What: Eastdale Mall. For years and years, when I was growing up, Eastdale was “the other mall.” We frequented the Montgomery Mall, which was older and had a Gayfer’s. Eastdale was not only a little bit further away, it was sort of uppity (at least by rural 1980s standards), what with its fancy ice skating rink. The Montgomery Mall (now an abandoned husk of a building and a symbol of Montgomery’s decay) was more of the “meat and potatoes” sort of mall, with video arcade, book stores and food court, but also (at least in my mind) more natural light and egalitarian brand offerings.
Where: Montgomery. Address: 1000 Eastdale Mall. Direction to the mall are here.
Who: Consumers of all ages. As Montgomery uncritically embraced both urban sprawl and racist white flight away from the city’s core, the Montgomery Mall began to bleed. First, the individual stores began to shift into Eastdale and away from Montgomery Mall, and eventually, of course, the anchor stores followed. The tale can be tracked to some extent in the pages of the local newspaper, which would report on the slow drain like it were chronicling the wither of a patient with leukemia.
Montgomery shoppers began to flock to Eastdale and label the Montgomery Mall as “the black mall.” A variety of factors has prevented Eastadale from becoming “the new black mall” since the closure of the Montgomery Mall, but the true upscale whites have fled to The Shoppes at Eastchase, which is more of that modern fake public space that is so popular among retail developers nowadays. Except that it’s majorly car centric – nothing like this atrocity in Southern California. Gone are the closed-in malls of the Dawn of the Dead years of American history. Still, as if a zombie itself, Eastdale and its bretheren across the nation shuffle on.
Why: Eastdale is anchored by Sears, Dillard’s, JC Penney, and Belk. The inner stores are a bit troubled. Aladdin’s Castle highlights the end of the video game arcade era, hosting a few straggling birthday parties amid its flashing ticket dispensing machines and sometimes broken latest versions of Street Fighter or Tekken.
There’s a Christian bookstore with several empty shelves and a seriously depressed atmosphere. There’s a Lenscrafters that does pretty good business and a movie theater that is a nice inexpensive and less annoying counterweight to the cross-town Rave theater.
There’s the usual collection of video game shops, jewelry shops (more offering to buy gold than I remember from the past) and cookie shops (the idea that a heavily-iced cardboard-like cookie is a substitute for a birthday cake is sickening). The food court offers the usual and predictable fare. A Jalapeno’s mexican restaurant is closed for good.
Several of the other stores are covered over and closed. The ice rink is percolating along. I don’t know what their profit margins are, but they probably get enough birthday parties on the novelty factor alone to turn a tiny profit. It must be one of the only rinks in the state and I remember learning how to ice skate there as a kid.
There’s a Spencer’s and a Hot Topic (which evidently brings in actual live music on some nights). There are a few aimless teens and moms pushing babies in strollers, but generally fewer than might otherwise be expected. One gets the feel of being at the end of an era — a time when people actually go into a F.Y.E. music store for the new Eminem album and not just buy it online.
Sunday 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Monday 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Tuesday 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Wednesday 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Thursday 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Mall doors open daily at 6 am.