Andrea Grimes

Scenes from a ‘ghetto mall’

Girl on Top

If anyone in the whole world is pumped about appealing to a large audience – literally and figuratively – it is Marianne. Proudly advertising clothing in sizes that range from 4 to 24, Marianne boasts a boxy logo and wares that make the flimsy trendoid squares of fabric at Forever 21 look like delicately sewn couture. Indeed, Marianne is precisely the type of store that should flourish in what is commonly known as a “ghetto mall,” where cost is considered over quality; where glitter and elastic are deeply valued commodities. Austin’s Highland Mall is happy to have her.

And yet, Marianne is closing soon. Her big, yellow banners say so. She has gone the way of Ann Taylor. And Jessica McCormick. They’re quietly slipping out of Highland Mall like sorority girls at a dive bar. Through the cracks of its occasionally duct-taped brown tile floor, a powerful strain of retail Ebola seeps through. And judging by the slogging, swaying gait of the stroller-pushing patrons, the virus may be going cross-species. Witness the slow crumbling of yet another one of America’s altars to consumerism. O Gods of shopping, what sacrifice might we make to save it?

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photo / 33mhz Creative Commons license graphic Poop-streaked sign outside of Austin’s Highland Mall