Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Mall as Dinosaur

Used to be you couldn’t find a shaded place to park at Scottsdale Fashion Square for love nor money. Especially  not on a weekend.

Yesterday morning I had to drive to darkest Old Town Scottsdale to visit the Hair Stylist from Heaven. He’s talking about moving to Prescott, where he and his sister own a house that they trade off using as a weekend retreat. If Shane moves to Prescott, I am goin’, too.

Drove past Fashion Square on the way to Shane’s place. It’s one of the few malls around there that’s still going strong. There are probably three, one of them a sprawling open-faced thing supposedly modeled on a small-town Main Street, with expensive apartments upstairs over the stores.

Y’know…I haven’t been in that place — Scottsdale Fashion Square — in years. I used to go there all the time, not necessarily to buy things but just to walk around. Really didn’t buy much — sometimes I’d buy nothing. But it was pleasant to just schmooze around in the stores, see what’s stylish and what’s on sale.

Don’t know when I stopped, precisely. Probably when I lost my job. When you don’t have a regular cash flow — more than Social Security provides — you don’t go into stores. These days I buy most of my clothes at Costco and a couple of small boutiques, and all my shoes at a boutique in Tempe. Yard and household items: Target or Home Depot. Otherwise: Amazon.

The boutiquey places aren’t cheap. But on the other hand, I don’t shop there much. They’re not places you go to window-shop; they’re places you go to buy specific items.

On the way home, I missed my turn and had to cut through the parking lot to get back to 68th Street. There was hardly anybody there. I could’ve parked right outside the door of any of the tony department stores, or had no problem getting a close-in spot in the shade structures. Admittedly, it was a 118-degree day. But…it didn’t use to be that way.

Wonder how much longer that place will survive? The middle-class shopping malls around here — Paradise Valley Mall, Metrocenter, Christown, Fiesta Mall — are decrepit wrecks. None of them are places you would go to walk around for the fun of it. Some are dangerous. One is being converted into a medical center.

On the other hand, Scottsdale Fashion Square is and always was in a different class  from those has-beens. although it had (still has) a Dillard’s and a few other more or less normal stores, it’s also got a Nordstrom’s and a Nieman-Marcus and an Armani store and a Gucci store and naturally a Prada store and a Tiffany’s and a place to buy your Ferragamos… Not likely to go away soon. I guess.


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Author: funny

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  1. I began avoiding malls during the summer of ’08 when the recession was really starting to have an effect on me. I remember looking at my savings account balance of $400 and wondering what had happened to the rest of the $2000 I’d had back in January. Now I only go to malls for shoes, undergarments, or a good sale/clearance event. Every time I go into JCPenney’s, I can’t get over how empty it is. *sigh* Oh, well, whatcha gonna do?

    • That’s the truth. Penney’s and Sears both: ghost stores. But the last time I was in a Macy’s it wasn’t a lot better…and as usual for that fine institution, the sales staff was rude.

  2. “Inertia”….is a funny thing. And a lot of retailers didn’t regain their “mojo” from the ’08 Depression….I mean the “Great Recession”. I truly worry about the retail industry in general….Sears…Penney….Macy’s….it would seem are destined for the “trash heap”….Maybe we just don’t need as much stuff as we used to. And what happens to those jobs…real estate….supporting industries… My concern/question is when will the Government step in against Amazon…What started out as a place to sell books has morphed into a VERY large retailer who just bought “trendy” Whole Foods (whole paycheck) for right around $30 million PER STORE and whose owner owns one of the most influential newspapers in the country….The Washington Post. I can see one day a mandated break up as was forced by the Fed with AT & T and Standard Oil….

    • They have a double whammy, that’s for sure. No, a triple whammy.

      In the first place, they targeted an affluent US middle class. Before the Bush Recession, large numbers of people could afford to shop in mid- to upscale department stores. They haven’t changed their demographic, but their demographic has gone away. Most of us can’t afford to shop in Macy’s or even Dillard’s anymore.

      In the second place, during the Recession-That-Was-Not-a-Depression, most people had to learn frugal lifestyle habits. Those habits entailed shopping at Walmart or Target instead of Macy’s or Dillard’s — many of us have never abandoned those habits, even though our financial situation improved. I think no one trusts the economy anymore, so we continue to cling to our pennies simply because we know that tomorrow we may be out of work again. Or because we’ve never been able to get work again, or to get jobs that were comparable to the ones we lost.

