Am I the Only Person Alive Who Still Loves Malls?
Illustration by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

I LOVE malls so very much I don’t even know where to begin, but maybe I should start where all good things do: biscuits. Popeye’s biscuits from the food court, specifically. Oh my god, my mouth is already watering.

Biscuits are not my first stop, though. I guess it depends on the mall, really, and what time of day I arrive. If this is going to be an all-day or at least three-hour affair, the key is to get a bit of a mall breakfast while still allowing myself time and stomach space for a snack and — if I’m really lucky and at “the fancy mall” — dinner. “The fancy mall” normally doesn’t have a Popeye’s or an Auntie Ann’s, so I have to think about what kind of mall mood I’m in and plan my meals accordingly. Ugh, I am overwhelmed. I wish I’d started there. Okay, starting over.

I love malls so very much, because to begin with, there are so many kinds of malls. In your hometown and mine, there is the high-school-hangout mall, the fancy mall and the kind-of-sucky-but-convenient-for-errands mall. Don’t try to peg this on suburbs alone, readers: I am from San Francisco and, as we say in our native tongue, we have hella malls. There’s Stonestown (high school mall), The One Downtown (fancy mall), Serramonte (the kind-of-sucky-but-convenient-for-errands mall).

I am just so excited to be writing about this that I can’t focus. I wonder if I’ll win a Pulitzer.

Once I’ve identified my mall mood, a choice that also depends on how I look that day and who I’d like to avoid/run into, then I just have to show up and have the best time ever, really. I am never wasting a hot or rainy day at a mall. I’m A) walking, B) socializing, C) not sitting at home.

Malls are like cardiovascular nostalgia tours. When I visit my dad in New Jersey (great mall state) and we go to the kind-of-sucky-but-convenient-for errands mall near his work (fun for me because I don’t run into anyone/terrible for him because he runs into everyone), I like to do a lap of my youth and make grand, dramatic statements about how life was so easy back then. Sometimes I walk past Hot Topic and stare longingly at the enterprising kids who make money by being moderately helpful to the soundtrack of heavy death metal. Those were the good old days. Sometimes I walk past Abercrombie & Fitch just to get a whiff of Fierce, a cologne that still triggers false feelings of love in my head when I smell it. Sometimes I go into Victoria’s Secret just to see if I’m eligible for a free pair of underwear for having a birthday or something. But I always, always walk past the old haunts where my high school friends and I would hang out. I like to know who’s trying to unsuccessfully usurp our legacy.

My mom and I do malls too, but when I’m with her we are typically on deadline for something I forgot to pack, like an important outfit component required for something dress-code related. I am 29 years old, thank you for asking. Once I find said component, all stressed and strung out because it always has a weird bauble on it or cost more than I estimated, we go to the Nordstrom’s Cafe and order artichoke dip and Diet Cokes and sit in the same seat. When we finish, we spend about an hour or more wandering around, looking at eye shadow and expensive jeans.

Here are some thoughts about malls that didn’t have a place in any of the above paragraphs: Why do all malls smell so good? Why are they so cold? Why is it so satisfying to wear a sweatshirt with shorts in that kind of temperature? Why do I suddenly need a new skincare routine, cell phone case, hair straightener and Tempurpedic pillow after I emerge from those little bodega clusters? Why don’t I go to malls more often? Why does everyone hate on them?

The last thing I like to do when I leave a mall — the fancy mall, at least — is have dinner at a mall restaurant (I dream about Joe’s All American Bar and Grill), even though I’m probably full from a weird and unnecessary snack I bought at Starbucks while waiting for someone at the Genius Bar to tell me that a hard reset is all it takes. I like to climb into a dinner booth and crush all my shopping bags between me and the wall. I like to eat an entire loaf of bread while waiting for the waiter to stop telling us about the specials. Between courses, I like to go through my purchases and admire my taste and get excited about giving any gifts I bought. On the ride home, so long as I’m not at the wheel, I like to fall asleep immediately. Malls are exhausting. I love them so much.

