I'm a little sad about the mall's demise. It wasn't a particularly good mall. It was one of the first malls in the area, so its design was outdated — dark and dreary. The shops were tacky. There is a much better mall about ten minutes away. But, still, I'm sad.
My grandmother lived in a condo around the corner from the mall. A former New Yorker, she never learned to drive, but she could walk down to the mall easily. She spent hours there looking for bargains. On Saturday afternoon visits, she would treat us to Burger King in the food court. It was an activity, a walking destination, and a hobby.
One of the best books about the death of the "Era of the Mall" is Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping by the Author of Why We Buy. This book was written a few years ago, so the author places most of the blame on the end of mall shopping on an increasing time crunch and doesn't give enough attention to the Internet. He explains that more people are working, so they can't saunter through the mall like we did with Grandma.
Internet shopping has been deadly for the brick and mortar world.
Megan McArdle writes about how traditional stores are reacting to the pressure from online businesses.
To survive, stores like Best Buy will need to kill their own category, remaking themselves into what might be called “small-box stores”: more intimate, accessible, with a unique mix of products and expert personal service that the Internet simply can’t provide. Other retailers have shown that it’s still possible, even in this day and age, to get people to buy things in stores. But can the giants of yesteryear cut themselves down to scrappy, nimble competitors? Can Goliath transform himself into David before the money runs out?
Yesterday, I went to the mall for an hour. I went with several objectives. I had worked hard in the morning and needed to get away from the computer. I needed to think up things to promote for my gift guide posts that link to Amazon products. I needed to start the price comparisons for my own Christmas shopping. (Note to self: Crocs are $20 on Amazon, but $35 at the kiosk in the mall.) After one hour in the mall, I walked out with one $15 ski cap for Jonah from a faux surfer shop. And if I find it cheaper online, I'll return it.
So, as nostalgic as I am for the mall-walking days with grandma, I know that my shopping habits are undermining the whole operation.