You’re online right now. You likely bought something this past week online…and I bet in the past week, you likely did NOT go to the mall.
Well, I went to the mall for the first time since August 2011, according to my Foursquare check-in app. That surprised me. I had just gone there for some small items I couldn’t justify the cost of shipping to purchase these small items online.
As I walked around, I was dumbstruck with how empty this mall was. It’s a mall that was built in 1982, opened in 1983.
Of course the anchor stores were there…though incredibly empty, which is to be expected at 11 AM on a Tuesday in Summer (after local schools started). However, not only were the stores people empty, but they were also business empty. Dozens of small stores that were there just one year ago: gone. The color matched construction boards, which used to say “Coming Soon…[fill in store name here]” were monochromatic, in sync with the color scheme for that part of the mall.
And it wasn’t JUST in that “one part of the mall” that is in every mall that is so out of the way that it resembles a scene from “Lora Croft: Tomb Raider” — often including the dangling cobwebs…but always sans Angelina Jolie. This state of “transition” was in every part of the mall, including the big anchor stores. The state of “transition” appears to be perpetual. And they were surprisingly abundant.
Now, it could be the fact that this mall, which was the largest between Chicago and LA when it opened is just old and a relic. It’s been well-kept over the years. The landlords appear to invest in the property. However, the excitement that Moon Unit Zappa shouted about in her hit “Valley Girl” about going to the Gall-a-ree-ahhh has passed.
I wound up spending $3.38 for fuses for my radar detector that burnt out. And I went to get a lobster clasp for my sterling necklace that broke — for which I recieved an estimate of $120 to fix from a chain jewelry store. Yes, $120!!! This either showed that they didn’t know what they were doing, or are JUST THAT OVERPRICED. (And all I need is the lobster clasp — no soldering…just the claw that keeps the necklace from falling off.)
Now, for sure the state of the economy has something to do with what I saw today (or the prices I ran into today)…but I suspect that I am also not unique: I now relegate my local “bricks and mortar” to things I can’t justify the shipping for — the low priced items.
However, I am also going to bet that like many others – like those reading this now – I am shopping online for those higher priced items for which the shipping is a relatively small convenience charge. Assuming I am normal and indicative of others like me, then the prospects of malls remaining a viable competitor for items which can be shipped are SEVERELY numbered.
The mall is no longer a “hang out”. The mall is no longer a cornucopia of retail (which the internet has become). The mall is no longer convenient. The mall is no longer inviting… In short, the mall is no longer…viable.
Well, it’s not going to survive on $3.38 fuse purchases and $120 lobster clasps. I did stop at Tokyo Joe‘s though…the highlight of the day.