At noon on Sunday, November 9th, 2014, I took my suite mate to Spotsylvania Towne Center. It was a clear, slightly-warm-in-comparsion-to-the-past-week day, (so about 55 degrees and sunny) and traffic getting there from UMW through Central Park was a nightmare. An older lady actually laid down her horn as I switched lanes to turn into the main entrance, summing up everyone’s impatience to get to Belk or Macy’s or anything else offered by STC.
Once I managed to actually get into the parking lot, I was met by what easily could have been an acre of relatively newly painted parking spots. On the back and sides of the mall, it was clear that delivery trucks often unloaded cargo, relatively out of view of shoppers. Despite the intense traffic flow, I managed to score a close spot by Dick’s Sporting Goods, which uses the “pretty” mall entrance featuring a canopy and bricks. My suite mate was the only white person of the 8 or so people walking in with us, and we were the youngest and only females. I think that was just a coincidence, however, because the demographic around us changed as we headed into Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Dick’s is probably my most frequented store at STC, usually because I have to go there to replace lost lacrosse gloves or mouth guard, or, most recently, lacrosse balls for my club team. Because of this, I’m rather familiar with their store lay out, but was surprised to see associates rolling out winter ski jackets and equipment. Dick’s is expensive, because they have the newest everything. Ski jackets of the same brand and quality as mine cost far more than what I ever paid, but I wondered if that was in relation to the fact that are few specialty ski shops here versus in my home state. Lacrosse sticks were the same price, though I had to laugh at their selection and quality of stringing materials – they only strung men’s and used Jimalax mesh for the pockets. The most serious men’s lacrosse players seem to always have input on their mesh, and to only have one type seemed unimpressive to me. However, Dick’s does cater towards parents shopping for their children, mostly, when it comes to team sporting goods. Parents who are not as invested as their kids in lacrosse gear probably do not care about the type of stringing they do. Another tell tale sign of lacrosse demographics: lack of ability to string goalkeeper heads. This is a pretty small market, and you can tell that Dick’s employees and shoppers are not concerned.
Dick’s staff seemed to be split evenly between men and women, and one guy immediately asked me if I needed help when as I strolled through rows and rows of women’s Nike apparel. I can never figure out where these store associates materialize from, because wherever “the back” of the store is, the doors are never visible. That’s due to store size, however, because my suite mate and I next went into The Virginia Diner Shoppe.
This is where our trip got interesting. The VDS was a lot smaller than Dick’s, and far more intimate. There was one girl working, and I asked her if they ever received UMW merchandise. (For those who don’t know, VDS is a store that sells collegiate flags, spirit equipment, board games, etc.) She launched into an overly long explanation, talking about how UMW was right down the road (as if we didn’t know) and their licensing rights forbade VDS from selling anything. This surprised me, because UMW is pushing itself in every direction to recruit students and promote school spirit. You would think UMW’s Marketing Team would put us right next to the rest of the “big name” Virginia schools – Old Dominion, Richmond, VCU, etc.
But that’s unimportant. I’m not about to buy a $35 UMW flag from the mall, anyway.
And it sort of seems like no one else would pay that type of money for a flag, because the clearance section was abundant and they looked the same as the ones that were full price. Also, there was only one other “party” in the store with us: a mom and young child looking for some type of gift. Mall shoppers seemed to mostly be concerned with amping up their fall and winter wardrobes, as we found Belk to be the most populated store.
Belk, for those who don’t know, is a department store whose logo would make it appear to be of lesser quality than Macy’s, but is actually pretty much on the same page.
No one asked us if we needed help in Belk, possibly because it was such a big store and my roommate didn’t show too much interest in the products we were looking at. We were mainly interested in Frye boots, which ran the typical price that you would find in Bloomingdale’s or another department store. Styles for Frye boots range in the $200-$400 area, and their selection didn’t appear to be smaller than any other that I had seen. However, what did catch my attention was the large selection “wide calf” boots. In the past, I had needed buy wide calf boots but am happy to say that I got my post-puberty and “freshman 15” weight gains over with. I wondered if
Belk was trying to establish itself as a store that had boots there were harder to find, although their prices were no different.
The boot area was quite crowded, with shoppers toting large bags behind them. We quickly left because of the crowd and whiny children, although they were everywhere outside Belk as well. Shoppers wander through the mall on foot, and are, as in most malls, expected to remember where they parked. This could be easer or harder at Spotsylvania Towne Center, because there is no garage. Younger children are usually pushed in strollers, whereas older ones walk behind their parents or sprint ahead. There is no in between for those aged 12 and younger. Overall, shoppers that day were mostly concerned with their wardrobe for the changing weather, making for a hectic and frazzled experience. Not a single person was even courteous to the poor survey people trying to get their attention, as winter jacket savings were top priority.