Malls…remember?

We met the inlaws for lunch at a Chinaman (Chinaman is what city people call any Chinese restaurant in the City of St. Louis – is this a regional thing? Is it racist? Probably yes on both accounts is my guess) on our Monday holiday and I had to chuckle at my father in law a little bit when he said that he wanted to stop into Sears because they had shorts on sale.

When I think of Sears I think of hardware, tools and Craftsman tractors, not clothes. Well, strike that, I also think of husky kids because that’s where they used to have to buy their clothes when I was a kid. I don’t think they have a size called husky anymore outside of super hero costumes since “husky” isn’t politically correct.

C'mon kid, it'd be funnier if you dressed up as Fat Albert or something but whatever...

C’mon kid, it’d be funnier if you dressed up as Fat Albert or a panda bear or something but whatever…

That husky costume delighted me to no end when I saw it at Walmart last year, but exactly zero other people shared my enthusiasm so I’m trying it again.

Anyway, we hopped on over to Sears after stuffing our bellies full of MSG and iced tea so PawPaw could find him some short pants at the hardware store.

This particular hardware store is located in a shopping plaza filled with other stores that we used to refer to collectively as a mall.

Ah the mall. Does anybody still go to the mall on purpose?

I remember when going to the mall was a family event! We’d go out to eat and then hit the mall to walk around for a couple of hours looking at wacky posters and clothes in Spencer’s Gifts, getting a double scoop of rocky road from Swanson’s and, if we were really lucky and it was payday weekend, going to the arcade for a bit. Those were good nights.

Around my parts, many malls opened in the suburbs, and even the city itself opened two malls with much fanfare, Union Station and St. Louis Center. When the city malls opened, it was during a time when lofts weren’t really a thing and most urban flight had already taken place. That being the case, the malls were popular during the work day with people who’d actually spend money, but became a place for gangbangers and homeless folks to hang out and stay warm on the weekends. Eventually, the gangbangers were so abundant that one mall enacted a policy that forbade anybody from wearing a bandana on their person. In other words, if Aunt Jemima came into the mall, she’d be asked to remove her head wear or be escorted out of the building.

Sorry sweetie, take of the gang related head piece.

Sorry sweetie, take off the gang related head piece.

It caused a minor stink because most of the people coming into the mall wearing colored bandannas were black kids so, of course the policy was racist. Eventually, the city malls became ghost towns and today offer nothing useful to the average shopper.

Call it coincidence, but the most accessible suburban malls via public transportation (i.e. gangbangers with no other ride) from the city also became useless as shopping centers and eventually closed their doors.

The one we visited on Monday was doing pretty well it seemed even though there were as many places to buy cell phones and cell phone accessories as their were people shopping.

For a little while at least, I was actually enjoying myself as I walked around the mall taking in the sights like I used to. I noticed the Lids store had an old school Montreal Expos baseball hat that I’ve been wanting and stepped into the store to check it out.

Don't ask.  I just like it, okay!?

Don’t ask. I just like it, okay!?

$35.00 ‘merican!??

Well, unlike all the unemployed looking teenagers in the store, I didn’t have $35 to be spending on no baseball cap. I can get the same hat online for $15 less.

So, I left Lids shaking my head and wondering why anybody goes to a mall anymore if they can get the same damn thing for so much less money online.

I’m not sure if grandpa got his pants or not, but I did buy Mawmaw an ice cream maker that she’d been wanting, so the kids and I are looking forward to some home made ice cream. I checked online out of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised to see that the ice cream maker was $20 less at the Macy’s in the mall where I bought it than it was on Amazon.

You win this time, the mall. There may be hope for your future yet.

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62 Responses to Malls…remember?

  1. Christina says:

    I miss the mall like I miss candy cigarettes. When I was kids I loved sucking on those sticks of sugar? WTF was it? But I would sooner chew on my own toenail than suck on a candy cigarette now. It’s just not the same…

    • I think you’d be hard pressed to find those candy cigarettes anymore as they’re not safe for children! They may grow up thinking that cigarettes are ok! I liked the gum ones that you could blow and it sort of looked like smoke was coming from the end. Good stuff back then, but yeah, probably nasty today.

  2. I wonder the same thing every time I go to Target and shake my head in disappointment when they are out of everything, despite my attempt to give the actual store a chance before buying through Amazon Prime. PS: I was obsessed with Spencer’s gifts. Black lights and gag gifts ruled my day.

  3. CombatBabe says:

    Our mall is a joke now. It’s all Prada, Gucci, Fendi, etc. Before the most expensive store in there was Saks, now there is nowhere left to shop that isn’t a designer brand.

  4. findingninee says:

    HAHA to a Husky-sized SpiderMan costume and the label Husky in general. Also? Yeah, malls used to be so much cooler. My kid is an asshole in clothing stores (like he hides in the racks over and over and over while I become increasingly more anxious thinking that I’ll lose him forever because he’s freaking FASTER THAN ME), so we don’t really go anymore. Plus, hello to shopping online in my sweats at midnight. So. Much. Better.
    Um Chinaman? Yeah, I’d say it’s regional and racist. Did you buy the hat online?

