Death of the shopping mall

This was discussed in another thread but it is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. That is to say how shopping malls are not where people shop anymore and how our societal changes are affecting this.

I used to shop at a shopping mall that is now the most famous dead mall in the country, probably the world. They are finally tearing it down after standing over 30 years vacant. This mall stands as a symbol of everything that has happened in the last 30 years or so, from societal changes, to the economy, to demographic changes, to even pop culture. Going by this mall reminds me quite clearly of my childhood.

This mall started with good intentions. It was constructed in the mid 60’s after having been the land of a golf course. My parents grew up down the street from there. My dad being the troublemaker he was then rode all through the golf course with his friends trying to destroy it. However it didn’t work and the construction started, and ended with a nice opening. For a few years it did quite well and was always busy. I would shop there often with my parents and many of my childhood memories were of shopping there and buying toys and clothes. However a few years later it was forced to close because the area changed from a working and middle class area to low income. The crime too expanded and the mall had its share of murders, rapes, and most especially burglaries. Around the time of its closing Hollywood came a calling. They were filming a now classic movie and wanted a mall to have a chase through. The mall scene is now one of the most famous car chases in movie history. My parents were asked to be extras in the movie and regret they turned this down. It was supposed to reopen but never did and housed a variety of things, from schools to offices.

Around the time of this iconic mall’s closing my parents, brother and I moved to a better area and we started shopping at another mall. For those who haven’t experienced this, being a middle class suburban girl during the 1980s meant mall shopping. I would spend hours with my friends buying, going to the movies (oddly the first mall never had a movie theatre)and eating at the McDonalds at the mall. This mall had two record stores and one was an independent record store where I found a lot of obscure New Wave/Punk records. A few years later this record store would become part of a chain, records would be replaced by CDs and New Wave/Punk would be collectively known as Alternative. In the 90s when I started making money as a model and in radio (though being honest being a model paid a lot more than radio)I would buy lots of CDs then. I also bought concert tickets at the local Carsons. Several years later I would get into the Beanie Baby craze and buy at the one store that sold them. I stopped shopping here when I noticed the demographics changing from a mixed crowd to a much younger troublemaker one. This mall is now listed as a dead mall because the anchors have moved out and the few stores left are now hip hop clothing or record stores. I now shop at a mall not far from where I live currently but I wonder how long before that too will close. The area is nice, but everyone shops elsewhere.

Why did malls change? Many reasons. In the 80s there was a mall culture because there wasn’t as much to do. Now there are more options. Also, in these two malls and their situation is both went from higher income to lower income and quite frankly lower income just doesn’t have money to spend on useless items. Now, even the middle and upper middle class shops at Wal-Mart and Target. With this economy even formerly well off are doing poorly. Others are just practical about what they buy.

4 thoughts on “Death of the shopping mall”

  1. Hanging out at the mall was never my thing. I want to go there, get what I want, and go back home.

    “Mall culture” may have done a lot to kill the malls due to the perceived need for increased security due to teenage shoplifters or the fear of shoplifters. I’m usually well-groomed, but well into my thirties, I got followed around by salespeople, but I’m the sort of shopper who can scan a store and see if there’s anything that I like, and if not, I leave quickly.

    A lot of parents used the malls as a sort of baby-stitting service for their children. They’d drop the kids off at the dodecaplex, expecting them to see whatever movie, but more often than not, the kids kept the money and hung out in the food court or wandered through the mall with their friends.

    As more women enterted the workforce, there were fewer poeple to shop during the day. Long before department stores closed, they closed their restaurants, and relied on the food courts that were built at the mall. The ladies’s lunch of three tea sandwiches and a cup of soup was replaced by McDonalds or a chain pizzeria.

    People respond to incentives. There’a a book titled “Cheap: the High Cost of Low Prices” that talks about how lower prices from discount stores killed the department stores, and how unsustainable their business model is. Going to the mall used to be a special event, like going to shop for Easter outfits or Christmas gifts, but as stores got smaller, the quality of goods declined and so did the clientele.

    Now we are in the position of making the best of bad choices. To greater and leser degrees, Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco dominate various segments of the retail market. We want one-stop shopping rather than have to drag our dead asses through the mall.

  2. The quality of goods has indeed declined.

    Remember all the solid and good and quality stores they used to have in the mall?

    Gone.

    What is there now are crappy, trendy sportswear stores, stocked full of junk made in China, made in Vietnam, made in India and made in every country but ours.

    You know the stores I mean.

    Count on buying something there that won’t last more than one season’s worth of laundering.

    Malls are no longer being built — the trend now is to build what they call a “lifestyle center.” What this is is nothing more than a glorified strip mall, usually comprised of 4 or more big box stores.

    We had a small mall that was filled with decent little stores. That mall was also good for the lunch crowd — employees on lunch break from their jobs would go to the mall, eat at the food court and then shop for the remainder of the time.

    That mall is long gone. It was demolished 4 years ago and in its place was built a 4 store big box “lifestyle center.” Waste of time. I do not shop in toy stores, baby shops, off price clothing stores (they are mostly seconds and other close outs from other crappy stores) and I have no need to buy any crappy modern furniture. And I rarely buy anything from the sporting goods store that is now in that mall.

    You also don’t see 100% occupancy in any mall.

    We’ve got a battle royale taking place at a location about one mile from where I live. There is a partially build brand new mall that has ceased construction; the workers were sent home 2 years ago.

    A nightmare amount of money was poured into that building; they started construction on it sometime in 2005. The original developers went bust and bankrupt; somebody else picked up the slack but that went by the wayside, too — and the mall’s construction was shut down 2 years ago. No more money.

    The building went up for sale in what was more or less a public auction. One big developer wanted it but changed their mind — enter Triple 5, a Canadian developer. They want the mall…

    But…. they also want our state to pump close to one billion dollars of public money into it to cmplete the construction.

    Public money is what funded the building in the first place; what a mess — there were pension funds from many states that were invested in this catastrophe. All the money is now gone and the building sits….

    Waiting and waiting and waiting for somebody else to pick up the slack…. again.

    A billion dollars? I can name many things that a billion dollars of our states’ money can buy: job creation programs, new schools in inner cities to replace the ones that are falling apart, reconstruction of roads, etc.

    This entire project is a mess. A billion dollars? they want 500M to refurbish the interior and 500M to construct a damn water park next to it.

    This thing will drain revenue from the other 15 malls within an hour or so driving distance…and then this thing will turn into a white elephant nobody wants to shop in. People will go…until the novelty wears off. So what good is the mall?

    And with HOW many malls within an hour’s driving distance??? This makes as much sense as a chocolate teapot.

    So far there has been no word about the developers getting the money they want. It’s been close to a year now that they’ve been making tracks to possibly get their hands on that maelstrom.

  3. A chocolate teapot? You may be on to something, rather like the ‘bread bowls’ that some places have for soup. The tea, of course, would have to be iced, and the vessel would have to be more like a glass than a teapot. But the name is clever.

  4. I have noticed that trend in what I call disposable items. Used to be you bought something that lasted for years and now you don’t. I do think the big box stores have replaced the malls (and the mom and pop stores)and it’s sad.

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