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  • Coco

    (Amelia I really enjoy your writing but) I HATE malls. It’s so scary how they become more and more here in europe and make it basically impossible for traditional small businesses to exist in the city centers anymore. American shopping culture is taking over and I do not approve. :'(

    • Hayley

      I hate them too. We have this giant one in Syracuse, and I only go there to return clothing from online orders to avoid the mail return fee.

      • Jackie Homan

        Have been in Syracuse 4 years now and still can’t navigate Destiny USA without getting hopelessly lost

        • Hayley

          I’m grateful that I am not the only one.

    • Amelia Diamond

      oo i don’t like when new ones are built and take over small businesses 🙁 i really don’t . no one needs a NEW MALL. just keep the old creepy ones

    • Sis

      totally agree, it’s very sad seeing the european culture of small artesans shop losing like that, american shopping mall style feel colder and with less soul, tradition and history, they make you feel just like a client not like part of the community, here is also about socializing and spending quality time toghether not just spending money as fast as you can the more than you can

    • Miss Crystal

      That’s really heartbreaking 🙁 I have found that in places like SE Asia, the mall culture there incorporates traditional small business, but just places everything in one big space. At least, in the Philippines, malls are THE place to be, and there’s still little shops and family owned businesses inside of the malls, including food stalls, and it’s basically a social gathering place to escape the heat.

    • lateshift

      fun fact: the world’s first enclosed shopping mall was actually in Sweden, back in the 50s. The idea was a straight-up European import. But sure – it’s totally America’s fault anyway, obv, because reasons. #ThanksEurope

  • Ashlene

    Ha ha ha! This makes me feel nostalgic. Probably won’t go to a mall, but I’m sending this to all my sisters and old friends. 💄🍟🎯

    • Amelia Diamond

      i love those emojis with this comment

  • Abby

    I’m sort of into malls – my parents live by one of the largest malls on the east coast and when I visit them I like making a pilgrimage, but if I was expected to be in a mall more than twice a year I think I would enjoy it much less. It’s about the rarity of the experience.

    • Amelia Diamond

      which one king of prussia!? (also yes to rarity…)

      • Abby

        Tyson’s Corner + the Galleria! I’m actually driving distance from KOP myself but I don’t have a car, so I’ve been there like three times ever.

        • Sheila T.

          Tyson’s Corner is the best Fancy Mall I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending an entire day in

      • Zoe Ramos

        I live 10 min from King of Prussia! have you been there lately..??? It has transformed into a full blown fancy mall

        • Elizabeth Van Schaick Armstron

          Hi to another K o P gal!

        • Natalie T.

          I went to KOP (with my mom, of course) when I was back in PA visiting for the holidays last year and my mind was blown! You don’t even have to walk outside in the cold anymore to get from one mall to the other.

  • Arden

    This article combined with the suddenly chill fall air in New York just blew me into a full blown nostalgia tornado. Suddenly I’m wearing those slightly cropped Victoria’s Secret Pink sweatpants everyone had in middle school, brushing away my tragic side swept bangs, and searching for the perfect dress to wear to the three bat mitzvahs I have this weekend.

  • Iona

    As a longtime Man Repeller lurker, this article resonated with me enough to comment. I LOVE MALLS! It makes me a little sad that people prefer to shop online these days. I just got back from an eventful trip to Vegas which involved a visit to the marvellously named “Fashion Show Mall”. I even bought a skirt from Pacsun… And don’t even get me started on Floridian Outlet Malls.

  • Shelby Lynn Kennedy

    Amelia, have you ever been to New Jersey? New Jersians love a good mall. When you go to college in New Jersey, one of the first questions that gets asked is which mall do you shop at, which follows after asking the classic Pork Roll or Taylor Ham debate question. We are properly obsessed with malls here and you can find a mall for every occasion in this state.

    • Abby

      People who call it Taylor Ham don’t deserve to eat it, TBH. Does my opinion count though? I’m a Philadelphian and not a New Jersian.

      • Shelby Lynn Kennedy

        Too true. I don’t even eat it, but it’s Pork Roll. Plain and simple.

