It’s no secret. I love NorthPark. It opened in 1965, about a year before I started calling Dallas home. In those days it only boasted three anchors: Titche-Goettinger, Neiman Marcus and JC Penney’s. It’s come a long way, baby!
The So-Called Competition
Since 1966 a lot of malls have been built in Dallas. Most of them aren’t even here anymore. Take Prestonwood for instance. Even with my extreme love for NorthPark, visits to Prestonwood took precedence for a few years. Now the enclosed mall is gone and a sprawl of shopping strips loosely tied together has taken it’s place. And Valley View? Don’t blink or you’ll miss it’s passing.
The White Arches
Hubby needed to replenish his sock supply and one of our Christmas presents was a Macy’s gift card. Last night, we were near the intersection of Central and The George on house-furnishing business, so Collin Creek Mall was a natural destination. My how the mighty have fallen.
I was struck with nostalgia as we approached Macy’s. Surrounding the exterior are white arches framing a painted mosaic. I wished with all my heart we were visiting Sanger Harris. That’s who the white arches were built for. My mom worked at the competition, Titche’s (which became Joske’s, which became Dillard’s), but we loved Sanger Harris (which became Foley’s, which became Macy’s). I’m here to tell you, Macy’s ain’t no Sanger Harris. For that matter, Dillard’s isn’t Titche’s either.
I Remember Collin Creek Mall
Collin Creek opened in the 80’s as a shopping wonderland. A man-made creek replete with fountains flowed through it’s two stories. A wing of the mall was a “village” of small boutiques. One of the anchors was Lord and Taylor’s, a favorite retailer of my mom. Collin Creek used to have my favorite Godiva boutique, so an errand to buy a gift often turned into a shopping spree. That’s not the case any longer.
Near the entrance was a moat of dirt covered with cigarette butts. I’m assuming the mall employees pop out there to grab a smoke, keep the grass from growing and denude the shrubbery. That must also be where they throw out their gum, because black dots covered the sidewalk in front of the glass doors.
Once inside we were surrounded with the elegance of designer names and exorbitant price tags, but this was Macy’s so the price tags are all smoke and mirrors. You get this much off for this and that much off for that. Who knows what the final amount will be? The employees seem as confused as the customers. I saw a frustrated customer shove a stack of coupons at a clerk, demanding some assistance with the maze of supposed savings. I don’t think that’s what the retail geniuses imagined when they created this maze of moving price points.
The only thing I hate worse than their crazy pricing is their shop-keeping. Back in the day, Sanger Harris kept their stores pristine. Not just the facilities, but the merchandise. It was neatly hung or folded and in perfect size order. It doesn’t matter which of Macy’s stores I walk into, I always feel as if a tornado must have just passed through before I got there. I’m assuming the displays of sweaters, shirts and socks must have at one time had some semblance of order to them, but that was a long time ago. The holidays might be considered a good excuse – if it were only a one time thing, but casual sloppiness seems to be the store’s trademark. Come to Macy’s where you can’t find anything and you’ll never know how much you’ll pay.
And don’t look down! When Sanger Harris built their Collin Creek Mall it was an oasis of luxury. They’ve remodeled restof the glory out of the store, but they kept the original marble floors. The only problem is that they haven’t maintained the original marble floors, so the marble’s cracked and stained and out of level. I’m telling you it broke my heart.
It Got Worse
Come to find out, we’d forgotten the gift card, so I didn’t have to support a store as sad as Collin Creek Macy’s. My nostalgic vein transferred to my husband, so we went out to visit what was left of the mall. The fountains are gone. The “village” of small shops became a food court a long time ago and now only offers second tier choices. Even Starbuck’s, who has locations inside grocery and discount stores, has shunned them.
Most of the spaces are vacant and those which aren’t house Jose Blow’s Discount This and Ching Chung Doe’s That, testaments to the enterprising nature of America’s immigrant population. An oriental merchant chased me down a corridor trying to give me a free massage sample. One of the saddest sights for me was the empty Godiva store. Fans would recognize the architecture, but no chocolate.
Back to NorthPark
Thankfully, NorthPark has a Macy’s. The store is still messy and plays the mystery price point game, but at least it’s at NorthPark. I can enjoy a little retail therapy with my errand running – and they do have a Starbuck’s, though I’d probably opt for the Mermaid Bar at Neiman’s.
The remarkable thing about NorthPark isn’t just it’s staying power. It’s not merely a viable enterprise, it’s still the pulsating heart of Dallas shopping five decades after it opened. It’s gone through a lot of changes. I miss things like The Carriage Shop, Lord and Taylor’s, The Magic Pan, the food counter at Woolworth’s, the El Fenix outside JC Penney’s and JC Penney’s for that matter. I don’t remember the name of it, but my favorite shoe store used to just a few doors down from Joske’s, on the left side, when you were headed to Neiman’s.
I just hope NorthPark continues to thrive for as long as I’m here to visit it. What’s your favorite mall and what do you love about it?