Growing up our family frequented malls. When we adventured to new places, we skipped allot of natural tourist spots such as the worlds largest ball of yarn and the side of the road worlds best bar-b-que and opted for a day at the mall. To us a mall was not only free, but it was also a way to really delve into a community’s culture. The mall is the melting pot of a community, it’s vast array of shops, activities, and restaurants makes it a natural hub for all members of society. My brothers and I loved the mall experience.
Each mall was unique in its theme, and the shops it offered sometimes varied, while there remained some that still connected you to home. I often plundered even my most walked about shops for hours all the same, as product varied based on availability, based on community demand, or strategic regional marketing. The Walden’s Books of Dallas may have a priceless gem to add to my R.L. Stine collection that my hometown may not ever keep in stock (which was often the case). Some malls were vast and well kept while finding new unique ways to explore and allow the customer the experience of their unique mark. A mall with the theme of the busy city streets may have fake snow flying across the mall pathways, while a more subdued mall that prides itself in the arts may have marble flooring and unique contemporary works of art lining our paths.
My brothers and I would curl our toes in excitement upon pulling up to a new (to us) mall. Observing the outside I’d look first how are the skylights? Are they architecturally appealing or pretty basic? Are the walls of the building concrete, brick, or are they glass? What is the structural lay out, will this be a basic hall or a spanning and exciting labyrinth? Chase, my brother, and I would have a list of specific shops we hoped each mall would have, and the fun was to avoid the directory at all cause and just lose ourselves in the magnificent halls. He of course, a boy of 9, would be searching curiously for a KB Toys or Game Exchange for a great trade in price on some exotic game. And I, a teenage girl of 15, sought long and far for the exotic collections of a Romancing the Stone or the glowing corner of cavorting lava in a Spencer’s Gifts.
Food Court time the boys would most likely enjoy a pizza while my mother and I always bonded over our passion for shitty mall asian food. It is still a passion of mine today, and then of course an hour later when the MSG would settle and we were starved again we would venture to bask in some local caffeinated brews.
When I first started working in the mall my friends, acquaintances, and various co-workers would shudder, “I hate the mall.” I didn’t understand it, I would ponder further and receive answers much like, “too crowded”, “too expensive”, “all the same.” It broke my heart they couldn’t see the unique treasures they held, especially as our nation’s malls broke out into an epidemic of permanent closures which many were able to casually file the blame under an effect of our country’s financial plunder, but I believe it’s more on the poor mismanagement by mall development companies such as CBL and GGP.
I wanted these individuals to see the beauty in the mall. It wasn’t about purchasing or shopping, it was about experiencing. It was about experiencing cultures, it was about experiencing the products, or as we saw it the endless variety of wonder the world had to provide. It was about the hunt, and the excitement of losing yourself in an unknown territory. It was about the terribly delicious indulgences and the stunning displays of wonder. It was about allowing your imagination free, because anything was possible.
What were your favorite mall stops?