  • Meemaw

    AMELIA. 415 Represent!

  • Andrea Raymer

    Malls are great! it is so convenient having everything in the same place. (and much easier to get Christmas shopping done at a mall than it is in New York where you haver to do so much research before walking around the whole city. I’ve just started buying everyone the same thing).

    I have such a thing for department stores, too. Mostly because they tend to be more size inclusive than all of these fast fashion places that the world shops at. I’m sorry, but I can’t fit into any of the pants at Zara. For the past 3 years the only jeans I have purchased have been from Style&Co which is one of the Macy’s house brands. I have owned 11 pairs in different colors.

    Also, can we talk about Target? I recently had my brother’s car for the weekend and Drove up top White Plains to go to Target. All of the City Targets just don’t cut it for me (and don’t get me started on that travesty in Tribeca).

    I think both malls and Target are emotional iconography of my southern suburban upbringing that I have definitely idealized.

  • Rachel

    I have no choice but to love malls because I live in Canada where it is too cold in the winter to have those nice outdoor shopping areas. We finally got one of those outdoor outlet malls a few years ago in my city and it is just not the same walking around in the snow and cold as it is in sunny Florida. But honestly I really do like malls because I love the convenience of having all the stores right there! As much as I love boutique shopping in cute areas when I travel in the U.S., last time I was in D.C. I made the trip out to Tyson’s Corner and had the best time shopping!

  • Roosevelt field is still great haha. It’s just so much easier to go early on a Saturday and slowly sip my tea and wander around there than schlepping into the city or something.

    • Bria

      Roosevelt Field is the BEST.

    • ihaveacooch

      LI represent!!!!!

    • shannon

      yasss roosevelt field! went to college in queens & it was the best / so much easier than going into the city

  • Martha Pietruszewski

    Amelia – you are welcome in Minnesota anytime. We have the one, the only, MALL OF AMERICA. Conveniently it includes an amusement park, several mall restaurants, and a plethora of norm core mall stores.

    • emily moran

      “You’d think it has the parking lot of America to go with the mall of America”

    • Kiks

      Dude, I grew up just across the border in northern Ontario and going to Mall of America was, like, the pinnacle of status in my hometown. I also had one of my first-ever panic attacks in the lineup for the log ride, which was inside a cave. Good memories.

      • Martha Pietruszewski

        ah yes, the log ride. fond memories there

  • clairmk

    This article speaks to me. Slightly frigid in a sweatshirt and jean shorts walking slowly by FYE and actually thinking for a second that maybe I should go buy myself a CD? What? I don’t even have a CD player? Oh. I’ll just go to Aeropostale and check if they still sell exclusively monkey related apparel. And then I’ll go to Claire’s and get my cartilage pierced and wait for it to get infected and then remove it forever. SIGH I LOVE MALLS

  • I ADORE the mall and the thought of it not existing because of this era of I need everything delivered to my door step gives me anxiety. There is literally nothing better than gliding through the mall aisles, smelling random scents and eating 10000000 calorie pretzel dog samples. Trying on clothes and spinning in the dressing room will never go out of style in my head. There is so much inspo found when you leave your home people!!! Vent session complete. 🙂 P.S I’m from Jersey and Garden State is our fancy/high school/ run in too everybody mall and I wouldn’t change it for the world! lol ALSO I cannot go to short hills mall without feeling like I deserve Joe’s Bar and Grill. AND I almost always need a new skin care routine. Currently feeling mario badescu ENTIRE line. Ok I’m done. & now were officially bff’s in my head! lol

    • Kelsey Moody

      Short Hills is sooooo the fancy mall I feel like a totally cool 8th grader whenever I go back as an adult since I moved from nj…Joe’s is always a must.

  • Hilary

    This reads like “Eloise goes to the Mall” and I LOVE IT.

    • Sarah

      Same, great writing Amelia!

