Friday nights are reserved as date night with my youngest daughter. I decided to take her to the outdoor mall we used to go to often. Once-upon-a-time, the kids and I spent a lot of time there, especially at Barnes and Noble.
We began our night at JC Penney’s. I spent a boatload of money in Penney’s throughout my years. My mom was a Penney’s girl too. Penney’s had the best selections and I was always happily surprised when I got to the checkout counter with the extra discounts I received. With six kids, discounts and quality of clothing kept me coming back.
As I walked through Penney’s last night, I was greatly disheartened. It resembled more of a garage sale than the Penney’s I recall. Racks of mismatched clothing. Clothing and hangers on the floor. I actually kicked hangers off the walkway as I saw it to be a potential hazard where someone could get hurt. Some fitting rooms were closed and barricaded by mounds of clothing. The fitting rooms that were open were littered with clothing, hangers, and tags just strewn everywhere. No employee anywhere in sight. Then I needed to use the restroom. Filthy. I felt I needed a shower and/ or tetanus shot when I exited. Probably both.
I left Penney’s with a heavy heart.
I want my old Penney’s back. A place where sales people were readily available. Well lighted and bright. Clothing neatly displayed. Clean fitting rooms and sparkling restrooms.
We walked outside throughout the mall and noticed many empty stores. We tried to remember what used to be in each empty space. Sadly, Rocket Fizz is gone. Barnes and Noble was still there thankfully. Still it was somewhat changed from the last time we were there. But change is a must sometimes. I get it. I just don’t do well with it. The smell of coffee and books though was familiar and so welcomed.
As we headed back to the car, I noticed that even the landscaping wasn’t as kept up as it once was. I wondered…was it due to lack of money or lack of employees?
I shared my thoughts with Mattea. I mentioned that Penney’s, and malls in general, took a big hit once Amazon and online shopping became popular. Covid was designed to create another huge dent in life and living (my opinion). And now with our economy tanking and people becoming increasingly more cautious with their spending, and surprisingly, there are many who don’t want to work, so it’s no wonder we have messy fitting rooms, disgusting bathrooms, and empty buildings.
I want to go back. I really want to go back.
Back to the fun mall days of shopping or just to walk around. Maybe grabbing coffee to go with a Cinnabon, or an Orange Julius with a Hot Sam’s pretzel with mustard. Back to Christmas displays complete with Santa and candy canes, and Easter bunny photo shoots. Back to more carefree days, like the time spent with my sister and friends at the Lakehurst Mall in Waukegan, IL, in the mid ‘70’s. Even back just 12 years ago with my kids.
Maybe all malls are not in such decline as this one. But in my world, mall shopping is quickly becoming unfun. This town is 45 minutes east of my home. The other mall where we shopped in the ‘90’s is 45 minutes west of here and is even in greater decline.
I woke up this morning still feeling a little sad. Things we take for granted are never quite noticed until they are vanishing or gone. Quite like our freedoms of today. I, for one, am feeling the squeeze of the tightening belt around our livelihood and I’m not happy about it. I, too, took things for granted.
I’m thankful that I was able to experience those good ole mall days which blessed me with many good memories and warm fuzzy feelings. I only hope that we can turn things around and head in a better direction. That way we can share moments like these with our grandchildren.
Change for the better I can handle. It’s this downward spiral of change that I cannot. We need to do better. As a country we need to do better.
I still believe good things are possible. It’s going to take a lot of work, but all things are possible through God. ♥️
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Photos: online photos of Lakehurst Mall, Waukegan, IL, 1971-2001