06 February 2022

Nugget Mall, Juneau, AK

 A relic of retail

The Nugget Mall's main entrance.

It took me way too damn long to visit Alaska for the first time.  After having lived the closest one possibly could to the Last Frontier in the lower 48 for several years, I decided to make the trip on my birthday (in February) in 2018.  Anchorage was my ultimate destination, but to get there I took advantage of one of Alaska Airlines’ milk run routes to hit the state capital of Juneau along the way.

The dramatic arrival into Juneau International Airport during a February snowstorm

Following a breathtaking, snow drenched landing into Juneau International Airport, I breathed that clean Alaska air for the first time.  I spent the first part of my trip walking the streets of downtown which, considering the time of year, were thankfully covered by inches of fresh snow rather than tons of cruise ship tourists.  I’ll always be glad that this was the first way I got to see the city.

Scenes of downtown Juneau

After slipping and sliding my southern backside up and down the hills of downtown, I had one more stop to make before returning to the airport and setting off for my final destination of Anchorage. Not far from the airport, in fact close enough that had it not been snowing so heavily I could have walked there, was the Nugget Mall.

Inside the Nugget Mall

The Nugget Mall, along with Mendenhall Mall, is one of two in the diminutive state capital.  It’s an unassuming, low-slung box located in the northwestern section of the city proper.  It wasn’t much to look at, there were no major department stores as anchors just big boxes, but it sure as hell was cozy after walking in from temperatures in the twenties and non-stop snow.

Nugget Mall lease plan ca. 2017.  See the full PDF version here.

Nugget Mall opened in 1974 on a 12-acre lot on Glacier Highway. Although never a smashing success, it has remained a viable retail option in the city through its many decades.  Anchored on my visit by Jo-Ann’s Fabrics, Office Max, Petco and Sportsman’s Warehouse, it attracts an established looking clientele into its intimately lighted hallways.  There are a handful of closed storefronts, though I would hesitate to call the mall dying.  It seems to offer a warm, social respite in a city where there’s probably not much else to do in the winter.

Scenes of the Nugget Mall.

There have been proposals on how the mall will function going forward including the addition of vertical elements.  Nugget Mall fell into receivership in 2017 in hopes of attracting more capital, though not much has actually been carried out.  Of course, I hope it sticks around.  It seems like a nice place for the locals to gather when the summertime tourists invade the city during the high season. 

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