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Real Plaza: Salaverry

20 Sep

Lima, Peru

Quick Review

If the design of Lima, Peru’s Jockey Plaza is inspired by North American malls—large, spacious, with large stores, even more massive anchors, and thousands of parking spaces—the design of Real Plaza Salaverry seems to be inspired by the malls of Asia: petite, space-conscious and built as urban in-fill in an already fully developed area.

Rather than focus horizontally, designers had to focus vertically; the mall has 5 levels compared to two at Jockey Plaza. Each features clusters of stores in one or two categories like fashion, home, shoes, and general merchandise.

The top floor features the food court and a movie theater. An oversized floor-to-ceiling window and high ceilings lend a feeling of spaciousness to the food court that features a nice selection of local and national chains. An ingenious use of levels on the exterior of the building makes entry possible on both lower and upper levels. Clustered near the entrances are major restaurants, including mid-and upper-market restaurants.

The selection of stores is nearly as impressive at Real Plaza: Salaverry as at Jockey Plaza. Despite its petite size, the mall features 3 anchor department stores—Oeschle, Ripley, and Saga Falabella—hypermarket Plaza Vea and home improvement retailer ProMart. It also features the tourist-oriented Kuna alpaca wear shop, international fashion retailers Adolpho Dominquez, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Forever 21, Gap, Hilfiger Denim, Kenneth Cole, LaCoste, Mango, Rosen (mattresses), Swarovski, Zara, and Zara Home, among others. The stores are admittedly smaller than their Jockey Plaza counterparts and the selection in those stores is slightly more “curated” (a euphemism for more limited). Partly as compensation, the stores seem to be more efficiently designed and present a slightly cleaner look than counterparts in other locations.

Plaza Salaverry also features Casa y Ideas, a Chilean-based purveyor of fashionable, fun home goods who was recently kicked out of its Jockey Plaza to make room for the Paris department store and the significantly pricier Crate & Barrel.

For what it’s worth, despite several visits to Jockey Plaza, when the time came to buy, I bought everything at Real Plaza: Salaverry.

In other words, if you’re looking for a pleasant shopping experience with a wide variety of stores, pleasant options for a break or meal, and a few staples in a mall where movement is easy and the crowds a bit more subdued, Real Plaza: Salaverry perfectly meets your needs.

Mall at a Glance

Anchors: Department stores: Oeschle, Ripley, and Saga Falabella. Hypermarket: Plaza Vea. Home improvement: ProMart..

International chains (note that some are Latin American chains): Adolpho Dominquez, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Forever 21, Gap, Hilfiger Denim, Kenneth Cole, Kuna, LaCoste, Mango, Rosen (mattresses), RadioShack (now Radio Shack / Coolbox, because the US chain went bankrupt), Swarovski, Zara, and Zara Home

Variety of merchandise: Outstanding. Broad range of fashion retailers, shoe retailers, and jewelry. Great office supplies and small bookstore. Excellent coverage of home needs: hardware, furniture, and soft-goods—both in specialty retailers and all three department stores and the hypermarket.

Prices   range from the middle to upper-middle ranges.

Special notes:

Like Jockey Plaza, prices might not be as low as one might expect. That’s because most of the retailers are global and many of the local stores sell global brands, prices on many items will be comparable to home (regardless of where home is).

Food court: At the top of the mall, designed to give the most spacious feeling possible.   Great selection of US and local fast-food options, including Popeye’s (chicken), Bembo’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and China Wok (among others).

It looks like it has enough seating but could fill up during peak periods.

Wikipedia page: None.

Website (Spanish only): http://realplaza.pe/salaverry/portada

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Colonie Center

15 Feb

Colonie (suburban Albany), New York USA

Quick Review

This is easily my favorite mall in the Albany area. On the one hand, according to the Wikipedia, it’s the oldest enclosed mall in the region, opening in 1966. On the other hand, it’s one of the most recently really renovated mall in the area and offers a more comfortable shopping experience and one of the most unique selections of stores available in a mall.

Part of what makes this mall special is three primary anchors: Macy’s, Sears, and Boscov’s. The Macy’s is the only one in the region that was actually built as a Macys (rather than a former Filene’s or Jordan Marsh converted to a Macys), and follows the once-standard Macy’s layout (which is a heck of a lot easier to traverse than any of the elongated, hike-a-thons that Filenes seemed to prefer). Sears features a nicer-than-typical selection, including a special in-store Land’s End boutique. (Although, to save its sorry finances, Sear’s chopped off a chunk of its first floor to rent to Whole Foods, giving the first floor a bizarre layout.) And Boscov’s is a throwback to department stores of yore, with departments that have long-since disappeared from other stores, like furniture, appliances, and greeting cards.

