Tuesday, December 22, 2020


Once upon a time, huge shopping malls roamed the Earth.

They competed with one another to see which could cover the most land with concrete and steel to claim the title of "world's biggest."

The fossilized remains of Metrocenter Mall.
(Jesse Rieser for The New York Times)
Now, not sadly, those beasts are mostly gone, replaced by digital analogues.

Today, in the pages of another anachronism, this photo caught my attention —>

Back in the day I worked at a restaurant near the Metrocenter Mall in Phoenix, AZ. 

It was a raucous little establishment most nights, attracting customers looking for other attractive customers, inexpensive food, and maybe a drink or three.

During the NBA season, visiting teams would come in after their games with the Phoenix Suns. I met a lot of players that year—Reggie Theus, Larry Micheaux, Adrian Dantley, Danny Schayes, Otis Thorpe, Rick Robey—which seemed kind of cool at the time.

More importantly, I met a girl there who would eventually agree to marry me. That, of course, was super cool.

Back to our allegory:

Eventually and relentlessly, the retail environment evolved. Lumbering anchor stores like Sears and JC Penney were overrun by more nimble competitors. Omnivorous predators like Walmart, Costco, and Amazon devoured local traffic, and then came the asteroid strike known as COVID-19.

After 47 years, Metrocenter, much like this allegory, expired in 2020.

The End.

Lex: What are you and Ellie gonna do now if you don't have to pick up dinosaur bones anymore?

Dr. Alan Grant: I don't know. I guess...I guess we'll just have to evolve.

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