  • cemberli

    “Sometimes I walk past Hot Topic and stare longingly at the enterprising kids who make money by being moderately helpful to the soundtrack of heavy death metal.” I work in a Hot Topic and I think the job has contributed to my unresolved feelings about malls. I’ve climbed up ladders so many times(despite my fear of heights) to pull down shirts for customers only for them to leave them stuffed behind some other item when they decide they don’t want it.
    I feel weird when shopping in other stores because I don’t want the employees bending over backwards to help me if I know I’m not gonna buy anything.
    Malls are exhausting for me because I try to clean up after myself when I misplace things. As a kid, I loved malls but I don’t know working in one has COMPLETELY changed the feeling for me.

  • Emily

    ok, yes! I just went to a fancy mall last week and was feeling so sad that the mall is obviously a dying breed. I do most of my shopping online or at individual stores, but i’m so nostalgic for the teenage mall days, going with friends and trying on everything at abercrombie and hollister or if we were feeling really grown up maybe h & m haha. and my mom coming into every dressing room with me and sitting on the small chair giving opinions on everything! I feel like we’re giving up too many good things right here.

  • I just HATEEEE how cold malls are.

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    • Kelsey Moody

      so many of the sweaters I own are from being cold in malls but ITS FINE bc you can just buy one there!

  • Daniel Szilagyi

    I live in Vancouver and our giant mall (very similar to MOA – Mall Of America, minus the park in the middle) is really broken down into a few things for people:
    -old people to sleep in, most of those folks are usually dragged here by family and while the family shops ma and pa take a snooze on one of the many large, comfy lounge chairs.
    -hangout place for kids from highschool, where they don’t really have their “own” place to hang out in so they come to the mall and aimlessly wander around drinking overpriced bubble tea
    -families, usually here to do some shopping (food/clothing) and are in no rush, so they stumble about looking for something they don’t know they’re looking for and probably don’t need.
    -poor souls that are just trying to get passed the mall, these people are usually zipping around really fast and trying to get out of the mall as quickly as possible.

    • I live in Vancouver too. I’m assuming you’re talking about Metrotown (I’m usually the last variant), but wouldn’t the Canadian equivalent to Mall of America be West Edmonton Mall? That place has a waterpark and a life size replica of a ship in the middle.

      • Daniel Szilagyi

        Yup! I was thinking about Metrotown haha, you’re correct in saying that West Ed mall is closer but i don’t have as much experience with that mall.
        I’d say that is probably closer to MOA in the US

  • Bernadette Aylward

    What a sweet detail about eating with mom at the nordstrom cafe-I like to get a ceasar salad (mediocre vegetarian, I’ll allow myself the anchovies). Its a lovely time spent with my mom. I’m the youngest and the time spent with just the two of us in the house means I’ve been given a lot of control over her wardrobe! I used to hate shopping as a kid but enjoy it a lot more now, since it gives her so much satisfaction. I was not expecting to be so touched by a piece about malls! excellent writing, as always.

  • lulu442

    LOVE the mall & Amelia’s writing! It’s a shameful secret, but I’m at my local mall far more than any of my friends or fam know. It’s so familiar & comforting. I love the smell of coffee merging with candles wafting from Anthro & transitioning into the Lush scent. I know exactly when to drop eye contact & start walking all business-like to avoid those dead sea minerals kiosk people. My heart races in Sephora. It’s a cold soulless place but I can’t help myself.

    • Kiks

      SAME. When my husband & I first moved to this town, I knew no one. The best mall in the city is five minutes from our house. Every day when my husband was at work if I had nothing to do I would go to the mall. I started buying CDs again and also made the dangerous discovery that we now had a Sephora. I even had a short-lived reunion with The Gap, a place I had not shopped since I was seventeen.

      I only go every couple weeks now if I need something. But I always go alone. It’s the best way.

    • Lizzy

      I go to the mall whenever it rains. It’s a very comforting rainy day activity. Very warm and dry.

  • Kelsey Moody

    you just described so much about my life, from SF to NJ to Joe’s bread, I. fucking. love. malls.

