Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What's wrong with malls?

It's cold and rainy and going to get more so.

A trip to the mall is in order.  Oh, wait.  There aren't any malls.  There are Big Box lifestyle centers.

Why aren't there any malls?

Beats me.

Goodbye Sears.

A little history.  In 1980, two big malls opened in Bend.  Downtown Bend hollowed out.  The malls never quite filled up, but did all right for awhile.  But I think they made too many bubble deals, then got too expensive, then sold out and so on and so on.

Mt.View Mall was torn down, replaced by Cascade Village.  Bend River Mall became -- whatever that is.

I'm pretty sure that it is retail fadism -- every 20 or 30 years the entire industry decides that something is out of style and needs to be replaced.

I've never really shopped at Cascade Center -- and if I did, it would be a destination trip to a particular store and not a browsing trip.

I'm a little skeptical of people who say "I never shop there!"  I certainly hear that a lot about downtown Bend.  Part of the reason it doesn't wash is the -- "Hey, if I don't do it no one else does" fallacy.  And the other is it's a little bit of Yogi Berra's "No one goes there anymore.  It's too crowded."

I had a store in the Mountain View Mall for a number of years -- other than the fact that it was a flimsy structure that probably would have fallen apart if it hadn't been torn down, there was nothing wrong with the concept of the mall.

It was mismanaged -- in so many ways.  I watched it decline.  I saw what precipitated the decline, and most of the wounds were self-inflicted.

I sold out, because I could see what was coming.  The day came when I started going from store to store asking what they thought we should do about the decline -- and I got blank looks, and arguments, and finally a withering -- "What's wrong with you.  We're having our best year ever!  Go take care of your own store!"  To which, I went back to our store and said to Linda:  "You're right.  Let's get out of here."

(My particular talent seems to be getting in early, and then seeing when it's over.)

The Bend River Mall was also mismanaged.  Too expensive, then too cheap, then too many deals, then too expensive again.  Just never settled on a 'reasonable' rent.

I think they tried to have their cake and eat it to, and it just didn't work.  They are neither a Big Box lifestyle center, nor a mall, but the worst of both.

I still think a mall in Bend would have worked, if they'd been reasonable and hadn't driven out stores that wanted to be there.

Whatever.  Can't feel sorry for them.

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