Ever since I can remember, I have loved going to the mall. Back in the day it was called a shopping centre and was open to the elements before expansion closed in all sides and made it THE place to go for all your shopping needs. Today, malls tend to be dying a slow and predictable death as online shopping opportunities offer the convenience and speed today’s society demands. So now we have a choice: online or in line.
I’ll be the first to admit that standing in a long line to complete a purchase in a store is a drag and often, an exercise in frustration. And I’ll also admit to having made various online purchases over the years for items that I know will not need to be returned for any reason. But brick and mortar stores are still essential even if all their products can be purchased with a computer mouse’s click. Shoes? Clothing? I like to try them on in the store to know if they are keepers and then either leave with them or leave them behind. When purchased online, there is convenient home delivery but if they don’t fit, you need to repackage them and head to the post office to return them only to stand in line there! And that’s not very convenient.
Malls have a complete entertainment value beyond their range of retailers. They are a colourful feast for the eyes as window shopping yields such a vast array of tempting items we may want to investigate further. Note to store clerk: please don’t follow me around as I browse. I’m really not going to steal anything and I just might buy something if you smile and keep your distance. Don’t force me to make an online purchase!
Not only are malls great for indoor walking in inclement weather, there is the ever-popular food court where one can indulge in all kinds of culinary calorie overloads and then walk them off later. For every three burger/hotdog/pizza counters, there is one resto offering healthy salads that helps us justify getting that donut at the next counter. Malls are the perfect place to meet friends for a few hours of shopping or chatting over coffee and let’s not forget people watching. For decades, teenagers have met at the mall to hang out with friends and as a senior, I enjoy doing the same thing today. My senior friends and I wander around for a while and then are grateful for the numerous sofas and benches where we can sit and rest our arthritic bones. In December, it is still heartwarming to see little children lined up to sit on Santa’s lap for a photo op and where else can you do that but in a mall?
To see some malls with a large percentage of their stores shuttered and abandoned is truly depressing. For each store that closes, jobs are lost, families are affected and the mall itself begins to resemble a ghost town with only the tumbleweeds missing. But as we move forward as a society, this seems to be inevitable. We are so pressed for time that a mall outing is more of a chore than a pleasure and online shopping offers us conveniences we could never have imagined just a decade ago. Unless we keep making purchases at brick and mortar stores, we doom them to bankruptcy and that is a sad commentary on how we are evolving.
For me, the mall will always be a special place with a spirit of its own. It is certainly a more fun place to be than sitting in front of a computer screen clicking a mouse. So, drop the mouse and get out of the house. Go spend some time and money at the mall.