Though designed as an indoor mall, it will have plenty of brightly lit storefronts that shoppers can enter from the parking lot, darting in and out like fish sampling bait.

Funny thing about malls: when American malls grew exponentially in their haydays, it was thought that it would only be a matter of time before those malls would take over Europe as well, replacing the shops that occupy the city centers of nearly every European city. But Europe stayed Europe, and the city centre shops stayed. Now, the most recent trend in American malls is the style of mall that represents the open, city-center like feel, mimicking European cities:

Ironic, really.


Had to check the date of the article to make sure it wasn't written in 2002.

So some bona fides first:

I used to design retail. Those bleating sound systems at every Hollister, every Abercrombie? yo. Those "skyrocketing fountains synchronized to music" mentioned in the article? Best buddy worked for the designers for years. Rick Caruso? Yeah, been circling the same projects as that guy for a decade. Know horror stories about The Grove and Americana that I shouldn't discuss. So. That out of the way:

When Rick Caruso says "the mall is dead" what he's really saying is "YOUR mall is dead, buy one of mine." Anybody who thinks The Grove isn't a mall is a fucking idiot. Anybody who thinks Americana isn't a mall just because a couple dozen idiots bought apartments there is a fucking idiot. Thing is, though, these aren't even new ideas - they're just Mall 2.0, which started showing up back in the late '90s. Look:

Yeah, JC Penney is having a hell of a time convincing people to drink coffee and listen to music at JC Penney. No shocker there; JC Penney has always been a cut-rate catalog brand. Nobody shops at The Gap because they're looking for an experience. Even The Gap knows this. That's why they also own Banana Republic. And Old Navy, by the way - they'll get your money no matter where you feel like shopping.

But at a certain level, you need to try on clothes. Which is stressful. So have a boba tea. And a free sample at See's. And call your girlfriend to meet you because that new Nick Sparks film is playing and you haven't seen her in ages.

Guess what? Mall 2.0 opens for the mallwalkers the same as Mall 1.0 did.

Yeah, Sbarro is going out of business. Chipotle isn't. Malls remain big heinous shopping centers where you can overpay for things. The new ones have more expensive brands, which are paid for by their broader, more open walking spaces. Yes, there are dead malls, and the webpage is entertaining. Thing to keep in mind though is that just about every mall listed here was killed by the outlet mall.

Which is also a mall.

And which are not going away.

By the way - there is nothing about Americana or The Grove or any other Mall 2.0 that is the slightest bit like a European city center. They owe their design to the Pearl Street Mall, which was a revitalization of existing city streets back when the shops there couldn't afford a mall. Take Pearl Street, remove the homeless people and street musicians (ie, life) and you've got Mall 2.0.

posted by veen: 1954 days ago