A Look Back at Houston Retail in January 2014 with Anonymous in Houston’s Photo Collection

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest submission from HHR’s good friend Anonymous in Houston

Happy new year, Houston Historic Retail readers! Today’s topic is a bit of a random retail post. Those of you familiar with my guest blog posts here at HHR know that while I enjoy discussing retail history, I am not much of a retail photographer. The wonderful retail photographers out there deserve a lot of credit for their skill in discreetly photographing stores without setting off alarms with store/mall security and without taking a bunch of blurry photos of one’s feet and thumbs. I know that the retail photographers out there reading this post could write books about their experiences taking photos in stores, but retail photography isn’t something I feel that I am particularly skilled in so I stick to words while letting the professionals like Mike handle the photography. Clearly, my new year’s resolution won’t be measured in megapixels!

That said, as an avid retail blog reader and Flickr viewer, there was a time long ago when I lightly wondered if I was Flickr material myself. Around a decade ago, I did take some retail photos. However, it was almost exactly a decade ago that Albertsons Florida Blog started his famous retail blog, an event which was recently celebrated, and it was exactly a decade ago this month that AFB started his Flickr account. Towards the end of 2014, Retail Retell of the Mid-South Retail Blog started his own Flickr account. Given the high quality of the then-new generation of Flickr retail photographers in 2014, I elected to keep my meager retail photography collection private.

However, after recently finding some of my archived files, I decided that it would be interesting to post some of my retail photos from around January 2014 as a retrospective look at some Houston retail from a decade ago which is either gone now or significantly changed.

Almeda Mall – January 2014

Here are three photos taken at Almeda Mall in January 2014. The interesting thing to note in the exterior photo is the Piccadilly Cafeteria sign. It wasn’t known at the time, but the Piccadilly Cafeteria at Almeda Mall closed for good on June 15, 2014. The South Belt Houston Digital History Archive has an excellent blog post with photos about the history of the Almeda Mall Piccadilly. The same blog has many great historical posts about the mall including this post.

As Mike discussed at HHR in 2023, the Burlington Coat Factory in the old Almeda Mall JCPenney recently moved out of the mall and to the neighboring former Woolco shopping center. Thus, this anchor spot at the mall is now retail-less once again. Not long after these photos were taken, Almeda Mall was significantly renovated and so it is interesting to look back at a time when shopping at Almeda Mall felt similar to how it did in the 1980s. HHR has a post about Almeda Mall and Je of the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blog has some recent photos of Almeda Mall and also some older photos showing the transformation of the mall before and after the mid-2010s renovation.

In 2014, Almeda Mall was owned by Fox Properties, but in recent years, the mall has changed hands a couple of times. Kohan took over the mall a few years ago, but recently Mike discovered that a company named 4th Dimension Properties, a company from Florida which also owns the Central Mall in Port Arthur, TX and the Central Mall in Texarkana, owns the mall now. Hopefully the new owner will be able to redevelop the JCPenney/Burlington anchor spot.

Garden Oaks Sears on N. Shepherd – January 2014

There is only one photo here, but it is a photo from what once was one of Houston’s most photogenic retail spots, the N. Shepherd Sears store. This Sears opened in 1950 and was one of the last Houston Sears full-line stores to remain open when it closed towards the end of 2020. Recent news came out about the Sears building being demolished to make room for a mixed-use redevelopment. Je of the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blog extensively covered the N. Shepherd Sears in 2015 and in 2020.

The permanent closure, or so we thought, of the Mall of the Mainland – January & Early February 2014

Finally, we’ll look at what was supposed to be the last few days of Texas City’s Mall of the Mainland in January and very early February 2014. After struggling since the mall opened in 1991, Mall of the Mainland management announced on December 9, 2013 that they were finally throwing in the towel and they said they would close the mall by the end of January 2014. The Mall of the Mainland was at one time one of the US’s most famous dead malls after it was lampooned on the now-dead Labelscar website in 2007. While dead/dying malls were hardly uncommon in the late 2000s and 2010s, few of them were born losers like the Mall of the Mainland was and few of them tried to hoodwink shoppers into making the mall look successful when it clearly wasn’t given the painted-up fake storefronts at the mall and the painted-up postcard from Gloria to Nikki talking about how much there is to do at the Mall of the Mainland.

I followed the closure of the Mall of the Mainland with high interest given the fame of the place and I visited the mall several times during the mall’s final few months. The photos seen below came from those several visits. Also, I purchased two issues of the Galveston County Daily News newspaper from December 10, 2013 (when the mall closure announcement was made) and from January 30, 2014 (the official closing date for the mall). I still have those ‘commemorative’ newspapers in my collection and so I have photographed the mall articles from those newspapers as well.