Part of what makes this mall special is its secondary anchors: some are one-of-a-kind between Montreal and the New York or Boston suburbs: LL Bean (which has an amazing selection displayed in such a way that even a couch potato like me wants to be an outdoorsperson), Christmas Tree Shops (where one can find close-out merchandise from Target and Pepperidge Farm, among other retailers), a Barnes & Noble (complete with café), a huge multi-plex movie theatre, a Whole Foods (great for a grab-and-go dinner, though grabbing takes an hour because the selection is stunning), and the newest addition, Nordstrom Rack. The Rack is special not only because it features Nordstrom merchandise at a price a civil servant can afford, but also because it filled a long-gaping vacancy in the Sears wing of the mall, and makes the mall feel fully occupied.

Part of what makes this mall special are one-of-a-kind services and stores, like a musical instrument store (rarely found in regional malls) and a US Post Office.

Part of what makes this mall special are the dining options, including a PF Changs, Cheesecake Factory, Five Guys, and Moe’s, as well as a food court with a slightly different selection of offerings, including the Soup Man, Arby’s and Nathan’s.

Part of what makes this mall special is its convenience. It’s located on Wolf Road, which features a number of other valued retailers nearby, like Jos A Bank, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Trader Joe’s.

Part of what makes this mall special is the traffic patterns: it’s much easier to get in and out of this mall than nearby Crossgates.

And part of what makes this mall special is its Adirondack décor: big wood-trimmed leather sofas and chairs set before fireplaces, rich Adirondack colors, and updated hardware.

Mall at a Glance

Anchors: Macy’s, Sear’s, Boscov’s.

National chains:

  • Mini-anchors: Barnes & Noble, Christmas Tree Shop, LL Bean, Nordsrom Rack, Whole Foods.
  • Other stores: Aeropostale, American Eagle, Children’s Place, Christopher and Banks , CJ Banks, Express, Famous Footwear, Gap, Payless Shoe Source, and Zales.

Variety of merchandise: Wide variety. Although slightly weaker on fashion than Crossgates, it more than compensates with a greater selection of clothing for the real world (LL Bean, Land’s End, Sear’s), outdoor gear, culture and entertainment (besides a huge Barnes & Noble, includes a musical instruments store—a rarity in regional malls), a Christmas Tree Shop which has more categories of merchandise than one might realize (including health and beauty supplies typically found in a pharmacy), good selection for soft home goods through the department stores, LL Bean, Nordstrom Rack, and Christmas Tree Shop; has a full-service organic grocery store (Whole Foods), and some services rarely found at malls, including a US Post Office.

Prices range from middle- to upper-middle raange.

Special Notes: A comfortable place to shop.

Food court:   Large with nice selection and plenty of seating. Includes Arby’s, Cajun café, China Max, Cosimo’s Café, Dunkin, Nathan’s, Soup Man, and Mr Subb. Other dining options include Cheesecake Factory, Five Guys, Moe’s Southweat Grill, PF Chang. Coffee available at the café in Barnes & Noble and Gloria Jean’s coffees.

Wikipedia page (English only): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonie_Center

Website (English only): http://www.shopatcoloniecenter.com

Christiana Mall

15 Jun

Newark, Delaware, USA

Note: Posts through the summer focus on malls in or near vacation areas, mostly in the US I-95 corridor. Christiana Mall is 45 minutes to  an hour south of Philadelphia, an hour north of Baltimore, and two hours north of Washington.

Quick Review

I began frequenting this mall over a decade ago on trips up and down the I-95 Corridor: I wanted some new towels from Macys on sale. And given a choice, I’d choose the Macy’s that didn’t charge sales tax—saving an additional 5 to 7 percent. (Christiana Mall is in the tiny state of Delaware, which doesn’t charge sales tax to distinguish it from its economically powerful neighbors of Maryland New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.) I bought the towels and revived my dormant Macys account during the purchase (for an additional 15% off). The net result of that experience: my Macy’s card gets regular workouts and I’ve been a regular visit to this mall ever since.

Its primary attraction was its sales-tax-free Macys. The mall didn’t impress me as much of anything special. One end of the mall was essentially dead when an anchor closed down and the selection of stores in the rest of the mall ranged from ho to hum (with the exception of Aveda, Pottery Barn, and Williams Sonoma).

Towards the end of the 2000s, Nordstrom’s announced plans to knock down the dead department store and build a replacement. In preparation, the mall gussied itself up. The exterior transformed with restaurants and other stores opening directly to the outside.