  5. Jolene says:

    I think you can still find the HUSKY label at Walmart and JcPennys …..loved the costume….hahahaha…..but yeah, I never saw a “husky” spiderman!!
    As far as malls go ….. I try to avoid them at all costs because ….well people tend to annoy me. I can’t stand when you’re walking and the people in front of you just STOP and chat …never thinking to put on their personal blinker or merge on over to the side to avoid any sort of human traffic collision. I can’t stand those at the tiny mall kiosks with that person that wants to stop you so you can try their new hair straightener or new shoe polish……….I’m always pretending to be on my phone or I just simply ignore them. It irritates me to no end when a family of 5 or more take up the whole walk space never thinking that their holding up traffic….shit just move over!!!

    see you got me on my mall soapbox!!

  6. Melanie says:

    I heard even the suburban malls are having trouble. I ran into some pictures of the ghost-mall that was once Crestwood, and oooh eerie. I have to hear it because I don’t do malls (not to mention I’m a STL ex-pat). I don’t do shopping.

  7. Husky Spider Man, Aunt Jamima, and Montreal Expos – you hit a gold mine of classics today, Don.

  8. Mental Mama says:

    Only the ones in the western half of the city I live in are doing anything these days. The new fad here is “open air” malls. Yeah, great idea in the middle of the fucking country where half the year it’s freezing and the other half you damn near melt on your way between shops. Nice.

  9. love that you were racist and politically incorrect right up front and then you a pawpaw and mawmaw can enjoy your ice cream. perfect.

  10. MishaBurnett says:

    I don’t know of any one else in St. Louis who calls a Chinese restaurant a “Chinaman”, myself. So if it’s regional, it’s a very small region. Possibly just your house.

    As far as the Malls, go, yeah, it’s pretty grim. As an old North County guy, I got to watch Northwest Plaza dry up and blow away, but it was just the outlier and the others have followed. The Galleria is putting a brave face on it, but there’s a lot of empty spaces with cheerful plywood facades.

    Honestly, I think the economic model moved on. Malls made sense at one time, but the profit margin was always so slim that it only took a very small change in buying habits to make them nonviable. Once a few percentage points moved from in-store to online shopping, the rest was history.

    • I’d say it’s nearly the entire population of North City and a whole lot of the South Side that refers to a Chinese restaurant as “The Chinaman.” The DOAT clan does not. We call ours that place with the chocolate fountain and the always broken soft serve machine. You’re right about the Galleria. It’s not safe to shop there oftentimes and I would bet that the downturn in that facility coincides almost exactly with the opening of the nearby Metro Station. Northwest Plaza was sad to watch decline and that’s what Crestwood Mall went through as well.

      • MishaBurnett says:

        It’s kind of strange just how fragmented the St. Louis Metro are is, compared to other places that I’ve lived. It’s really not a big city so much as it is a bunch of small towns, all smooshed together.

        I live in Richmond Heights, for example, and while I tell people I live “in St. Louis”, I really don’t. I heard someone say once that St. Louis County has sixty-something separate police departments, even with all the towns that under the St. Louis County PD.

        So it’s really not unusual that there are slang expressions used in the city that I haven’t heard.

  11. Carrie Rubin says:

    One of the biggest, fittest, most highly armed cops I’ve ever seen up close and personal was at a mall near me. Needless to say, I don’t go there much. Then again, I hate malls, so even if they paved the floors with scented rose petals and serenaded me with a peppy Mariachi band, I still wouldn’t go.

  12. It’s been a while since I’ve considered a visit to the mall to be competition. Then again, most of the time, if I’m at the mall, it’s strictly for their movie theater or a Starbucks coffee. *High five* Great win!

  13. Our cute downtown is loosing out to our small (5 stores – 6 tops) mall, which is loosing out to Wal-Mart. Go figure.

  14. djmatticus says:

    A store actually had something you were looking for, AND it was cheaper than you could find it online? That’s crazy. I don’t even try anymore. I got too tired of driving to various stores looking for one thing (knowing I had gotten it there before) only to learn they didn’t carry it anymore so I was just going to end up ordering it online anyway.

    • Sadly, unless it’s something that I don’t have the patience to wait however long delivery takes, I’m all about online buying now. It’s almost always cheaper, and often a LOT cheaper.