      And in the third place: Amazon. Yes. Amazon. It’s an obscene monopoly that back before the Republicans killed anti-trust laws would have been put out of business long before this.

      Amazon kept its prices down for a very long time, far longer than any normal retailer could sustain. You may have noticed that its prices are rising — that’s because it’s driven much of its brick-and-mortar competition out of business. By keeping its prices down and facilitating online ordering and prompt, often free delivery, it has trained consumers to order a LOT of stuff online — not just from Amazon but from many other sellers large and small.

      And when you think about it, why would you get in your car — risking your life, burning expensive gasoline, wasting time, and putting wear and tear on an expensive vehicle — when you can turn on your computer, call up the items you want, and have them delivered to your door?

      Without the recession, Amazon might not have been able to put large b&m stores out of business on its own. But when people lost their jobs and never were able to find work that pays enough to let them shop in Macy’s and Nordstrom’s, Amazon won.

  3. The crazy thing is I’m not a fan of Amazon…..BUT love E-bay. It puzzles me how folks….supposedly smart folks fall for the Amazon Prime scam….What I think the emergence of Amazon does is make “delayed gratification” a thing of the past. Back in the day we would say I’m gonna save for something or reward myself after I reach a certain goal. Then we would have time to re-consider or alter our plans. Then if we still wanted it we would get in the car and go get it….it was an event. Now with a couple clicks of the mouse it’s done….it has become ordinary….it’s truly frightening to me how fast one can order something after you are “set up” on E-bay and Amazon.
    As for the economy…you hit the nail on the head….there is NO trust in the system. Folks know all to well that good paying job can vanish in a heart beat. The funny thing is this was all well in good when blue collar jobs went over seas. But now that WHITE COLLAR JOBS are being outsourced, folks are taking notice and we all realize no one is immune. Which makes us “clutch our purses tighter”….unless you are in the 1% at the top…..

    • I get the Amazon Prime thing to get access to the videos. Probably Netflix has a better selection — or at least, it’s better organized and easier to access. Netflix’s standard plan is $10 a month, which is more than Amazon Prime, and you don’t get anything OTHER than the video, though you do get one helluva hassle trying to get them to play on your computer. There is a cheaper plan — no HD and restricted number of screens you can play stuff on — but it’s $96/year, the same as A.P.

      With Prime you get “free” shipping. Those costs do add up, esp. if you order anything that weighs much — I bought my son a composter for Christmas, for example. So if you’re not a real demanding video viewer (I’m not…got too many other things to do besides sit in front of a tube) and you order a fair number of items per year, I think you end up with a better deal at Amazon.

      The whole outsourcing thing has been frustrating from the git-go. First-off, I had a friend who owned a clothing manufacturing & retailing company. This was back in the day…as in WAY back. He surprised us all by deciding to off-shore his manufacturing. He said that the costs in this country had gone up to the point where he was barely making a profit on sales, and the costs of labor overseas were SO low he could ship the stuff to the US and still sell the product for enough to leave a living wage for himself and his family.

      Then while I was working at Arizona Highways, to my astonishment (given that the magazine was owned and operated by the ultra-patriotic State of Arizona), we started offshoring our book printing to Japan! Holy mackerel… Again: printing the books in Japan was SO MUCH CHEAPER than we could get it done stateside that it actually paid us (and the taxpayer…) to SHIP books across the Pacific Ocean (you know how much a box of books weighs?!?). Not only that, but the quality was better.

      Now, IMHO most of the time the quality of what comes out of China and India and Bongastan is not very good. But Japan is another matter altogether.

      Really, if you’re a young person in 2017 you pretty much need to find a trade or a white-collar job that can’t easily be off-shored. It needs to be something hands-on: nursing, radiology assistant, nursing home worker…or, maybe better paid: electrician, plumber, carpenter, surveyor, IT dude or dudette, engineer. Just going to college and getting a professional degree (lawyer, doctor, architect?) is not enough anymore. You have to think carefully about what HAS to be done IN the country and consider whether that is likely to be the case into the future.

      I would not want to be in my teens, twenties, or thirties today.

  4. You forget to mention the robots taking over jobs.
    IBM’s Watson is going to med school, too.

    • Yup. That’s why I think the trades are where it’s at. It’ll be awhile before they have robots that can install a faucet, remodel the plumbing, or install an electrical system (in such a way as not to burn down the building…).