The most depressing place in the world

Among other things, I’ve been counseled to bring a hat with me to Greece — a light, wide-brimmed hat that will help keep off the sun. I’ve found one I like online, but despite being reasonably sure I’ll get it, since I was out by the mall this evening anyway, I decided to stroll through and see if there was anything I could see there.

Macy’s? Nope.

Sears? Uh-uh.

A hat store called “Lids”? No.

Target? I got nothin’.

K & S Men’s? Zip.


I walked from one end of the blasted mall to the other, walking past every single store. There was not a blessed thing that I wanted to buy.

It wasn’t just hats, either — there wasn’t even anything I found the slightest bit interesting as an impulse purchase.

Even better — it was Friday evening in early summer, and while it wasn’t dead, it sure wasn’t exactly hopping, either.

This caused me to see the entire mall as being full of people doing nothing more productive than sitting there waiting for people to spend money, and for no better reason than somehow it has turned out to be more cost-effective this way than for all of them to actually produce something.

Talk about depressing.

It got even more depressing when I saw children on leashes. I became mind-numbingly despairing when I noticed the signs about the “mall-walkers” needing to renew their memberships.

I tried to go to a bookstore to cheer up. Bad move. Borders here is dying; they have all of the display shelves right up by the door to try to make you not notice that there are large areas of floor where they’ve removed shelves because there’s no product to restock. Barnes and Noble is increasingly the same way. I’d go elsewhere, but the trouble is, around here, the smaller bookstores are just plain creepy (which is why most of the time I just buy my books, CDs, and DVDs online anymore).

This is rapidly becoming representative of my experience of retail establishments in general. They have nothing I want, and the atmosphere is soul-deadening.

“Retail therapy”? It’s more like I need therapy after trying to shop retail.


8 Responses to “The most depressing place in the world”

  1. 1 Elias in Korea 15 May 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Did you hear Frederica Matthews-Green’s podcast on the hypnotic mall? It’s on Ancient Faith Radio.

  2. 2 Esteban Vázquez 15 May 2009 at 8:17 pm

    $94.00 for a Panama hat?! If that didn’t set off your alarms, my friend, you must be an American. 😉

    • 3 Richard Barrett 15 May 2009 at 9:31 pm


      I don’t like to talk about this because of the jokes it inspires, but…

      My trouble is hat size. The smallest hat which will fit me is 7 5/8, which is right at the top end of XL. 7 3/4 is better. Unfortunately, this limits from being able to go with some of the less expensive options. There are definitely cheaper Panama hats out there, but I haven’t seen anything any less expensive than this any bigger than 7 1/2 in the best case scenarios. The “one size fits most” options unfortunately generally don’t fit, either. Thie one to which I linked is right on the borderline as it is, since XL is as big as they sell them.

      Okay, go ahead and make the “Richard’s got a big head” jokes now. I’ll wait.

  3. 4 Esteban Vázquez 15 May 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Forget hat sizes — I’ve been to Panama and I can tell you that the $94 tag is an evil scheme! And in all probability, my one cousin’s wife is behind it. 😉

  4. 5 Anna 16 May 2009 at 4:12 am

    Yes, that hat is expensive, but the Greek sun is great and terrible.

    My thoughts on it is that if it is so expensive, it’s going to be a good hat that you will get a lot of use out of.

    • 6 Richard Barrett 16 May 2009 at 10:16 am

      Well, the good news is that this prompted me to look around a bit more. For something that would fit me, I was in fact able to do a little better — sort of. It’s grade 6 rather than grade 8, so it’s not that I’ve found something comparable for less money, just that I found a vendor who had one of the less expensive options (by all of $20) in a size that would fit me.

      At any rate, I don’t mind spending the money if it’s something from which I can get years and years of use. If I have to buy five $20 hats over the next five years, but only need to buy one of these for the next ten, then the item with the higher price is in fact cheaper.

      I still hate the mall.

  5. 7 rwp 18 May 2009 at 2:21 pm

    The Mall here is, well, it’s like the College Mall there was back in the 70s before it expanded the first time. Part of the problem is that it’s way out of town, under the mountain ridge. I think they were thinking they’d be able to expand as much as they wanted without neighbors to bother with, but it didn’t work out that way. The only things out there that get lots of business are Sam’s and the (other) Wal-Mart. It’s weird. Even the Office Depot just in front of Sam’s is a ghost town. The first couple of times we went it was striking how little was there and how few shoppers there were, but it was depressing when we realized it was always like that.

    The last time I was in Bloomington and driving past the court house I almost crashed into the parked cars when I saw that Stallsmith’s was no longer there. He had no competition, and a very loyal clientele. I can’t imagine why he went out of business, and nobody there could tell me.

    • 8 Richard Barrett 18 May 2009 at 2:37 pm

      Here’s some information on Stallsmith’s closing. I hadn’t realized that at some point he also had stores in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis; maybe he just expanded too much too quickly.

      I only went in there a few times; I liked what he had, but it was somewhat out of my price range. I brought him something for repair once, needing it done for an event, and I got it to him a month in advance. The day before the event, I hadn’t heard from him that it was ready; I called him, and it was clear he had forgotten entirely to send it on to his tailor. It was ready the next morning, and when I tried to pay he said, quite brusquely, “Just buy something next time.” I never went in again.

      There’s a different men’s clothier next door to the old Stallsmith location, however; haven’t been in there yet. Right now I’m looking for reasonably priced linen clothing for my Greece trip, and I’m rather despairing at the moment of being able to find what I’m looking for without it running me an arm and most of a leg.

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