Man versus Mall

August 17, 2005

I have been experiencing a bit a of blog paralysis because I have so many things I want to discuss and I was trying to maintain some semblance of an order. I give up. I am going to dispose of my remaining Colorado musings since it was more than a month ago. Maybe then, I can start to catch up on everything else.

In Colorado I was staying near one of the many enormous “Lifestyle Centers” (read overgrown mall with brilliant designers) that abound in the Denver / Boulder area. These are the sort of truly gigantic places that can only exist in places where land is affordable.

How big can it be you ask? Nearly a square mile! The photo shows the area, but only about half of the mall has actually pictured since the photo is a little out of date.

I wanted to hate the place (and did for all of the reasons below) but still, like Jason and the ill fated argonauts I felt myself drawn to its sweet, sweet call. It was right next to my hotel (shown in the bottom of the photo) and so I was actually there several times in just a few days.

It is such an incredibly obviously manufactured experience, and yet it is somehow oddly appealing. The designers manage to add all of these transparent ploys at making the place feel like a destination, and they sort of work. Even though I notice them all, still involuntarily I am forced to admit it is convenient and pleasant. It is a little scary.

The brand new faux old Spanish style architecture actually comes with faux decay. It is nice enough and (I am ashamed to admit) gives the plazas a sense of place. But then I notice real decay on the fake decay and I can no longer be a participant in the charade. Click on the photo to the left to see what I mean.

Public spaces with a central focus gives people a place to meet and the feel of a destination. I could hardly walk by this fire without wanting to sit by it and soak up the scene. Fire is so primal and there is something about siting around the fire that just feel right, except that it was 96 degrees. Notice how everyone is wearing shorts. I also think it is a lovely irony that the sign in the back advertises images of the wild. Click on the photo to see the details.

Here I was left to wonder if maybe the mall builders actually stocked the place with shopper much like you might stock a lake with fish. It is hard to believe that grown adults would match so well of their own free will, but if that is what they wanted to do, I guess this is the place to do it. Click on the photo to see the details.

The business of business is business.

June 17, 2005

I went to visit my friend who runs a lawncare business, (green grass, no weeds) in PA, NJ, MD. Happy Lawn was a really great group of hard working people. I came away very impressed! Even though the business is completely different from my former online marketing business, I was struck by the huge number of similarities.

The challenges are all the same:

  • How do you plan for growth but keep overhead down?
  • How do you develop your people to support that growth?
  • How do you mange cash and finance it?
  • How do you deal with a difficult but vital vendor?
  • How come the printer doesn’t work?

The more businesses I visit, the more I come away feeling that they all face extremely similar challenges. The business of business is all pretty much the same, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.

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