Nov 17 2014
I arrived at the Spotsylvania Mall on November 14th at around 10:50 A.M.- a little early. The weather outside was fair but somewhat brisk, around 40 degrees. Similarly to Walmart, I don’t find that particularly adverse weather effects the amount of people that visit the mall. The large parking lot that surrounds the mall was decently filled up with the vehicles of consumers and mall employees alike. This seems to be the chief mode of transportation, just like at Walmart. While some employees may arrive by public transit, such as the Fred bus system, the majority of mall patrons and workers arrive at their destination via car. The same goes for retail goods, which are transported via trucks.
Inside the mall there is a multitude of large chain retailers, such as Macy’s, GuitarCenter and JC Penney. In the central entrance area, where the ATM is strategically located as well, was a large Christmas themed set-up where a fake Santa Claus was taking pictures with young children. To the left from there is the food court area, which has several options for a mid-shopping trip meal like Chic-Fil-A, Auntie Annie’s and Pancho Villa Express. I sat down at the Chi-Fil-A as I was early and bought myself an early lunch- a Deluxe Chicken Sandwich with a water. I asked the employee what was being set up in the food court. It appeared to be a pirate ship- possibly for some sort of kid’s play area. In the close vicinity as well a man was setting up what appeared to be a stage around a brand-new SUV. I assumed this was for a car raffle. The employee replied that there always events in the mall and that she wasn’t quite sure what was being set up. From what it sounds like, there is never a shortage of events in Spotsylvania Mall.
At 11:00, I walked into GuitarCenter, which had just opened. Despite it just having opened, there were already a few customers and an employee received me graciously at the door. The walls of the store are occupied by hundreds of guitars and basses. There are three levels- the lowest one is within reach and is occupied by cheaper guitars in the price range of $150-400, the middle is barely within reach and has more expensive merchandise and the top wall racks have the priciest and rarest guitars and basses (some upwards of $2,000). I jokingly asked if anyone had ever dropped one and the man replied that someone indeed had. I asked if that individual had gotten fired and he responded, “No, it was all good. Everyone makes mistakes.” I then walked around the store, checking out the drums and percussion section, the acoustic guitar section (which is in a wooden, humidified room) and the synthesizer section. Then I grabbed a guitar and noodled around on it using one of the nicer amps. The employees were very friendly and allowed me to try as many guitars as I wanted and even supplied me with a pick. The customer service at GuitarCenter really is phenomenal. I asked where their merchandise was from and how it was delivered and they informed me that their instruments are delivered via truck from all over. Hard rock music played from the store speakers but it wasn’t too loud. Overall a very positive experience.
Next, I headed to Macy’s. On the way there I passed several of my classmates and the Christmas themed area in the center of the mall, where a young child was posing on Santa’s lap. The Macy’s was several stories high, with each story having different sections denoted to different things. In the men’s area there were sweaters, shirts, pants, jackets and underwear as well as hats and other accessories. On top of this, there were suits, blazers and other dress clothing as well as a section with men’s cologne. The women’s section was pretty much the same except with women’s clothing, except I noticed a much greater diversity in fashion options. The perfume section for the women was larger as well and encompassed more skin-care and beauty products too. The entire store was already set for the holidays, with Christmas decorations everywhere. However, this wasn’t unlike the rest of the mall’s retail spaces (although GuitarCenter had no decorations). I observed a few purchases; mainly older white patrons buying clothing. The employees at Macy’s were not nearly as friendly or personable as the GuitarCenter folks were, however.
Lastly I headed into JC Penney, which was fairly busy like Macy’s. The store was filled with mainly older white people, just like the rest of the mall. I saw one African American family with a few small children. The JC Penney had mainly men’s clothing and the back was designated for bedding and kitchen supplies. The store was also decorated for the holidays. I noticed that several of the employees were not that friendly and didn’t seem too happy about me walking around taking notes. As far as their sales strategy go, there are discounted racks that are especially labeled. Here you can actually find pretty good deals, such as a pair of khaki pants for $10. However, I didn’t feel like buying anything right at that moment.
After JC Penney, I walked around the mall for a little while longer, observing several elderly patrons and a few young moms with their whiny children standing in line for Santa. Most people appeared to just be browsing or casually shopping. Considering it was right before noon on a Friday, the place felt pretty busy. I can only imagine how much business picks up a little later in the day when kids are out of school. Overall, I would say that I would visit the mall if I had a specific thing to buy or if I wanted to try a guitar at the GuitarCenter. However, I don’t really like malls from the get-go, so I didn’t feel a particularly strong connection to the Spotsylvania Mall.
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