Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Are shopping malls the new dodo birds?

I was reading an article recently at The Palm Beach Post website that described the state of one of my favorite shopping malls: the Boynton Beach Mall.

The Palm Beach Mall, where I had my first job after quitting the Postal Service – at the Electronics Boutique – has a date with the big iron ball soon, but the news that the Boynton Beach Mall is struggling really hit home for me.

I spent tons of money in that place, and lots of time there, too. One time, there was a string quartet playing in the mall, and it was so nice. They were happy when I came up and said I enjoyed the music. I bought my first computer, a Hyundai 8086 PC, at the Burdines store’s upstairs computer department, and used to hang out there with the manager and his assistant, playing golf on one of the Macs.

The car dealer Saturn of Delray Beach had a store in the mall, and I checked out the Saturns and decided which one I wanted. I bought it at the dealer, of course, but my initial contact with that now-gone car company was in the Boynton Beach Mall.

The Post story said that a megachurch is looking to take some space there. It’s kind of sad that the mall will lose a retailer, but that’s the way things are trending now. There have always been dead malls, and malls on life support, but now it’s getting so even the ones in well-populated areas are dying.

Of course, the Boynton Beach Mall has had its share of madness. Several years ago, on New Year’s Eve, a gang fight broke out that ended in gunfire, arrests and the early closing of the mall. Still, it didn’t have the wild reputation of the Palm Beach Mall. When the Post reported on it being closed, the “missing-front-teeth” brigade with their creative spelling made sure to comment and spew racist nonsense.

The Palm Beach Mall has a spectacular location, but I sometimes wonder if it really is all about location, location, location. I mean, the Cross-County Mall at the intersection of Okeechobee Boulevard and Military Trail in West Palm Beach has what is probably still the best location in the county, and it died, too. At the end, there were a few stores open, and all that was really left was the movie theater.

New malls open up, and that steals a lot of business. The Gardens Mall and Town Center at Boca Raton undoubtedly drew customers, but I have to say that when I lived in Lake Worth, the Boynton Beach Mall was a hop, skip and jump away. It was convenient, and near other shopping, and I didn’t have to battle I-95 traffic and tough turns as much as I had to in The Gardens and in Boca Raton.

Malls have less attraction to me now. The two biggest things that drew me in were the bookstores and the computer software stores, and they are dying for the most part. I really don’t buy many books anymore, and buy less software. Things have changed in both industries, and so have I.

I wonder if someday the Boynton Beach Mall will have its date with the wrecking ball. That will be a very sad day, but maybe it has to happen. Of course, I won’t be there. My life is elsewhere now, but when I read about these malls and what’s happening, I still have the memories of the fun times I had, the first dates with women I had there and so much more.


February 21, 2012 - Posted by | Life lessons, Living in the modern age | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. The Queens Center Mall is still drawing the crowds. On many weekends you can hardly walk around the place without bumping into people.

    Oh, and the OTB that closed on Grand Ave has just turned into a T-Mobile store.

    Comment by Diana in NYC | February 22, 2012 | Reply

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