[January 2013 update: there is only one store still open in the mall—a LensCrafters. It's weird. I went to the post office the day before it closed, and the mall seems to not even be heated anymore (glad I brought my coat!). Entire portions of the parking lot (including all underground parking) are barricaded off, and the place looks even more like a post-apocalyptic site!]
A week ago, I needed to drop off a package at the post office, and I noticed there was a post office inside Crestwood Mall—an old shopping mall in southwest St. Louis County. Since this post office was on my way to another stop, I decided to venture into Crestwood Mall to the once-mighty mall that was in dire straits.
When I pulled into the mall parking lot, I noticed a few things:
- There were two other cars in the entire lot where I parked.
- There was a huge, black crow sitting on a handicapped parking sign, watching me walk towards the door.
Not very encouraging.
Anyways, I purposely parked at an end of the mall so I could get a little mall-walking into my day (hey, when you're a programmer, and you sit 90% of your life, you'll take any exercise you can get!). My spirits weren't lifted when I tried entering the automatic doors, but was stymied:
Now, I can understand a temporary problem, but it looked to me like none of the doors had been maintained in a while; paint was falling off, locking mechanisms were detached from the push-to-open doors, and the doors felt a bit like they would fall apart when I pushed them open!
After entering, I saw not one person for the first few hundred yards. In fact, during my entire 20 minute circuit around the mall, I noticed about 8 people in total, and only three were inside stores. I felt like I was Will Smith in I am Legend! There were areas of the mall (for example, the old food terrace) where not one store was open, and every inch of storefront was boarded up. In fact, many of the mall's bathrooms looked like they'd been closed for a very long time:
Now, what if I wanted to get a few dollars to spend at one of the three or four remaining stores? Oh, sorry... the ATMs here don't work either:
What happened, I asked myself, to the glorious mall that just ten years prior boasted a Dillards, Macys, all the requisite indoor-mall stores (Auntie Anne's, Claire's, Sam Goody's, Pasta House, hundreds of cell phone stores, etc.)? It used to be a destination for southern countygoers, but no longer.
The few remaining kiosks in the mall were empty (completely!), and many of the storefronts weren't even barricaded by a dropdown metal grate, meaning people could simply walk back into the abandoned store and sit behind the counter if they wanted. It was quite eerie—especially with the echoes of music played over the PA system in a large, empty space.
Even when I walked by the Sears (the only remaining store that had any semblance of being a 'mall-type' store, but which is also closing soon), I didn't see anyone inside.
It was almost a nightmarish experience (I really thought I heard a few zombies every now and then), and I think I'll avoid the place for a while.