      • djmatticus says:

        Yep. So, I’ve just gotten used to planning ahead so I don’t have to worry about delivery delays…
        The queen and I are often befuddled how the brick and mortar stores stay open because they never have anything we are looking for when we do venture in. Perhaps that’s more a reflection of who the store is trying to cater to, and that we should maybe find different stores to shop at…

  15. mollytopia says:

    Bahahaha “so PawPaw could find him some short pants at the hardware store.” The term (phrase?) short pants will never not crack me up…Also, heeey I was at the mall yesterday. But I don’t go a lot, which is why yesterday I was returning stuff I bought in March that I could never be bothered to wear. Then I bought more stuff I hope to wear before this coming March…Anywhich, I’m glad you got some ice cream out of the deal, but howcome you don’t know if PawPaw got his short pants? Did you leave him at the mall? Btw, we called my mom’s dad PawPaw, too : )

  16. ksujulie says:

    I remember my family making an evening out of going to the mall when I was little. No. No one does that anymore. Cabelas all night…maybe. (rolling my eyes)

  17. Laura Lynn says:

    Why’s everyone so down on malls?! Where else am I supposed to buy stuff? Boutiques? I’m not paying $100+ for jeans. I just want some Wranglers, maybe a belt. I don’t want to wander all over creation to find them, nor do I want to order on line. I want to try them on. And I might see something cool in one of those smaller stores. Like a barometer. Or one of those honey picker upper things which I always forget I want. Or something. In fact, I want something for my money, even if it is a shit show at the local Kohls, where nothing is hung up or where it should be logically. And to hell with Walmart, Target and Costco fall apart made in China crap. At least at the mall I can buy some jeans. Or short pants.

  18. Oh, getting dropped off at the mall on a late Saturday afternoon to meet up with my gal pals at the food court…good old days! I like the hat you want but when did caps start costing $35?!

  19. Blogdramedy says:

    Small town downtowns died off when big box stores and malls opened on the outskirts. If malls are fading, perhaps we’ll see a return to vibrant downtowns full of coffee shops where everyone’s online buying ball caps. *grin*

  20. Daile says:

    I have never heard of the term ‘HUSKY’ before. In Australia we call fat kids ‘fatty fatty boombalatty’

  21. Nothing sadder than the demise of a mall. One that I frequented when I was growing up, was quite sad by the time I was in college. Then sometime during the past 10 years or so, they brought in some huge box stores like Lowe’s. No more indoors mall. More like a strip mall now. But they’re doing brisk business, which is always good to see.

  22. mistyslaws says:

    First off, they do indeed still sell husky clothing.

    Second, I avoid our local mall like it’s contagious. There are certain times when I absolutely cannot avoid it, such as when I need to return something to the brick and morter store that I bought online because I don’t want to pay for shipping, or around Christmas time when I need to shop for the eleventy billion nieces and nephews who would much prefer a gift card but is against my hubs’ religion or some such nonsense. The mall at Christmas . . . shudder. I’m getting PTSD flaskbacks just thinking about it. Hold me?

  23. PinotNinja says:

    Indoor malls give me hives. But the open air malls that are prevalent down in my tropical neck of the woods are actually kind of nice. You look at the pretty landscaping, you’re soothed by the babbling of the water features, and you can meander between stores without having to worry about being mowed down by cars and taxis while you are trying to cross the street in a daze because the most perfect shoes ever are in the window just across the street.

    And, let’s be honest, what really sells me on the mall is the Ghiradelli employee who hands out free chocolate samples and doesn’t judge me for coming back for multiple samples in a one hour period. That guy is a class act.

  24. mike says:

    A longtime lurker here just saying that your blog friggin’ rules. As we say in Boston, it’s wicked awesome (nobody here says ‘pissah’).

    • While I’m a little disappointed to hear that pissah isn’t really said in Bahston, I appreciate the lurking. I always wonder who many of the non commenting lurkers are and now I know one! Thanks!

      • mike says:

        Pissah is more of a Maine thing, I think. We think people from Maine are sort of strange, if not well-meaning. Keep up the good work Don, you’re a (wicked) great read!

  25. Amber Perea says:

    Lol. I had that same reaction recently at the mall when my husband asked me if I needed shoes and I told him I wanted a new pair of chucks. We went by the store and I picked up a sweet neon pair (am I the only one stoked about the 80’s neon being back in style so I can buy it anywhere?) and the tag said $50. I nearly threw the shoes down.

    I found the same pair online for 20 big ones. Suck it, mall. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. flyingplatypi says:

    I still go to the mall for fun… But, I’m from Jersey. It’s kinds what we do round these parts.

    Hugs!

    Valerie

  27. gypsytrain says:

    What, no more husky section?! My mom and I still crack up laughing talking about my brothers “husky” clothes. He was damn proud of his huskies!

  28. Learning the hard way says:

    I love husky and portly too…good words and far nicer sounding than morbidly obese, right?

  29. pegoleg says:

    Yeah, but how much was the hat online?

  30. I went to a mall in March. I bought cell phone cases at a kiosk while my husband had new tires put on at Sears. I’m not sure he reviewed any husky wear…
    The mall smelled yummy, there was that.
    I probably won’t go back until Christmas, because there is something wonderful about malls at Christmas.

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