So much has been said about the demise of brick and mortar retail. This weekend I got clarity. Clarity about the future of the current-state shopping mall. Its shelf life has expired.
Driving through “The Borscht Belt” this past weekend in upstate NY gave me this clarity. The Borscht Belt was a thriving vacation spot with amazing bungalows and resort hotels. From the early 20s to the late 60s thousands trekked from NYC to escape the heat and chaos. The entertainment was legendary. It inspired the movie Dirty Dancing and was the home of the Woodstock festival. However, gone are the days of beautifully manicured golf courses, five-course dinners, and grand staircases. Replacing them are boarded up decaying buildings, cracked tennis courts, and abandoned pools.
After a few minutes of attempting to get a cell signal, I finally got online and read about the heroic attempts of some developers attempting to return the Catskills to its old glory. Sadly though, I don’t believe it will happen. You see, the shelf life has expired for the Catskills.
Vacationers have long ago departed for far more exotic places. A quick flight can now transport you to places unheard of during the heyday of the Borscht Belt. It seems reckless to think that investment will bring them back.
Time has moved passed the Borscht Belt, just like it is doing to Atlantic City and its majestic casinos both old and new. Remember the Revel? So many attempts to salvage that dream. Time has moved passed the Revel too.
Which brings me back to the glory days of the American shopping mall. Time has moved past this novel concept of yesterday. Remember window shopping? How about the food court and the carousel? Lots of conversations and research is ongoing to the trend, the shift, the impact, etc.
I just want to call it as I see it. It’s over. The shelf life has expired.
Yet, this does not mean doom and gloom, it just means it is time for new. Just like vacation and gaming, retail too will thrive, just not the retail of yesterday.
Image credit: Pablo Maurer/@MLSist
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Mesh Gelman is an executive entrepreneur formerly responsible for pushing the boundaries of what is possible at Starbucks as a Senior Vice President of Siren Ideas.