My nieces in the province shop in a budget mall in the city. The place used to be the swankiest place around town – the first mall in the city, the second mall in the province, to be exact. In its first two years of existence, that mall housed most of the signature brands in clothes, shoes and accessories. All the expensive brands had stalls inside, hoping to snatch the prospective clienteles, the big shoppers, the rich local folks who normally do their shopping expeditions in Alabang or at Greenbelt in the city of Makati. After three or four years, it became obvious that those with big purses still shop in Alabang and Makati. The big brands had to go away, eventually.
That pioneer mall still occupies the largest land and floor area compared to the two more mainstream malls that were built several years later and became more successful than the first – when it comes to enticing or luring people to shop. Methinks one of the old mall’s problems is the location. It’s out of the way, not along any of the city’s highways and therefore, accessing it became a little problem for the folks without private vehicles. And, as I said, the real rich apparently want to shop classy – abroad or in posh malls in the metropolis. I guess, they didn’t want it said that their Coach bags were bought in the nearest mall. So, that first mall was a flop, sort of.
But it broke a few grounds, I suppose. For one, it inculcated among the local people – the mall culture, the mall habit and among the young, the idea of mall rats being cool, haha. Malling became an accepted practice among my provincemates, most of whom have just been used to shopping in the traditional market. The idea of going inside a building or a complex to buy almost everything there, was gradually and gracefully introduced, even among rural and old folks. For another, the first mall made things easy for the next two malls. By the time they built their complexes, people were already conditioned and sold to the idea of malling. Parents were already trusting with the idea that their kids could spend half of a day inside a building – to look for shoes, to eat in the fastfoods and to loaf around, haha.
Lastly, that mall paved the ground for the commercialization of that strip where it is still located. After it was built, several businesses pegged their strongholds in the area. Two manufacturing ventures relocated there, two exclusive schools bought lots and reestablished their operations within the perimeter and an expensive funeral home made that street its headquarters. So much for a location that was once considered too distant, too far and too difficult to reach. Public utility vehicles with regular routes and regular trips became institutionalized and patronized among the locals and even among visitors from nearby towns. What was once a long, almost deserted street with tall cogon grasses on the sides is now a thriving commercial hub. Two real estate companies also bought in and built subdivisions nearby.
Looking at that row now, one could hardly recognize it from the place it was 15 years ago, when that mall first graced the landscape – the sole solid, cemented, polished and huge structure within one kilometer radius. It was strange, it was a crazy dream of sort, conjured up by men with way too much money and perhaps, too wild an imagination. That mall was built by the country’s manufacturing billionaire brothers who probably believed in the onus that once you build, they will come. And, people did. Not to shop, perhaps. The rich still shop in Alabang and Makati. The poor folks still buy most things from the wet market. But for the middle class, they shop in the two other malls – but they bought lots in that row, they established businesses there and they send their children to those schools in that area. People eventually came and followed on what those visionary builders built.
And so, nowadays, that mall has been converted into a depot of sort. It is a place where one could find things that could be purchased in Divisoria (the country’s market of cheapest goods) in the same price or almost as low. It has become a bagsakan (dumping ground) of things made in China and its clienteles consist mostly of people in my province with limited or little income. But there’s a lot of hustle and bustle there – you’ll see once you visit on any given day. There is visibly commerce, trade and exchange going on. And I say, it augurs well for the place and for my folks. Consider this, most rural people I know, especially in the remote barrios, were hostile to the idea of coming over to town or to the city to shop and to spend. With the conversion of that mall into a depot, many – a lot – have actually changed their minds. And their ways, I suppose.
Of course, there’s a number of issues attached to this phenomenon, but let us talk about them some other days. For now, am just happy that my relatives, who have limited incomes and little streams of money, have a place to go. And so, that depot is where my nieces get their shoes and their shirts and stuffs. My sisters and I are usually surprised at the ingenuity of these young girls’ purchases. I mean, they’ve become shrewd shoppers or sophisticated costumers, somehow… I’m awed at many of their buys, their conquests, so to speak. But one t-shirt of my niece stands out high in my esteem. I don’t know, it’s made from good cotton, cut excellently but it’s the message that probably got me: it’s related to blogging? 🙂
[Oops, excuse, the text message is out of the shirt. Just thought I could make use of WordPress’s new apps that allows one to put in text inside a photo. Not yet. But I tried, people, swear I did…] ^_^
The right to be heard
does not include
to be taken seriously.
* I apologize to all of you for my rather long break and for the Kinder and Gentler, part 2 post not being published yet… I’ve been busy writing and editing other writings and have not found the time and concentration yet to string together my notes on our Thailand adventure. I hope to be able to do so before the month ends. So sorry and thanks for coming by.
Have a great weekend! 😉