The Death of a Mall

A friend and I have recently been discussing the condition of the mall I walk at most mornings. She asks if the smells from the Food Court aren’t distracting while I’m walking. What smells, I tell her? Even by 9:00 a.m. there might not be anyone manning places in the Food Court, much less cooking anything.

She can’t picture just how far down Virginia Center Commons has grown. Grown down? Strange way to describe something that “dead” or “dying” seems to describe better .

I wonder whether American Family Fitness knew how badly VCC was dying when they bought and totally redid the  property on the other side of this wall. It’s one of the few places that are thriving, but it’s not even owned by the mall.

I recall how much fun it was to go to VCC  back in the 1990s when it was new and thriving. After years of going to a mall that was further away, a two-story mall, how amazing it was to be in a single-story mall that was oh! so spread out. With skylighted hallways–one that reaches from the Food Court all the way to the back and a shorter one off to one side–and decorated with humongous (live) palm trees.

Even though I know now that I can walk from one end of it to the other in five minutes and make a complete circle in fifteen, it was so crowded back then that it would probably have taken two to three times that long to move through the crowd at a snail’s pace.

As if I had any reason to rush then.

The Food Court wasn’t humongous, but it had a good selection, and right beside the front door was a Ruby Tuesday’s. Along with the variety of kiosks and normal-sized shops–the best I can recall, there were no empty stores–the mall housed a J. C. Penney’s, a Sears, and several other larger “big name” places.

The mall still has Penney’s and Sears, although the future of both chains is–from what I understand–up in the air. Burlington occupies one of the big store sites, but a good-sized Macy’s closed down many months ago. Interestingly, it’s for sale, not for lease. But what wise businessman (or woman) would want to invest so much in a place too few people shop at anymore?

Probably the most successful place is American Family Fitness. No wonder. The mall doesn’t own it and its success isn’t dependent on mall customers.

My wife helped me do a survey a couple of days ago. It’s hard to count while walking, but we ticked off the numbers on a tablet as we went along, so I believe these figures are relatively accurate.

  • Stores and kiosks still open: 47  (includes one that’s about to open)
  • Stores closed in the side hallway: 21
    • Stores open in that hallway: 3
  • Stores closed in the main hallway (includes two in the process of closing): 17

I detest walking in the one hallway that has lost twenty-one stores. It’s depressing.

This problem seems to be at least partially a chicken-or-egg problem. Which happened first–stores closing because customers were no longer coming to the mall or too many stores closing for customers to find going there to be worthwhile? I’ve heard several people claim that groups of teens hanging around there made customers afraid.

While that might have happened sometime in the past, I’ve never seen dangerous looking teens there. I rarely see a crowd at all. This is what the Food Court area looked like around 6:00 p.m. a couple of days ago:

In all fairness, Monday evening seems to be the most consistently empty time of the whole week. But it never looks anywhere close to full.

This picture is of the hall that branches off just past the Food Court. This is the one that only has three businesses–a LensCrafters, an optometrist’s office that’s all but officially a part of LensCrafters, and an African hair braiding place.

 

Some months ago the mall was sold to someone who supposedly likes to fix up malls like this one. I hope he can. He hasn’t done much so far. The lines in the parking lot are so faded it’s hard to be sure I’m parking within the lines.

Virginia Center Commons is just a mile down the road from us, and we do shop there–to whatever extent we can find what we want or need. We want to see it rejuvenated. Do we ever!

Any comments?



    

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Best regards,
Roger

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Cross or Crucifix?

myCross If you’ve been following this blog long enough, you may recall something I posted a few years ago about the wooden crosses I used to make by hand. If you’re interested, you can find that post HERE.

The process was tedious, especially using sandpaper to shape each cross after using a coping saw to cut the small piece of wood into a very rough lower case t-shape. But I loved doing it and would probably still be doing it except for the fact it got to be too rough on these aging hands.

I quit making walking sticks for the same reason. I needed (and still need) my hands for other things. Like playing guitar and bass. And keying new novel manuscripts into my laptop.

As a Christian, I’ve long understood the significance of wearing a cross, even though a number of people probably wear them because they simply like the shape. I wouldn’t put it past some people to wear a cross superstitiously–as a good luck charm.

Hmm. Sad.

