Let’s Go To The Mall

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This post is about the Dimond Shopping Center, a shopping mall in South Anchorage.  No seriously, it is.

I expect you, the loyal Bear Feed reader, to either be  saying right now:
“You aren’t seriously blogging about a mall are you?”  or
“I thought this blog was about Alaska!”

Either way, I hope you feel I sunk to some new low in writing this.  Well, I kinda have, but I’ll throw a reward to you at the end.

If you never been to Alaska, there are surely some perceptions you have about our great state; and from those I talk to in the lower 48 those perceptions are routinely accurate.  One that isn’t is that there are an awful lot of you that believe that Alaska is nothing but a series of tiny villages filled with bear pelts, crab pots, and eskimos.  That may be an exaggeration, but sometimes when I tell people i stopped by a Starbucks they are a bit surprised with have them.  There are many small towns, fishing villages, and rough frontier places that fill up your romantic ideas of Alaska like it should — Anchorage, however, is in many ways like cities around the country.  We have 300,000 people that want everything the rest of you want, it’s just a little further north.  Malls are one of those.  Yet, like so many other places, it still keeps it’s Alaskan uniqueness.

Anchorage has two of them, one downtown and one in South Anchorage called the Dimond Shopping Center.  Today, I dropped my car off to get detailed in prep for my parent’s visit next week, and since I had 4 hours to kill I walked over to the Dimond Center.  Built in 1977, it is Alaska’s largest mall; but on first blush, Dimond Center is not that impressive.  It has a Best Buy as an anchor store, but when you move through the rest of it you are bombarded by kiosks and shops that fell less like grand chains of stores and more of a nice shop someone started to sell trinkets they make on the weekends.  I spent most my time watching a movie today, in the same theatre I watched a movie when I killed time on a vacation in 2006.  Then I watched Ricky Bobby thinking this is no place to ever watch a big special effects thriller (of course, I watched a big special effects thriller today).

Yet there is somewhat nostalgic feel to the place.  I remember going to malls as a kid, and this has that same feel — complete with an arcade with crappy video games, and a coffee shop.  Seriously, when’s the last time you saw a coffee shop in a mall?  Half the mall is filled with youth clubs and military recruiting centers, which makes it feel like a real hangout place for kids.  Above all else, there is an ice rink in the mall … You can ice skate year round in a Mall in Alaska.  How cool is that?  Last fall I went as far as posting this line on my facebook:
“The only job I could find was working at a mall.  On the plus side, I drive a zamboni, so I have that going for me.”

The point of all this comes down to an honest truth about living in Anchorage.  I love living here, mostly because it is unlike anyplace I could live.  That doesn’t mean everything about living here is truly unique, it just means it is like nearly everywhere else in the world – occasionally interrupted by true magnificence.  To me, that makes it better here.  It’s so much easier to appreciate how great this place is when brilliance shines through the normality.

So you survived the “Mall” blog.  So here’s your present.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Robin Sparkles

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