“They're going to ruin the best mall in Orange County, aren't they? I think they are.”
That's how local blogger Julie Scott began her latest email to me, upon finding out that the Westminster Mall — selected “Best Guy-Friendly Mall” in last year's “Best of OC” issue by me — was due for a big, multi-million dollar “renovation.”
Everything about the Westminster mall is too good to last — the final outposts of favorite, nearly bankrupt chains like Spencer Gifts, Kay-Bee Toys, and Suncoast Movies, for example. And the changes, which the Register says are to give it a more “contemporary feel,” don't sound too great either:
* Gutting the seating area of the food court and putting in upholstered booths and bar-style seating and getting rid of some columns to give it a more open feel.
* Replacing stucco at the facades of all entrances with glass and steel.
* Replacing metal blue picket railings with glass panes.
* Adding carpet to the majority of the first floor to minimize noise level.
* Constructing a family restroom/lounge
* Replacing three seating areas that have animal statues for kids with seating areas with leather chairs, wood coffee tables, area rugs and live plants. And the front of every department store will have this new seating space.
* Adding one children’s play area that’s identical to the one next to PacSun at The Shops at Mission Viejo, which is also owned by Simon.
It sounds like a Starbucks, not the malls I used to love as a kid. But everything I used to like about malls has gradually been eliminated. No toy stores, no record stores, no video stores these days — just endless upscale women's clothing outlets, that, if one is lucky, feature a few bland, beige-ish designs for dudes. These changes indicate a desired clientele of rich mothers, and certainly not a pop-culture addicted clutter collector like myself. You want to please kids at a mall? Forget the lame-o “play area,” and give them a place to buy toys and play video games. Give their dads somewhere to go too.
Guys spend money too, y'all. And kids spend allowance — they're not old enough to order online because they don't have credit cards (we hope).
I fear another good one is biting the dust, if not literally than spiritually.