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July 1, 2013

Southside Mall's opening 30 years ago drew heavy traffic

(Continued)

The official grand opening of the Southside Mall took place beginning Wednesday, July 27, and was scheduled to last the next four days. The major store opening was J.C. Penney. This store had previously been located in downtown Oneonta, at the corner of Main Street and Ford Avenue. It had employed 10, but with the move to Southside, the number had increased to 75. Other stores opening that day included Fashion Bug, Walden Books and Kinney Shoes.

“Business has been strong all day,” said Ben Preston, manager of J.C. Penney. The businesses that had opened a few weeks earlier said that business had been “better than expected.”

Oneonta was introduced to its very first automatic teller machine at the Southside Mall, at the newly opened branch of the Oneonta Federal Savings and Loan. It was known as Metroteller, the first of its kind in about a 60-mile radius of Oneonta.

“Everyone benefits from the automatic teller,” explained John Knapp, the bank’s vice-president. “The customers can do quicker transactions 51 hours more a week than at one of our branches.” Knapp said that about 8,000 area bank customers who have the identification cards would soon have access to hundreds of automatic tellers in the United States.

The Southside Mall was sold in November of 1983 for $14 million, by Oneonta Associates to a Delaware-based company, Oneonta Mall Inc. The sale didn’t affect any business. The previous owners continued to operate the mall.

This weekend: A daily newspaper debuts in Richfield Springs in 1888.

City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at simmark@stny.rr.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.

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