Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I'm not sure if I entirely agree with the premise of your question here, in that I really have trouble imagining the situation being a whole lot better.

I like flourescent lighting.  I realize I may be the only person on Earth to say that, but it's true.  Incandescents are dim and annoying.  You can't see colors properly because they are usually too dim, they glare in the wrong ways, and they're hot.  Flourescents are also MUCH more energy efficient.  Of course, natural lighting is quite nice.  One of my favorite features about the Galleria, and a couple other malls in the Valley, was that the main galleries were naturally lit via atrium windows in the roof.  The Northridge Fashion Plaza even had trees and fountains.  Sadly, even in LA, natural lighting is not always available . . . for example, at night.

I never shop at anything BUT big department stores, or the occasional chain store, because the smaller the store, the more expensive the merchandise, and the less likely it is that they will have something that fits me.  Independent stores can't survive on a low-margin volume sale strategy, and I've never been in a position to afford much that's not sold on such a strategy.

My clothing purchases are routinely made from two or three brands, anyway.  The periodically cheap brands which are not terribly low-quality.  For some items I am willing to pay for better quality/fit.  I used to but custom-made shirts from Lands End, because I could never get dress shirts to fit me right.  I lost some weight recently, though, so no that's not a problem.  In stores, finding actual high-quality, built to last merchandise is almost impossible, because in my experience almost nobody is willing to pay for it.  There are a few items for which I am a real stickler on this point (shoes being the main example), yet nobody I know ever wants to listen to my advice because it would inevitably mean that they pay more.  They'd rather buy 5 pairs of crappy shoes rather than one nice one.  The culture of disposability is such that there is only a marginal, remnant market for anything that's not-disposable, it seems.  And so, chain stores carry goods with varying levels of disposability, because when presented with a choice, that's what most people buy.

It would be really, really nice if malls were better integrated into "community" settings, with walkable streets, nearby housing, etc.  There was actually a fair bit of housing next door to or across the street from the Galleria . . . low-rent apartment buildings.  A friend of mine lived in one.  We walked to the Galleria from his place a few times.  The thing you come to understand by doing that even once is just how utterly and completely pedestrian hostile the entire built environment is today.  Everything in the Valley was built with the car in mind.  The streets are car-sized (2-4 lanes each direction), the stores are surrounded by parking (5 minute walk to cross from the sidewalk, usually), the crosswalks are a quarter to a half mile separated from each other, etc.

Fixing that would require almost complete demolition and reconstruction.  Maybe if I was global overlord and had UNLIMITED POWER (MUAHAHAHAHAHA!) it could be accomplished (through the unceasing toil of my faithful minions!  MUAHAHAHAHA!).  The problem is that you would have to re-build on a truly massive scale,  with multi-year integrated plans costing in the billions.  To make them really viable, you'd have to link such re-constructed areas together with rail.  

For the record, nowadays I make almost all of my clothing purchases online, because I live in Japan and nobody reall stocks much of anything my size.  I'm tall.

by Zwackus on Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 07:23:13 PM EST
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