If you were to list things that truly define New Jersey, what would come to mind?

Not that long ago, shopping malls would have been right at the top of such a list.

However, to borrow some poetry from Bob Dylan, the times they are a changin'.

As we all know, people are now buying more and more stuff online, which is putting traditional malls in a tough spot. They either need to redefine themselves or they'll fade into history.

To see just how much the retail landscape in New Jersey has changed over the years, two big malls in particular find themselves in the middle of a transition — one potentially good and one not so much.

Not all Malls in New Jersey are Dead

It's important to note that not every mall in the Garden State is having problems.

Leasing or renting space in malls might not be the easiest thing in the world to do these days, but many malls are doing pretty well (at least on the surface).

For example, Deptford Mall in Gloucester County was recently in the news after they enacted a very strict policy regarding young, unaccompanied whippersnappers hanging around (kinda like how Gen X'ers would hang out at the mall on a Friday night back in the day).

One Mall is Evolving

One of the two malls to take a look at is Monmouth Mall.

Monmouth Mall in NJ
Monmouth Mall in NJ - Photo: Google Maps

That mall, which sits right in the middle of over 600,000 people, is about to undergo a huge change.

Published reports say about 40% of the mall's current footprint will be demolished so apartments can be built as part of a rebranded Monmouth Square lifestyle center.

Let's take one of the last looks at the mall in its current incarnation.

A sad, desolate look at NJ's Old Monmouth Mall

It was the last Christmas Eve for New Jersey's Monmouth Mall in Eatontown before major redevelopment in 2024. Here's what it looked like on that day.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

Another Mall is Struggling

Meanwhile, in South Jersey, one mall that has certainly seen better days is Hamilton Mall in Hamilton Township, Mays Landing.

Through the 1990s and 2000s, Hamilton Mall did well but its luck began to change in the 2010s.

In 2018, Sears announced it would be closing...


...and then JCPenney followed the next year, leaving two big holes in its landscape.

JCPenney Hamilton Mall in 2019 - Photo: Google Maps
JCPenney Hamilton Mall in 2019 - Photo: Google Maps

Without those two anchors and the loss of other chain stores (KB Toys, Sam Goody, Sundance Video, just to name a few), Hamilton Mall is one of those shopping centers that finds itself in a slow, painful demise.

Let's see what Hamilton Mall looked like within the past few weeks...

The Sad State of This Once-grand Shopping Mall in New Jersey

A look inside Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing.

Gallery Credit: Chris Coleman

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