One thing that I have been fairly passionate about for a number of years is enclosed shopping malls. I like just about everything about them – particularly their architecture and decor. Sadly, open air shopping centers seem more popular these days, and from research I’ve done, the traditional enclosed shopping mall has been in decline in popularity. It seems that malls grew in popularity during the ’70s and ’80s – and began to decline in popularity during the ’90s. It’s a trend that I, personally, really hate to see. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with open air shopping centers. It’s just that I like malls better. I just love the big, box buildings that seem so tall and have the tinted glass windows. And I love how inside it’s just like a miniature city with its own paths, benches, plants, restaurants, etc. I love the smells, the floors, the skylights, the big signs, the fountains, and so on. But I guess another reason why I love malls roots from nostalgia of visiting them as a kid in the ’90s. I like just about all malls, and I’ve enjoyed reading many blogs with pictures of malls and shopping centers (see below). But there are a few malls that stick out in my mind. I don’t have a huge obsession with any of the following malls, but they are at least somewhat interesting to me.
I have observed that there are a number of people besides myself interested in old retail, whether it be malls, grocery stores, restaurants, or whatever – yet I’ve never encountered a particular term for the love of old retail – or the people that like it. On January 6, 2013, my friend and I talked on the phone, and interestingly enough, he used the term “mallgeeking”, which was a term I had thought of a few weeks prior. Later in the year, I came up with the phrase “retailgeeking” – to cover all types of retail one might be interested in.
I will begin with Southlake Mall because it is less interesting to me. Then again, I’m surprised to say that, considering how I’ve been to that mall more often than any other, so if anything, it should be a more major part of my childhood nostalgia. I guess part of it could be that the mall is still around, whereas the other two malls I will mention are now gone.
But yeah, I do have some nostalgia for Southlake Mall. Probably what I remember most that’s now long gone from the mall is the old food court, which used to be a dark hallway – and is now a big, bright, wide open area with a carousel, which was built around 1999 and 2000. While I do like the new food court, the old one still brings back memories, as that was how I remembered it when we first started going to the mall. Probably one of the things I remember and miss most about the old food court is the Pizza Hut at the end, near one entrance/exit to the mall. I think there were windows in the Pizza Hut where you could look outside the mall – as well as black and white pictures on the walls. I miss that Pizza Hut. Another memory is the old Tilt! arcade, which used to be in the upper food court. Sadly, it’s been gone for a number of years now.
A fairly recent development, which has really made me concerned the mall is facing death is that in June 2011, the JCPenney anchor closed. I went there a lot with my mom, so it was part of our normal stomping grounds. I was sad to see it go. I always enjoyed riding the elevator there.
Here is a video clip I uploaded on YouTube with footage inside the mall:
1992-12-20: Trip to Southlake Mall, GA.
Roswell Mall (AKA Roswell Town Center)
When my family lived in the Roswell/Alpharetta area, we used to go to this mall sometimes. Since I was only about two then, I don’t have any vivid memories of it, but we do have a few visits to Santa Claus recorded on tape, thankfully, and I always like seeing my younger self going up and down the escalator – not to mention all the store lights and everything.
The last time we went to the mall was in December 1993. But after that, we never went again, and I think I got the impression from my mom that it had closed.
I really didn’t know much about the mall factually at all until I discovered a Sky City blog about it. I was really happy to see this. Apparently, the mall closed in 1994, which made sense, as that was around the time we stopped going there. Also, I happened to find this page, which appears to talk a little about the theater in Roswell Mall.
As I recall, I returned to Roswell Mall (now Roswell Town Center) on December 23, 2010. I even took a few pictures of the area. While it does still exist as a small open air shopping center, it no longer functions as a mall. Even as an open air shopping center, business seems a bit lackluster.
Also, here’s a video clip I uploaded on YouTube with footage inside the mall:
1991-12-16: Trip to Roswell Mall, GA.
Union Station (AKA Shannon Mall)
Finally – the mall that I’ve been meaning to talk about. I don’t really know why, but this mall seems to interest me more than any of the others – even though I don’t think I went here quite as much as Southlake Mall.
The first time my mom and I went to Shannon Mall was March 27, 1993 – several months after we moved into our new house.
During 2013, my friend and I came up with two terms to describe an interest in retail: “retailgeeking” and “mallgeeking”. While the two terms are similar, they have specific meanings. Retailgeeking is a general term, meaning a person could be interested in almost any form of retail. Mallgeeking, on the other hand, is a particular fascination with malls. Basically, by default, all mallgeeks are retailgeeks, but not all retailgeeks have to be mallgeeks.Malls of America…One of the first mall blogs I found back in late 2005, which helped fuel my love for malls.
Sky City…Another blog with pictures and information for not only malls – but other stores, too, in the South.
Labelscar…Yet another great resource for mall pictures.
deadmalls DOT com…Nice site with the information on the history and decline of some dead and dying malls. I first discovered it a number of years ago when I found an article it wrote about Shannon Mall.