It’s nearly the most wonderful time of the year again, and that means people are grabbing their bags and wallets and heading to their mecca of seasonal shopping: the mall.
Was that a scoff of derision we just heard? Did you roll your eyes? Did you ask the room at large if we were joking? The answer is no—we’re completely serious.
We’ve all seen the slideshows of malls in various states of crumbling disrepair, but the mall is not dead. It’s adapting.
The sprawling cement complexes of the late 20th century, with their fluorescent lighting and carpeted floors and cheap chain stores are, however, dead. It’s a new breed of malls that’s taken their place; malls that appeal to the shopper of the moment and can adapt to the shopper of the future. Places with natural light, local brands, and experiential shopping are still doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.
Don’t believe us? Check them out for yourself.
Platform, Los Angeles
One of the most modern aspects of these new malls is that they’re not just malls. Platform in LA’s Culver neighborhood is part mall, but it’s also home to workout and yoga studios (the mall offers free yoga classes), offices, and chic, modern eateries. It’s all housed in a former industrial complex, refitted to appeal to LA’s trendiest shoppers.
The traditional fare of malls is, of course, retail, and Platform has plenty of that, but within completely unique packages. In order to sign a lease at the hip shopping center, you have to offer an experience that’s unique to the Platform location. Megabrand Reformation, for example, installed digital touch screens throughout their storefront so that customers wanting to avoid wading through racks can swipe for clothes instead, a feature you’ll only find here. Platform also set aside square footage for pop-ups, creating a launching pad for new businesses.
It’s a hotel! It’s a pub! It’s a shopping center! The Pacific Northwest is home to McMenamins, a family-owned chain of brewpubs and hotels that defies definition. One of their multipurpose venues was formerly the Multnomah County Poor Farm, which housed Portland’s ill and indigent in the early 20th century. It lay abandoned through the ‘80s, until the McMenamins enterprise purchased the property in 1990 and turned it into a concert venue, gardens, shops and restaurants.
What makes the McMenamins locations unique, in part, is their precedence. There’s been a recent trend in rehabbing abandoned buildings into hip destinations, but McMenamins has been doing just that since the ‘90s, preceding the trend by some 20 years. The businesses embrace their history with history events like hosted discussions and lectures.
Malls aren’t dead—they’re just beginning.