In the late 1960’s, shopping malls popped up all around the country. I remember, because I was a kid way back then, and one of my favorite pastimes was loading up into the car with my mom, Grammy, and aunties to hit the Paka Plaza in Jackson, Michigan. It was a joy to wonder through the toy department at Sears Roebuck to pick out the favorite teddy bear. If I remember correctly, I picked a somewhat girly bear. My cousin, Erin (yes, thats you dear!) picked the cuddly brown bear with the boy clothes. She was much more of a tomboy than I was back then. (Strange how my memory works!) While my mom and my Aunt giggled about sizes marked with TT… They said it meant “teeny tiny” size!
Then we moved UpNorth.. Rapid City, Michigan… Torch Lake… Aka 3rd most beautiful lake in the world! No malls.. But we took many long drives back to Jackson to hit our favorite spots, along with many relatives and in 1972 they got a wondrous new indoor mall.. Westwood Mall… This quickly became a new favorite, with its extra expansive JC Penney, and Hudsons!
UpNorth shopping was mainly downtown. Traverse City, with its famous Milliken’s Tea Room, among quaint boutiques with unique clothing items. In 1978, the community scored big with the opening of the Cherryland Mall. The community had come of age with its flagship department store, Prange’s, along with Sears Roebuck and Kmart, not to mention Main Street Sports (Kudos to the Gallagher family!). The place was usually packed with happy shoppers, until around 1991, when the community was introduced to the Grand Traverse Mall. Oh the joy of shopping became larger!
Flash forward to today… Milliken’s is gone from downtown. Westwood Mall is still surviving. Cherryland Mall is now the Cherryland Center, struggling to fill vacant spaces. Multiple stores in the Grand Traverse Mall are slated to close, leaving it’s development company in search of new tenant’s. Who is to blame? Some say Amazon.com.
Well.. Amazon is convenient, but… in my recent travels to Raleigh, NC (Crabtree Valley Mall) and Estero, FL, (Coconut Point Mall) I was pleased to find good busy bustling malls with amazing shopping, and very few vacant spaces! My anxiety about the death of my favorite sport is eased! Now… What are these communities doing that our struggling malls can learn from?
Perhaps its quality over quantity? Maybe it’s the economy setting of the communities? What if it’s simply a matter of making time to spend a family shopping day on occasion, instead of blindly ordering something to be delivered to your door?
This is simply one of the things that randomly runs through my brain from time to time
In the meantime… Get out there and hit those local malls… Make memories! Happy shopping, all!