Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chapter 6, Part 1 - Shopping

If golf, tennis, Mah Jongg, and aerobics are considered the top four activities at Harbor View and other retirement communities in Florida, then shopping is number five.

On rainy days and on humid days (and even on perfect weather days when people just want to get away from Harbor View), many residents go shopping. Now, up North that usually means browsing at the shopping mall or possibly a strip shopping center. But, in Florida the shopping possibilities are endless. They include shopping malls (indoors and outdoors), discount stores in strip shopping centers, flea markets, swap shops, art shows, and craft fairs.

One day last year when I was visiting Mom and Dad in Harbor View, I decided to get away for a few hours and figured I would check out the new shopping mall, Coral Sands Mall. I wanted to see if they had any different stores than the ones I was used to back home. I figured they’d have stores that cater to older folks and was fairly certain they wouldn’t have stores for younger ones. When I got there, I noticed that the people shopping at Coral Sands looked a lot like the residents of Harbor View (in fact, I thought I saw Mom and Flo several times), so I was quite surprised when I walked down one corridor of the mall and saw a children’s clothing store.

Who would be shopping there? I thought to myself. No one in this part of Florida seems to have young children. I strolled in to take a look. The only people in there were the saleswoman and an elderly woman shopping with what looked to be her nine-year old grandson. While I was in there, however, an older gentleman walked in, and I concluded that they must do a good gift-giving business. After all, most of these old folks do have grandchildren. But then the old man just asked for directions to the nearest bathroom. At that point I speculated that within six months the children’s store would be replaced with one more suited to the residents of Florida – a clothing store for older, overweight women. I told Mom my theory when I returned to her condo that afternoon. (About a week after they got to Florida this year, Mom called me to tell me that the children’s clothing store, in fact, was no longer at Coral Sands Mall. I gloated into the phone concluding that my theory was right. Then she said that the store was replaced by an all-you can eat buffet restaurant. Well, I was nearly right, and with that type of restaurant in the mall, a clothing store for large women is bound to be next.)

In addition to the people actually shopping at Coral Sands, there were a large number of mall walkers – you know the ones – those elderly people who walk around the mall for exercise. They wear those sleek nylon jogging suits in bright colors, have headbands or scarves around their heads, and bright white sneakers that have not been dirtied by the outside. Most of them wear lots of gold jewelry, too – watches, bracelets, and earrings, even though they are exercising. And several of them have all of their make-up on, including lipstick as if they were going out for the evening to a nightclub. I think the mall walkers at Coral Sands Mall looked a lot like the mall walkers at malls across the country. The only difference is at Coral Sands the other shoppers looked a lot like them, too.

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