Wednesday, July 2, 2014


If you live long enough you will see a lot of change . . . in almost everything.   Some activities, habits or institutions seem immutable; they have existed in their present form for all eternity and will continue to do so. But then things change.

I was reading this article in the Huffington Post about declines in shopping mall attendance and the resultant slow down in sales in both Canadian and American shopping malls.   The writer describes an institution that  once admirably . . . "functioned as an exercise circuit for seniors, a fun escape for moms on maternity leave and the default weekend hangout for teenagers . . ."    Really?  The usual suspects of stagnant personal income, on-line shopping, foreign competition and personal debt loads are given as the reason.

But then I tried to remember the last time I was in a shopping mall in the city I live in. I couldn't.   Not that I've ever been a 'shopper' in a recreational sense nor was it my habit to go to malls with no particular purpose or shopping goal in mind but I believe it has been over a year since I indulged.   It probably doesn't help that my memories of malls involve trudging endlessly through crowds, feeling overheated in my outdoor attire past storefronts that all seemed similar and at the same time excessive.

I have a theory that one of the reasons North Americans find Europe so appealing s the lack of malls, at least in the historic town centers.   On the outskirts there are plenty of shopping opportunities   in enormous rectangular cement blocks.  But the city squares, built centuries before are quaint and appealing and seem to encourage a slow promenade under the collonades and down the canal lined sides streets.  But perhaps we would still go home and compare the price on-line.

I suspect this change is a natural evolution, a little like the oft-quoted analogy that buggy whip makers suffered when the automobile came into wide use.   But along that line I do sometimes wonder why the invention behind the automobile--the internal combustion engine--which runs on the increasingly difficult to procure oil, has not been superseded after a century of dominance by something cheaper . . . less polluting . . .less disruptive to the environment.  

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