I will lead with the fact that I am not a huge mall shopper. I generally prefer to order online or stop into smaller shops. The idea of hunting for parking and fighting crowds is the image, that until recently, is the one that filled my mind when I thought of going to the mall. Once again, some things are different here in Asheville.
Before I moved to Asheville, I lived less than a mile away from the 19th largest mall in America. With over 2 million square feet of shopping, Northpark Shopping Center almost always had a full parking lot. My first experience there was in my twenties, and on that day it was completely deserted because we had just had a huge ice storm. I thought this would be a great opportunity to “practice” driving on ice. Let me translate… I was doing donuts in the parking lot of Neiman Marcus.
Since living in Asheville, I’ve needed to visit the mall 4 times. Once to exchange a gift at Eddie Bauer. Another time to pick up a Christmas present at Barnes & Nobles. Third, to check a product before ordering online. Lastly, to find a sweater that matched my pants. Going to the mall is not something that I do often, because my previous experiences tended to be hectic and my senses were overwhelmed. Not so here in in Asheville.
When I needed to make a trip to the mall three days before Christmas, I was absolutely dreading it. I was lucky enough to be told about a side road that would lead to the back side of the mall where parking would be plentiful. I was skeptical … it being the Friday before Christmas, but I really had no choice. I was amazed that I was able to pull right into a spot by a main entrance. I continue to take this route, and on my last visit there were only three other cars in the parking lot . I suspect the other two may have belonged to employees.
On my last visit, I stopped in all the major department stores: Sears, Dillards, JC Penneys, Belks and a few local shops. I also perused the food court and grabbed a Starbucks coffee. All told, I was in and out of there in an hour. I rarely saw another person, in fact, the majority of people seemed to be sitting in the abundant lounge/charging stations scattered throughout the mall. There were no pushy sales people, but when it came to check out, it was easy to find fast and efficient service.
I am not sure why there aren’t a lot of people at this mall. It has nearly 1 million square feet of retail sprawled across a single level. It recently had a face lift that added the charging stations, new flooring and more. It’s clean and well organized, and has some interesting architecture. I certainly don’t think of Asheville as a consumer hub, but still I would expect to find a few people shopping. Perhaps everyone, including me, chooses to spend their time enjoying the more interesting activities outdoors.
Looking for some winter meditations to lift your spirits?