Saturday, April 18, 2015

From the Archives: You Can't Win The Mall

Whaddaya know -- it;s Stretchback Saturday again! And instead of featuring some dead and buried cartoonist this week, I'm dusting off a few of my own from my Milwaukee Business Journal days.
My Business Journal cartoons were all (but one) drawn to accompany the paper's lead editorial, so very few of them make any sense whatsoever apart from the editorial. This set of cartoons all accompanied editorials about Milwaukee's shopping malls as they experienced market forces common around the country. The caption for the cartoon above pretty much sums up the point of that week's editorial, to wit: having some empty storefronts in a given mall isn't a cause for panic.

Jim Borgman has noted how much fun it is to come up with fanciful names for the stores in shopping malls, something I've enjoyed, too. When suburban shopping malls popped up all over the place in the 1970's and '80's and drove downtown shops out of business, they burst at the seams with all sorts of bizarre specialty stores.
But that was before the internet came along. The above cartoon, if I remember correctly, illustrated an editorial that lamented that Milwaukee's Grand Avenue Mall, which opened downtown in 1982 with great fanfare as a destination shopping center, no longer had any eateries.

It no longer had these little specialty shoppes, either, actually. You had to pass by several empty stores between the two anchor stores and the occasional resale shop, CD store, and scrunchie outlet.

Things were even worse at Northridge Mall on Milwaukee's North Side; the Time to Panic had come and gone:
Northwest of Milwaukee in Scott Walker's suburban hometown, Wauwatosa, Mayfair Mall was the scene of considerable vandalism in 2002 after its theatre showed a movie that appealed to Black youth; this was followed by rather predictable calls for the theatre not to show movies that attracted such undesirable demographics out from the unfashionably urban, melanin-rich districts of the dreaded Inner City.

Avoiding racist stereotypes on the one hand and offending a local business on the other in the cartoon to accompany that editorial was a challenge, but I came up with something I enjoyed drawing.

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