Monday, November 17, 2008

The Malls

As many of you know, I have a small side business selling goodies on Ebay. When I'm not dealing with known wholesalers, I go on regular shopping trips, rushing through myriad malls and flea markets in myriad towns, in search of bargains that I can sell at a higher price on Ebay. These are, hopefully, bargains that not just anyone can find.

These pell-mell shopping trips have me walking through level-after-level of mall-after-mall and give me the same amount of exercise as a triathalon.

So this last weekend, I went on a long excursion which involved driving from the Tampa Bay Area to Gainesville, Florida (2 1/2 hours) to Atlanta, Georgia (5 1/2 hours) to Jacksonville, Florida (5 1/2 hours) back to the Tampa Bay Area (3 1/2 hours). May I add that it was literally freezing in Atlanta, which is something we Floridians aren't accustomed to. Bleah.

While in Atlanta, I went to the safe areas (there are certain areas in Atlanta, just as in Miami, where a white person should not set foot if they want to remain unmutilated). These are the nicer areas, where there are bound to be international travelers, locals, and wealthy business people.

Many malls were dead. The ones that weren't dead had people milling about but not buying much. Every store boasted a sale, and some stores had all their merchandise marked at half-off.

In one 'busy' mall, an anxious salesperson in a high-end shop begged me for news elsewhere. "Is it like this everywhere you've been?" she asked, when she learned I was from Florida. I said it was. "I think it's going to get even worse," she said in a strained voice. "If it's this bad now, I am frightened to see what it's like in January."

I did see more activity in the outlet malls. I went into a booming cookware store, where the three sales clerks were rushing about haphazardly, trying to ring and service all the customers who were packed into the store.

"Wow, you are busy," I said in surprise.

"Yes," one girl answered breathlessly. "We never expected this to happen - it's not like this anywhere else!"

My bet is that during a poor economy, people cook at home more, so the money that might have been spent on luxury items is being spent on blenders, mixers, and bread machines.

The luxury stores are hurting. I saw almost no one in any of the sunglass and jewelry stores except for Whitehall (a.k.a. Lundstrom) Jewelers, which is going out of business and has some amazing markdowns. Even then, the markdowns weren't amazing enough: People were milling about, looking, but not buying.

It's bad. We'll only know just how bad it is when we see the Black Friday sales figures.


Ed Abbey said...

I hate malls so I'm not sweating the hard times they are having right now. Iowa is experiencing the same thing as what you are seeing. General Growth Properties, the second largest U.S. mall conglomerate is threatening to file for bankruptcy and that could affect three of the largest malls in Iowa, including one I frequent with clenched teeth just to get to a bookstore or a kitchen outlet store.

Anonymous said...

I don't go to the malls here, people are constantly getting shot in them. I did head by our Outlet center this weekend which was pretty busy and people were buying things, maybe not a ton but it was definitely busy.


Saur said...

Ange, Where is 'here' now? Yeah, the outlet stores seemed busier (though there still wasn't a lot of buying going on).

Ed, I've never particularly liked malls, myself. I'm not a big shopper and prefer to buy from Ebay. I'm wondering if that's going to happen more this year, but so far, I'm seeing a decline there as well.

Anonymous said...

Charleston, SC, usually people are only getting shot around Christmas but there was a shooting at one of the malls just a few weeks ago. It is absolutely crazy to me. Outdoor shopping is really big here, so that is generally where most civilized people shop. The malls here are atrocious, generally dirty and in bad parts of town.

When I lived in Texas I loved going to the malls because I swear they make it an art form.


The Lazy Iguana said...

There will be no Black Friday this year. Retail stores are going to get hit hard. At the end of the year, there will be a lot of red ink.

This whole economy thing is not close to being over. All the indicators are pointing down. People either have no money to spend, or do not want to spend the money they have.

Retired people, and people close to retirement, are watching their pension plans drop in value. They are not going to be spending money this year.

