|Judith Whitehead lives in Amherst New York|
( A suburb of Buffalo, N.Y.)
and has worked in the ophthalmology
field of medicine for nearly 40 years
What is happening to our Shopping malls? When I was a young girl growing up in the Buffalo suburbs and it came time for clothing shopping, we would put on our “ good wear” clothing and take the public bus downtown. It was the only way to shop in those days.
The suburbs had no chain stores to shop in and the hub of shopping took place in the downtown Buffalo area. Especially during the holiday season, it was an adventure to shop main
street with the beautiful window decorations and adorned holiday windows that sparkled and entertained. There were “lunch counters” inside each department store where we would take a break from our shopping and relax.
The 1960's hit soon enough and as the suburbs became more populated, the idea of having a group of stores gathered in doors became a novel idea. The shopping mall was born.
What an amazing idea to have all of our favorite stores in one place. We no longer had to take a bus downtown and could car pool to an area close to our homes. The mall also was an answer for many people who would use the mall as a makeshift area to exercise and wallah. the 'Mall Walkers' were launched.
When I was a teenager, my first real job was working at the Boulevard Mall. It also served as a gathering place for my friends and I to meet, talk, shop and have lunch. It was a novel, enjoyable and convenient idea that lasted for many years, until the computer age came along. Now we no longer had to spend our time leaving home to purchase items, clothing and other accessories. We purchased on the world wide web, and with a click of the mouse turned shopping into a quick easy way to accomplish in what took hours in the past.
Recently, over the last 5 years, I have noticed that many chain stores and Malls are now in financial trouble and the oh so favorite malls are closing all over the country. We spend a fair amount of time traveling to the West coast and have found that the malls there are closing as well and now a new
novel idea has begun to spring out there; The “Outdoor Mall."
A group of stores, some chains, that are built in a confined area that open to the out of doors. In the middle mall are resting areas, play areas for the children, park like groupings of benches and trees and pleasant live music that soothes the shopper. This can only be accomplished in a warmer weather environment and I find myself being drawn to this novel environment to have a coffee and relax in the middle of the mall area.
I have found that this idea is sweeping through the country and in Buffalo the idea has been tossed around to turn the Eastern Hills Mall into such an idea.
I still reflect with fondness on the past when my mother and I would take the local 'NFT' bus downtown to window shop and spend the day but those days are far behind us now.
Perhaps this new way of shopping and gathering can bring back some of those social interactions as we knew in the past, only in a different way. I prefer to mix my shopping styles, some on line, some in person--some items will always need to be tried out first and “on line” shopping will never have an answer to that.
Hana Hou, (Encore)