A new food court sprung up, with two of my favorites—the politically incorrect Chick-Fil-A and Carvel’s Ice Cream.

The store selection seemed to strengthen. Apple opened a store here and later, so did Microsoft. Target opened a large store. Fashion favorites like Armani Exchange, Anthropologie, Forever 21, and H&M moved in.

The restaurant selection strengthened, too. A California Pizza Kitchen opened up, as did a Panera—a notch above the food court in quality and a notch below a full-service restaurant in price.

Finally, after several years of construction, new on- and off-ramps from I-95 opened, somewhat fixing traffic patterns.

In other words, over the past decade, Christiana Mall has transformed from a mall I went to save a few bucks on sales tax at Macy’s to a mall I visit with some serious shopping intentions. Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels that way. If the information on the mall’s Wikipedia entry is correct, this mall is one of the top grossing malls in the US. Admittedly, it has not appeared on any top 10 lists I’ve seen but that doesn’t mean it’s not on a top 50 list and it might explain the significant improvements in the past several years.

Mall at a Glance

Anchors: Department stores: JC Penney, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Target.

Also: Cabela’s (separate building) and Cinemark Theaters.

National chains: Anthropologie, Apple, Armani Exchange, Aveda, Barnes & Noble, Clark’s, Disney Store, Forever 21, Francesca’s, Gap, H&M, House of Hoops by Foot Locker, Invicta, Kid’s Foot Locker, Microsoft, Oakley, Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret, White House Black market, Williams Sonoma, and Zales.

Outbuildings include: Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, hhGregg (appliances and electronics), Michael’s, Petco, Sear’s appliances

Variety of merchandise: Excellent. Exceptionally strong in fashion and accessories, computer-based electronics, and sporting goods.

Prices are middle- to upper-middle range.

Special notes:

Even after rebuilding the ramps, traffic flow from I-95 to the mall still backs up onto the highway, especially during heavy shopping seasons.

Traffic flow within the mall property can be a bit screwy; relies on 1-way roads in parts and returning to I-95 is never as easy as one thinks it should be.

But finding parking never seems to be a serious problem.

One more issue: According to its website, youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a supervising adult age 18 or over after 5 pm on Friday and Saturday.

Food court: A variety of options—some atypical of the standard mall food court. Options include Chick Fil-A, Carvel’s, MasterWok, McDonalds, Mrs. Field’s, Ruby Thai Kitchen, SaladWorks, Sbarro, Subway.

Other options exist: For a break: Starbuck’s, Teavana, the café at Barnes & Noble, and Jasmine Smoothie (among others) are available elsewhere in in the mall.

Several restaurants are also available, including fast-casual favorite Panera and   full-service restaurants Brio Tuscan Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory, and JB Dawson’s.

Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christiana_Mall

Website: http://www.christianamall.com/en.html

Bayshore Centre

17 Feb

Nepean (suburban Ottawa), Ontario, Canada

Quick Review

My first impression of Bayshore Centre when I visited in 2008 was that once would be enough. The store selection seemed limited: the middle end of the same stores seen in every Canadian mall. The shopping environment seemed drab and dated: decades-old décor. Plus, the challenge of figuring out which ramp to use when exiting Highway 417 west—trumped by figuring out which exit would lead me back to the highway—exceeded the reward for the effort.

In other words, I had no intention of making a return visit.

Several years later, sufficiently bored on a day trip to Ottawa, not in the mood to fight the construction in the Rideau Centre and lacking interest in going to the St. Laurent Centre, Bayshore got a second look.

And Bayshore was ready for me.

In anticipation of an arrival of Target in 2015, which ultimately never happened, the mall completely remodeled and upscaled itself. Décor went from drab and dated to sleek, open, and contemporary. Clear railings with metal accents and bright white flooring gave the mall a feeling of openness.

The fast fashion trio—Forever 21, H&M, and Zara—led a slightly more fashion-forward mix of stores. Among the many new store was an Apple store, a Brown’s shoes, Birk’s jewelers and Tommy Gunn’s, an updated version of the traditional barber shop.

The Bay transformed itself into a Hudson’s Bay and, representative of changes throughout the chain, presented a more enticing mix of merchandise in a more inviting environment.

The mall reworked all of its parking. Because the mall sits on a fully built site in the midst of an older suburb, the mall relies on multi-level ramps for parking. Although this adds a little complexity to finding a space, the benefit is that no space is more than a 5-minute walk to a mall entrance. The mall entrances, too, were remodeled, ensuring shoppers get a great first impression.

