Sunday, September 2, 2018

It’s All Happening

We were considering options for a casual dinner with the teens last night and several of them were at the Mall. I’ve never been a particularly big fan of the Mall in Columbia. I realize its success is at the heart of downtown success. But, in years gone by, if my husband suggested, “Let’s have dinner at the Mall!” well, then it meant the Food Court and general wandering around looking at stores and, in most cases, I was not up for that.

I’ve seen long-time residents post on social media about how the Mall is not what it used to be and that nobody goes there anymore. These doom and gloom pronouncements pop up every so often on a Facebook Page entitled “Celebrating Columbia, Maryland, and its Future”. (Go figure.)  I don’t usually have much to say in these discussions because I feel conflicted. I myself don’t go to the Mall very often but I know it’s an important commercial hub in our community.

Back to dinner. We were down to Shake Shack and Zoe’s. Shake Shack won. When we got to the Mall it was clear that everyone in town had the same idea, so my husband dropped us off and drove away in search of parking. For a place that has been declared to be a vast wasteland, a virtual ghost town where nobody goes anymore, the Mall seemed to be doing a respectable amount of business. (That’s an understatement.)

The weather was mild. We ate outside. There was a ton of foot traffic. People were walking along from the movie theater towards the Mall, or from the Mall towards the restaurants. It definitely had that downtown main street vibe. Could it be that those Mall folks actually knew what they were doing? That they knew what kind of experience people were looking for in 2018?

We enjoyed our dinner, did some people watching, and talked about the new Barnes and Noble opening down the way. A good bookstore. Now that’s a reason to go to the Mall.

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