Student argues that malls are a plague of american consumerism

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Picture this: it’s Saturday, midday, and you need a product from a major brand. Let us say you are looking for a new pair of headphones from Best Buy. Where must you go? The mall, otherwise known as an unnecessarily large, crowded mecca for average threads and food courts.

Malls exist as a vehicle for a handful of stores to display their wares that would otherwise be relegated to online stores. This sounds good in practice, no? A one-stop shop for things everybody wants. The only problem is that malls are essentially a black hole of both time and money as they line their storefronts with attractive deals and expensive goods.

The only stores that are ‘affordable’ in the mall are either H&M or ones that are as sketchy as they are cheap. Things like “Great Clothes 4 Less” or “The Last Store Went Out of Business But This New Store Sells Exactly The Same Thing, and Definitely Won’t Go Out of Business.” My question is, who are malls for? If they exist solely as places for people to spend their time, and not necessarily their money, then they are nothing short of disappointing.

One giant building dedicated to consumerism of many kinds is probably some sort of greater symbol of modern materialistic sensibilities than anything. But I am constantly astounded by how much time it takes to get what you need. “The mall,” as it exists now, is something that essentially only appeals to teenagers. The benefits of physical stores, if you actually need something,, are completely outweighed by the hazards and stresses of the pilgrimage to the mall.

It is very rare for the mall, conceptually, to be a nice, clean, and enjoyable environment where you would want to spend any time. Instead, they very quickly turn into a wasteland for lost children and strange stands selling Israeli hand cream or other unnecessary products. It is understandable because of the large overhead of keeping a store in the mall running (i.e. rent, etc) that the rest of the mall falls quickly into disrepair. But it is also depressing.

The problem is the stores are either “mall brands” (vomit) or ones that only sell things you need every once in a while, like TVs or cell phones. Malls play into their own fate by doing little to appeal to revisit, but they almost do not have to. I write this article in response to the fact that I have been to two malls multiple times in the past week, all for unrelated things.

Lately, my general reason for the mall is the Apple Store, where I pay homage to Steve in the form of hundreds of dollars of shiny electronics. The only problem is that, despite the fact that Apple Stores are almost entirely in malls, the trip to the store itself takes so long that doing anything else in tandem to getting your phone fixed, or whatever, is nearly impossible.

So, one day spent just at the Apple Store and another spent returning to go to Dick’s for a new gym bag and compression shorts. I don’t know what the solution is here, and maybe I’m just reflecting on my own inefficiencies as a shopper for lacking the resolve to spend more than 90 minutes in the consumerist buffet. The other problem is, especially in places that are more suburban or spread out, the mall is the only place to find these types of stores.

Another problem is that there are two malls within 5 minutes of each other and the overlap of stores they both carry is very small. This is unfortunate because I have rarely been able to go to both in the same day. The thing I like about real stores is that I can see and try on what they have with my own hands rather than pictures online. I do not see myself as a “mall person,” but given how many times I’ve gone back to LL Bean or Apple, maybe I have been made into one.

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