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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

I shopped till I dropped

One reason the indoor mall may have seen its peak:

So, why don't luxury shoppers like indoor malls anymore?

The one word answer: crime. Violent crime in the United States roughly tripled between 1965 and 1975 and remained at a high plateau, spiking occasionally above it, from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s. That coincides ("the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s") with the vogue for enclosed malls. Shoppers couldn't count on the public sector police to protect them, but they have more faith in the private police that patrolled enclosed malls. Those malls were private property: suspicious characters could be kept out.

With crime down sharply since the mid-1990s, shoppers are no longer so fearful. So outdoor malls (often with covered parking available) are more attractive. The market is responding to changes in consumer preference, changes which reflect changes in (accurate) perceptions of the risk of being a victim of a violent crime.

It's an interesting take with some validity, but I think he's overselling the crime angle. In the days before Amazon, which now captures so many of my shopping dollars, my allegiance switched from indoor malls like Glenbrook to outdoor ones like Jefferson Pointe here and a couple of cool ones near Indy, and, honestly, crime wasn't that much on my mind.

It was all about, A) the parking and, B) the convenience of having everything I wanted to shop for in the same place. With downtowns emptying out and stores scattering all over the place and strip malls being not quite the answer, the indoor mall came as close to recreating the experience of walking around downtown as possible -- the mall became our downtown. Then the outdoor mall came along and did even better at recreating the ambience we were all so nostalgic for. Some of them even give you the feeling of walking around in a small town.

That's why Amazon is the zenith. Talk about hassle-free parking and finding everything in the same place. And so far (knock on wood), no crime in my living room.

Unless you consider sloth a crime, of course.