Working people are watching their investments drop in value too. They are also worried if they will have a job for much longer - with all the companies going under. So they are not going to be spending much.

And so on.

Ellen said...

Yup, it was pretty cold up here in Atlanta this weekend, and most of our foliage was washed away from all the rain Friday night into Saturday morning. Sorry to hear you got caught in it.

I am anxious to hear which mall you visited, as I would have loved to have met you if you were in my area. (Roswell)

Most of the malls south and inner city (except Buckhead) are a bit scarier, but the malls to the north of the city are in much better shape as they are newer. Doesn't mean they are doing great business now, as the economy still lags, but one does tend to feel a bit safer in them.

From what I hear, the only company doing great business now is Goodwill.... actually showing profits mind you. I went to our local one and the place was jammed.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ellen, Get out! I stayed overnight in Roswell! Wish I'd known!

You're right w/ your observations about the malls. I went to the northern ones for the most part, hit Buckhead (nada). It's true that thrift stores are doing a booming business. I've seen it myself!

Lazy, I do believe you to be entirely correct. And when I was in Miami recently (sorry I didn't look you up, it was business and there was no time!) the malls were the same as the ones up north. So your area seems to be hard-hit too.

Ange, really? I never thought it would be occuring like that in Charleston! It seems like such a ... charming, historical town. BTW, are you still together with the cop? How's everything? Drop me a line!

Ellen said...

Chances are you stayed right down the street from me as I am minutes off 400 and Holcomb Bridge.

Next time you must let me know you are in the area. What's the safest way to get you my e-mail without displaying it here?

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ellen, email me at saurblog at hotmail dot com. ;o)

M@ said...

Shameless plug:

Bryan said...

Revelation 6:6

6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine."

Saur♥Kraut said...

Bryan, and what's your interpretation of that? I don't believe it's affording a special group any protection. I do think it's saying that it could be worse.

M@, Well written, but so very disturbing!

daveawayfromhome said...

When you've based an entire economy on consumers spending money they borrow, eventually it all has to come slamming to a halt.

Fast car, meet brick wall.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Remember - GDP=C+I+G!!!!

Remember what I said about that.

There is no C.

Without C there is way more risk in I.

So that leaves G.

But we mortgaged the Country in the name of the past 8 years. So now the ability of the government to borrow more is compromised.

Maybe this time the society will learn something. But I am not holding my breath.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Dave, Dittos, all the way!

Lazy, Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. And yet, such places as technical learning colleges are thriving - and they only teach what is necessary to perform a job. Not what is necessary to be a productive member of society.

gamecubist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bee Repartee said...

Ahhhh! Sorry about that, on my cell and my son checked his blog last night ;) its just me...not my gamecubist hehe

Bee Repartee said...

Around here we dont see much slowing down. even constuction is picking up for mr coffee.

We have pretty busy malls on weekends but they are not like the giant bigger city malls. Our outlet malls are hopping here too

There are many more families eating in, ours included. I've noticed the library has never been as packed and the line at sbux is shorter...and seeing more black house coffees instead of $4 lattes. I'm just thankful gas is way down.

I giggled at your freezing. I melt in humid hot and love the colder and rainy. You can add another layer but w/hot weather you can only get so nekkid. ;)

Bryan said...

"Bryan, and what's your interpretation of that? I don't believe it's affording a special group any protection. I do think it's saying that it could be worse".

I believe that scripture has to do with what we are beginning to see take place now in the way of economic hardships.

And no, I also do not believe this will spare any specific group.

That said, I do, however, believe that God will take care of His people through great hardships. But I do not cater to the mistaken belief within American Christendom that we will get to keep our self-centered existence and all of the trappings that go along with it. I've read a few articles in "Charisma" magazine during the course of our current monetary troubles in which Christians claim to have been given a "word" from God that things are going to get better, so long as God's people begin to pray about such things as the stock market.

What materialistic folly! The idea of repentance takes a back seat in such articles and is usually not mentioned at all. Is it any wonder judgment is headed our way?