KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Thirty-five years before the announcement it would close, The East Towne Mall held a celebration “gala,” as it was called, opening 92 stores in East Knoxville.

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It was the first shopping experience of its kind in the area, one locals who lived near the mall had been waiting to see.

“I’ve seen a lot of malls throughout my life and this is one of the best I’ve seen,” one shopper told the WATE 6 On Your Side team at the time.

The celebration was held in July 1984, bringing families and city leaders together to open the largest mall in the area.

“We’ve been working very hard the last few weeks, talking 12-14 hours a day,” said a store owner days before the mall opened to the public.

A professor of Retail and Consumer Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Ann Fairhurst, said at the time it opened, the mall was a boost to the economy.

“When it opened there was a need in the east part of the county and the city to have some kind of a shopping venue. it brought it people from the tri-cities,” said Fairhurst.

The 1984 opening brought 100,000 shoppers to the mall on the first day.