The Mall Is Dead – Long Live The Mall by
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From Department Store Detours to Deliveries at My Door

Hey there, comedy connoisseurs! Here I am here, fresh off a bargain hunt that left me with more questions than discounts. We all know the struggle is real when that cashier asks, “Paper or plastic?” But let me tell you, folks, things weren’t always this “eco-friendly dilemma” business. Back in my day (cue the dramatic music!), shopping was an adventure, not a chore delivered straight to your phone.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the internet is a beautiful thing. Need a spatula shaped like a cat? Boom, there it is on page 37 alongside a singing fish and a self-stirring mug. But here’s the thing I miss: the thrill of the hunt! Remember those weekend excursions to the mall with your mom, armed with a list and a dream? You’d strategically dodge neon signs and Cinnabon smells to find the perfect pair of toe warmers (don’t judge, it was the 90s).

There was a certain satisfaction in physically holding that item, comparing it to others, and maybe even negotiating a slightly lower price with a wink and a smile. Sure, online reviews exist now, but can they replicate the sage advice of a bored but attractive teenage female working the Gap who just wants to go on break? I think not.

Speaking of breaks, shopping trips were social events! You’d bump into your classmates, argue over who looked better in those ripped jeans (spoiler alert: it was never me), and maybe even catch a glimpse of your former crush at the Orange Julius stand. Now, the closest social interaction you get is the awkward exchange with your delivery person who wonders why you’re buying enough bubble wrap to build a house or worse perhaps enough to bury a body (it masks the smell pretty, pretty, pretty good).

But hey, let’s not get all misty-eyed for the bygone days of dial-up internet and neon everything. Online shopping is a lifesaver, especially when you’re in your PJs at 2 am). The convenience is undeniable. Plus, price comparison is a breeze, and those same neon leg warmers I coveted as a kid are just a click away (although, for the sake of everyone’s retinas, let’s keep those visuals in the past).

So, what’s the verdict? Shopping then and now is a tale of two vastly different experiences. We’ve gained unmatched ease and selection, but lost a bit of the social element and the joy of discovery through touch and feel. Maybe the future holds a happy medium: virtual reality malls where you can hang with your friends, haggle with a holographic salesperson, and still get your pizza delivered by drone. Until then, I’ll be navigating the digital aisles, reminiscing about the good ol’ days, and wondering if that singing fish comes with free shipping. See you at the checkout, folks!



Profile photo of Kevin Driscoll Kevin Driscoll
(Mostly) Vegetarian, Politically Progressive, Daily Runner, Spiritual, Helpful, Friendly, Kind, Warm Hearted and Forgiving. Resident of Braintree MA.

Characterizations: funny


  1. Thanx Kevin for your funny take on shopping then and now. It’s certainly different in this Internet age, and since Covid has changed so much in the way we live our lives.

    But like all else I guess we’re getting used to it. And thanx Amazon for making returns so easy now!

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    Your hypothetical interactions in the old days sound like they might have some basis in true events, maybe the girl in the Gap. Lucky you if you actually interact with a delivery person (instead of getting a doorbell ring as they snap a picture of the delivery and speed away). Regardless, glad someone revels in the current joys of the endless net.

  3. Jim Willis says:

    Your story reminds me again of how much of a trade-off “progress” can be, Kevin. I never thought I’d be buying so much online because, like you, I like to feel the product in my hands and maybe kick the tires. The smartest thing Amazon did was not in gathering up a world of products to sell as cheaply as possible, but to mandate free 30-day returns on just about everything they sell. I now know, after several returns, that I still get a chance to kick the tires, even after I plunk down the money, and return the wheels if they don’t feel right. But I still miss shopping in stores during Christmas season!

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