The Original mall 

To hear about Nampa's halcyon mall days, I sat down with my grandmother, Anne DeGroat, promotions director for Karcher Mall from 1974-1980.

"It was not only a place to go buy things, but as promotion director, I had to have a promotion every week. Everything from fashion shows to car shows to boat shows to all kinds of things. That's where people gathered to just have fun, whether they bought anything or not. It was a hangout," grandma said.

In the early '70s, the mall boasted anchor stores: J.C. Penney, Falk's Idaho Department Store, Bon Marche, Buttrey Food and Drug, Skaggs Drug Center, Rasco/Tempo Company, Karcher Twin Theaters and a multitude of others, small and large. For many in the Treasure Valley, it was the biggest shopping center they'd ever seen.

"We decided to ask people 'Just how big is Karcher Mall?'" said DeGroat. "They brought in Baxter Black, who is a cowboy poet, and he's really famous now. But he said, 'That sucker is so big, if you filled it with water it would irrigate all of Owyhee County.'"

Karcher Mall also partnered with the Snake River Stampede to bring the rodeo's biggest Western stars and country music musicans—Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Reba McEntire—to sign autographs at the mall. People poured in from all around to catch a glimpse of live celebrities and to experience some of the mall's more unusual goings-on.

"I had a waterbed show, and Mr. Arthur Yensen [Karcher Mall's Santa Claus] dressed up as Rip Van Winkle, and he got into a waterbed and stayed there 24 hours over the weekend. They dressed him in a striped nightgown, and the telephone company came out so they could talk to Rip Van Winkle," DeGroat remembered.

—Tara Morgan

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