This could destroy New Jersey

BlockbusterI was interested in reading an article about the technologies which have been decimated by newer technologies that seem to be coming at us faster and faster. Of course the cliché is the venerable buggy whip which, with the advent of horseless carriages (cars even) disappeared from the “must-have” shelves at the local Five and Dime. Then, of course, there is the Five and Dime itself. Do you remember when MacDonald’s advertised that you could get a burger and fries AND get change back from your buck? How’s your Instamatic working nowadays: a non-digital camera … where do you find film? Remember renting video tapes? It wasn’t that long ago and now it’s just a memory.

But back to that Five and Dime: yes, the dime store is sad nostalgia today but with the growth of online shopping, all sorts of brick and mortar stores are being abandoned and eventually torn down (probably for another CVS: you can never have enough drugstores at the intersection and you wouldn’t want the Walgreen’s to be lonely).

If you grew up around the 1960s (actually, if you were any degree of a baby-boomer) you watched a new shopping mall go up regularly. Shopping malls became THE place for younger people to congregate: there was the multi-cinema, the smoothie cart, the hamburger joint, the cheap flashy accessories, the gossip pits, the record stores, the fresh pretzels, and just about anything you could ask to buy when you actually went shopping at the shopping mall.

Unfortunately shopping malls are just as liable as any other store to be abandoned. For the malls it’s a death spiral: several smaller stores can no longer compete with online sales, the big stores don’t want to be associated with a mall that suffers increasing vacancies, the small stores left after the big stores leave are insufficient to cover the cost of the mall, rents are raised, more small stores die or move, and eventually the entire mall is written off as a tax loss, the taxpayers bail out the mall owner for the losses, and the mall is eventually torn down to be replaced by condos or a new missile silo.

MallSlate gives us a look at a couple of the malls in Ohio that have certainly seen better days. The article is called, A Haunting Look Inside Some of America’s Abandoned Shopping Malls By Jordan G. Teiche. Pop on over to Slate and see what the effects of advanced technology have done to the once proud shopping mall.

I wonder where all the kids go now to neck and scarf and pop zits?

4 responses

  1. That movie Mall Rats comes to mind. 🙂 I’ve wondered about this–watched the mall in Phillipsburg begin to echo. Woodbridge, Menlo, Bridgewater, and Freehold are still going strong from what I can tell. Those on the fringe however…

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    • New Jersey has always had the advantage of being a shopping haven for New Yorkers. When I first moved there, NJ had NO SALES TAX and even now they don’t tax things like clothing which in NYC might be 10% higher in cost just because of the tax.

      Woodbridge, Garden State, and Willowbrook have been revamped and expanded more than once. Actually, Woodbridge almost blew it when they redid the mall several years back, losing a lot of stores because they raised the rents. Then not far from both Freehold and Woodbridge is what I always refer to as the Scotch Tape Mall … Seaview Square. Last time I was there most all the stores were empty and they were using the big stores for damaged goods emporiums. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mall was torn down by now. I used to live right across from the now defunct Manalapan Mall. Is the Bergen Mall still there (I used to work there at Stern Brothers)?

      I think the one thing saving some of these malls is in addition of large well-known restaurants: The Cheesecake Factory, P. F. Chang, etc.

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      • I agree about chain restaurants keeping the malls alive. Department stores, too. I’m not sure about the other malls you mentioned–I’ve never been to them. It’s interesting–the same day I read your post, I was reading Gone Girl, and there’s a scene where a bunch of homeless people are camping out in a closed mall that’s already being overrun by nature a la Life After People. Our decline is on the mind of the collective unconscious. 🙂

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