Like Barton Creek Square and Vista Ridge Mall, I also visited The Shops at Willow Bend in 2004 (wow, 2004 was really the "year of malls" for me in some aspects).

There's not much I can say about The Shops at the Willow Bend other than I have a directory for it. I was there because we were in Dallas at the time and of course, my brother wanted to see the Apple store there. It was the only one in Dallas at the time and actually the site of the very first Apple store in Texas, being part of the initial batch that opened when Apple launched the upscale retail stores in 2001 (following a few less-successful "store-within-a-store" concepts in CompUSA and Best Buy in preceding years). It also is one of the rare malls to have since lost the Apple store, Wikipedia mentions that it moved "to help protect Apple from excessive patent litigation in the Eastern District of Texas", which sounds like an excuse to move from a failing mall. Apple didn't go quietly into the night, there's a nice article you can read here about the store. And besides...Wikipedia is not exactly accurate about when Apple opened, either.

Given that the Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor (two of Willow Bend's five charter anchors) came from Prestonwood Town Center five miles to the south, and DeadMalls tells the story of what happened to that mall, it is entirely possible that the "upscale, female-oriented center" without any entertainment options or middle-class tenants was to prevent Willow Bend from falling into a similar fate.

My visit came a few years before the exposé on the mall, so it was a little healthier back then. Things haven't gone much better for the mall, but with Collin Creek and Valley View finally down for the count, maybe it could have life as the regional mall for the Plano area...but even then (and this is something DeadMalls didn't cover), it had to compete with Stonebriar Centre five miles to the north (opened in 2000 with seven department stores--Foley's, Dillard's, Nordstrom, Galyan's Trading Company, JCPenney, Sears, and one of the few pre-2006 Macy's stores to open in Texas after 1990).

Cover of the directory. Should've picked up a "Passport to the Shops" brochure...

List of stores in the directory.

The main map showing the layout of the mall and where everything is.

Insert with additional stores.

That insert mentioned does not mention that stores that closed, but I'm not sure of even that. I thought I had a "gotcha" I found that CC's Coffee Shop was still on the directory, as the Louisiana-based coffeeshop chain decided to pull the plug on their Texas stores in 2003, but other records indicate that the Willow Bend store lasted a year longer than the rest, so in spring 2004 it would've been still open.

Of course, it would be remiss not to add the fan website for the mall and the store listing as of 2009 including the brands' respective websites. Unfortunately, the archived version does not have a list of the charter tenants when it opened in September 2001, but it does have the "pre-release" tenants. Who knows how many actually opened.

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