Living in a town of 10,000 people, I’m lucky that we have anything even resembling a shopping mall. The Mayberry Mall (yes, that’s really what it’s called) is tiny by modern day mall standards and has a somewhat retro ‘70s vibe to it, but it has all the basics – a couple of mini-sized department stores, a Hallmark store, a Radio Shack and a number of local businesses.
All things considered, it’s a pleasant enough place to shop, except for one little stretch of stores in the middle. As I approach this section, I hold my breath and pick up my speed. Why? Well, first there’s a Chinese fast food restaurant, its greasy soy sauce odor wafting into the center of the mall. Next door is the acrylic nail salon, where the nail technicians wear face masks, while the customers calmly breath in the noxious fumes. It sits beside a hair salon, where any hint of freshly shampooed scented hair is overwhelmed by the chemical stench of the hair coloring and perm chemicals. Finally, to round out the row, there’s a little restaurant that serves mostly hot dogs and limp French fries, adding that au de baseball stadium fragrance into the mix.
This is a case where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts and I have no doubt that the gaseous cocktail is toxic and perhaps even deadly. It seems shortsighted to have located these establishments one right next to the other. Dead customers rarely contribute to the profitability of a business unless, of course, you run a funeral home.
I wish the mall management would see the light and do a little store shuffling, but since the mall décor hasn’t been updated since about 1979, I’m not holding my breath (except, that is, when I’m actually in the mall).