Are Shopping Malls like Cornwall Square a Dying Breed? January 31, 2011 – Cornwall Ontario

Cornwall ON – Are shopping malls a dying breed?  In the movie Dawn of the Dead there was a symbolic presence of the Shopping Mall; something most of us grew up with.   Today with online shopping and strip malls making a huge comeback thanks to the likes of Walmart are people Malled out?

Here in Cornwall our mall is showing its age and wear.  The escalators are frequently broken.  While I was there today both were shut down and the elevator was smelly and the floors in obvious need of repair.

There also was a glaring amount of empty space with tenants like Axxis Optical purchasing the old Standard Free Holder building rather than pay exorbitant mall rents.

The nearby mall in Massena NY also is facing some issues, and other area malls seem to be suffering to varying degrees.   East Court Mall seems like a rest home at times.   Have our shopping habits changed that much or have land lords simply priced their rents out of the marketplace?    We see growth in the Brookdale corridor of new Smart Shopping centres that seem to have no problems attracting big box stores that for one reason or another didn’t want a mall space.  Walmart’s lot is usually full at all hours of the day so people are still shopping as Cornwall grows; just not as much at the Square?

I asked several store owners, employees, and customers questions over the last few weeks and the answers simply boiled down to what was available and in a mall.   Changing work hours, the economy, better deals at other stores were answers given.     And of course empty stores in a mall put pressure on anchor tenants such as Sears in Cornwall Square or Justin’s No Frills or Shoppers Drug Mart.

Many people talked about service quality; and some said that all they really see are cell phone stores in the Square?  Our missives to Cornwall Square management have yet to be returned as of press time.

Why do you shop or not shop at malls?  You can post your comments below.

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  1. During my four or five visits this past Christmas season I noticed that there was no trouble finding parking close to the doors – a decidedly sad state of affairs for the shopping mayhem season. I also remember seeing lineups only at food court cash registers – every store I did business with had at least one cashier immediately available.

    For me, shopping malls were a one-stop shop for almost everything on my list – be it Christmas or not. I must say that the Square has let me down on this front – Sears notwithstanding. Instead, I find my self doing the research at home (web and phone) nowadays, then heading to the specific stores at my next convenience – wherever they may be located.

    The idea of casually strolling through the local mall as a “shopping outing” has now been replaced by efficiently “running errands” to free up time to go on other outings.

    Hopefully that’s just me…

  2. Hi That was a great article. I too have noticed a dicline in mall visitors. I was just thinking the other day about the old Brookdale Mall I loved that mall it was nice and big it had everything you needed. But they had to rip it down to put in some stores that most people do not go to and now The Source has moved. although to a similar location. I to agree with what one person said that there is just not much veriaty in these malls it is mostly cell phone stores or booths and a couple or every changing stores. the food court in the square is not much better a couple of outlets have been vacant for what has seemed like years they just recently opened and A&W but hat is because Burger King left. I really hope this doesn’t mean malls like this oe a dying breed…although it seems as though that is the case.

  3. Repent! The end is nigh…

  4. Jamie, I think the answer to your questions is, “yes”, malls will become a symbol of the past as you allude to in your article.

    There are several reasons in my opinion. Malls are expensive to operate and merchants end up paying for cooperate space that is costly to heat, cool and maintain. Lots of people go to these malls, especially seniors, and occupy the space without buying very much. The food court at Cornwall Square is a prime example. Lots of the people there never set foot in a store.

    From a business point of view I think it is much more efficient to operate a stand alone store in a strip mall located in the proximity of other stores. Wal-Mart has the profit line down pat- I don’t think they’ll be opening any new stores in shopping malls. Once you enter a Wal-Mart, there’s no room for you unless you are buying something. That’s the rationale.

    Other businesses, like Tim Hortons, don’t even want to give you a place to sit if they can help it, when you buy their products. Look at the proliferation of drive through coffee stores, where you buy your coffee(at the same price) and drink it in your car or at your office! Why build new stores in shopping malls when you can get people to drink their coffee elsewhere? So what if the line-up of cars disrupts the traffic flow on a busy street. As long as Tim Hortons is making a profit, that’s what counts.

    As far as St. Lawrence Centre in Massena is concerned, that mall is on its last legs. I was there recently and every second store has closed, with the ones open barely surviving. At the once busy bookstore, there was one employee handling the whole place. The food court was almost empty just before lunch. The word is that TJ Maxx( a big tenant) will be moving to the old Harte Haven Mall. With the economic situation in the U.S. and the weak economy in Massena, will the remaining stores be able to pay even higher rents, with many fewer customers?

