I WENT TO THE MALL THE OTHER DAY

I went to the mall the other day. Things have changed. Almost as much as me. As a kid going to the brand-spankin’ new indoor mega-malls, I never envisioned being back in one as a grandpa.

I rode the escalators, ran down the “Up” and up the “Down”, in the mall in San Bernardino CA. I was mesmerized by them like I was a ride at Disneyland.

It was in ’73 or ’74 when I went with a friend’s family to Phoenix. Metro Center, what was then the northwest edge of town, was sparkling new. A few years later we wound up living just over two miles away from Metro Center.

Mega-malls were like magnets for kids. Metro not only had the state of the art theatres, it had an ice skating rink and an amusement park with a humongous arcade. Pinball heaven.

Add a couple more years and a driver’s license on top of a muscle car I wish I’d never sold, and Metro had become the place to cruise. The 300 plus acre site was jammed with teenagers and gas fumes on Friday and Saturday nights.

But time changes as do people. Toss several more years into the history of mall going, like Metro Center and its sister mega mall Paradise Valley Mall, on the northeast part of the valley, and I didn’t have the same priority and I was of age… but that’s a story for another time.

By that point in my life, I was a consumer. I was one of the young adults that frequented the hip shoe and clothing stores that blared obnoxious music. It was the eighties and thin leather ties that matched shoes were the rage… I’m glad I don’t have too many pictures to remind me of what a fool I was.

went to the mall

a tired parking lot that used to be wall to wall cars

The years that followed were the dark days of mall going. I avoided them at all costs. I went a few times to Paradise Valley Mall, necessitated by the kids mostly, a knife and cigar shop did lure me more than once.

By the time the kids were teenagers, they didn’t hang at the mega malls like we once did. Times had changed.

Mr. B, my grandson’s nickname, loves the mall like I did as a kid. He glares wide-eyed at the escalators and the enormity of the mega-mall space. When I set him down his little legs carry him faster than I can walk.

I’m still getting a kick out of mega malls, but for vastly different reasons.

Our grandkids won’t be passing down memories of the mega malls. The malls are just about extinct.

I looked around PV mall. Almost half of the stores are empty now. As we walked out, Mr. B cradled on my right forearm, my wife pointed out the Fortune Teller store by the exit. The rent’s cheap and the landlord is desperate.

It cost a hundred million to build Metro Center in 1970. It sold last in 2012 for twelve million… more than an 88% drop in value.

Trends change and people change, but the only truly valuable things we have in this life can’t be measured by a number or location.

I went to the mall the other day.