I’m sure we can all attest that there are a select number of places that will elicit the excitement of a 6-year-old with a mere entering through the door: a popcorn-scented movie theater lobby, a busy airport brimming with excitement and anticipation, the frostily air-conditioned Baskin Robbins. Which is a personal favorite of mine. And of course, everyone’s favorite destination on a rainy day – or in my case, any day – the mall!
I don’t believe I can even count how many times I’ve promised my Mom and Grandma “I’m just going in to look” but return home with some treasured finds! There’s just something indescribable that draws us there when we have something to buy… or have nothing to buy,lol, and any department store or outdoor strip mall just can’t capture that magic. After sprinting through the anchor stores to get to the actual mall interior shopping area (never spent too much time at Lord ‘N Taylor or Macy’s), one is met with many sensory stimulants: the aroma of cinnamon from the pretzel stand, the sound of arcade penny rides flashing and bouncing on the promenade, and the bubbling smell of chlorine from the fountain (where you just have to throw in a coin and make a wish :)
I’ve noticed recently that my love of malls has crossed into my fondness for films, as I take mental notes of any movies that feature good “mall scenes,” particularly those reminiscent of the retro feel of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Of course Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Valley Girl, and Clueless all fit into this category, but I’ve also found great mall footage in ones such as Walk Like A Man with Howie Mandel, and the recent Kickin’ It Old School with Jamie Kennedy.
Perhaps I take special note of these films because the malls feature prominently those characteristics that we know and love: the sunken lounge section (which in the malls by me, featured modern art-like sculptures designed for kids to play on), the main common area where fashions shows take place and Santa and the Easter Bunny will visit, and the oh-so-popular glass elevators with sparkling lights on the exterior (a much glitzier alternative to the escalator).
Googling and YouTubing has proven that I am apparently not alone in my mall infatuation. There are oodles of photos and videos, I excitedly came across that feature some pretty nifty-looking malls in all of their retro glory :) Some have the best names (Cinderella City) and prompt me to wish I could jump right into the picture and browse immediately. A little jarring though, are the shaky-cam tours of some vacant establishments featured on YouTube and the website deadmalls.com. I enjoy the idea of patrons exchanging fond mall memories, but the pics can be a bit disheartening – kind of like the drop you feel in your stomach while looking at an empty swimming pool. Still however, the love for the retro days of the shopping mall in all of these websites and videos is evident :)
I am also happy to report that I’ve visited a handful of the malls near me featured in Vintage Malls, and they all look relatively the same! Of course, I went to Hollister instead of Chess King, but I could still buy my Orange Julius :)
Randall Park Mall in the 70’s
Cinderella City Mall at Christmastime