Shopping to me is just as much bred into my life as drinking coffee, breathing, and playing music. One thing that really does bother me (if I can even call it being bothered) about shopping is not necessarily the ability to shop, but the environment where your ability is exercised. I am writing this blog in a hotel room near Dulles airport in DC, and after being in a couple of malls within a 15 mile radius during the past 3 days, I have come to the conclusion that I am much more of a shopping snob than I have anticipated. Let me explain.
I love big metropolitan cities, and usually big metropolitan cities have big shopping areas that hosts both your local/average shops and high-end couture. Why is being in a metropolitan city a big deal? Because it generally contains both quality and quantity value, something you don’t really find in smaller cities or “growing” metropolitan cities. I love New York and all of its shopping glory. I love SoCal because of the many places where I can get great deals on high-end shops. And after visiting the quaintness of Reston Town Center to the “grandeur” of Tysons Corner, I came to the conclusion that the value of shopping does have weight when it is surrounded in an environment where that value is shown in all of its grandeur. The mall at Tysons Corner is very big and definitely has lots to offer to various types of shoppers. It even has a good portion of shops that I am very familiar with in the West Coast — shops and restaurants like Armani, Gordon Biersch, Movado, Aldo, Steve Madden, Urban Outfitters, Kenneth Cole, Nordstroms, and H&M — shops that aren’t your typical mall retailers like Express, Abercrombie, Banana, etc.
And while I am a good sport in finding great places to shop anywhere, I’m also very critical of where those places are in comparison. I know that shopping in Manhattan will never compare to shopping in Oklahoma City, nor will shopping in Promenade be any better than shopping anywhere in Montana. Moreover, for a supposedly “metropolitan” area (and I question the value placed on that word), where I live now is neither the best place to shop nor the worst, but it certainly does not make it easy on metros like me who wish for a supposedly “metropolitan” area to have great shopping centers.
There is a certain responsibility that the environment around that area has on building up such shopping grandeur. There must be a level of progressiveness and a healthy balance of quality and value in that development; however, the perspective should also be progressive and the drive to move forward, to provide the best that THAT city can offer. Even if I end on that note – which I won’t – I can only define my thoughts based on the actual experience and knowledge that I have and compare that knowledge and experience with others I have encountered. The fact there are only 2 “fantastic” malls to shop in my area doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a level of progressiveness and drive to move forward, because I know for a fact that there is such a level and perspective. But, as I sit here contemplating on that, I am wondering how fast that level and perspective of “progressiveness” is being embraced. I already have my own views on such an environment, and I don’t even want to create havoc on exposing that just because I want great shopping centers. What I want is more than that, but shopping centers are a great tangible result that shows proof of that progressiveness; it shows the ability for a community and city to expand its horizons and be involved in economic and city development, bringing in tourism, consumer confidence, and retail establishment and loyalty, among others.
I missed Nordies and Armani when I left the Northwest, and while I can get their products online, it’s never the same in comparison to sitting down at Gordon Biersch and be surrounded by familiar things in life. As someone pointed out to me this past week, being a transplant to another city is never easy, and hardly the same in comparing environments.
You know what? Nothing is ever easy anyway.