Saturday Shopping Trip

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I joined a couple of Facebook groups that are intended for people to share stories and/or pictures about places that no longer exist. One group covers the city I grew up in and the other covers where I now live since I’ve been here long enough to be able to drive by places and say “I remember when this was a …”. Like the second apartment we lived in which was on valuable real estate and is now a series of offices.

Just like the quote, things get erased. Times change and some things get cast aside. The list of stores and restaurants that no longer exist grows longer over the years. I guess with Amazon we don’t need as many. Amazon certainly gets points for efficiency even if it is somewhat soulless.

Or take the beach town my parents spent their last years. We made our final trip there in early April and the four of us were struck by how much the place had changed over the years. In our mind, it wasn’t for the better. There was something a little special about it being a sleepy little town but now they have gone all in for the tourist dollars losing a lot in the transition.

I can’t remember when it opened but they built an outlet mall that is just about an hour away. At one time, outlet malls were a big thing. I’m not sure that you really got the best deals but you could certainly pretend that you did – even if they were typically selling the stuff that didn’t sell in the regular stores. Still, on a nice day, it could be an entertaining way to spend a few hours. Great place for people watching.

We hadn’t been there since the pandemic but my wife remembered a specific store she was interested in so we drove down there yesterday. First, we double checked to make sure it was still functional and the store she was interested was still in business. Check and double check so off we went.

It has certainly suffered with the decline in retail. At its prime, it was kind of a destination site and several restaurants and a couple of smaller hotels built nearby. Surprisingly, they’ve all survived. The occupancy of the mall is down from the peak and several of the stores we used to visit were gone. There was a food court but that probably died with the pandemic and has been replaced with food trucks. There is actually even a restaurant in one of the former stores. Plus a couple of the stores aren’t really “outlets” but I guess in this environment, you do what you have to do.

There were remnants of the pandemic in several places. During the dark times, occupancy was limited and the more popular stores had to set up lines outside with things to mark the required six feet of space. I guess nobody has decided to remove them. I now have a vision of 20 years into the future where some kid asks what those things were for even though I know they won’t last that long but it would be a good day when that stuff starts to be like an ancient artifact.

I did get a winter jacket that was 50% off so I know that was a deal. Hate thinking about winter at the start of summer but seasons will change. My wife was more successful so I spent much of the time sitting on various benches waiting for her to come out of whatever store she was in.

Having lost the newness and several stores, the place no longer is all that special. But I’m still glad it hasn’t been totally erased.

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