There is a place where we all ultimately go, like McDonald’s or BB’s Cafe, and that place is called the local shopping mall.
The local malls have been undercut by the Westfields but they stand, steadfast, like a beacon of cheapness, scattered across suburban New Zealand.
They’re places to go when the big malls are too scary, and you’re happy to come home with a bag of singlets from Fancy Chic Fashions, or a flat white pumped out of a hands-free machine.
They’re still in that blissful state of ignorance, these malls.
Some of them are a doughnut shape. From Google Earth, malls like this are basically Drone targets—the bulls eye being the leafy planted area in the middle—or is this the secret unseen operations-centre of the mall, in which a security despot mans several security screens, feeding customer information through to the stall holders in the leased shop spaces?
Where I grew up (Howick), there was such a mall. It was called Howickville.
It was a fantastic hexagon shape. In the Drone Target part, there was a fountain, with real water.
The bookshop nearby was called Fountain Bookshop. Every Christmas Eve, with the fountain lit up like an effect from Krull, there would be Midnight Madness which entailed hammered teenagers splashing water from the fountain onto each other, and punters trying to get a long tassled Stevie Nicks skirt from Dare to Wear.
These old malls had no theme — ergo — no chain-store misery. They were held together by a supermarket hub, which drew you in to the many delights. Once you were in these malls, with their single set of stairs, and one-way escalator, you could never escape. Around and around you went.
Perhaps you had 10 minutes up your sleeve. Suddenly these one-off, under-performing havens offered you things you couldn’t live without:
- white singlets with a shelf bra, two for $5
- a diamond ring for only $49
- Laura Ashley-look wrapped soaps
- small fold-down umbrellas, with a ladybird motif
- the chance to win the new Toyota Corolla (hatch up to show spacious interior), if you placed your proof of purchase of at least $40 in a small, badly-constructed shoe box
- a camera and film developing shop (closed)
- a size XXXL Chicago Bulls singlet
- plastic basins and holders for around the home, office and garage
Strip shopping does not have the same hold over a customer. You are relatively free to cross the road and, in fact, just park outside the shop of your choice. The mall has you. You can’t escape. And in many ways, you don’t even want to.
Don’t let these hexagonal bazaars get to the point where a giant Bayley’s FOR LEASE sign covers Dakshin’s Curry Palace, BB’s Coffee House or Brown’s CZ Ring Emporium.
Go down to your local mall today, get a cappuccino, sit on a courtesy chair, and shop to freedom with one of those wheeling basket-holder arrangements.
You are worth it!