Holyoke Mall, a time-machine back to the malls of yesteryear

Shopping malls. They certainly don't make them like they used to. In Colorado, the old-fashioned mall is all but extinct, replaced by outdoor shopping "experiences" -- or if it is a single, enclosed structure, it's built to look like a gargantuan ski lodge (see Park Meadows) or a fancy, two-story lavatory (see The Cherry Creek Mall). But on a recent trip to North Hampton, Massachusetts for the weekend, I stumbled upon the Holyoke Mall -- and a trip back in time. It was like I could still smell the indoor ashtrays of yesterday, smoldering with cigarette butts outside of Auntie Ann's pretzel stand (except in my memory, it was an Orange Julius). This mall even had an actual food court, complete with a fried chicken restaurant and a Sbarro's. The eating area also offered easy access to Keno on every bolted-down table, allowing shoppers to play the Massachusetts lottery while enjoying some scary chinese food. The mall was also home to a Fredrick's Of Hollywood, a toast to the lingerie retail experience of yesteryear. You see, long before Victoria's Secret zeroed in on selling panties to 17-year-old "bombshells," buying underwear outside of a department store basically felt like going into a porn store. Or a "fuck book store" as my friend in high school's dad used to call them. Built in 1979, the mall's structure and finishes obviously hadn't changed much, including this gorgeous stairway. The geometric monument of cement and glass looked so breath-taking in the mid-day sun -- it made me wish there was a Piercing Pagoda stationed at the bottom of it. Why we don't have a Dollar N Things in Colorado is beyond me, because the Dollar Tree and the Family Dollar stores here are crazy busy. The store was packed full of enticing racks of handkerchiefs in a variety of colors, as well as scented candles and baby clothes. What else could you need? Really, I wish this store was actually called Dollar N Thangs. Follow us on Twitter!

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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.
Contact: Bree Davies