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A generation ago, shopping malls were thriving parts of the social scenes in cities & towns across the U.S. Now virtual reality may bring that culture back.

“H επίδραση των νέων τεχνολογιών στην μετεξέλιξη της αγοράς του retail” , CEO Global Change, ranked Top 20 most influential business thinkers @ ReTech Innovation Challenge Winners Ceremony

NGA are very proud to have completed the manufacture, supply, installation & commissioning of the World’s largest printed stretch fabric ceiling complete with 15,000 fiber optics.

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Interesting advertising and promotion of upcoming Stones concert at Sherway in Toronto ps. I love the Stones!!

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Check out that amazing neon “Treat Zone” sign on this snack bar that used to be at the Palmer Park Mall! I don’t think I ever ate there much (I had always been a Pretzels Plus customer) but I remember seeing it when I would go shopping at the neighboring EB Games. Glad to find a picture of it, from the gallery of the 2005 Lehigh Valley Radio Control Society meeting at the mall. Sadly the Treat Zone closed in 2007 and today is a Sprint store that is trying very hard to look like an Apple store. You don’t deserve to stand where he stood, Sprint.

News broke recently that Payless intends to go out of business. After surviving bankruptcy in 2017, the brand will go bankrupt again this month and liquidate all 2300 US stores. So I thought I’d show off the two Payless stores I’ve filmed, at the Palmer Park Mall and Westgate Mall. At first it seems weird that they’d have the newer logo at Westgate but not Palmer Park, considering Westgate is way deader. But honestly the Westgate location might be doing better business because that location has an exterior entrance and literally no competition anywhere else in the mall. Compare that to the Palmer Park Payless, which does not have an exterior entrance, and is located right next to a large Rack Room Shoes that DOES have an exterior entrance, plus there’s a Foot Locker in the mall too. Has anybody else thought that the newer Payless logo is terrible? I never liked it. The Payless that I went to as a kid was actually a free-standing one on a main road, not in any mall, and it closed during the company’s 2017 bankruptcy.


My mind is blown. I was re-watching some of Dan Bell’s Dead Mall Series and flipped my lid when, in his video on the Schuylkill Mall, his camera panned past the vacant store seen here in the first picture. It’s an exact match for this abandoned retail space that I captured on my trip just last month (Jan 2019) in the painfully 70′s and quite dead Westgate Mall. It’s a huge store, and with a facade like that I’ve been very interested about what this place was. My theory is that it was a restaurant, just based on the look. The last proper tenant that has held this space was a store called the Art and Drafting Connection, which shut down in early 2011. It had occupied that spot for at least a decade. The store from Dan’s video has a labelscar, but I can’t make it out… SOME business that REALLY liked wood paneling was opening a lot stores in malls from 1973 (when Westgate opened) to 1980 (when Schuylkill opened) in eastern/central Pennsylvania, and dammit I wanna know what it was!

The Westgate Mall Bon-Ton, as seen January 2019. From inside the mall, the Bon-Ton entrance is dark and creepy. Peeking in, you can look down a short flight of stairs and see three closed shutter doors concealing the sales floor. It is lit only by a single overhead light. From outside, the 108,000 square foot department store still looks rather sleek and clean. That’s because Bon-Ton renovated this store as recently as late 2017 - evidently not foreseeing the fate that the whole chain would face within a year.

The Lehigh Valley Mall is the only enclosed shopping mall in the greater Lehigh Valley region that is performing particularly well. It’s basically the mall equivalent of a serial killer. It opened in 1976 right across the street from the region’s first mall, the Whitehall Mall. 22 years later, in 1998, Whitehall gave up the battle and was mostly demolished, leaving only a small, sad fraction of the enclosed mall standing with the rest converted to open-air shops. The Richland Mall and Trexler Mall were the next to go, in 2000 and 2001 respectively. Both were converted to big box stores. Since then there have been no more casualties, but the Phillipsburg Mall, South Mall, Stroud Mall, Westgate Mall, and Palmer Park Mall have languished slowly. Some will not make it another 5 years. Few seem likely to prosper for a decade or more.

