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Subject: the death of the American mall rss

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fightcitymayor
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It's been coming for many years, but I read some interesting facts about mall death today:

* The last new mall built in America was built in 2006. There have been none built since

* Retail analysts predict half of America's malls will close in the next decade

* The enclosed mall as we know it was invented in 1956 by an Austrian architect named Victor Gruen (a committed Socialist,) who hated the burgeoning strip-mall-type plazas that were defining suburbia and dreamed of a centralized place that evoked the pedestrian-friendly community of Vienna. In 1978, two years from his death, he disavowed shopping mall developments as having "bastardized" his ideas. "I refuse to pay alimony for those bastard developments."

Did you grow up going to the mall?
Do you have any good mall stories?




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Erik D
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Short Hills Mall in New Jersey (have to specify--NJ has the most malls per square mile in the country) has a bunch of weird fountains. When I was 10, my friend and I liked to try to throw coins into this one from the second floor:



We only got it in the orb once, but it was far better when we'd hit the side of it just right. The coin would ricochet and usually hit someone's head 20 feet away on the floor below us.
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Jeff G
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We landed a copter on the roof of one and barricaded ourselves inside. We eventually wiped out the zombies that were still inside the mall and lived a decent life until some bikers broke in and screwed things up.

Oh wait, that was Dawn of the Dead.
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Growing up, I went to the local mall all the time, mostly just to hang out, but sometimes I would actually buy things.

That mall was closed and demolished several years ago, and in it's place is a big "streets of whatever" concept, not quite a strip mall, not quite a commercial district, not quite a hip place to live, but some unholy hybrid of it all.

It's kinda sad in a way to see them going away, but on the other hand in today's digital shopping era, it's not all that surprising.
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Billy McBoatface
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I saw an article on the same topic. Apparently, the economic downturn, the returning interest in downtown/urban shopping, and internet shopping are all three hitting the big malls hard. I won't shed a tear, I was never much of a fan. They're less of an eyesore than strip malls are, but that's about their only positive to me.

In the early 90's there was a ghost mall near where I worked. Inside was all shuttered storefronts and dark hallways, but for some reason the movie theater and the mongolian grill restaurant were still open. It was weirdly cool to go through this desolate and abandoned place, see some light ahead, and...yes! Mongolian food!
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Wendell
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wmshub wrote:
yes! Mongolian food!


If you had ever eaten REAL Mongolian food, you wouldn't be saying 'yes!... ("Mongolian" food in the US is just Americanized Chinese food, with the word "Mongolian" attached to it to make it sound more exotic.)

But yeah, good riddance to the mall. Though I'm not sure the potemkin villages replacing them are much better. At least in a mall you could walk from one place to another without getting wet in the rain.

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Michael Carter
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The only reason why I go to the mall anymore is because that's where the movie theater is.
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fightcitymayor
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bulldog93 wrote:
We landed a copter on the roof of one and barricaded ourselves inside. We eventually wiped out the zombies that were still inside the mall and lived a decent life until some bikers broke in and screwed things up.

Oh wait, that was Dawn of the Dead.
Fun fightcitymayor fact: The mall where they filmed the original Dawn Of The Dead (Monroeville Mall) was the mall where I spent many hours as a teenager.


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Jeff G
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fightcitymayor wrote:
bulldog93 wrote:
We landed a copter on the roof of one and barricaded ourselves inside. We eventually wiped out the zombies that were still inside the mall and lived a decent life until some bikers broke in and screwed things up.

Oh wait, that was Dawn of the Dead.
Fun fightcitymayor fact: The mall where they filmed the original Dawn Of The Dead (Monroeville Mall) was the mall where I spent many hours as a teenager.




Now that's a small world!
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Gary Heidenreich
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Great site I used to read some years ago...

www.deadmalls.com

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Michael Edwards
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Great, the Seattle area has a few that are linked in the history of the modern shopping mall. Bellevue Square was opened in 1946, one of the fist post war malls. Northgate Mall, a place I have often visited, opened in 1950, and is cited as being the birth of the suburban shopping malls.

