Northwest Arkansas Mall plans to open 25-year-old time capsule

An inscription noting a time capsule at the Northwest Arkansas Mall is located on the tile floor at the western edge of the food court.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

FAYETTEVILLE — A 25-year-old time capsule will soon be opened at the Northwest Arkansas Mall.

Officials plan to open the capsule during a small public ceremony scheduled for 12 p.m. Thursday, March 17, said Jeff Bishop, senior general manager for the mall. Bishop said the plan is to serve cake near the fountains in the food court during the ceremony.

The capsule, which was sealed in 1997 during a major renovation, was scheduled to be opened in March 2022 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the mall.

Originally built as a Sears store in 1970, the mall underwent a massive expansion and officially opened as Northwest Arkansas Plaza on March 2, 1972 as a 450,000-square-foot center. Nineteen stores opened that day with 15 following shortly thereafter. Anchoring the center were Sears, Dillard’s, the Boston Store and Woolworth.

Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan speaks at Center Court inside the Northwest Arkansas Mall during the center’s 40th anniversary celebration in 2012.

Flyer file photo

A J.C. Penney wing was later added, along with a small food court that utilized several typical storefronts in one wing of the mall. Dillard’s added a second store in 1996, and the renovation in 1997 boosted the center to 820,000 square feet with the construction of a new wing with an expanded and dedicated food court area.

A post on claims that a customer who called the mall office in the late 1990s was told that the time capsule is actually a safe that was purchased from the Lowe’s store across the street.

“It was filled with small items from the day, including a local newspaper from that date, a TV Guide from that week, and numerous items from stores in the mall at that time,” according to the post.

When asked about the post, Bishop said he’s unsure exactly what was placed into the capsule, but the story could be true.

“That is quite possible,” said Bishop. “I was working here, but I was very busy with construction and store openings. Hopefully some good stuff from the 90’s!”