Malls were supposed to be a convenience. A place where you can buy everything and anything you needed. A place to meet friends and have lunch. The place where your kids can take a picture with Santa and then at the end of the day even see a movie. Yes those were the days, the fantasy until reality set in. Until the bad guys knew where the good guys were hanging out. Then you heard the news stories. The horrible news stories of crimes being committed at malls.
Soon people were getting robbed in the parking lots. People were getting shot up in the movie theaters. Gangs of teenagers with nothing to do but annoy people and buy their drugs were at the mall. Children were being abducted at the mall. Housewives were being followed home raped and murdered after a day of shopping at the mall. If you are lucky to survival all that horror you find out that there are hardly any employees in the stores and the few cashiers you can find are very bitter people who work only on commission as in the Sears employees who do not even receive an hourly wage.
Well the consumers have had enough. People have found elsewhere to buy their products. And now all across America, malls are being torn down. The malls used to be the place to go. There was a time when everyone wanted to go to the mall. For half a century the mall was the mecca for our booming economy. America’s love affair with shopping malls began in 1956 when the nation’s first fully enclosed mall opened its doors in Minneapolis. It was the most exciting period in our recent economy. It was the most explosive growth anywhere on earth at any time in recent history.
From the early fifties throughout the 1970’s, the malls were immensely popular. Robin Lewis is the author of the book called The New Rules of Retail. In the book he explains in detail about the death of malls. In the mid fifties Dwight Eisenhower signed the interstate highway act that provided a significant change in people’s buying habits. It was after World War II and people were making money and spending money again. They bought new vehicles and tried them out on the new highways to the new malls. No longer did they have to rely on the neighborhood stores.
They constructed 54,000 miles of interstate highways. That provided such mobility that people began moving out of the city’s into newly constructed suburbs. It also afforded the ability to construct the regional malls. Between 1956 and 2005, about 1500 malls were built including the largest mall ever called the mall of America in Minnesota. It is 14.2 million square feet long enclosing 120 stores, an amusement park and even a wedding chapel. You can meet your girl on a ride, buy her a ring and get married all in the same day at the same place. Does that make Americans lazy or enterprising?
It was a golden age of shopping which lasted until fairly recently when a new golden age of shopping has emerged courtesy of the Internet. All of a sudden the consumer now has everything a retail store provided and more sizes and choices throughout the world literally at their fingertips in the safety and comfort of their homes. No annoying teenagers, no shootings, no robbing and no abducting. You now buy whenever you want in the safety of your home surrounded by family and friends. This is our new shopping utopia. You don’t even need the movie theater anymore, you bought your big screen TV on the Internet too. Some people even find their girl on the Internet these days.
You used to know the shop people in your local stores. You used to know the people you met at the mall. Now we know the UPS driver that will deliver all your stuff to your door. I read that soon a drone will deliver your stuff and drop it down from the sky. Will anyone know anybody anymore? But I will have stuff. What is an American without their stuff? Who needs stinking people anyway? I know one person that is doing well in a mall. Does it count that she owns an auction house where people bring all their stuff back to the mall? She says the people stink and their stuff stinks too. I think I’ll stay home today.