Perhaps the greatest magic of the remodeling was the remodeling of the food court. Moved from a cramped area on the third floor of the store with insufficient seating, the food court moved to the end of one wing on the second, where it offers an open dining experience with enough tables for everyone who needs one, a great selection of dining options, and a huge picture window that brings in plenty of light. The new food court also features livery service—that is, the use of reusable china plates, glasses, and real silverware rather than disposable plastic. One of my favorite features of the new food court is a series of long tables in the center with higher chairs, and a large number of outlets, so if one wants to linger in the mall and work a bit, one can. Free internet makes working in the mall all the more convenient.

Although the mall remodeled for a Target that never opened (the Target was one of the last one scheduled to open when the company pulled the plug on its Canadian operation), a Walmart has filled the space, delaying an opening by a bout a year.

Perhaps the only complaint about the renovation is the still-confusing entrance and exit to the mall (at least, they’re still confusing to me). That’s an infrastructure issue that requires an investment by the city and beyond the scope of work that the mall could include in its renovation.

And it’s not a biggie. The latest incarnation of Bayshore Centre is now on our go-to mall list for Ottawa.

Mall at a Glance

Anchors: Hudson’s Bay, Walmart.

National chains: Aeropostale, Aldo, American Eagle, Apple, Aritizia Banana Republic, Ben Moss, Body Shop, Bombay, Cole’s bookstore, Danier, Desiqual, Ecco, Eddie Bauer, Forever 21, Gap, Gateway News, H&M, HMV, Roots, Miss Tiggly Wiggly’s, Winners

Variety of merchandise: Very good. Strongest in fashion and accessories, with good coverage in jewelry, computer-based electronics (computers, mobile phones, tablets and accessories), soft home goods, and culture entertainment (broadly defined to include books, music, and toys).

Prices are middle to upper-middle range.

Special notes: Carefully watch signage when exiting Highway 417 west to enter the mall (one lane is a dedicated entrance to the mall).

Also carefully watch signage when exiting the mall.

Food court: A big, spacious, sunny environment with nice touches of style—real china, glasses, and silverware, and comfort—plenty of tables, and plenty of electrical outlets for recharging your batteries (literally). Choices include Cultures (healthy), Grillades Torino (Mediterranean, one of their first places outside Quebec), Jimmy the Greek, KFC, Shanghai 360, and Tim Horton’s (which always seens to have the longest line). Snack on a Cinnabon, cool off with a Pinkberry yogurt, or sip a Starbuck’s elsewhere in the mall. For table-service dining, try long-time mall tenant, Moxies.

Wikipedia page (English only): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayshore_Shopping_Centre

Website: English: https://www.bayshoreshoppingcentre.com/en/

French: https://www.bayshoreshoppingcentre.com/fr/

Review: Galleries d’Anjou

15 Feb

Montreal, Quebec. Canada.

Quick Review

This is my new favorite mall in Montreal, which is saying a lot because other malls in the area like Carrefour Laval and Quartier Dix30 have significantly upped their game in the past year.

But the late 2013 additions of Simons and Target prompted transformations throughout the mall.  The Bay—once one of the dowdiest in the chain—to transform itself into a chic La Baie d’Hudson and carve space for Topshop/Topman within the building.

The addition of Simons (easily the nicest one in Quebec, which is saying a lot as it is even nicer than the flagship Simons in Quebec City) prompted a number of other positive changes:

  • A Starbucks to hang out in, the addition of some new stores including the imaginative Kasa Living
  • An entirely new food court near Target.  In addition to a superb selection of dining options (including definitely-not-greasy-fast-food providers Grillades Torino and Smart Burger), the new dining area is light, bright, and airy with plenty of seating and comfortable, attractive wood tables and chairs.  The dining area provides more than a quick meal; it’s a great place for a nice meal.  And the real china (part of a sustainability initiative) only adds to the higher-end ambience.

The additions have brightened a mall that was already refreshed less than 10 years ago with the arrival of the Brick and the more recent launch of Linen Chest.  But it also raised the mall from a mid-market mall to something more upper-end and further distinguish it from aging neighbor Place Versailles.

Special kudos to both The Bay and Simons for their new stores.  As noted earlier, the Bay has completely transformed.   Simon’s has one of the largest men’s departments in its chain and is the only store in the chain that has a restaurant (a cute bistro, at that).

In the decade that I have been following this mall, the landlord (Fairview) has continually demonstrated its commitment to keeping the mall fully occupied and up-to-date.  Stores do not stay vacant for long and the mall has been through two major and several minor remodels during this time.  According to the Wikipedia page for Galleries d’Anjou, the mall has continually changed anchors as the needs arose, whether they arose from consumers or, more frequently, from changes in the fortunes of the anchors.  The most recent renovations, however, have strengthened the mall and made it more of a must-visit destination.

