Sunday, February 03, 2013

Struggling Still

Westoaks Mall Ocoee
Mid-day Saturday at West Oaks Mall. Nice, clean interior. Few shoppers.
On Saturday my wife and I went to see "Wreck-It Ralph" (along with the Academy Award nominated "paperman" animated short) at a theater in West Oaks Mall near Ocoee. I've written about this mall before (search if you're interested), with all the stores that are out of business on the periphery (Toys 'R' Us, Chevy's, Borders, etc) as well as inside the mall. The mall still has a clean, classic look, but it's not hard to see the closed up sections that used to be stores.

Westoaks Mall Ocoee
Westoaks Mall Ocoee
Westoaks Mall Ocoee

West Oaks Mall was the mall we took our girls to when they were growing up. First, to Toys 'R' Us for their toys, then Borders when they were growing readers, and lots and lots of movies and meals inside the mall itself. Once there was a Discovery store and a Disney store, and stores with video games and young girl fashions. All that's gone, with only three of four anchor stores left (Penney's, Sears, and Dillards). Two of those three, Sears and Penney's, are corporate ghosts of what they used to be. The last time I was in the mall was back in November 2012 trying to and return something to Sears; it was depressing.

The recent economic collapse started the decline of this mall around 2007, and the long-term shift of money away from the area continues to hamstring business in the mall. For example, just west on West Colonial is a Super Walmart, and further south and west is a completely new mall called Winter Garden Village (just off 429 and Winter Garden Vineland), where the well-to-do now drive to to do their shopping.

I don't know if we'll ever go back after Saturday. Our kids are now in their mid-20s and living elsewhere, and everything we ever found attractive and appealing in that mall is either gone or a shadow of its former self. I'd certainly go there and do business to help, but there's no longer any real reason for us to do business there.


Taken with my favorite sneak-and-peek camera, the Olympus E-PL1 with Panasonic 14mm lens. It's small enough to slip into a jacket pocket, and when out it's discrete and silent in operation. I've long since learned to spot and avoid the rent-a-cop that patrols the interior; when I use the camera there's not enough folks around to know, and those that are around don't seem to care. It helps that I don't make myself obvious and obnoxious when I use the camera.

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