With Christmas season upon us, it seems like the right time to offer a quick tour of the area’s local shopping establishments. Previously, we’ve looked at the Green Tree Mall , Oxmoor Center , and Jefferson Mall . Today we turn our attention to the Mall St. Matthews.
(Full disclosure – rumor has it that at the time the author visited the Mall St. Matthews for this piece, he might have been suffering from one of the three most profound and debilitating hangovers since that one time in college he decided to make a garbage can full of hooch in his closet, but totally miscalculated not only the proper ratio of pure grain to Juicy Juice, but also the number of people he thought would drink it with him. We hope what tiny shred of professionalism Mr. Fawcett might have had was not compromised by this development).
The Mall St. Matthews – Louisville, KY
PROS: First off, I was totally impressed by how structurally stable the mall itself was, as well as its adherence to the basic laws of gravity. From the moment I stepped in, the building never once began to spin out of control as long as I didn’t turn my head or look down at any point.
Furthermore, their bathrooms were clean and roomy, with enough floor space to spread out and toilets that were well equipped to handle even the most violently regurgitated tuna fish sandwich.
But the Mall St. Matthews is more than just a great place to vomit. It’s also, by all standard definitions, a shopping mall.
The centerpiece has to be Brookstone. I mean, that place is totally awesome. At least I think it is…to be quite honest, I don’t really know what they sell there. Is it back massagers and flasks? That just doesn’t sound right. I think I saw an elliptical machine, but I think I also saw bathrobes. I do know that everyone who works their wears an apron. Is it maybe a slaughterhouse? That place is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma surrounded by foot baths and grilling equipment.
The Mall St. Matthews also has several stores with no lighting that play really beat-intensive music at soul crushing volumes. Some of these stores choose not to display their name which adds to the whole hipster-cool vibe. Then again, based on the dank and ominous store design, best popularized in the 1978 film The Deer Hunter, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out they run Russian roulette matches out of a hidden back room. So maybe the naming thing is intentional.
Also, in spite of what the four ladies who walked behind me said repeatedly, the whole mall does not smell like “a tanker full of Falls City exploded at a petting zoo.”
CONS: I am a world-class Christmas shopper. When I’m in “the zone”, my vision is nothing but cascading zeroes and ones, as if I see things on a more basic level like something out “The Matrix”. My essence becomes in tune with both the moon and the tides and when it’s all said and done, I emerge triumphant, arms filled with gifts and knowing that for at least one day a year, I’ll be able to satisfy a woman.
But for some reason, the Mall St. Matthews totally knocks me off my game (even on those visits where I’m not suffering from alcohol-induced brain damage). Maybe it has less to do with what they have, and more to do with what they don’t have.
First and foremost, what happened to the oversized chess board? For years, the reason you went to the Mall was to impress ladies with your ability to dominate unsupervised children at chess, while tens of local shoppers cheered on each brilliant move. (Of course, the only thing to do was cheer on losers like me as back in the day the Mall consisted of little more than a Radio Shack and a homeless dude selling stolen copies of Highlights magazine.) I think I speak for most men in Louisville when I say that if not for that chessboard, I would have never lost my virginity.
Also gone is World Bazaar, the best source for totally random yet completely awesome stuff. I always felt that I could walk into that placed blindfolded, grab any piece of wicker bulls**t, and know that on Christmas Day, I’d look like a really thoughtful dude who knew a few things about home décor, but really just got lucky with some wooden elephant thing that sort of looked like Ganesha, the Hindu Lord of Obstacles.
You know what else is gone? Dawahares, NRM Music, and the Hungry Pelican, which is significant because I've worked at all three of them at various points in my life. I’d like to offer any number of crazy conspiracy theories as to why they are gone, but it’s probably just because of A) my inability to sell, or even care about women’s shoes, which may have cost Dawahares much needed profits, B) my unyielding belief that Zeppelin rules which could make it very difficult for a customer who just wanted to buy that crappy Quad City DJs cd , and C) I might have once dropped a used band-aid in the hush puppy batter and didn’t notice until it was too late.
On this day, the lack of a Hungry Pelican was particularly painful as I could have really gone for a greasy fish sandwich. Damn, that place was awesome. It tasted like how I imagine it would taste if Tim Tebow scored a touchdown in my mouth.
Does it have a Hot Topic? Of course they do. Where else would you expect a totally authentic anti-establishment store that sells reasonably priced designer punk and goth gear to well-to-do families to operate successfully than an east end shopping mall? As any emo kid will tell you, Nickelback shirts don’t grow on trees.
Melt Down for the Ages: As a former employee of the Mall, parking close was never an issue for me as I knew of a secret entrance next to a secret parking lot.
I even made up the name of a store I worked at in case anyone ever tried to stop me (“Sorry officer, but I’m late to my job at Renaissance Dude, the east end’s finest source for doublets, pantaloons, and chain mail! Renaissance Dude – because sometimes going to a park dressed as a make-believe pirate is just as good as talking to a woman!”).
But then mall security started c-blocking my way in, which means I’m now forced to drive around aimlessly like the rest of the hoi polloi. When I did find a parking space, my car was so far away I needed a Sherpa to get me to Dillards.
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get from Shelbyville Road into the actual mall parking lot. By the time you find a spot, you’ve transformed into a giant human spasm of rage and despair. If there has ever been a solid argument for the implementation of wormhole technology, it is the Mall St. Matthews.
Final Rating: When you’re hung over, all you want is a greasy fish sandwich. When you’re bored, all you want to do is beat a kid’s ass at giant chess. And when you’re desperate for a last second Christmas gift for your mom, all you want is a wicker replica of a Griffin fighting a Minotaur. Yet for some reason, the Mall St. Matthews can’t provide any of these. I give it one deeply furrowed brow followed by one very loud “WTF?”
Photo courtesy of the Mall St. Matthews