What could be a better symbol of American consumerism, materialism, and 80’s excess than The Mall? As a teenager in the 80’s I pretty much spent every weekend at a mall. There were several area ones to choose from. Giant, sprawling megaplexes filled with every kind of store imaginable, selling all kinds of things you didn’t really need. Thankfully, the age of The Mall has passed and many of them are on their way out. Some still cling to life, like Charlestowne Mall in St. Charles. Once it was the pride of St. Charles and THE place to shop. Now it’s a ghost town.
The exterior is starting to show some wear and signs of disrepair, but the inside looks fairly new.
As I walked around in this big, clean, and sterile, but very empty space, I couldn’t help having a feeling as though this was a scene out of some “set it the future” dystopian movie. Like Logan’s Run gone really wrong.
This place is empty, and I mean really empty. Almost every corridor is completely vacant. Some stores appear as though the owner just closed the gate and abandoned it one night. And nobody is here. Well, not entirely. There are a few elderly “mall walkers” doing laps. Every now and then I see a mother with a small child.
And then there’s the giant gumball machines, which I find amplify the eerie factor of this place.
The food court – once a central feature in every mall, is now only two Chinese restaurants. Each one is staffed by a single person. You could hear the desperation in one man’s voice as he tried to call me over to his place to get me to eat there.
One of the kiosk stores had a “help wanted” sign, but I can’t imagine what they were hiring for. One of the other kiosk employees walked away from his for a while to go outside. There’s no worry about theft… or missing a customer either. There isn’t anyone here to shop or steal.
There are signs around the mall that attempt to signal a recovery is coming – until you find out that they’ve been there for several years.
It’s looking forward to a future that never came