The Mall.

Today I went with Thunder Punch and Tiny Claws to the mall.

Wait a beat. Yes, I said “the” mall. As in, there’s only one in sane driving distance. Being that I didn’t want to spend gasoline to go to FancyTown, which is in another state (possessing a Nordstrom’s, where each time WITHOUT FAIL I try on LaCoste shirts, admire myself in them, and then never buy them), I went to the one nearby in Crackton. Crackton isn’t as bad as it seems, but I have escaped being shot there once, so it earns its name.

Anyhow, we went to walk around, and ate chinese at the little restaurant we normally eat at. I bought some ridiculously cheap rechargeable batteries and charger so I can stop filling the environment with evil used AA cells. Now its happily charging in my kitchen. This purchase at Sears was about my only buy, except for a dress at Macy’s that TP wanted.

I always used to think that going to the mall was about getting cool stuff, but it turns out that I more or less just enjoy going to the mall, retail Mecca of the world. I’m not sure why, but I find it comforting. I like the giant facility, cooled to just perfect temperatures for me to wander about in. It’s like a tiny city in itself. I realize they are dinosaurs of retail, but to me (raised inside and more or less loathing the outdoors) it’s like the idealized world to travel in. Everything there is shiny and new, and fun.

So I traversed the halls of the mall, and in general soaked in the retail love. It wasn’t bad, but I’d love a better mall with cooler stores. OK, I hadn’t planned this, but here goes a trip down memory lane.

<insert Wayne’s World flashback noise>

My obsession with malls comes from the fact that I lived through their golden age – the early 80’s to the end of 90. My chief educator in malls was my beloved Grandmother who has passed on. Back in the day, Homeville was a swinging place, with no fewer than 5 malls! In essence every compass point had a mall – Eastland, Woodland Hills, Southland, (well, the North side didn’t, but there’s nothing of value there anyhow). Plus the fancy pants mall outside and Kensington Galleria, which was like the all time great of malls – frou frou shops, 80’s stuff like Sharper Image (before it sucked), and some super sweet stuff. Anyhow, one of the things I liked BEST about malls, is one thing older folks hated about them – low light conditions. As a kid I remember how gloomy and poorly lit the department stores were, and this was comforting to me. I remember how I loved seeing the G.I. Joe displays with a single light streaming down on them in the 50’s era Sears we went to, with the wonderful darkness covering the vehicles and figures on the outlying edge – it seemed like anything could be hiding in the darkness. I’d spend hours staring at the cool stuff on display.

Now for the uninitiated, the mall used to rock out hardcore. First was the arcade – another post on that later. Second, much of the mall was devoted to THINGS TO DO, not just stuff to buy. Anyhow, each major department store had their own toy department. JC Penney’s was especially amazing. They were higher end (we bought our VCR there in 1982). If you wanted to lay down the coin, JCP was the place. They had G.I. Joe Headquarters, Voltron toys, the SDF-1 from Robotech, all the coolest Transformers from Japan. I can’t really explain to you how sweet they were. Someday I might actually draw what they looked like so you can see. But imagine a sea of robots, chrome and military toys – it was absolutely amazing.

So anyway, each store held something fun and awesome to examine. Pretty much you got any Joe you wanted, cause in addition to Kay Bee and Circus World (TWO TOY STORES) you had Sears, Penneys, Monkey Wards, and tons more. Each had a department. Anyhow, we’d traverse these places for hours, my Granny and I. She’d look for clothes and I’d trawl the toys. Anyhow, after we’d tired ourselves out, we’d hit Corn Dog on a Stick or another restaurant you could ONLY get at a mall (as opposed to now, where its stuff from outside). Then, grasping something bulky, expensive and fun as all get out, we’d leave full and rested. Then, we’d swing past Eckerd’s pharmacy where we could get batteries for my toys, and pick up Granny’s medication. Then I’d while away the hours on the carpet playing with toys till my cartoon shows came on or night fell. I need to write more on her house later.

But, another story for another time. That little trip down memory lane might go towards explaining why I love malls so much. Comments?


9 responses to “The Mall.

  1. I’m totally with you on the Mall being THE spot when you were a kid. I wasn’t fortunate enough to grow up with one, they were building one in my hometown when we moved and when I was a teen the closest one was an hour away. It’s funny though because now I HATE going to the mall. The parking sucks, the kids are rude and the arcade is all but non-existant! At least I still have my memories.

  2. I have only been to a JCP once, In 1989 so I know what you’re talking about,
    And this post has brought back way too many memories of the ambiance of the toy department.
    The low lighting, the smells. even the noises of the packaging on figures.
    If I ever win the lottery I’m going to buy an old warehouse just so I can re-create that feeling.

  3. Wow, reading dan’s and my comments just now makes me feel old..

  4. Yeah, me too. The older I get (30) the more I think I enjoy mentally reliving the way things were rather than how they are now. Since I’ve had my first child I think we have kids so that we’re forcibly drug into the now by them, rather than living off our rose colored memories.

    But to be fair, it was better in the 80s.

  5. I remember going to my local mall as a kid. Back then it wasn’t all inside one building. The mall was open (no roof) with all the stores laid out in the same way as a typical mall. I liked it because it was different. Of course, now it’s closed in like every other mall. I remember the movie theatre had like only 4 screens and I watched Pinocchio there. Aww, memories!

    Thanks, TC for making us all feel old… 😦

  6. Sorry DC, didn’t mean to. More to make you feel old later.

  7. Ahhh, malls. I love malls. I love them nowadays for different reasons though. (Clothing sales? Yes.)

    I totally know what you mean about the malls that were dimly lit. Both the malls I used to go to were like that. I LOVED it. It made the mall seem like a mysterious place. I remember all the colors being warm and it smelled kinda like popcorn and cookies.

    Both malls have since been remodeled and thus have lost all that old charm. One of them is in danger of becoming a dead mall, since it has lost two of its anchor stores. Sadface.

    Here’s an amazing set of vintage pictures from the endangered mall.

    Crossroads Mall, Oklahoma City
  8. “One of them is in danger of becoming a dead mall”
    Damn Zombies!! Leave our malls alone!!!

  9. shit….JC Penney used to have AMAZING selection of Barbie Dolls!!! Like the 300 dollar collectible ones, and the “real” cabbage patch kids that were actually soft and hand made, not plastic coleco ones.

    I have to buy “something” everytime I go to a mall. Even if its just a 20 ounce bottle of soda and a magazine or Japanese candy from SunCoast or the Oriental import store.

    The “fancy pants” mall I like to go to when I dress up all stylish and give myself uppity-ness for the day…has an “outside” area with Ann taylor, Chico’s, Borders, a Cheesecake factory AND a *gasp* PF Changs! (i have an obsession with that place ever since stan’s dad on Southpark got the worlds biggest poop by eating spring rolls from PF Changs every day)

    I like to browse the coach store and pet and coo at the pretty hand bags that I can’t afford til like next year this time….and go to the comic book store and ogle the Japanese imported gashopon(capsule toys) and the Tomy brand gadgets like Little Taps and Kururi Mix (pop culture icons shrunk into little 3 inch tall figures, that tap and dance to music) and then play with the puppies at the pet store.

    I miss the 80’s malls, they had fashion shows in center court, or costumed characters doing a play, or even had car shows, and you got to get you picture taken with the robot from Rip Tide.

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