  • It took you too long to get to the most important detail!!! You’re from New Jersey, of course you love a good mall! I am too, but I’ve sort of gone off malls honestly. Maybe it was living in CA for a bunch of years, or that I didn’t spend much time as a teenager there, or that I’m an online shopper, I just don’t go very often. My father is a mall-a-holic though, spends hours in Bloomingdale’s mens department, and enjoys happy hour at the Garden State Plaza. LOL Gotta love ’em.

  • chouette

    Ugh I love the mall. The mall in my hometown is dead (it’s officially on so I got a job at our illustrious outlet mall the second I turned 18. They transferred me to a different store when I moved for college, and I worked at the Nice Mall for 3 years. We saw the Gross Mall loose it’s anchor store, threaten to go out of business, and find new success with multi use spaces. The OLD OLD mall in that town had already been converted to county offices, which I think is great. I miss the mall walkers that would already be there enjoying the air conditioning before you even clocked in to open the store. I miss the camaraderie with my mall coworkers and waving at the cute guys that worked at the Nextel kiosk. I miss the behind-the-scenes secrets and hallways, and stalking Abercrombie for when they changed their displays so you could prank your friends by propping up an 8 foot photo of a scantily clad teenager in their front yard. There’s not a lot of clothing that piques my interest in the mall these days but I can haunt a Yankee Candle store for at least half an hour (sidenote they really need an NYC store). I finally got to go to the Mall of America this year, it was like a weird boring heaven.

    • rachel

      Mall Walkers! I worked at a haircare supply place in a mall after high school, and they were the only ones in the mall before I was. I don’t remember seeing them with bags (ever) but man, they probably spent more time in that mall then I did working there (~25 hours/week).

  • Dymond Moore

    I love the mall, I grew up on the mall (I’m 19). Malls were family outings. Now we’re down to but a few fancy malls here in Atlanta (looking at you Lenox), and it’s become almost mundane. I do enjoy being able to see and do everything at once and I too like ending with the restaurant of choice, usually cheesecake factory.

    • marissa

      YES love Lenox (& Phipps) every time I’m in ATL. I’d rather shop there than Michigan Avenue (I currently live in Chicago) any day!

    • Nikka Duarte

      I literally just went to the Cheesecake Factory for the FIRST time ever yesterday and I live right by it (Cumberland Mall!!) It had so many choices!!

      • Dymond Moore

        I’m thinking about going to Cumberland today, but I’m also online shopping haha. Oh the irony

  • Natalie L Howlett

    Nothing makes me feel more extravagant than holding shopping bags from multiple stores, and I also love squishing them into the booth at restaurants- PF Chang’s being my drug of choice. I always go to the mall when I visit home, because my mom doesn’t like to go shopping by herself and we share pretzels and then go home to show the rest of the family the spoils of the day. And, yeah, nap time is always a necessity afterwards.

  • p. c.

    oh my god i feel the same way about malls! if i’m feeling bored or antsy, i’ll drag my boyfriend to the local mall, usually devoid of any other life except for bored girls at empty registers and we will just walk around. and when i fly home to new york to visit my mom, we spend literally TEN HOURS in the mall there (it helps that its that huge one in syracuse)! like, the mall is the absolute BEST PLACE for people watching and i swear that is more fun than actually shopping

  • rachel

    Love the Nordstrom Cafe! There isn’t a Nordstrom in my hometown mall (singular, I live in a small city/large town in Missouri) but I remember loving the fancy malls in St Louis/Kansas city and feeling so sophisticated eating a sandwich in a Nordstrom. These days I have some joint problems that make walking difficult, and try to do most of my shopping second hand and vintage for environmental reasons, but I have so many fond memories of spending hours and hours at the mall– many of which revolve around Auntie Ann’s pretzel bites 🙂

  • space tam

    Your high school mall is my fancy mall! And my high school mall is tanforan 🙁

    • space tam

      Same feelings about serramonte though 😳

  • Brandi

    When I was 16 I took my 11 year-old sister to the mall and she dragged me into one of those calendar stores and begged for an I Love Lucy calendar. I told her no because she had no use for a calendar. I had a job at the local TCBY at the time so I could afford a $12 calendar. She was a huge I Love Lucy fan but I didn’t really appreciate the novelty of an 11yo Lucy fan in the mid 90’s until I was an adult. I still feel horribly guilty about not buying the calendar.

