March 11, 2005


Cathy Seipp writes of the consolidation of department stores, and offers some memories of what these stores once were. I remember as a kid what a treat it was to go to the Wannamaker's in Philadelphia with my mom, and how my brother and I would suffer through trying on innumerable Sunday suits or try to hold our noses in the perfume department all the while remaining on our best behavior for the trip to the ninth floor -- where the toy department was.

I have noted in Northern Virginia, of late, that it's not just the department stores that have given up on toys. I know this is in some measure a function of economics, the effect of mega retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Toys-R-Us, but I'm amazed that on those rare occasions when the whole family goes to the mall together, there's almost nothing for the six year old -- or his only slightly less mature father -- to look at. I think malls always tended to cater more to women shoppers, but I would have put the ratio at, oh, I don't know -- 40-35-25 -- for the percentage of shops catering to women, to both sexes, and to men, respectively. Now I'd guess it's 55-30-15 at the two malls that are closest to us, neither of which, by the way, has anything resembling a toy store or a store with a toy department. It occurs to me, however, that I don't spend all that much time in malls, while my wife enjoys going quite a bit, which may well suggest that the ratio actually makes sense.

Posted by Ideofact at March 11, 2005 12:29 AM