The Sunnyvale mall is a perpetual sore spot, both physically in the city as well as in the city’s political dialog. It isn’t a hot button for me because, frankly, I hate malls and so I tend to avoid them like the plague. The universe invented Amazon.com so that guys like me don’t have to go hang out at shopping malls, and thus is there balance in the universe. So if they never finish the mall … no skin off my nose. It isn’t like I’m dying to go shopping in downtown Sunnyvale, or anything like that.
Anyway, I’ve always wondered if yet another shopping mall is the best use of the city’s downtown space. I’ve always assumed that people who shop as, apparently, a form of entertainment will use it, but what I haven’t been able to figure out is if that demographic is large enough to justify the continuing angst, lawsuits, and other bitter unhappiness that is the Sunnyvale mall.
Just to reinforce my doubts, the San Jose Business Journal offered a brief article yesterday in which they predicted that “indoor shopping malls could face extinction within 10 to 15 years.” The reason, of course, is the pressure placed on shopping malls from online retailers. Apparently retailers are waking up to the idea that bricks-and-mortar stores need to be in the “hospitality” business, meaning that they have to offer a shopping experience that is more entertaining than, say, cruising for a new lens on B&H Photo’s site.
I don’t know how someone can make a shopping mall “entertaining,” unless it’s to stick a theme park in the middle of the thing, which is pretty much what they did at Minnesota’s Mall of America. But can I at least hope for lots and lots of comfortable chairs for those few times a year that I get dragged to a mall over my usually loud complaints?
At the moment, the city’s plans for the Sunnyvale mall seem to be limited to “waiting for the judge.” Last I looked we’re down to the very last lawsuit and once that gets settled I assume the mall redevelopment will continue. When that happens, I hope the people who finish the thing will remember that a bricks & mortar shopping experience needs to be “magical” (yes, I laughed when I read that). Otherwise, our bricks & mortar mall could turn into a bricks & mortar boat anchor in a few year’s time.
Frankly, I think they should put the new main library branch down there. At least then I’d have a reason to go to our downtown. That and lots of bars. When it comes to shopping malls, there’d better be either booze or books involved, or I’m going to just want to stay home.
A good beer and a good book. Magical!