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Adios, Bastard Malls!

In my daily crusade to find news items to write about, and to share on any one of our Facebook Groups, I keep stumbling upon the same theme over again; Malls are dying. Department stores are dying. Department store chains are dying! Huge, ubiquitous department store chains that were synonymous with every major holiday are going away and may never come back.

“Screw ‘em,” I say to myself. “They left me ages ago…”

A while ago I went shopping with my boys at one nearby and I kept my eye open for stores that cater to just men; specifically, men in my age range with our specific life styles. If you’re a regular reader of The Fedora Chronicles, then you know what I’m talking about; the style of men’s clothing where men like us can wear and not look like dumbasses in a few short years.

And when I mean “not look like dumbasses” I specifically mean like your jackass Uncle Joe in those pictures from decades ago, who looks like the 1970’s golf pro shop threw up on him.

If there are clothes for men, they are sold in department stores where you can by everything else – the men’s clothing seems to me more of an afterthought. There is this reverse-sexism occurring, it’s OK to have clothing stores for just women; just women for ever age group, for every woman's shape and size, and for every woman's lifestyle. For women.

As my sister, Jenny, said when I talked to her about this rant when it was a work in progress – it’s as if only women shop for men’s clothes, so if you don’t have a wife or girlfriend – are you screwed?

If nothing else, the malls have men’s clothing stores that are for the young urban smartass hipsters or the hip-hop scene, obviously not my age group. And not for the “Fedora Chronicles” demographic.

There’s not a single store in these malls that cater to just men and just men’s clothes, to find clothes for just men I must leave the mall and go to stores like Jos. A. Bank, Men’s Warehouse, or I must go to the privately owned non-chain, non-franchise stores that’s been run by the founder and his or her family for decades and supporting them is a good thing.

No, a great thing.

There are also more than a few other articles about why a lot of these department stores are failing beyond the on-line phenomenon, one article points out that the Macey’s Flagship store in New York City has become a horrible, sloppy mess with shelves and racks neglected, displays in disarray, and tags with markdowns after markdown… after markdown. The major chains are cutting their throats by cutting costs, now’s the time to redouble the efforts of making the stores look better, now is not the time to neglect maintenance. If these chain stores die with this attitude it’s because they deserve to die.

Somewhere out there, there’s a commentator that wrote “customers are letting Sears and Macy’s down…” forgetting the fact that we don’t owe them anything. These chains have one thing in common is that it’s up to them to give us reasons to keep coming back. There’s the ridiculous notion that no matter what happens and not matter how they neglect their customers and their base, somehow people will always return as if we’re a weak-willed battered spouse with victim mentality; blaming ourselves for the reasons why they do what they do to us. Just because you’ve been around forever and you’ve been on top all this time doesn’t mean you always will be without putting in the effort. Obviously, many of us have finally woken up.

What many of these commentators don’t realize that we’re enjoying watching the demise of these department stores that have ignored us for ages. And we’re waiting for something that’s interesting that might take their places. I’m looking forward to the day when there’s real store for our demographic that makes us want to go there to shop.

Then there’s the internet where someone on the other side of the country makes just one great thing, that one great thing that obviously for the “Fedora Chronicles” demographic. The people who have put everything on the line, and literally ‘on-line’ to become the best at whatever… whether it’s Penman Hats, Trinity Whips, or Kass McGann’s patterns at Reconstructing History…. But that’s for another, more in-depth rant.

We actually want some of the stores at the malls return to what they once were, what stores like Ambercombe and Fitch used to be before they became an “American retailer that focuses on upscale casual wear for young consumers,” and Aéropostale when “stores even captured the essence of this airmail voyage both in the original store design and in the aviation styled leather bomber jackets that they sold.

All of us, especially safari-wear aficionados and dieselpunks want the original Banana Republic – the version of Banana Republic founded by Mel and Patricia Ziegler before it was ruined by Mickey Drexler.

Many – if not all – of these failing stores would return to pofititiblity if they would actually return to their orginal buisness model and sold quality merchandise again. How is that not obvious to the CEO’s of these failing buisnesses?