The Aurora Village Mall (an open air mall, built in 1960) was certainly one of the haunts of my childhood, and on through my teen years (as they had a video arcade there). They became enclosed in an effort to compete with the newly built Alderwood Mall, but it didn't work. All the original buildings are gone, it's now just a few strips of businesses, a Costco, and a Home Depot, with no mall structure.

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Michael Edwards
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fightcitymayor wrote:
* The last new mall built in America was built in 2006. There have been none built since


I'm assuming they mean enclosed malls, or the article was done before an open air mall opened in Salt Lake City in 2012.
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Billy McBoatface
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fightcitymayor wrote:
Fun fightcitymayor fact: The mall where they filmed the original Dawn Of The Dead (Monroeville Mall) was the mall where I spent many hours as a teenager.


I spent a few hours there as a teenager too. I went to college nearby and two or three times took the bus out to the mall to buy something that wasn't available closer. I knew of the DotD connection and was sad to learn that the skating rink was closed down.
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Chris Robbins
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That's where the game stores are/were. I'd take the shortest route through someone's door to get in and out.
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I stopped going to Christiana mall in Delaware when they wouldn't let the Salvation Army set up it's kettles at Christmas. They said the bell ringers "disrupted" the customers.
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Erik D
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Orangemoose wrote:
I stopped going to Christiana mall in Delaware when they wouldn't let the Salvation Army set up it's kettles at Christmas. They said the bell ringers "disrupted" the customers.


In fairness, having to listen to that bell ringing for hours is annoying as hell. I always feel bad for the hot dog vendors stuck next to them.
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You could tell a parallel story about the death of the American video arcade along with the death of the American mall. I used to love going to the video arcade at the NorthGate Mall in Tullahoma, TN. But that arcade is of course long gone now. At one point the mall itself was all but dead. But now it is coming back, although it has totally different kinds of stores now than what it used to have. It's like a completely different place from what it was when I was a kid.

Edit: Ninja'd by Drew.
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Andy Andersen
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And Christiana mall was going to try and "update" itself by setting up some Internet Shops - where you could shop on the internet, have it sent to the mall store and go pick it up.

Somebody in their management may have a few screws loose.
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Chris Robbins
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Leezer wrote:
You could tell a parallel story about the death of the American video arcade along with the death of the American mall. I used to love going to the video arcade at the NorthGate Mall in Tullahoma, TN. But that arcade is of course long gone now. At one point the mall itself was all but dead. But now it is coming back, although it has totally different kinds of stores now than what it used to have. It's like a completely different place from what it was when I was a kid.

Edit: Ninja'd by Drew.


You should've seen Tullahoma when the only shopping was downtown. New school clothes meant going to Nashville. And the only grocery store of any size was a Piggly Wiggly. The nearest hospital was in Manchester.
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This is a topic I find intensely fascinating. I was a mall baby growing up in the late 80s and all through the 90s (heck, I guess I still am a mall baby, to whatever degree you can still be.)

We have a mall in Hunstville, AL called Madison Square Mall. When it opened in 1984, it was a bonanza. Almost 930,000 square feet. I spent so much time in there growing up, from game stores, to the video arcade, to the food court, bookstores, you name it. That's where my friends and I hung out on the weekends, cramming quarters into fighting games and eating greasy food court pizza. It was a destination.

Fast forward to today, Madison Square is weezing and dying. It sits right now at about 57% occupancy, with many darkened store fronts. The food court, once a place so crowded you would literally have to go grab a table while your friends ordered their food and then tag out when they got back, now has four restaurants. It once had 13. Sbarro's was the latest to leave, and as I've read they are a company that once thrived on mall business and are now on the ropes for that very same reason.

The only reason to go there at all is that there is a used video game store in there (you know, those cool kind that existed before Gamestop bought up all of them.) My son is a retrogamer, which is hilarious because he's 13. He'd rather play obscure and hard-to-find RPGs on the Gameboy Advance and Gamecube than a lot of what is released today.

(I don't know where he gets that. Honest.)


Speaking of Gamestop, the biggest shock to me lately was that Gamestop had moved out. (When that leech leaves a host, you know it's on its shakiest of legs.) It made me kind of sad because when they left, that was the last of the DNA of the Waldensoftware I used to shop at religiously as a kid and a teen. More often than not, that's where I got my games. And this goes back all the way to the Commodore 64--yep, the very first reason I ever went into that store.

