As I just posted on my other blog, I don't care for the mall. I used to love the mall. In fact, my dad used to say that I had been to every mall between the Valley and the Mexican border and he wasn't far from the truth.
These days, however, I avoid going to the mall for as long as I can. I've been putting today's trip off for a really long time, but I needed bobbins for my Kenmore sewing machine. I mean I really, really needed bobbins. (Un-spooling bobbins to switch thread color has gotten really old!) So, I packed up the kids and headed for the mall. Superman met us for a late lunch/early dinner and we made an occasion of it. (Food Court food is manna from heaven as far as my kids are concerned!)
The mall is a sad place to me these days. Today, it was practically devoid of shoppers when we were there. It is packed with stuff with we don't need and can't afford and it is screaming in desperation these days. Every store we walked through or by on the way to our destination had signs like "Everything $2" or "75% of original price" or "Clearance" or "Everything Must Go". It seems to stand as a sad testimony to the excesses of the past decade. I have to wonder if malls will disappear as the economic downturn lingers and online shopping surges. I can just picture these huge empty shells falling to ruins as the shoppers and businesses consign them to being institutions of our past.
Anyway, the reason for my trip was to go to Sears. So, we finished our food and headed for Sears. Once there, I splurged on two packs of bobbins and two packs of needles. (I know, I know, I am wild and crazy and pretty darned free with my money.) What I ended up getting, however, was far more than I could have hoped for. I got the opportunity to talk to the salesperson at Sears about my sewing machine without any pressure to buy more than I was. The store was just about empty, despite the crazy clearance sales that is apparently going on. Superman and the kids were in a different department, playing with the tools and the exercise equipment (seriously, who needs Disneyland?). This young man took the time to explain a few questions I had about my machine. These were things that people never had the time to explain before for a woman who wasn't there to buy a machine. (My machine was a gift, so I didn't play with it in a store before I received it.) It made the whole trip to the mall worthwhile.
As retailers wonder why people aren't spending money at their establishments and why online shopping has boomed, they should remember that people if people are looking only for a product, the price will be the determining factor, but if they're looking for knowledge along with the product, the internet doesn't deliver. It is the people that change the shopping experience. I still don't love the mall, but I sure appreciated the time this young man spent with me, patiently finding a machine similar enough to my own that his explanations made sense and even explaining why I would never need some other gadget because my machine could do it without it. It was a terrific experience and makes me long for the return of the mom and pop shops where people would explain things to someone who wouldn't be buying, just because they knew they were creating goodwill. As it is, I won't hesitate to head back to Sear if I need something else for my machines.