NICKELL MALL, Conn.
— The Natick mall is in a state of disarray.
It’s packed with clothes.
The floors are dirty.
A large, new, empty refrigerator is sitting on the ground.
Its contents include two small plastic bins and two boxes of cereal.
Natick is the latest in a long list of malls that have closed in the past year, including the Chicago Mall, a shopping center in West Chicago that closed in January and then reopened last month.
The mall’s owners, The Walt Disney Co., have spent tens of millions of dollars on repairs and renovations, but they’ve not returned to the level of grandeur that marked the old mall.
Its owner, the Walt Disney Company, said in a statement that it is “working with our partners to reopen the Natick Market and create a more exciting and inviting shopping environment that we believe our guests will love.”
But the old Natick had something special.
In 1955, a group of local men and women, working with the Walt Family, bought the mall and renamed it Natick.
That name, of course, is a play on the words “nativity” and “mother,” meaning the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The original Natick opened in 1956 and has been open for nearly 40 years.
Naticking, which means “northern,” is in the North Country about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of Boston.
Many of its stores are closed to the public and closed for renovations.
There’s no store in town that will open again, but there are plenty of old shopping centers and shopping malls across the country that are struggling to stay open.