The benefits of living in Gwinnett County are many, including excellent schools, beautiful parks, affordable housing and light traffic.
OK, scratch that last one.
One of the very best things about living here, though, is the abundant shopping, especially in and around the Mall of Georgia.
I know my daughter would certainly have agreed when we first moved here back in 2001. She was 14 years old, and coming from a small town in rural Alabama where the nearest mall was 90 minutes away. She felt like she had died and gone to heaven.
Of course, on a Saturday afternoon during the Christmas season, it still might take 90 minutes to drive the five miles from my house to the mall. But I digress.
The point is, the Mall of Georgia is a great venue, offering everything you could possibly want, including a family-friendly atmosphere. It’s basically a modern village square, with free concerts and movies in the summertime, a tree-lighting ceremony at Christmas, and plenty of indoor and outdoor gathering places year-round.
When it’s too cold or wet to walk at the park, my lovely wife Bonnie and I will often walk the mall. (Pro tip: Eight laps is roughly five miles.)
When I find myself “batching it” for a few days, usually because Bonnie is visiting the grandkids and I’ve had to stay home and work, I’ll often go up to the mall for the evening just to fend off loneliness.
In nice weather, I might buy a book at Barnes and Noble, get a shake from Chick-fil-A, and sit outside and read. During football or basketball season, I’ll grab a bite at Buffalo Wild Wings or Red Robin and watch the game.
The one thing I don’t do there nearly enough is shop. And I need to change that. We all do.
Because, my friends, I perceive that the Mall of Georgia, for all its grandeur, is slowly dying. If you think a giant mall can’t die, I have two words for you: Gwinnett Place.
Think of all the great stores, once MOG fixtures, that are no more. Talbots. Banana Republic. Brookstone. Nordstrom. Some have gone out of business. Others have been bought out or replaced by equally-high-end chains, like Von Maur. But many have simply disappeared, giving way to fly-by-night discount outlets — or worse, empty storefronts.
I understand the attraction of online shopping, not to mention the savings. But if this trend keeps up — if people don’t shop at least sometimes at our local brick-and-mortar establishments — eventually we won’t have those establishments anymore. Buford Drive will devolve into Pleasant Hill Road 2.0.
That is in no one’s best interests. And if it happens, it will be no one’s fault but our own. If we want to have our mall, ultimately, we’re going to have to vote to keep it — not with ballots, but with our wallets.