Can Malls Make It?

Go While You Can

When was the last time you took a trip to your local shopping mall? Did it look like a ghost town? Did you hear a whistling sound, as tumbleweeds rolled through the food court? Things have certainly changed in the retail world in recent years. Gone are the days when armies of harried Christmas shoppers stormed the concourses, trying to get that special something for their loved ones. As much as I loathed dragging our sons through Lakeside or Macomb Mall during the Christmas season, I’m surprised that I kind of miss it now.

Let me be perfectly clear, I generally despise malls. My Christmas shopping usually consists of targeted strikes on unsuspecting retailers. I’m in and out like a ninja, before they even know I’m there. Mission accomplished, as I fade into the night like Batman. However, this time of year tends to make everyone wax nostalgic, even about things they hated back in the day. Christmastime makes me feel that way about shopping malls. I remember when we would take our boys to see Santa, then running after them as they charged into every toy store in the place. All the while, making mental notes of the toys they were checking out. Targeted Market Research.

It’s no secret that malls are in trouble. Our digital world has certainly turned many retail warehouses into the aforementioned ghost towns. They’re victims of what I like to call The Kodak Syndrome. Kodak failed to see the handwriting on the wall when it came to digital photography, and they paid a heavy price. Bankruptcy. Malls are staring down that same gun barrel. With online shopping choices like Amazon, eBay, Overstock, Wayfair, and many more, they’re struggling to compete. I’ve always thought that stores should try an online / brick & mortar approach. The best of both worlds. Many of them are finally trying this method, but it may already be too late.

Since we had an early snowfall this year, it’s put me into Christmas-mode way earlier than usual. We’re planning on multiple trips to Partridge Creek Mall this holiday season. It’s a suburban outdoor mall, that has somehow managed to thrive in a cold-weather climate. The outdoor lighting display, cozy fire pit area, and shoppers strolling along with their dogs are experiences you don’t get at your local mall. Maybe that’s the hope for these mega-retailers, more outside-of-the-box thinking. I know it’s worked for Partridge Creek.

So this Christmas season, I suggest you visit your local mall for some shopping and reminiscing. Who knows? It might be gone by next year. Do me a favor while you’re there, grab me a cookie at Mrs. Fields. Happy Shopping!

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Black Friday Madness

Jingle All The Way!

Whatever happened to Black Friday Madness? Back when you’d get up at 4 am and freeze your butt off, just to get a great deal on a PC or High Def TV. Do you remember watching all those live news reports about the carnage? Ambulances were standing by, just in case the savages got out of control. It was a scene straight out of Jingle All The Way. Jamie wants a Turbo Man! Things have certainly changed over the years. Nowadays, you get up before the crack of dawn, spend a few minutes online, and bam! Your Christmas shopping is done and you can head back to bed.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s still Black Friday Madness out there. However, with many stores opening right after Thanksgiving dinner, it’s stolen a lot of Black Friday’s thunder. Online shopping has dealt an even bigger blow. Gone are the days of waiting in line on a frigid morning with a mob of rabid shoppers. When the doors opened, they would charge through the gap like a pack of hungry wolves. There once was a TV commercial where some unlucky slob got to be the one to open the doors. All of his co-workers were still wrapped in bandages from previous Black Fridays. Funny stuff.

I only participated in this chaos once. Back in the day, when DVD players were still all the rage. My oldest son and I got up at 5 am to get to Walmart, for a special deal on an Apex DVD Player. This piece a crap lasted about a year, then died. However, I’ll never forget that freezing morning as we stood in line with the rest of those crazy people. There’s a certain camaraderie that develops among the crowd. It’s all about surviving a shared experience. Like boot camp, for example.

However, once those doors opened, it was every man or woman for themselves. Like ziplining, parasailing, and whale watching, it’s an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lives. If nothing else, it gives you a good story to share over Christmas dinner. So sharpen up those elbows and happy bargain hunting!

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