Get a Grip said...
But.....didn't the decline of Greenville visibly begin with the arrival of the mall? (Or two malls, as the Mainstream Mall was the first to arrive.) OK, the wheat embargo's effect on the towboat industry had an impact, as well. But the timing of both was in the mid-70's. Do Indianola and Cleveland and Greenwood have "malls?" NO! And look at their successful efforts to promote their downtown areas!
Look at Jackson, Ridgeland, Flowood, Madison, etc. Those malls come and go. Jackson Mall---no one under 40 remembers it. Metrocenter? I'm old enough to remember when its opening was a Major Deal, and wise enough to realize that it's since become an unsafe place to shop. Northpark? Buh-bye.
The glorified strip mall has made a comeback. And no sooner did Dogwood Festival Market open then its eventual replacement showed up in Ridgeland at Colony Park. The Mall has seen its season. It's time for something new. Mom and Pop stores, maybe? A Fred Carl-type investor? (Curse you, Jay Stein.) But wallowing in our own mire won't accomplish anything but get us even deeper in the mud.
Oh, no!! if the mall closes, where would I buy my Sponge Bob leather jacket or my confederate flag cell phone cover? Where will Belk dump all the garbage they don't sell in other stores?Please!!! That mall's demise is very close.
Just read about Office Depot closing 112 stores nationwide. Any news about our local store?
It is true that the arrival of "malls" was pretty much a death sentence to small downtown communities. Almost all Greenville merchants immediately abandoned the downtown area to move to the "Mainstream" or Greenville Mall in the early 1970's.
Obviously, Greenville could not support two malls opening within 6 months of each other. Subsequently, the Mainstream Mall lasted less than 3 years before it closed. Mall space is not cheap and the mall concept is that smaller merchants will profit from having a couple of "big" merchants draw all of the traffic.
That was the "theory" of mall merchandising that existed in the 70's and 80's. Then came Wal-Mart! Just as the malls killed our downtown merchants, Wal-Mart has killed the malls. Sam Walton took the convenience of malls one step further and put everything a human could possibly want or need under ONE roof... at cheaper prices. Is this really progress?
I know two types of people: those who think that Wal-Mart is the greatest thing since indoor plumbing; and those who consider "suicide" preferable to enduring the local experience! I fall just short of the latter. Greenville, and those communities who chose malls in the early 70's are suffering the most. Cities like Cleveland have maintained the ambiance of their quaint downtown shopping district, while enduring one of the largest Wal-Marts in the state.
2009 is not going to be a good year for Greenville merchants. I predict that we will see more store closings and perhaps the mall as well. This recession is not going to magically disappear by having a Democrat in office. The greed and corruption within our political system can not all be blamed on George W; nor will it disappear under Obama's reign.