Outsider’s View of Retail’s Reign: Quebec Travel Guide Notes ‘Surprising’ Things about King of Prussia Mall

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stores with flags
Image via author Michael Stefan Shaw at the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board.
The King of Prussia Mall once had an open-air orientation, with storefronts facing outward rather than in.

Given the wealth of Montgomery County’s historic, commercial, and leisure assets, residents can often become jaded to treasures in their own backyards. Sometimes it takes an outsider’s view — like James Karuga’s recent King of Prussia Mall article in the The Travel (Quebec) — to bring a fresh perspective on what may have become commonplace.

Karuga calls Montgomery County’s merchandise mecca the “East Coast’s ultimate shopping destination,” full of international brands and a few notable distinctions:

  • Its Name
    • Karuga accurately cites the source of the area’s royal reference: King Frederick II of Prussia — an opposer, by the way, of Britain’s colonial ambitions that bought Europeans here. From there, the name for the general area traces to a 1769 inn.
  • Humble Beginnings
    • Opened in 1963, the plaza was built by real estate developer Kravco Co.; the court arose in 1981. The land was chosen because of its openness (at the time) and proximity to the Schuylkill Expressway, newly completed in 1959.
  • The Brains Behind It
    • Retail developer Morris A. Kravitz is considered a pioneer innovator of the suburban shopping centers concept. In addition to the mall, he was the driving force behind area strip centers, commercial offices, apartments, and homes.
  • The Mall Today
    • From those early and modest beginnings, the King of Prussia Mall today has 2.9 million square feet of retail space and yearly has up to 25 million visitors, reported The Travel.
  • Its Surrounding Community
    • King of Prussia Mall is within five miles of a daytime population of 245,000 people. It is surrounded by the some of wealthiest ZIP Codes in the country.
  • Changes in Ownership
    • In 2003, Simon Property Group acquired controlling stake and daily control of the retail giant for $300 million. The Simon Group’s upgrades to it attracted lux brands such as Nieman-Marcus and Nordstrom.
  • Holiday Shopping
    • Each Nov.–Dec., over five million people flock the King of Prussia Mall. From Black Friday to New Year’s Day, it welcomes an estimated 200,000 visitors on an average Saturday.
  • Initial Value
    • When the King of Prussia mall first opened, it was valued at $7 million dollars. By 2018, that figure had swollen to $2.8 billion.
  • Resilience
    • Since inception the King of Prussia Mall has weathered business storms that have capsized traditional brick-and-mortar commercial sites. Its devoted customer base returns regularly drawn by an engaging retail-restaurant blend, steady improvement in value-added facilities, and a physical setting that online retailers cannot provide.
  • Local Impact
    • The King of Prussia Mall employs about 6,000 people, an employee count that jumps to 8,000 in peak seasons. It generates $60 million in annual sales tax revenue for the local government.

More international mall impressions from The Travel are online.

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