On The Death of The Mall

Against my better judgment, I went to a mall on Sunday rather than just ordering the thing I needed on line. What can I say – sometimes I like to receive my goods and/or services a moment after I pay for them. That’ll teach me.

While I was already in the hellmouth, I figured I may as well check the department stores for a few odds and ends in apparel. This is always an extra challenge for the over 50% of consumers who are my size or larger. I had to remember which stores had my size at the end of the women’s wear labyrinth usually next to the Petites department in what I like to call “the freak show sizes”, and which one crammed them between housewares and baby clothes. The quest ended as it often does in disappointment. Everything was vile. I’m not exaggerating. Ugly colors, unflattering cuts, lousy quality and the worst fabrics. Even if I were inclined to wear disgustingly floppy, shapeless peasant tops, I have no idea why I would wear them out of synthetic diaphanous fabric which require a second layer of clothing just to be work/eyesight appropriate. On a scale of 1-10, my odds of wearing pure Poly-fucking-ester in LA in the summer are roughly -738. For once, the skinny person section was just as horrid as the fatties. Which I know because despite the fact that I was there as soon as they opened, the fat lady racks were full of mis-filed clothing. Maternity wear, juniors size L and XL, even a few men’s things were scattered amongst the 2Xs. Finding absolutely nothing I would be seen in public in (and those of you who know me know exactly how low that bar is) I stopped in the size-agnostic purse department to look for a clutch for a dressy event, and every one I liked had its price tag torn off it with no sku in sight.

Once out of the department stores (one of which puts the fat lady section – and yes, more than 50% of consumers wear those sizes – wedged between housewares and baby clothes) I considered visiting the hundreds of other shops littered about. Out of 49 women’s apparel stores, only ONE (1) has clothing in my size. I was in the mood to buy an obscenely overpriced Star Wars or Wonder Woman t-shirt ($35, ladies and gents. welcome to the fat tax) but even that store had only smaller and larger SW/WW shirts (to be fair, I could have purchased a Disney one if I were a half a generation younger). Even Clarks, the go-to place for thrill-free utilitarian shoes in an array of widths, is no longer carrying the wide widths in the store. “We can order them for you!” they offered. Thanks. So can I. Why would I bother to park my car in this abomination just so you can work the internet in my stead?

And to top it all off, in the end I wound up purchasing my second choice of color on the thing I originally went in for because while the internet showed the goods in black, brown/black, pink, purple and aqua, the store actually had a half a wall of that hideous color your never sure is brown (or was it black?) and pink. Which. Well, it’ll match fine. And I already used the gas and parked and all that hassle. I just really wanted the purple.

But that’s OK, because I won’t make that mistake again.

So, brick and mortar stores – are you worried you’re going out of business because of the internet? No. You’re going out of business because you refuse to do the things the internet can’t do: let me try stuff on to make sure it fits, provide decent customer service and a relatively non-chaotic shopping experience. Shit you were somehow able to do before internet shopping became the norm. You could have had literally half the paycheck burning a hole in my pocket. Instead, all you’ll get from me is a gleeful cackle for every article I read prognosticating your doom.

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