Death Of An American Institution? I Hope Not…


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When I was younger, I couldn’t even begin to count how much of my time was spent hanging out at the Colony Square Mall. For anyone my age, once you got a car, the thing to do was to cruise Maple Avenue and then hit the mall for dinner and hang out at the Gold Mine Arcade. Nowadays, I don’t know what kids are doing to “hang out” (if they even do that anymore), but I can pretty much guarantee it’s not spending time at the mall. I don’t know if you’ve been to a mall lately, but unless you live in a pretty high end part of town that has money to burn, the American mall has seen better days.

Last night I went for a walk. I’m in Mobile, Alabama, staying at a Marriott that is located near a mall and I thought it would be a good idea to get some exercise. So I’m walking through a practically empty parking lot and when I get into the main part of the mall, I swear I see maybe 10 people throughout my entire walk! Now, granted, this IS a Tuesday night in small town America so I wouldn’t expect the place to be jammed with people however…I can guarantee that there were more people working than there were people shopping at the mall on this particular night. A quick glance out my window here tonight and I can tell that it’s pretty much the same thing. So…what is to happen to the right of passage of our youth? What happens when the malls start to close and the doors are shut and all that is left are big empty buildings that no one can use? The thought of it almost makes me sad actually…

Hours upon hours, quarter after quarter, I spent a better part of my childhood in my hometown mall. It’s where my friends gathered to talk, eat, see a movie, cause a little trouble. It’s how we socialized! Now…I guess kids do it on their cell phones or online. Human interaction is being shoved aside by technology and the American mall is suffering because of it. And it’s not just the kids. Parent and adults are ordering online more and more also. Why leave the comforts of your expensive home when you can order all your crap right there with a click of a button? Why would you fight crowds and pay MORE at a mall when you can head on over to Gap.com and get those jeans you want without paying a shipping cost? It makes sense that the American mall suffers. For how many years did we overpay for things because the cost of renting a space at the mall is so expensive? So now we have businesses moving out as fast as they can, setting up shop online and not even bothering to try to get that primo spot near Victoria Secret (see Sears or Pac Sun or JC Penney or that comic book shop that had every Spiderman issue you could think of).

20130123-194654.jpgWho WOULDN’T want that primo spot, huh?

It’s hard for me to imagine an American institution more important to my childhood than the mall. Now when I take my kids to visit their grandparent, I take them and my Mom to the mall for lunch whenever I can and we walk. Granted, there usually aren’t all that many people there, but I like to shop a little bit, maybe buy the kids something and we always eat at Wendy’s. It’s a little slice of heaven for me even though a lot of people would probably say I’m crazy. For me, the mall IS my youth. And despite the fact that it seems to be dying off, I miss the social aspect that it brings to our society. A Friday or Saturday night out on the town ALWAYS meant a trip to the mall and it was a safety net of sorts. If we were at the mall, we weren’t off doing something we shouldn’t have been doing. Now…without that net…who is to say WHAT kind of mischief our kids are getting into? Think about THAT, computer shopping mothers!

So get out there America and SHOP and BUY things at your local mall! I’m gonna start a campaign now…SAVE THE MALL! If you’re in your car and you got a few minutes, go walk through your local mall and pick yourself up a little something. You know you deserve it and you’ll be saving a part of your childhood…or, at least a part of MY childhood. Oh…and go check out the new version of the Gold Mine…which is now a Glo Putt. And I’m not sure exactly what I think of that…

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