I’m trying to get sentimental about the announced closure and demolition of Park Lane Mall, but it’s tough. The mall’s old, with kind of a weird smell, and there are never any people in there. I have plenty of memories of the place from back when that was the only spot for my friends and I to hang out on the weekend (Spencer’s Gifts! Hot Topic! The haunted bathroom!), but I’m not going to shed a tear when it gets torn down. I’ll try to make sure to take pictures, though!
Why is Park Lane closing? I guess just not enough people shop there. So, the next question is, why don’t people shop there? It’s probably because all the big stores that draw in lots of people, the anchor stores, all moved out. Fifteen years ago Park Lane Mall had a Sears, Weinstock’s, and Woolworth’s. Sears pulled out in favor of Meadowood Mall, and was replaced by Gottschalk’s. Weinstock’s closed, and their part of the mall was demolished. Woolworth’s also went out of business, and the last time I was in Park Lane their space was still empty. The small stores that were left just weren’t able to pull in enough people without major anchors.
The mall has new owners, too. They bought the place just last month. Myrna the Minx talked about it back then, thought the place might be destined for a remodel. I guess the new owners had other plans.
Is the age of the indoor mall going away? It seems like every big shopping center built, at least in this area, is an outdoor mall. Huge box stores clustered around a central parking lot, like Summit Sierra and the Carson Valley Plaza. Meadowood Mall does okay, but apparently Reno’s 200,000 people isn’t enough to support two malls like that. It’s probably more expensive to rent space in an enclosed mall, but if the customers were there it would be worth it. But the customers aren’t there, and that’s the part I don’t understand. Why don’t people want to shop at indoor malls anymore? Too much walking? Not enough sunburn? Or is there a feedback loop here where the people go to outdoor malls because that’s where the stores are, and the stores go to outdoor malls because that’s where the people are? It’s interesting to read that Park Lane was originally an open-air promenade, and it was only covered after being open about 10 years. I’d love to see pictures of that! But it also shows there was a trend back then towards enclosed malls; now we’re trending away from them. I wonder if anyone’s ever ripped the roof off a mall to make it open-air?
Carson City still has one indoor mall, the aptly-named Carson Mall. But if you think Park Lane has traffic problems, you need to visit the Carson Mall sometime. The employee-to-customer ratio is probably double digits. And Carson’s other indoor mall, the Silver City Mall, fell to the bulldozers several years ago because there were literally two stores left and a grand total of fifteen daily customers. And because the place was dark as a cave.
Is this just a Northern Nevada thing, or is there a national trend away from the big indoor malls and towards the outdoor strip mall model?