Fast Facts about the Mall
 Anchors: The Brick, La Baie d’Hudson, Linen Chest (no entrance from inside the mall.) Sears, Simons, TargetNational chains: American Eagle. Centre du Rasoir, Cuir Danier, H&M, Jean Coutu, L’Equippeur, Reitmans, Sony. Swarovski. Topshop/Topman.

On mall property—but not in the mall: Best Buy. Future Shop. L’Academie. Wendys.

Variety of merchandise: Excellent.  La Baie d’Hudson and Simons have the broadest selections of fashion.  For a mall, the selection of household supplies, personal care supplies, electronics and sporting goods is excellent.

Special notes: Great restaurants and electronics are located in freestanding buildings outside the mall but on the mall property.

Food court: A true dining experience.  Asian (Manchu Wok, Thai Express), Middle Eastern (the amazing Grillades Torino). High-end fast food (Smart Burger, Subway), and an ice cream place.  Even nicer, the large, airy, bright dining area with real plates and silverware. 

Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galleries_d%27Anjou

Website: http://www.lesgaleriesdanjou.ca

Review: Palisades Center

15 Jan

West Nyack, New York. USA.

Quick Review

In theory, this should be an amazing mall. It has a great mix of anchors –major department stores JC Penney, Macy’s, and Lord & Taylor; discount department stores Burlington Coat Factory and Target; big box retailers Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Best Buy, international fashion leaders CottonOn, Uniglo and H&M; and entertainment anchors Dave & Buster’s and a major movie theater. According to the Wikipedia, Palisades Center «is one of the most lucrative malls;» in the USA and its eight largest.

But I should have suspected that something was amiss that the mall promoted its remaking, less than 15 years after it opened. A solid mall continually adjusts its store ; but a makeover of its entire image occurs far less frequently. A makeover sooner suggests more serious issues.

Those larger problems become evident immediately upon entry to the mall; The place is dreary; definitely not a place to linger.

We entered through a JC Penney entrance. The story looked like it hadn’t received a new coat of paint since its opening well over a decade ago. The dowdy look is all the more surprising in light of the fact that the chain remodelled all of its stores in the past year to make way for an entirely new home department.

But I understood why after entering the main mall. Although cavernous in size (4 levels high), lighting was on the darker side and the fixtures look mid- to late-B-grade mall from the 1990s. This outdated, dark look is most noticeable in the food court, which has uninviting stationary white metal chairs and tables. Except for Saladworks and Subway, the selection of options guarantees business for a cardiologist.

If JC Penney looked out of date, one could easily write that off as a casualty of the serious economic problems facing the retailer. But that does not explain why Macy’s and Lord and Taylor look equally out-of-date: dingy look, dingy merchandise strewn all over the place, and a serious lack of customer service staff. Shorthanded Macy’s found itself with long lines at the one in four registers that appeared to be open. and (And of course, I stood in the line where the customer service representative had no idea how to solve the customer’s problem.) In Lord and Taylor, several cash registers were empty while the few staff on the floor gossiped with one another, occasionally pretending to fold shirts to place back on the display.

Most disappointing of all, however, was the fact that—despite the promise of a new look in 2013—the mall looked as if its landlord and retailers had collectively neglected it all year, and the likelihood of unveiling much-needed improvements fell from slim to none with fewer than 10 days till the end of the year.

Fast Facts about the Mall
Anchors: Bed, Bath and Beyond; Best Buy, B.J.s Wholesale Club, Burlington Coat Factor, Dick’s Sporting Goods, JC Penney, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, New York Sports Club, and Target.National chains: Abercrombie and Fitch, Aeropostale, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and all its Gap Inc, cousins, Build-a-Bear Workshop, Express (and many of its Limited, Inc, cousins), Gymboree, H&M,Levis, Lenscrafters, Papyrus, Radio Shack, and UnigloVariety of merchandise: Good.

Special notes:

Just off Exit 12 of NY Interstate 87/287

Large underground parking lot that’s especially popular during high-traffic times.

Despite claims of a “new” mall, looks seriously in need of a makeover.

Food court: Masssive in size, minimal in selection.  (Standards like Nathans, Saladworks, Subway, and second-tier Asian choices.)

Also check out the restaurant row on the top floor.  Includes Tony Roma’s, IHOP, MacDonald’s, and other medium-low and low-end chains.

Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palisades_Center

Website: http://www.palisadescenter.com/