As I mentioned in a guest blog post here at HHR in 2022, although the mall did close in 2014 except for the remaining anchors at the time, Sears, Cinemark Movies 12, and Palais Royal, the mall property was eventually sold at a bargain basement price and the new owner re-developed and partially re-opened the mall as the Mainland City Centre. It is really remarkable that here a decade later, someone was able to turn the property into a semi-viable space. The Mainland City Centre remains a work-in-progress, but it is hardly the most distressed Houston area mall/former mall property here in 2024. Je of the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blog has an excellent and very comprehensive post memorializing the 1991-2014 version of the Mall of the Mainland. Also, Pseudo3D of Carbon-izer has a blog post chronicling his visit to the mall in 2008.

First, here are the photos of the Galveston County Daily News articles about the Mall of the Mainland. The first two are from December 10, 2013 and the last two are from January 30, 2014. It should be noted that these two newspapers were both purchased from a newspaper vending machine located in the Mall of the Mainland Sears parking lot:

Mall photos from January 13, 2014:

Mall photos from January 21, 2014:

Mall photos from January 27, 2014:

Mall photos from February 3, 2014. It should be noted that although the mall technically closed at the end of January 2014, the mall kept this mall entrance open so people could access the mall entrance to the Sears. Not long after this photo was taken, Sears permanently closed their mall entrance and the mall also closed this corridor:

In conclusion, it is interesting to look back at these retail photos from exactly a decade ago. Almeda Mall is still alive and mostly well, but it certainly looks more modern now than it did in 2014 when it was still a retro time capsule. The Mall of the Mainland shockingly found a second life, but I’m glad I was able to chronicle some history from the mall’s colorful first life. Due to the redevelopment, most of the mall aspects in the photos are either significantly remodeled, no longer around, or are inaccessible to the public. Finally, it is always great to see that glowing Garden Oaks Sears sign! If you have any thoughts or comments about the places discussed in this post, feel free to leave a comment below. We love to hear from our readers!


  1. Wow, I agree with Retail Retell that I never knew you had a knack for retail photography! Saying that my retail photos are “great” is an extreme compliment because the photographer in me cringes at the sight of many of them. I just wish I could walk around with my DSLR and have a space as empty as the Mall of the Mainland to photograph!

    Neat stuff, and that 1950’s Sears sign was very cool to see! I hope you end up uncovering more shots from your archives!

    1. Ha, the Mall of the Mainland was most certainly empty enough for DSLR photography! You might have been able to set up a drone to photograph in that mall and not caught anyone’s attention! These days, Macroplaza Mall in Pasadena (Houston) is probably about as empty as the Mall of the Mainland was a decade ago, but it is not as photogenic as the Mall of the Mainland.

      As far as photos taken discreetly with a smartphone, I think you and the others I mentioned have come as close as possible to perfecting the art of retail photography! That said, since you do take photos with a DSLR, I’m sure photos coming from a phone will always seem a bit lacking, but I guess slightly lacking photos is better than dealing with store security!

  2. I don’t know what’s more shocking, that Anonymous in Houston has a secret collection of retail photos, or that 2014 was a decade ago! Either way, really great post here! I very much appreciate all the compliments and links as well, although if you are using me as part of the standard for “excellent” retail photography, then we are all doomed XD Your photos are great and while I certainly respect your decision to focus only on writing these days, it seems like you have a knack for the photography part as well! Even so, looking forward to more posts written by you in the year ahead 🙂

    1. Thanks! Some of my old retail photos are so secret that I don’t even know where they are now! They were on old phones and I don’t know where I backed up all those photos. I’ll post them if I can find them. Some of these photos, especially the ones from the Mall of the Mainland, turned out pretty well for photos from an early smartphone…and not even a higher-end one at that!

      I think it is fair to say that you are the most prominent supermarket photographer on Flickr these days and I’m sure the newer uploaders on Flickr look to your channel for inspiration. With that, I think it is fair to say your photos are the standard for excellence! Mike, AFB, NW Retail, Je, and Sing Oil all take great photos as well, but at least these days, all their photos go on their blogs and not Flickr AFAIK. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that!

      The Mall of the Mainland was such a hot topic in the Houston retail community in 2013-4 that I thought it was worth reflecting upon that excitement a decade ago especially since it seems so distant now. Some of the newer members of the retail enthusiast community may not even remember or know about periods of excitement in the community. I remember all the excitement on Flickr around the same time about the Bauhaus Stateline Rd. Kroger in your part of the world so it is interesting to think about those exciting times in the retail blog/photostream world.