy's.

Night shots of the sign next to the dark glass exterior. Note the street lights reflecting on the side of the building. I wish I had a better camera when those were taken.

More exterior shots of the Rich's in the daytime with greater emphasis on the sign in the first shot.

The Rich's pics here include outside and mall entrance photos. While the outside is amazing, the inside mall entrance is less impressive. I have also included pics of the Rich's Furniture Store on the outlot.

The Rich's Furniture Showroom is located on an outlot close to the Sears: nowhere near the Rich's itself. It was very obviously built later.


  1. the furniture store looks awful--a glitzy version of what most chain/franchise furniture operations have been building, but the main store looks quite unique. It's much more handsome and seems to have worn better than the ugly hulking places they built at North DeKalb and South DeKalb.

  2. Oh, man, how I miss that logo!

    Of course, the new macy*s logo is (I think) black, which looks absolutely ridiculous on the glass. (How many years have I been harping about their logo color now?)

    This was the only location with a non-green or black logo, right? Well, I suppose some could have been white as well, at least on the interior entrances, but I don't recall any white exterior signage.

    Overall, JT, do you know much about the design of this store from the sense that it's so different from all the others? This store is definitely in my top three favorite exteriors across all companies. Compared to the Town Center store of similar vintage, I guess it's not all that different -- slab sides, square/rectangle paneling -- but the choice of material certainly is. Still, I have to wonder if this store was both planned from day one to be a dramatically different design statement and perhaps a new (not taken) path for future designs.

    Great job as always.

    1. Oh yea! *&^Y%R^&%& Macy's decided a black logo was best. ;-)

  3. Shots of Rich's stores are like a holy grail to me. Second only to pics of Proffitt's stores (its a hometown thing)

  4. Honestly, that home furniture outparcel looks like a rejected store design from Williams-Sonoma, or a bad SketchUp design come to life. It could have been made slightly better if the number of setbacks were reduced, that entrance canopy wasn't as thick/awkward, and a warmer color palette were implemented. Perhaps a course of masonry brick could run along the bottom section of the structure.

  5. The furniture store was sold. I seem to recall reading it's being turned into a Public Storage type of storage place.

    My first trip ever to Gwinnett Place was when Frys opened. Been back many times, but I've never been inside the mall. It looks dead and uninviting from the outside.

  6. Awww. I don't have particularly fond feelings for Gwinnett Place Mall, but I really do miss Rich's. Right after the change, there were still a lot of old Rich's folks working at Macy's Gwinnett Place, and they seemed bereft, too. (Finally, decided to be no longer anonymous here).

  7. To Anonymous (first): North DeKalb and South DeKalb looked just fine when they had the green Rich's sign, but the Macy's sign looks so out of place that it truly revealed how bunker-like department stores of that era still were.

    To Matt from CLT: I really have no knowledge of the designs used on Rich's except that most stores were built by Stevens & Wilkinson, not the architects of the mall. The entire Rich's/Richway legacy overall was Stevens & Wilkinson. Rich's at North Point had a white logo, the 70's stores were brown and backlit (I suspect a couple were originally green, such as Cumberland) and the oldest stores were all green...why department store consolidation SUCKS.

    Also, remember that Gwinnett and Town Center are mirror images. Those who try to differentiate the two are doing so on some stupid bias. They are practically the same design, built by the same people with the same stores. Their fortunes are the only real difference.

    To Brian: I covered as much of Proffitt's as I could. All Georgia Proffitt's stores and some of Tennessee were covered. Proffitt's was special because it gave E TN their very own personal store started by someone actually from TN that everybody liked. You got a tiny taste of Rich's in the 60's. Harvey's was a lot like Proffitt's in the 60's and 70's, but better...just didn't make it far enough east.

    To DewN Nitek. Most stuff built in the 90's prior to 1998 was disgusting. Lots of tacky stucco patterns and really ugly colors. Remember the teal craze? And they dared to criticize the 70's back then? At least North Point Mall came out nice.

    To PM: Good riddance to that stupid furniture store. I could care less what they do since they killed off Rich's on top of both Rich's and Davison's downtown stores.

    To Pat in GA: It was pretty hopeless after both downtown stores closed down. By then it was apparent to everyone that the new Macy's was a cheap imitation of Rich's and Macy's of the 80's that was nothing short of a last resort in a very troubled industry. There is no bringing Rich's back now, but Davison's could be brought back in some form if they resurrected the still-standing original downtown store and managed them locally as a more upscale version of the national Macy's. I have two leads for Rich's photos previously unpublished online that were before my time. One is free, and one is going to cost me a bit. Unfortunately the first is going to make you sad and will appear late summer or fall.

  8. Gwinnett Place is basically the same design as Town Center at Cobb, but the outside was always less inviting and entering and exiting from Pleasant Hill was as far from Pleasant as anything could be. Overall while the area has received a rep as being "ghetto", it's not as bad as its rep makes it sound. Better surrounding planning and aesthetics would go along with the GP/Pleasant Hill corridor. Gwinnett could easily support this mall along with Mall of Georgia, while Discover Mills could be used in tandem with Duluth since the Mills has a different appeal than the two traditonal malls

  9. I remember 1 thing about the mall when I was growing up. When I was 6 I was with my mom, my big sister and her 2 boys. My sister's oldest boy was 6 months younger than me, we were horse playing around those big square brick area walls around the palm trees my mom and my sister told me and my nephew to hold hands and quit fooling around. I tried to grab my nephews hand and he jerked away from me so I pushed him right into the corner of the brick wall thing. I sliced open his eyebrow and got my ass wore out in front of everyone lol. Its funny I could remember something like that still lol

  10. I know this is the Cumberland thread, but the mention of downtown had me racing back to Facebook to find this gem. I hope the link takes you there. If not, it's on the "Senior Life in Georgia" page along with some other really awesome gems from old Atlanta.