I was reading an article on NBC recently about the future of malls in the nation. Most of it was common sense: brands losing spaces because they can’t afford rent, mall retailers worried consumers won’t return unless they have flawless, streamlined safety precautions and thousands of jobs lost due to Coronavirus shutdowns.
However, this one line grabbed my attention, “when a mall goes dark, a community loses more than just a place to shop… so called mall walkers would use the open space in the mall before stores opened to the public to break a sweat.” As I laughed, I was instantly reminded of my high school and college retail sales jobs. The early morning shifts when I’d show up around 6 a.m. to do inventory or a floor set – without fail – there would always be at least 2-3 soccer mom types doing rounds as if it was an indoor track. When I’d grab a coffee around 8 a.m, I’d overhear them coming to an end in their walk saying, “wow, I definitely broke a sweat.”
So the fact that they are getting a mention in an article intended to shed light on the current retail apocalypse, is hysterical. I had to find out if this was actually a thing or if NBC included it on a whim. To my surprise, there are a lot of sad sneakerheads out there. Stories of Massachusetts residents who are “stepping to the end,” or the oldest male walker who, “made a lot of friends at the mall.” What was crazier is a mall in Northern California actually has a Mall Walkers program, which is currently closed to “regroup.”
I guess I get it. They built a community. There’s a sense of pride and agreement around fitness and their love of the mall. But I still can’t help but think: really, we’re sad for the individuals that lost prime exercising real estate?