Just days before the official start of summer, my daughter reminded me that we needed to make a trip to the mall to purchase a "cute" swimsuit for the summer.
The idea of going to the mall made me cringe.
First there is the one-hour drive to Allentown, which, after a full day at work is most unappealing.
Then there is the large crowd of people which seems to cause me more and more anxiety as each year passes.
However, after some pouting and procrastination, I decided to compromise with her and head on up to the Schuylkill Mall in Frackville.
I can't remember the last time that I was there and figured that it was certainly large enough to offer her a decent chance of finding the right suit with less of a crowd to stress me out.
Upon walking in the door, the first thing I noticed was how the movie theater had changed.
It looked wonderful, and I made a mental note to take in a movie there sometime soon.
As we walked past the theater I spotted something new, well new since the last time I was there eons ago.
It was a sports bar.
I made a mental note to inform hubby so as to entice him to come shopping with me, even if he doesn't care to wander in and out of all of the various stores.
I looked ahead and discovered that the Chinese buffet that I had hoped to eat dinner at was dark.
Evidently it closed about two years ago.
We turned the corner and to my surprise, there was not one other person to be seen walking around the mall.
It struck me as very odd.
As we continued walking, I noticed vacant store after vacant store.
Sadly, the Schuylkill Mall was looking pretty much like a ghost town.
The silence was deafening.
I didn't count but I would say at least a third to half of the stores were dark and silent.
"What happened here?" I wondered to myself.
I'm sure online shopping has something to do with it.
How easy it is to make your selections with the click of a mouse and have it conveniently delivered to your doorstep.
It truly is a beautiful thing; just as long as it fits.
Perhaps too it is due to the scarcity of jobs and a struggling economy.
Walmart seems to have become the new fashion mecca in our area.
I used to love to shop at the mall.
If I needed something, I was sure to find it there and then go grab a bite to eat and perhaps visit the arcade.
As a teenager, going to the mall on a regular basis was almost as common as going to school.
It wasn't just about shopping; it was where we went to see our friends and to be seen by the cute boys.
Unfortunately for my daughter, there were no cute boys, or any boys for that matter, to be seen by on that trip.
Luckily, she was able to find what she needed in the two stores we visited, and instead of Chinese, we settled for Arby's.
I really hope that things pick up for the Schuylkill Mall.
It would be a shame to see the whole thing close down and for more people to lose their jobs.
I myself plan to shop there more often and to take in a movie while I'm there.
It's up people like you and me to keep our local businesses afloat so they can continue to provide jobs for our family, friends and neighbors.
To all of you entrepreneurs out there: If you have ever wanted to open up your own business, I would be willing to bet that you could get a good deal on some prime space inside the mall.
Then perhaps with some good marketing in a joint effort with all of the stores that yet remain there, the Schuylkill Mall could be bustling with life once again.