While they may now be viewed as the dying relics of ’90s consumerism, for a certain group of people, malls were once the end all and be all of cool. Nay, LIFE. There was just something special about wandering the oh-so-shiny hallways, with endless possibilities for cheap food and silver-plated jewelry at your fingertips. Whether you were there with your mom (when window shopping could turn into actual purchases) or frolicking with your friends with an air of misguided grandeur (and maybe a little mischievousness), going to the mall was a highlight for a solid decade of your young life.
By now, you’ve probably left your mall obsession behind. You wander in when Sephora is having a particularly good sale or there aren’t any good movies playing, but it isn’t as magical. Still, once a mall kid, always a mall kid. As you’ve matured beyond your Cinnabon-eating years, you still cling to a few choice truths and comforts when it comes to the mall.
You Will Never Resist The Pull Of The Cookie
As soon as you walk into the mall, you are hit by a wall of familiar smells — perfumes from the free sample spritzer gauntlet, BO from the herd of shoppers pushed into close contact with one another, and the sweet, sweet scent of hot cinnamon flavored garbage that you have a deep need to shove in your face hole. Remember when icing covered cookie flavored pretzel buns were a guiltless treat? Remember when you didn’t need to show caution because of the cold realization that mall clothing stores are anti-plus-size zones and life is a swirl of cruel irony?
You Still Feel Weird Going Into Spencer’s Gifts
I know. You’re an adult now. You’ve done, said, or seen worse things than whatever nonsense fills those shelves. However, every time you walk past, you can’t help but feel a little uneasy. Your mom treated it like a portal to hell with a threshold that should never be crossed, and for some reason, that was one of those life lessons that stuck around. If Spencer’s is the forbidden garden, then fake poop, beefcake birthday cards, and finger massagers line the trees.
You Just Can’t Hate Hot Topic
Hot Topic has become a punchline meaning “uncool” in recent years, but you just can’t turn your back on it. After all, it welcomed you with open arms after you realized that you were never going to be a Claire’s girl and were going through your Avril Lavigne phase. Plus, Hot Topic has since become a bastion for some pretty rad geeky memorabilia and clothing, so it’s there for you as a grown-up when you need to buy a bunch of toys.
What? No you’re lame.
You Still Have Your Squad Meetings There
When you were a teen (in a time before Netflix and Skype) it was a place to meet that had easily flouted rules about loitering, abundant central air, and the aforementioned snacks. Now, it’s more about time management. You and your squad can grab a bite, hit a movie, buy some sensible slacks, and drool over the goods in the Apple store (basically the adult arcade) without having to fight to find parking in some hipster district.
You Still Love Forever 21 But You’re Beginning To Question The Validity Of Its Name
Maybe you’re trying to live a grown-up life on a budget. As you take a quick lap of the store, you’re distracted by crop tops, festival gear, and unidentifiable fabrics. Yes, you are too old for this place. It may have been a hallmark of your youthful wardrobe, but the time for shirts that fall apart after five washes is in the past.
You Have Made Your Choice In The Great War Between The Disney Store And Build-A-Bear
As a kid, going to The Disney Store was as close as you could get to heaven. With each new movie making its way to theaters, a new wave of merchandise would flood the shelves. You’d beg and plead for the latest Toy Story plush; sometimes your parents would yield, sometimes they wouldn’t. However, the true toy mecca shifted when Build-A-Bear came on the scene and suddenly your stuffed animal collection had a cornucopia of new options available and you were cast as the toymaker. Maybe you stayed loyal or maybe you didn’t. But even now, when you walk past, you feel either a warm wave of comfort or a tinge of guilt.
You Buy All Your Stuff On Amazon, But You’re Still Glad That FYE Exists
Are you a regular shopper at FYE? Of course not. You can get the same stuff on Amazon for half the price from your couch. Still, walking by a brick and mortar store that gives you the option to immediately get a hard copy of every season of Frasier is a strange creature comfort.
You Call Your Mom When It’s Time To Leave
Not much needs to be said on this. Good moms tend to stay good moms. So it’s natural that even though you drove yourself and don’t need a ride home you sometimes instinctively try to dial your mom and ask for a pick-up.
The Orange Julius Is Still Your Mall Beverage Of Choice
There’s something intoxicating about the power one feels when they walk through a mall with a Starbucks cup in their hand. Adults drink coffee. These people are doers who need caffeine as they quickly check things off of their to-do lists. Adults also have to-do lists. But you? You’re still a mall kid, slurping on the magical fruity elixir known as Orange Julius. It’s a mall margarita sans the alcohol, but do you need booze when you’re drunk on being forever young? No. You do not. Unless you want to sneak a little bit in there because…
You Still Don’t Have Respect For Mall Cops
All apologies to those in the profession, but all of your happy mall memories were born from the eunuch-like state of the mall cop, with their mag lights, their hollow threats, and their link to Paul Blart. There were one or two of them and dozens of us — how were they going to stop us from rolling around in our Heelys? And even though we’re all very responsible and unlikely to cause a ruckus now, you know that when you walk by, you feel tough and maybe a little dangerous. This is still your mall… so long as you go during school hours when the hordes of teenagers (the mall’s true masters) are hidden away.