Today’s sign of the continuing disintegration of the American shopping mall as a center of commerce:Selling Snuggies in a mall sounds odd enough – the reversed bathrobe is one of those products that thrives on direct marketing and drop shipping, not herding massive quantities of inventory around. But no one’s selling these in a storefront or a mid-aisle kiosk. Snuggies are being sold directly by the corporation that owns the mall. The mall proprietor thinks that’s the most valuable use of her employees’ time.
And you know what? It probably is. Sure, the Snuggie’s one of those useless fads that’ll seem quaint in four years and comical in ten, but at least people want one. How many shopping malls still contain things people want? Malls survive on a fragile web of factors – cheap petroleum, suburban housing developments and the profitability of large inventories – that the 21st Century has already begun smashing.
I suspect malls will continue to deteriorate, becoming more a hangout for those marginal teens who don’t have a private place to drink and less a destination for young professionals, until they’re finally bought up, razed and turned into something useful like cemeteries. Then perhaps we’ll return to that period of urban development where shops appeared in neighborhoods to fulfill economic demand, rather than being planted in the middle of nowhere as if by mistake in SimCity.
(I’ve been reading Kunstler again)