After a change in ownership in 2017, 2018 was, if not a return to form, then an evolution to a new form for TownMall of Westminster.
“What’s unfortunately happened is, I think a lot of people think the mall is dead, and it’s not dead,” said Mike McMullin, president of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. “If anything, they are working hard to bring a renaissance to the mall.”
While malls all across the country have seen a retreat of larger, national retailers, TownMall began welcoming smaller, local businesses in early 2018, with three grand openings in April of the kind of businesses that do not compete head-to-head with Amazon.com in scale or logistics, according to McMullin.
“We were especially happy when we did our triple grand opening there. It was Cob51, The Gym and Westminster Barbership, all at one time,” he said. “When you look at the mall, it’s kind of like a self-contained Main Street.”
It was a return to local ownership with a history in Carroll County, noted R/C President Scott Cohen, whose grandfather once operated the Monocacy Drive-In theater in Taneytown.
“I am third generation doing this — I grew up in it. I was going up to Taneytown with my grandfather on Saturdays as a kid,” Cohen told The Times in May. “Then when he died, I ran the theater. Most kids had a high school life. I got home at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. in the morning.”
R/C now manages theaters in 10 other area locations, including the Hanover 16 and Gettysburg 8 in Pennsylvania.
“We’re really excited to have been there so long,” owner Janes Yates told The Times. “I feel very blessed that we have so many people that have been loyal customers.”
“The coffee shop folks are definitely members of ours,” McMullin noted, referring to the Chamber of Commerce. “So is the mall itself, the move theater … some of the larger ones like Belk. Really when you stop and look at it, there’s an experience that you can get from shopping locally, either on the Main Street or anybody in Carroll or the TownMall, that you just can’t get from going on Amazon.”
“We’re not shocked given Sears’s ongoing size reduction, we certainly were not surprised,” Sam Himmelrich, president of the Baltimore-based real estate firm Himmelrich Associates that now owns the mall, told The Times in October. “We continue to look forward to opportunities to improve the mall, and this doesn’t get in the way of our current thoughts on how to reformat and improve the space.”