More before and after pictures of the Westgate Mall. The first picture (source unknown), seemingly taken in 2013, shows some interesting vacant storefronts. On the far left, with the gray and burgundy design, was Westgate Optical, which moved out of the mall in 2013 as it found a new location in a nearby professional center. The colorful store next to it was the site of The Toy Tunnel, which was at the mall for at least 9 years before closing down at the beginning of the year 2003. The second picture is from my January 2019 trip to the mall. The entrance to the Toy Tunnel would have been just about exactly in the center of my picture. I barely remember the Toy Tunnel because I was so young, but it’s always sad to see your toy store gone for good. Even long after it shut down, it was nice seeing that colorful storefront as a reminder of good times. But at least now it’s being used as part of a trampoline park, so kids can still go where the Toy Tunnel once was and have fun - seems fitting in a way.

This picture from 2012, attributed to “Digital Sky”, shows the upper end of the main interior hallway of the Westgate Mall. The large section of blackened glass was once the entrance to J.J. Newberry’s, a variety store that anchored the mall from its opening until 1997, when most of the Newberry’s chain liquidated. This spot would remain vacant 18 years. It is now a large part of the SkyZone trampoline park.

Shopping spots in Bangkok, which is the best?

MBK : Overrated. We were utterly disappointed since we expected silk, native goods, and a possibility to bargain. What we found was a shopping mall packed with tourists, with stalls of jewelry and clothes that we can find in the Philippines for the same price or even cheaper! At some point, we wanted to take a break and have some mango sticky rice at a restaurant. The one we went to seemed to have a nice staff, until they announced the dessert was sold out hence, we decided to leave. The waitress was obviously annoyed and she half-heartedly said goodbye. Petty. In addition, it is congested and the alleys being quite small, it will take some time to roam around. I truly think MBK was a waste of time.

Siam Paragon : rather than shopping, this mall is perfect for window shopping. It is neat and gigantic, beautiful inside and outside. Siam Paragon hosts mainly luxury brands on the first floor, however you can find more mainstream brands on upper levels. For example, there is an immense H&M which takes 2 floors. [BTS Siam station]

Central World: a basic shopping mall similar to Siam Paragon full of multinational brands like GAP, Victoria’s Secret, Skechers and so on. You will need a whole day to visit the entire building as it is the 11th largest mall in the corld. From Central World, you can walk through the skyway to reach Platinum mall.  [BTS Siam station]

Platinum: worth it for stylish clothing at cheaper price. It’s still more affordable in the Philippines in my opinion, where I can also bargain but I did purchase pretty items made of silk at Platinum. The mall reminded us of Greenhills shopping center in the Philippines.  [BTS Ratchathewi station]

Pratunam : If you are looking for silk clothing and other fabric by the metre, native products and souvenirs, you are at the right place! If you come from Platinum, you’ll have to cross the street but don’t stop at the front. Go to the right and go straight, you’ll find several stalls and the street seems like it doesnt end. Don’t forget to look on your left and check out the narrow streets whihc hide more stalls. Pratunam market is  worth it although there is absolutely no way to bargain.  [BTS Ratchathewi station]

Unlike popular beliefs, there is no bargaining possible. You can try various methods like the puppy eyes or praising the merchants. If you’re lucky, some will concede however, others will be irritated. I was expecting more singular native souvenirs and just consecutively saw identical objects made of straw or nacre. In fact, I can find those in the Philippines as well. If you are in Bangkok to shop til you drop (or get bankrupt lol), Pratunam and Platinum might answer your demands better. If you just wish to see something fancy for your insta pics, Siam Paragon and Central World are a must!

Here’s some pics of the vacant 122,000 square foot Bon-Ton department store at Palmer Park Mall. It boasts the oldest architecture in the complex; those brown vertical stone slabs on the exterior date to the 1971 opening of the store, which at the time was one of the first locations of the up-and-coming Hess’s department store chain. It was also one of the 30 Hess’s stores still in business in 1994 when the chain was sold to The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. The lighter colored concrete details around the door and the roofline were part of a renovation around 2001. I had hoped to see a nice label scar at the Bon-Ton interior entrance, but instead there was simply a banner promising “redevelopment - new shops planned”. I couldn’t get closer to the Bon-Ton entrance because there was a mall cop hanging around… The mall owners, City View LLC, plan to chop up the old department store to accommodate 3 or 4 big box tenants. Presumably, only one of these would have mall access.

The Westgate Mall clearly had an outdoor fountain at one point, but in recent history it has been little more than a fancy bench. I visited this mall in January 2019, but Google Street View pictures going back to 2008 show that the fountain has been out of operation at least since then. Site plans show that the previous mall owner, City View LLC, intended to tear out this fountain, but that is one of the things that they clearly never got around to before selling off the mall in October 2018