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The Evolution of the Cloverleaf Mall

Address: 321 Speen Street, Natick, MA, 01760

Original Facility built: 1978

Construction Stage: Continual

New Facility opening: N/A

Known stores in former: Kmart, Service Merchandise, Paperama, The Paper Warehouse, Papa Gino's, K&G Men's Warehouse, Debby's Petland, Software Etc., Beauty-Rama salon, Hammett's Learning World

Current stores: Ethan Allen, DirectTire, Burlington Coat Factory, Michaels, Guitar Center, Elan Salon and Day Spa, Golfers' Warehouse

Mall (Store) website: None

News stories: Ethan Allen Unveils New Store Design In Natick, Massachusetts

Nestled in the shadows of the Natick Mall lies the Cloverleaf Mall, a fairly small mall. From 1950 until 1977, the site housed the Natick Drive-In, a drive-in theater. However, the theater saw smaller crowds in its later years and sold itself to development. The land that the theater was on became the Cloverleaf Mall as well as a Ramada Inn. That Ramada Inn today is the Hampton Inn. For more information about the Drive-In, check out the link below.

Originally, the Cloverleaf Mall was anchored by a Kmart and a Service Merchandise, along with a Paperama and a variety of stores in between the two in a long corridor. I can recall at least a bookstore as one of these, and Debby's Petland as another (Debby's Petland later relocated to Rte. 9 in Framingham near the notorious "Bra Bridge"). One problem for the mall's Kmart was that the store opened during construction of the "beetleback" which connects Speen Street and Route 9. Because of this, many potential Kmart shoppers were unable to find the entrance to the store. Alas, the Cloverleaf Mall's Kmart did not last for long and soon become a Burlington Coat Factory.

However, in the early 1990's, the mall was changed from the original, mall-like format to more of a big box based format. Much of the mall's space was transformed into a Michaels crafts store, with an exterior entrance but no mall entrance. The large Paperama and Burlington Coat Factory tenants remained, both accessible only through the mall. So did the Papa Gino's, Beauty-Rama salon, and Service Merchandise, with both a mall and exterior entrance. The mall's interior was also remodeled around this time, gaining new while paint on the walls and funky neon lights on the ceilings and at the tops of the walls. The interior changes were mostly meaningless; however, as there were very few true mall stores left.

Soon after the remodel, many changes began to take place. Paperama changed its name to The Paper Warehouse, before the entire chain was shuttered. Taking advantage of the closure, Burlington Coat Factory expanded their store into The Paper Warehouse's space. A DirectTire store was added on to the left side of the mall. Also at this time, Service Merchandise began to close their mall entrance. Some days, the entrance would be open, some days not. Eventually, Service Merchandise's mall entrance was boarded up and shelves were placed inside the store where the entrance was. With so much of the mall corridor empty, the mall owners leased much of the mall's corridor to Guitar Center. To enter the Guitar Center, one would use the mall's alternate entrance near Papa Gino's. Immediately after passing Papa Gino's and Beauty-Rama, shoppers would be in the store. With Guitar Center in much of the mall's corridor, Burlington Coat Factory was now connected to a mall corridor to nowhere. Burlington Coat Factory soon took over the remainder of the mall corridor, making it into the more store space, while the original entrance to the mall became the store's new entrance, and the letters reading Cloverleaf Mall were replaced with ones that read Burlington Coat Factory. However, the mall's 1990s logo remained atop the new Burlington Coat entrance, and is still there to this day. The mall also gained some additional space at this time, as a K&G Men's Superstore was added on new space adjacent to the DirecTire store.

Given how much the mall had changed and with only a few unrelated big-box stores as tenants, Papa Gino's saw its traffic count skyrocket to the ground, and closed by this time. Beauty-Rama also closed as well. Around 2004, Hammett's Learning World relocated from the Natick Mall into those stores' spots at Cloverleaf. However, in January 2005, Hammett’s announced that all retail stores would soon be closed, with the Cloverleaf Mall store closing shortly after. In June 2006, Elan Salon and Day Spa opened a location in the space. Finally, Service Merchandise, whose location had not been updated since the mall opened, finally closed when the company shut down.  Service Merchandise eventually became a location of Golfers' Warehouse. The K&G Men's Superstore was demolished to create an new Ethan Allen concept store, but with an entrance facing Route 9 instead of the mall's parking lot. When the Ethan Allen store opened in 2003, the store was seen as so important to the company that the corporate CEO went to the grand opening.

Around 2003, plans were presented to the Natick Planning Board regarding the proposed construction of a 10-story apartment complex in the Cloverleaf Mall's parking lot. If constructed, the building would consist of a large amount of Chapter 40B apartments, and would not result in any demolition or changes to the mall's footprint. At present, a legal battle is brewing between the Town of Natick and Cloverleaf Apartments LLC over the issue, regarding the town failing to approve the project.

My Pictures: Taken June 18, 2006

Golfers Warehouse

Golfers' Warehouse. Previously, this spot housed Service Merchandise.

Elan salon

Elan Salon and Day Spa, which opened at Cloverleaf Mall in the former location of Papa Gino's and Hammett's in June 2006.

My Pictures: Taken May 8, 2004

Ethan Allen

Ethan Allen/Cloverleaf

Media: Picture of liquidating Service Merchandise from this page

Related Links: Natick Drive-In


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