Of course over the years, EB ate Waldensoftware, Software ETC moved into the mall upstairs, Gamestop ate them both, and it was slow to rebrand but finally became a Gamestop officially in the mid-2000s. Now, it's gone. It's weird that this makes me sad, because I really don't like Gamestop.


Internet sales definitely put a dent in the livelihood of malls, but they weathered that storm for the most part until the pair of economic downturns in the 2000s. Not only did that turn more folks online where they could get cheaper prices, but when these big chains went out of business, there were few companies that could fill those big store fronts. Think of all the big retailers lost in that decade....and think of some of the large mall storefronts they had. Who can fill those? There aren't many companies left that are not already established who can. I mean, sure, Wal-Mart could latch itself on to a big mall, but...why would they? They'd get nothing from the deal.


But damn it, whenever this topic comes up I always end up going to one of the dead mall sites and reading them. Oh well, just count the next hour lost, thanks a bunch, guys.

laugh
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Ken B.
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Leezer wrote:
You could tell a parallel story about the death of the American video arcade along with the death of the American mall. I used to love going to the video arcade at the NorthGate Mall in Tullahoma, TN. But that arcade is of course long gone now. At one point the mall itself was all but dead. But now it is coming back, although it has totally different kinds of stores now than what it used to have. It's like a completely different place from what it was when I was a kid.

Edit: Ninja'd by Drew.



Oh geez, man. FUN TUNNEL. When my parents would take me to Tullahoma, I'd twitch nervously throughout the meal at Bohnanza, with that glistening, gleaming FUN TUNNEL sitting right next door. It was torture waiting for the meal to end.

They were, bar none, one of the best arcades I ever had the pleasure of going to, even after getting to see many, many more of them. They always had a nice mix of tried and true and experimental games (the only arcade where I ever saw a Thayer's Quest cabinet, for example.)
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I can't find a single picture of the last mall arcade I went to. It was in the West Main mall in Kalamazoo. Star World was awesome. I blew so many quarters there over the years. Now it's long since been torn down and a Lowes sits in it's place.
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wmshub wrote:
Apparently, the economic downturn, the returning interest in downtown/urban shopping, and internet shopping are all three hitting the big malls hard. I won't shed a tear, I was never much of a fan. They're less of an eyesore than strip malls are, but that's about their only positive to me.


(Emphasis mine)

I sort of hope those two things keep them dead. They are, as you note, less offensive than endless 'strip malls'... but only just. Seeing downtowns revitalized and the shopping districts that used to be there coming back, again...I do LOVE seeing that.

Malls were a bastard attempt to try to re-create some of the value 'downtown in the city' delivers, but for suburbanites too terrified to venture into the city, proper. Inefficient, and a ridiculous waste of space!
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Another local mall of mine had a tiny arcade. Maybe 20 cabinets. As an 8-year-old, I would check the coin return of each machine about 20 times because my mom wouldn't give me more than a dollar to play (and that would last about 5 minutes).

The manager told me to stop because I wasn't going to find anything. At that exact moment, I found a quarter in a Galaga machine and smugly showed it to him. He kicked me out.
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XanderF wrote:
wmshub wrote:
Apparently, the economic downturn, the returning interest in downtown/urban shopping, and internet shopping are all three hitting the big malls hard. I won't shed a tear, I was never much of a fan. They're less of an eyesore than strip malls are, but that's about their only positive to me.


(Emphasis mine)

I sort of hope those two things keep them dead. They are, as you note, less offensive than endless 'strip malls'... but only just. Seeing downtowns revitalized and the shopping districts that used to be there coming back, again...I do LOVE seeing that.

Malls were a bastard attempt to try to re-create some of the value 'downtown in the city' delivers, but for suburbanites too terrified to venture into the city, proper. Inefficient, and a ridiculous waste of space!
Yeah, but downtown Kalamazoo is a horrible mess of one-way streets and overpriced parking. I avoid going there as much as possible. I've had the same issues with other cities. Sure I can come to your store, drop $10 just to bloody park, and then buy some shoes.
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