  • smillipede

    mallrat 4ever

  • emily moran

    I’m a costume designer and spend literally 75% of my life in the malls of Los Angeles. I recently however went to my hometown malls to do some work (Sup south coast plaza/MV mall?) and it was one of the premier delightfully nostalgic experiences of my 26 years. Traipsing by the limited too you worked at in high school with actual money to your name and a car payment is INCREDIBLE!

    • emily moran

      Also on a sensory note I’m dreaming of the echoes only vaulted ceilings paired with tile can provide, the sounds and smells of a recycled water feature, sky lights, and giant plants that somehow survive with little to no care.

  • Elif

    Hoping you’re talking about the Joe’s at Short Hills mall becuase the whiff you get from it when you walk out of Bloomingdales is iconic

  • CityMaus

    I will never stop craving the contact high I get from that perfume/popcorn/Starbucks mall smell. You took the words out of my mouth, just replace Joe’s with Cheesecake Factory.

  • Miss Crystal

    Cali girl here as well, and I think it’s in our blood. Free chocolate samples, smelling all the soaps and perfumes (including eau de Cinnabon), the outfit inspiration on mannequins, and feeling like Cher Horowitz jauntily walking with her bags and bags and bags!

  • Sharon Ann Witteck Austin


    My girlfriend sent me this article, and, I can only say what I replied to her:

    >>> ” O. M. G.




    CHUCKLED OUT LOUD! (and, sent to my husband, who, for most years, patiently hated going to the mall! …well, in all honesty, in my younger days, it used to be those 6-8 hour marathons, haha. “do I need this? no. do I want it? yes. haha).



    and—-FYI: I grew up in Jersey, still live in Jersey, have probably been to most ALL of the malls-and outlets! …and even (blushing) am of the age that as a kid the "new" Paramus mall was a big deal, along with the "new" Willowbrook mall! haha!
    And when I worked near Short Hills, I would decide if I wanted or needed to go to the Short Hills mall, OR, get something quickly at the Livingston mall, haha.
    And me and my twin sister have started a tradition of going to the mall for our mutual birthday, lol-sit in one of the seating areas and exchange presents, and gossip and news, and then spend the entire day shopping around together, haha (while our husbands just can't wait to go eat there, haha).
    Well, I will end this now, with HUGE KUDOS to the author, AMELIA, for such a cute and relevant article-LOVED it!

  • Camilla Ackley

    You know what, malls are indestructible in my heart. I once got lost in a mall in Albuquerque when I was five because I wandered off, so intoxicated by the sheer amount of shops. And I still love malls. You can’t forget the Cinnabun stop, as well.

  • Margaret Ward

    I so feel you boo, I also grew up in the city, between City College on one side and State College on the other, I’m as old as your parents so I remember when Stonestown Mall was all outdoors, Malls used to be somewhere to get the latest fashion and see what the cool girls were wearing…oh the good old days, now it’s to grab a quick bite or pick up something you bought online or movie night..these times are changing…lol

  • Elizabeth Van Schaick Armstron

    You are not the only one!! I live about six minutes from the second largest mall in the country, King of Prussia, and I am usually there at least 3 times a week, even if it is sometimes mostly just looking. I have lived here for my whole life and have seen the evolutions and renovations of the mall — both it’s parts — the Plaza, which was originally an outdoor mall, and the newer Court, and now the new connector between them (I could write a whole piece about this…) Although I occasionally enjoy city street shopping downtown, the mall is like a home away from home. There are stores I always check, stores I buy things in the most often, the stores I ignore because they are way too young and silly for me, and the stores I ignore because they are stratospheric, so to speak. But there is nothing like having this collection of stores and selection of merch to search when you want to find an exact color, or the perfect dress for attending a wedding. Oh, and BTW, just learned we are getting a Zara in 2018!!

