The evolution of suburban malls

I don’t know when I became a mall rat. It was probably when I was in high school and working at a retail store at the mall. It must have been then that I learned to love the climate controlled, ample parking, high variety shopping and hanging around atmosphere. Truthfully I still hang around the mall a lot, and more often than not I don’t actually buy anything.

In fact I’m writing this post at the Conestoga Mall food court, one of my “offices” around KW.

Malls are arguably great public spaces. There’s lots of parking which I already mentioned but parking is important and its free parking which is even more important. Nobody likes to pay for parking. Like water and air, parking should be free.

I almost always run into someone I know in the mall. Actually when I see someone I know I always make it a point to approach them and say “hello”. Because I think if I’ve seen them, chances are they’re seen me and I’d hate to be thought of as a snob.

Someone told me recently that the Fairview Park Mall was going to close. I find that very hard to believe. But then, if you told me ten years ago that I wouldn’t need a phonebook, cable TV, a home telephone or the newspaper (to name a few things that come to mind) I wouldn’t have believed that either.

I read an article recently titled “The shopping mall turns 60 and prepares to retire”. The shopping mall changed the shopping patterns of a civilization. They took us out to the cities and into the suburbs. They lead to the decay of our urban cores and encouraged suburban sprawl and automobile ownership.

The downtowns suffered so they built their own malls and they were a disaster of course. They’ve been mostly converted into offices now. And now the suburban malls are suffering and are being converted into open air walkable blocks with retail, government services and residences. It’s almost like we’ve come full circle.


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