An Afternoon At The Mall

IMG_0631 shopping-mall

Yesterday was Saturday so my daughter, granddaughter and myself spent the afternoon at that uniquely American architectural phenomenon known as the mall!…. Living in the inner city in San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors has passed very strict measures against so called “big box’ stores like Target, Walmart, K-Mart, Save Mart, etc within the city limits….We have a few small, miniaturized versions that somehow found loopholes and escaped the stringent measures prohibiting them, but they are few and far between…

But it is nothing like the endless rows of strip malls in nearby Daly City, San Bruno, Millbrae, San Mateo, Sacramento, etc where entire generations of families and their children seem to exist and live their lives on a daily basis…The kids are called mall rats because they spend most of their time hanging out in the malls, meeting and making new friends, socializing, “hanging out” and avoiding family influence while their harried parents shop till they drop to get them the bargains they need….

I have to admit that I was the first in my family to drop, I lasted about a ½ hour before I had to leave the stores and find a bench to sit on….We had to drive across the county line to another county, San Mateo, to Serramonte, one of the older malls in the area, just to experience the unique flavor of the full mall experience, and they had big box stores as far as the eye could see!

The resting on the bench technique allowed me a unique opportunity to observe the shoppers as they strolled by, it was a non stop parade of people and they never stopped coming…There were mostly younger people, family people, all different ethnic and racial groups, democracy on parade…. Most of them were in their 30’s or 40’s, shopping for who knows what, bedding, linens, towels, jeans, shirts, blouses, shoes, cameras, jewelry, outdoor gear, tents, backpacks, you name it….They were all on a mission!

There were wolf packs of teenagers working their fingers to the bone on their cell phones as they strode by, or chatting animatedly either on the phone or with their friends or both simultaneously, always in a hurry…. There were determined housewives with mental lists and frowns of deep concentration, there were dazed and confused and overwhelmed men like me in tow or finally just giving up the endless walking down endless marble corridors on multi-layered levels and just searching for and finally finding a place to sit down and rest….

There were not that many older people that I noticed, and everybody seemed to be moving at a fast, very brisk pace to get to wherever they were going….The food courts were all packed, all the time, the escalators constantly conveying people to all the different levels and there were maps in glass cases at strategic positions to mark where you were (You are here!) and how to get to the stores you wanted…

Because as we all know, somewhere in these malls is a store that not only stocks it but specializes in whatever items you are searching for…That is the purpose of the mall, to have an available market place to buy and sell goods in one convenient location….The concept and placement of malls, or shopping centers, has been with us way longer than I had realized….

The Roman Emperor Trajan built the first mall, or shopping center almost 2,0000 years ago! According to my Google research: “ This market was constructed in Trajan’s forum and consisted of a semi-circular building with a large vaulted hall, resembling a basilica, on top. The Emperor’s market included an array of shops, all of which faced a corridor, allowing customers to view the products and goods for sale.

This center also featured several restaurants and bars, an important precursor to today’s mix of stores and shops included in shopping centers. The market consisted of several levels and more than 150 outlets that sold a wide variety of products including luxury clothing, silks, spices, and fresh food. Trajan’s Forum and the market were built nearly 2,000 years before the first recognized modern shopping center.”

OMG! Is there truly nothing new under the sun, even the Tuscany sun? Again, as per Google: “The modern shopping center, which includes the small suburban strip center as well as the million-square-foot super regional malls, originated in the 1920s. In California, grocery stores would serve as the anchor store for a collection of smaller surrounding stores.”

“In addition to factory outlets, entertainment centers played a crucial role throughout the 1990s. Seeking to incorporate forms of entertainment, shopping centers began to offer a variety of activities, such as children’s play areas, live music, movies in large, multiplex cinemas, food courts, amusement parks, merchandising techniques, robotic animal displays, and other interactive demonstrations.”

Well there you have it! The mall to me though has become a fixture of suburban life, it is here to stay, like it or not…The mall has supplanted the old concept of the neighborhood store that you could walk to and socialize with your neighbors on a daily basis….Those days have come and gone…

Not to mention that by maximizing stock and minimizing prices by making their profits by selling in bulk, the big box stores like Target, Wal Mart, K Mart Costco etc that define the malls have basically forced all the old neighborhood stores to close down, they simply cannot afford the competition…

Of course you need a car to get to these urban sprawls of merchandising mania, to get your goods and fetch them home, but all these new super malls have thousands of acres of parking spaces…But if you live in suburbia you already need a car to commute to your job in the city, so that is never an issue; the main gripe about malls is finding an available parking space!

All in all I found the trip to the mall very educational…I had not been in one in a while….Malls today have become the new focus of daily life in America, where you can purchase needed items, socialize, and spend your days in splendid isolation, crowded though it seems….Malls are meet and greet places as well as just a collection of shops selling merchandise…

Who knows, if you are lucky, you may even find true love in the mall, like in the Tom Petty song: “A Face In The Crowd”….You just never know….

2 thoughts on “An Afternoon At The Mall

  1. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog
    loading? I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Like

    1. Hi Brianne, I usually write my blog first, then hit ENTER to create space at the top of my blog, then hit ADD MEDIA button in upper left hand corner, then hit SELECT FILES which will take you to the picture you have picked out, then OPEN it and it will take you back to MEDIA LIBRARY and you will see the photo has been uploaded…Next hit INSERT INTO POST and the photo will appear in your blog post….You can click and drag it around for maximum positioning….Hope this helps you, John

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