  • You can pick up your Pulitzer at the Sephora in JCPenney

  • Chloe Roach

    This is such a romantic article. Every time I return to my hometown mall another one of the stores that haunted my teenage dreams has been replaced by something more trendy and minimalistic (even though I’d argue that Limited Too had a certain je ne sais quoi comparable to that of Lovesac). I love that you brought up the “admiring your own taste” afterglow that comes after every trip to the mall because personally, reliving my purchases and holding them over my outfit in my bedroom mirror is the best part of every shopping day.

  • Marisa Rose Morrison

    You are DEFINITELY talking about the Short Hills Mall at the end. (Or the Shmall as my friends and I call it.) The moment you mentioned Popeyes biscuits my mind went to my favorite mall snack, which you ALSO mentioned: Joe’s bread!!!! Did you know that for approximately $1.07 you can get one of those puppies fresh from the oven TO-GO?! With the butter! Just try not to eat the whole thing in one go. I basically go to the Shmall when I’m home in NJ just to get it. And also to be around holiday decorations bc you know holiday season is the best time to go to the mall. Williams Sonoma usually has samples of mint chocolate bark then. And if you’re lucky to know someone with access to the Chase lounge you’re really in business! Wow, I see how you were able to go on a tangent about malls because I just started my own. The point I’m trying to make is the bread! Popeyes is sure to be bumped down to #2 best mall snack. 😉

  • literally story of my life.

  • Devon

    I have these odd, fond memories of going to the mall when I was a child, especially in wintertime. There are two smells that instantly bring me back to late 80s/early 90s mall: perm chemicals from the JC Penney salon and those sweet vanilla cigars old men like to smoke. There used to be these sunk-in seating areas in the mall with vinyl covered sofas and seats and giant planters with probably fake foliage and fountains and the older men would sit there and smoke their sweet cigars while their wives shopped. This mall still exists and it no longer allows smoking inside and the sunk in seating areas are now raised and the fountains are all gone and replaced with kiosks selling hermit crabs or hover boards. Perms are less frequent now too and don’t smell the same. I still enjoy going to that mall, even though it has now turned into the scrappy mall and the AC is never quite strong enough.

    • KatieHansen

      Omg are you talking about stoneridge mall in the Bay Area?

  • Kelly

    Years ago when I moved to the states I was walking through my new neighborhood and found the Americana.. That place is fancy and for a second I thought that was what all American malls must be like in real life (and not in the movies). I would feel bougie as hell going to Sephora to buy my lipstick there.
    Then I found Roosevelt Field and it had everything!!!

  • Mary Hinckley

    I am from a very small town in Indiana. Going to the mall was a big deal. It seemed so city like and upscale from what I was used to. Now I worry about the stores going out of business. I shop online but it is not the same. Perhaps I need to not shop online at all and only support local stores–I mostly do buy things in person. The idea that someday as an old lady I won’t be able to go into a department store to buy my Easter dress is a travesty! Ugh…I often go to our local mall on a weekday in the evening and that is when this feeling is most panic inducing–I guess teens would rather stay home and just text/snap etc their friends rather than actually hang out in real life together somewhere like a mall.

  • Natalie T.

    Love this piece. Can you do a series with each one dedicated to the different kinds of malls?

    Last week I wound up at 2 malls. The first because I had things to return and it happened to be Friends & Family at Bloomingdales so I wound up spending an excessive amount of time (and money) there and it was just the best. I felt like a teenager but with some moderate income this time around. The second time was at another mall as I killed time waiting for my oil to be changed. I walked past the Auntie Anne’s stand 4x hoping they would put out some samples (they didn’t).

    Malls can sometimes bring such a comforting feeling of nostalgia. I also feel that way about movie theaters.

  • brittbenn03

    I LOVE going to the mall just to get my steps in! Apparently I’m a 65-year-old retiree stuck in a 33-year-old’s body? Don’t care!

  • SomewhereSoutheast

    I feel this mall nostalgia in my bones. I miss so many different eras: 1988,1995, 2004. Come back…come back…come back.

  • Dara

    Thank you so much! I thought I was alone in this! I also like to just to malls and read or work on something… I like the busy elevated purposeful atmosphere!