Welcome to a special edition of our Northridge Archives series: a load of historic things we recovered from Milwaukee’s long-abandoned Northridge Mall, now preserved for posterity and seeing the light of day for the first time in decades!
Merry Christmas ya filthy animals! Today we’re going beyond pictures and resurrecting a load of 80s VHS tapes recovered from a storage area for Northridge Management — now digitized and upscaled to 1080p high definition!
Santa Claus PM Magazine Segment
First up we have a segment from the long-defunct TV series, PM Magazine that aired on Christmas Eve 1981. PM Magazine spotlighted local entertainment and things to do, it was syndicated to dozens of stations across the country before falling out in favor of celebrity news and tabloid programs in the 1990s.
This segment features Southridge Mall’s Santa Clauses in training, and follows Northridge’s Santa during a busy holiday season – also showing the elaborate Peanuts-themed display in the mall’s center court.
For good measure, the full episode of PM Magazine can also be seen here.
Encore – Northridge’s 10th Anniversary // 1982
For its 10th Anniversary celebrations in the fall of 1982, the mall ran a goofy commercial with “Hans Fergman” arranging chairs for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming performance in the Grand Court.
“We’ve Got It!” Commercial Reel // 1983
Northridge and Southridge shared a memorable ad campaign starting in the 1982 Christmas season; continuing through 1983 with some minor logo updates and new spots for each shopping season. Additional spots were produced for Christmastime 1983, recycling most of the 1982 ads.
For 1984: the mall’s owner, The Taubman Company (now Taubman Centers), launched the Momentum cooperative marketing program and assumingly had promotional videos produced for each of their properties. Northridge’s video features the entire store lineup at the time, interviews with several of the mall’s shopkeeps, and a decent amount of 80s mall visuals.
We found two copies of this video; one of which is now in the hands of — and has been partially-shown on Ace’s Adventures. This is the complete video from one of the master cassettes.
Taubman Company Promo Vids
These two tapes are for hardcore vintage retail nerds; promo pieces produced for the Taubman Company. The first one, titled “Cheers to You!”, is a congratulatory marketing piece from 1984, likely meant for mall management, and has quite a load of vintage mall imagery and testimonials from management of their properties at the time. It also explains the Momentum program a bit further.
The other one, titled “The Eight Second Sell”, is a tutorial for designing storefront visuals and window displays, likely distributed or shared between the mall’s tenants. The mall scenes were filmed at Fairlane Town Center, just south of Taubman’s headquarters near Detroit.
Northridge Security on WISN-12
Mall security introduced a “business watch” in 1985 for shopkeeps to keep an eye on suspicious activity at each others’ stores. Milwaukee ABC-affiliate, WISN channel 12, ran a story about it during one of their newscasts.
Santa’s Arrival & Celebrations // 1986
Finally, we have some incredible (albeit choppy at times) home video filmed by management of Santa Claus arriving – riding a horse-drawn carriage through the mall, no-less – just before Thanksgiving to kick-off the 1986 holiday shopping season. The tape continues into the next day, where carriage rides were being offered in the mall’s parking lots. It is the only home video (save for a bunch of fashion shows) of the mall we’ve come across.
Between moments of casual workplace banter: the tape includes stunning details of the mall’s Christmas decorations, carolers singing in the Grand Court and Sears atrium, and corridors packed with holiday shoppers — a stark contrast to how the mall now stands to this day.
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Filed under: Northridge Mall
Special thanks to Anthony, Brandon, Nick, Jack, Hank and everyone else involved in cracking the management offices to make this haul possible.