Saturday, June 12, 2004

My Mall Fixation

While I am thinking about it and can't seem to find my way to sleep let me tell you about my fascination with shopping malls.

When I was little, the first mall I went into was the Blue Lakes Mall in Twin Falls, ID. It was a small shopping center with the obligatory mall fountain you could toss coins into and the floors were covered with a weird red speckled carpet that looks like something you would see at a Chuck E Cheese. I loved going to the mall. By today's standards the mall was extremely small and probably only had about 20 stores. To a six or seven year old Mogwai, it was huge and I relished the time I spent there. As I got older so did the mall. The fountain was eventually covered up and the mall was remodeled beyond recognition. Most of it was torn down. A bigger mall was built on the other side of town the old mall became home to several second tier stores. Eventually the old mall morphed into a Fred Meyer and remains in that state to this day.

So what is the point of the story? Malls represent culture. When baseball card collecting was a huge fad, every mall had a baseball card shop. Then ravers and goths became all the rage and so now most major malls have a Hot Topic. If you want to test the pop culture waters, you need only go to a mall. Teenagers migrate from the schools to the malls to socialize and do their part to add to our consumer driven economy. The modern American mall is a one stop shop for our materialistic culture. Every town that wants to grow must build one and most dying towns have the shell of one that is now filled with dollar shops and boarded up storefronts. The history of the mall is a history of modern America. Incidentally, they have also become the topic of one of the books I am working on. Now if anyone ever asks you what the use of a History degree is, you can tell them it is so people can go into the world and write books about shopping centers. :)


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