Tuesday, April 28, 2009

E.V. mall owners shopping for business

What happens when the first domino of the chain that eventually kills a mall has already been knocked over, and the alarm bells are sounding? Find out in this article about some Phoenix area malls titled E.V. mall owners shopping for business.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Comical look at Retail

Norm Feuti produces a comic strip dedicated to topics of retail.   One particular strip titled "Signs that your Mall is in Trouble" caught my eye.   Take a look:

Retail ©2008 Norm Feuti

It may be presented in a humorous way, but yet I have to pause and think about how true it really is.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"An Interview with Brian Ulrich"

An Interview with Brian Ulrich

Brian is known for taking photos of dead stores. His website is notifbutwhen.
C: What are some of these things you want to get to, exactly?

BU: I'm working on the chapter of my bigger project called Dark Stores, Ghostboxes and Dead Malls -- not just the changing retail landscape, but also the change in our economy and an economic model that has been in place since the mid-20th century. It's an economy based on disposable goods, and a society that has a continual influx of leisure time and cash to spend on new stuff. But things are changing and happening so fast, it's insane. Literally, timing the photography of a lot of these sites and locations is key -- the places get bulldozed.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Are Shopping Malls Endangered?

With the downturn in the economy and analysts now speculating that the end is farther away that originally anticipated, and today's announcement of General Growth Properties bankruptcy filing, the realization that malls are suffering continues to be at the forefront of the news.

Roger Koskela of the Kitsap Sun (near Seattle, WA) asks the question, "Are Shopping Malls Endangered?". The answer of course is yes.

After you read the article, also read my comments.

-- Brian Florence

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"In hard times, empty stores fascinate and fuel mournful tributes."

Columbia University's Columbia News Service reports on the long existing and ever increasing downfall of the suburban retail environment and how it could become even more widespread with the current hard economic times.

"A skinny young minister in black pants and a golf shirt paces around a riser in the middle of a cavernous room as he preaches to the thousands of people sitting all around him on a Sunday morning.

“Wisdom in the Scriptures is a female. Figure that out and your marriage will be special,” pastor Rob Bell tells the congregation, drawing loud laughter.

The video on YouTube shows the members of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich., gathering for worship. But unlike congregants in most churches, they are not arranged in pews facing an ornate altar. Instead, they sit in simple plastic chairs in an enormous windowless room. The only architectural features are a few pillars and rows of metal ceiling joists. Until the late 1990s, when it closed, this was the Grand Village Mall.

Mars Hill illustrates one use for the growing number of ailing malls across the country. But while some malls are resurrected in unexpected ways, many aren’t as fortunate. As the economy continues to tumble, the fate of all those empty stores has fueled a cadre of watchers devoted to the topic."

Brian and myself are quoted in the article, as well as others. More at the link above.

"A Challenging Time for Malls Across the Nation."

South Carolina's The Sun News looks at the faltering Inlet Square Mall in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina and finds that its woes are part of a nationwide trend:
"This is a challenging time for malls across the nation, which are being squeezed by the credit crunch at the same time that consumers scale back and retailers go out of business. People's appetites for luxury and discretionary items are weak...Some people are even questioning whether the typical enclosed shopping mall is a dying breed as people flock to open-air centers or big box stores. Even before the recession, malls had started shuttering."
Much more in the link above.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Retailer Wants Out of Dead Mall

The Austin Business Journal reports on a Dillards store that is trying to get out of its lease after Highland Mall's developers allowed it to become what the retailer calls a "ghost town."

This is the same mall that earlier this week was the subject of an NAACP boycott over alleged racism and xenophobia.

One of the mall's co-owners is General Growth Properties, a company on the brink of bankruptcy, as you saw here in late March.

Perhaps they should consider changing the word "General," to "Malignant," in light of recent events.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Deadmalls.com: The final resting place in retail

Posted Apr 08 2009, 05:59 PM by Karen Datko

Has the mall of your teens died a slow death by neglect or succumbed to sudden trauma inflicted when vehicle traffic patterns were changed? If so, chances are you can find its eulogy at Deadmalls.com.

Read this here.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

"The Looming Implosion in Commercial Real Estate."

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Indoor Surfing: a Sign of Desperate Times

The New York Times has a report on desperate mall owners and their increasingly bizarre tactics to keep their retail monoliths alive.

In addition to dying malls now welcoming in formerly shunned "downscale chains" (there's a term to remember -- you'll be hearing it again) like Big Lots, the most amazing thing about the article has to be the segment on "The Flowrider," which some malls are installing to attract curious (and presumably unemployed and possibly brain-damaged) onlookers. Not only does the idiotic machine waste tens of thousands of gallons of water, but its developers are able to charge up to two million dollars for each installation.

Friedrich Nietzsche once famously said, "Those you cannot teach to fly, teach to fall faster." Or, you know: Hang Ten.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

101 Uses for a Deserted Mall

Appearing in the New York Times online blog this afternoon (4/4/2009).

101 Uses for a Deserted Mall
New York Times - New York,NY,USA
Peter Blackbird and Brian Florence are two such people. They consider themselves retail historians, and they are the founders of the Website deadmalls.com. ...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

"The Best Buy That Never Was."

Can a mall be classified dead if it hasn't even opened yet? The News and Observer reports on a Raleigh, North Carolina mall that has nearly completed construction but has zero tenants committed to occupying its 107,000 square feet of retail space.

In an amazing display of understatement, the story blames "bad breaks and unfortunate timing," for the disastrous set of circumstances that has befallen Alexander Place Crossing (the perfect, ridiculous name for a mall conceived and constructed after the mall era has already ended), which in October of 2007 had secured Best Buy as an anchor store. Best Buy's involvement convinced other retail outlets to sign on, but then it was learned local regulations outlawed Best Buy's gigantic, garish signage from taking up a demanded 700 square feet of space. Best Buy bowed out, and then so did everyone else, the developer already having spent millions on construction.

The News and Observer's Jack Hagel waxes poetic on the current state of the deadmall-to-be:
"Today, a 30,000-square-foot box, the Best Buy that never was, sits dark. Its deep blue and egg yolk-yellow skin dictates the design of other empty store fronts, including one with a shattered window. Grass grows in an almost-finished parking lot."
As America's love affair with the doomed and destructive suburban shopping mall becomes an ever-dimmer memory in the rear-view mirror of cars that will soon run out of gas for good, let us pause and reflect on the brilliance of a writer who could wring such touching prose out of the sight of a gaudy Best Buy sign.

Oh, to live in a world where one could see that nightmarish tribute to consumer excess as "deep blue and egg-yolk-yellow," and not as a warning of impending doom for a country bent on destroying itself as spectacularly as possible. Rather than a tragic collapse of retail hopes and dreams, one might view the ironic tale of Alexander Place Crossing as a bullet, dodged. Barely.

To quote James Howard Kunstler, "Ridicule is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous."

Ridicule, and a zero-percent tenancy rate, apparently.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"Malls R Us" Snubbed at Montreal Film Fest

The documentary film Malls R Us, which features a prominent segment on Deadmalls.com, apparently was nominated but did not receive an award at the 27th International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA), at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal this past weekend.

Full details at The Art Newspaper.

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