The cross is an important Christian symbol because it reminds us of Jesus’s crucifixion. I’ve read recently that the Romans didn’t invent crucifixion, but took it to a new level of cruelty. Anyone who watched The Passion of Christ or the ninth episode of The Bible miniseries (or was it the eighth?) got a too-realistic depiction of the way Jesus suffered and died.

One thing I’ve become more aware of over the years is the importance of the crucifix to Roman Catholics. A crucifix, as most of you know, depicts Christ hanging on the cross. I honestly don’t know whether He’s dead yet. There’s something to be said for a reminder of the horrible way Jesus suffered and died to accomplish God’s mission of bringing salvation to mankind.

You may not be aware of this, but Protestants and Evangelicals don’t generally wear crucifixes or value them the way Roman Catholics do.  They prefer to emphasize an empty cross because Jesus’s death as payment for the sins of mankind was only half of His mission. He also came to give eternal life, and the depiction of His death on the cross fails to tell “the rest of the story.”

So a regular cross–an empty one–is a reminder that Jesus’s mission didn’t end there. He had to be taken down and placed in a borrowed tomb. It wasn’t until three days later when the stone sealing the tomb was found removed on the third day and angels announced His resurrection that Jesus began appearing to His followers. Alive again. Human death had been conquered, and the second part of His mission was complete. His Believers now had the assurance of eternal life.

I’ve never seen a necklace depicting an empty tomb. I can’t imagine what one would look like. But the empty cross  and the empty tomb go together like hand in glove.

I have every respect for Believers who prefer to wear a crucifix. Especially if they understand and believe in the whole story.

What about you? Are you a cross wearer or a crucifix wearer? What does it signify to you? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

What Do You Associate with Old Age?

Before I go any further, let me hastily explain that I don’t think of myself as being very old. Just older than I’ve ever been before. And younger than I’ll be one second and one minute and one hour from now, assuming I’m still alive then.

Okay, so what do you associate with old age? What about the one obvious answer, the one I just referenced–death and dying? Not most people’s favorite thing to think about. Mine, either.

Not that I’m afraid of being dead. I know where I’ll be then, and will that ever be better than continuing to live on this sin-cursed earth. But like many of you, I’m not fond of the prospect of a lengthy or painful final illness.

Do you associate old age with slowness? Physical slowness–did my father ever poke along as he got older–and mental slowness. Thank goodness he never reached that point until perhaps a few days before his death. And how horrible would it be to suffer through the last part of life with dementia of any kind?

Or do you associate old age with garrulous folks telling the same old stories over and over again and you having to sit there and politely pretend to listen and be interested? I hate to admit it, but that typified my father many years before he reached old age, and it didn’t get any better then. Yet now I wish I could remember many of those stories which–for better or worse–are forever lost.

Or perhaps you think of old folks in an all-too-similar way: as living in the past?

But those are all negative, undesirable old age traits. Don’t we associate anything good with old age?

I’m not sure whether the Bible speaks about those old age-related stereotypes I’ve mentioned, but it’s fascinating to read parts of the Old Testament and learn how many years various familiar (and some unfamiliar) biblical characters lived.

But one thing it does talk about–especially in the book of Proverbs–is something very positive: wisdom. Just out of curiosity I opened my Bible to Proverbs and put my finger down at a random place on the page. Sure enough, Proverbs 30:2-3 says of Agur–I’m not sure who he is, uh, was–“I am the least intelligent of men, and I lack man’s ability to understand. I have not gained wisdom, and I have no knowledge of the Holy One.”

Okay. Maybe not the most helpful passage. And even though most of the references to wisdom in Proverbs speak of it as a desirable quality, I couldn’t find one wisdom verse there that related wisdom and old age.

The Bible refers to wisdom 211 times, however, and I think Job 12:12 is applicable. “Wisdom is with aged men. With long life is understanding.” I feel confident there are others.

If you’re like me, you may question how many old people are appreciably wise. Too often it seems that the advice they’re inclined to offer seems outdated and irrelevant. That’s sad. I don’t think they could’ve attained old age without gaining at least some wisdom and understanding about a few subjects.

Perhaps our unwillingness to listen reveals a lack of wisdom on our parts.

What do you think wisdom is? Do you think of old people as being wise? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger