I traveled up to see my parents and family in Atlanta (north-east in Lilburn, actually) over the weekend. Sunday I went out to lunch with them at a Longhorn Steakhouse on Killian Hill Rd. On the way to the restaurant I noticed closed stores just like I'd noticed in Orlando. My family told me that there were empty stores all over the Atlanta area just like the Orlando area. After lunch we stopped off by a Barnes and Nobel on Pleasant Hill Road (we're a family of readers), and when we'd finished we went across the street to Gwinnett Station Shopping Center.
Starting from there and moving south-east towards I-85 I saw darkened store after store, as well as a number that were in the process of going out of business. Stores that ranged from Office Max, Kroger, and Circuit City to smaller businesses such as Sam Goodys and Hobby Lobby now stand closed and dark over empty parking lots. Only one former business, a CompUSA store, found new life as a Salvation Army.
Main entrance into Gwinnett Station looking down towards the empty former Office Max.
Former Rio Bravo.
Former CompUSA, now Salvation Army. A little bit of irony in that I suppose.
Yet another dead and empty Circuit City.
A rolling sign of the times.
Former Hobby Lobby.
Former Barbeques Galore.
Former HiFi Buys.
Former Sam Goodys.
All of these were shot in a 30 minute period. I could have go on and on, but got so depressed I stopped. All of this within five to ten minutes of Gwinnett Place. I suppose if I'd had the time and truly morbid curiosity I'd have walked through there just to check out its economic health. But it was growing late and I had better things to do with my limited time; I wanted to spend as much as I could with my family.
I moved to Florida in 1984 right after I got married and I've lived in Orlando ever since. I've been back to Atlanta far too infrequently, and every time I went back it was to see more and more suburban sprawl spreading over once wooded landscape, or old places I knew when I grew up in Atlanta torn down and built back over with 'something better'. Now it all is slowly dying during this particularly bad economic recession. And I can only see it get worse.
They say misery loves company, but this is far more chilling than comforting. And I can only see it getting worse.