Monday, July 17, 2017

Most Malls Are Obsolete

 Back in the day, going to the mall was an event.
No, not that it was a big deal but in that it was the spot to be to meet friends, meet girls, see a movie and (most of the time) just to be seen.

During the heyday of mall culture most were pretty much the same as any other.
Most had a few anchor stores and lots of smaller local, regional and national shops.

 I lived in a developing suburb.
Our malls were not the destination models still thriving today.
Our malls catered to local tastes and local economies.

For 'better' goods and services we'd travel to the more upscale malls in the O.C. or in L.A..

 If we saved enough of our allowance, birthday money, lawnmowing/paper route/babysitting money and Christmas money we could shop at Buffum's (Now defunct.)
Buffum's  Had the requisite snob-appeal required to impress our friends out in the sticks.

Then there was Bullock's (also defunct)...
 and I Magnin (defunct).
If we shopped at these stores we were ballin'.

Sure, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and (later) Norstrom were around,
but they still exist.

Consolidation seemed like a good idea at the time but malls are losing anchors at an incredible clip.

How did Southern California lose its venerated Buffum's, Bullocks and I Magnin stores in favor of a failing Macys/Federated string of mergers and acquisitions?

I don't even shop at malls anymore - online is just easier.

Locally our store if choice was a regional chain named Harris'.
The original store was intended to be the anchor of a redevelopment project of the neighboring town of San Bernardino.
The brands were relatively high-end, the service was good and the female workers were more attractive than the surrounding population.
But being located in the gang and crime infested town of San Bernardino was more than the store could overcome.

A second store was built in neighboring Riverside in their new open-air mall.

The open-air concept and mix of stores was a hit and the mall prospered by catering to the needs of the local economy.

But then the 80's hit and competition from newer or expanded malls forced the mall owners to attempt a makeover.
The mall was enclosed to resemble the other malls in America.
The tacky styling of the era soon looked worn out and dated and the mall was on the verge of closure.

What else could the struggling mall do besides return to its roots as a local lifestyle center

(What's funny is that it's original Jetson's-style marquee from the fifties looks more modern than the new contemporary version.)

The mall is doing better now with its curated mix of tenants.
When I'm home I always seem to stop by the mall for lunch, a movie or just to be seen.

But one company seems to be on a roll.
Simon Property Group owns or operates five of the ten best performing malls in the country.
The company owns The Mills outlet malls and many destination properties throughout the country.

The mall concept itself isn't necessarily dead - it just seems as though the old standard way of doing things is.
Malls have to learn to keep updated in order not to become outdated.

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