For nearly 50 years, I’ve lived within 10 miles of Paramus, NJ, arguably the Mall Capital of the World. But during the past 15 years, I’ve shopped in Paramus, 12 maybe 15 times. Why so few visits? Let me count the ways: Parking is abysmal, crowd mentality are atrocious, any and every open space is cluttered with vendors selling tchotchkes, and more often than not, malls have become a magnet for low-quality fast-food establishments. And that’s just outside the retailer’s doors! Don’t get me started about the garbage piled up on store shelves and clothing racks which merchants and their suppliers try to pawn off as quality for the masses.
Apparently, I’m not alone in my views. During last month’s Financo Forum in Manhattan, J. Crew Group Inc.’s chairman and CEO Millard “Mickey” Drexler blasted mall developers. “I don’t see any excitement or improvement in 98% of them. Right now, there is a diminishing return. I just wonder where it all takes us.”
I got an answer for you, Mick. It takes us out the door and onto the internet. Malls are in a death spiral. The new generation of consumers and the next generation of consumers are very happy picking and clicking without ever actually touching the clothing that they buy. For better or worse, today’s kids have grown up in a virtual world where they don’t need to get all touchy feely with their wardrobe prior to purchase. Imagine! It was only a few short years ago, that pundits insisted consumers would never buy without the try. Now, they can’t be bothered—it’s just not worth the hassle.
So what’s to become of all these malls in America and especially those in New Jersey? Maybe over the next 50 years, they’ll be transformed into green spaces at least or, even, revert back to farmland. Wishful thinking? You bet. But New Jersey is, after all, still known as the Garden State!
For folks like me who prefer the shop-at-home, or even the shop-at-desk experience, take a look at our Buyer’s Guide this month. It’s full of raw materials and packaging components from hundreds of industry suppliers. For those who prefer the convenience of online shopping, check out the Buyer’s Guide at Happi.com. There, it’s updated throughout the year.
We hope you enjoy the Buyer’s Guide. Happi shopping!