    Interesting times we live in. Lots of changes coming up.

  5. As someone who used to work at the mall I know how important it is to support local business but the sad reality is what many people have pointed out on this post and that is that the market has changed. As an example I often go to the mall stores looking for particular items and if it is not in stock they always promise that they can order it and have it in in a few days. But then why go through a middle man when I can order it myself and probably get it cheaper (and quicker sometimes) since it won’t be marked up to profit the mall store?
    I understand that stores are limited in the product that they can store but sometimes selection is a concern.
    And as for shopping…well I guess it would be fair to say I hate it. And as much as I hate shopping I really loathe Christmas shopping. You will not see me in a mall or a big box store at Christmas unless it is under extreme duress. I hate the crowds, the waiting in line, the parking and the futile search through aisles for things that are already sold out…blech…you can have it. I would much rather sit at home with a cup of coffee and have things delivered, gift wrapped directly to my loved ones. This requires some advance planning as you can’t do this last minute but the convenience more than outweighs this drawback.
    Now, this is not to say that I do not still go to malls and try to support them as much as I can even it means paying more sometimes than I would elsewhere but the writing is on the wall and as the man sang, “the times, they are a’changin”

  6. I go to Cornwall Square all the time. I spend about $60-$70 a week there. It’s clean, free of hoodlums, the post office is friendly and of course the groceries. I like being able to count on a taxi being there. The bathrooms are surprisingly clean. The whole place is wired for Wi-Fi devices. I did get stuck for a couple of hours when the escalator stopped. If I want to look at an eight hundred dollar dog or a two dollar tropical fish I go to the pet shop upstairs. There is no hardware store at this end of Cornwall – no place to buy paint, lumber, shelves, drywall. Cornwall Square has the best Sharmas and Pitas in town. For three years I’ve shopped exclusively at No Frills for food, who by the way have the politest clerks in Cornwall. There is a magazine shop on the second floor that stocks more magazines and newspapers than anyone in town but refuses to tell anyone about that top secret fact – took me a year and a half to discover them. I’ll never buy a radio wave cell phone. I’m always astonished that I can’t buy a bottle of wine or a pack of smokes at Cornwall Square, truly amazing actually.

    As far as Montreal Road shopping goes. It’s filthy, the food is for junkies and drunks. The retailers can’t afford a $20.00 bucket of paint and don’t have the incentive to clean the spit and spider webs off their windows.

  7. Love the Square! Especially when it’s hot or cold out…who wants to walk from one box store to another? It’s a pain in the butt. If you want to just drive up to one store and go in for a specific thing, fine. But if you want to browse around…obviously malls are the best for that. Malls are not outdate…hello, Eaton Centre!!! Cornwall is creating a whole in the middle of the city with it’s emphasis on stores on the end of town…downtown should be developed as a centre core where people meet up, shop, eat, socialize. it hasn’t been that way in years. Cornwall is acting like a boring suburb, when it can have an active core of its own. There is barely a single restaurant on Second Street east of Sydney except for fast food joints and Wing Hing. As for the west end box stores…in 10 years we’re all going to shaking our heads, wondering why we ever thought strip malls/box stores/plaza’s were a good thing. Give me a mall, climate controlled, a place to take a break, check my email, comparison shop, etc. It’s just that the Square could benefit from a few more stores…business just needs to have courage to move in there. Downtown Cornwall could be a cool place, but it’s not. Maybe it has just forgotten how to be. Strip malls and box malls are just not a cool way to shop.

  8. I see what you’re saying Cat Eye. But Pitt Street needs to be included in that too, not just the Square. That pedestrian mall was cool, but people are too lazy to get out of their cars. I’m sure you don’t expect the Square to be the heart of the city…it would be a part of it of course, but not all of it. I think the people in the East end must be pretty frustrated now, not to have a department store in their end since Zeller’s left. I wish small business could start filling the gap. In larger cities a lot of the character comes from streets lined with interesting small business…here we are getting swallowed up by chains and losing some character. I do think that there needs to be more interesting hang-out places…especially in the east end, where the only hot spot seems to be the ongoing tailgate party in the Mac’s Milk / Tim HOrton’s parking lot.

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