My Life as a Mall: A Day in the Life [As Told to Ryan Dixon]

A bi-weekly blog featuring the recollections of a soon-to-be demolished super regional mall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as told to Ryan Dixon. For previous installments, please click HERE They’re boarding me up as I write this. A crew of twenty burly men attach plywood over my doors and windows. The little light that had managed to sneak its way into me through the Pittsburgh gloom has given way to total darkness. Unable to see my funeral preparations outside, I can now just pretend that the sun has yet to rise. I’ll be opening up again in just a few hours. To tell you about a “day in my life” is to reveal my life in a day… It’s Saturday, September 16, 1989. There are no performances scheduled on the center-court stage – Jem and the Holograms Live! won’t arrive for another two weeks – nor are any department stores having major sales. Santa and the Easter Bunny hibernate in their holiday homes and it’s up to the off-season choo-choo train to offer amusement to the tiny ones (the carousel doesn’t arrive until 1991). Even the escalators manage to survive the day without breaking down. A few people fall in love and some fall out of it, too. But mostly, the 19,211 shoppers who will walk through me go about their business, head home and sleep safely into the future that will be September 17, 1989. 7 AM. Big Mike takes one full lap around me. Armed with his infamous black book, nicknamed Bertha, he’s on the lookout for anything out of place — burnt out light fixtures, broken benches, carpet stains — that would prevent me from looking brand new. In a far corner of the third floor (the least looked-after), an ashtray holds a mass...

Rewards Points-A-Palooza Part 2 [Gal About Town: Fashion and Travel at Your Fingertips]...

My, two weeks goes by fast! In my recent travels I had my first flight where there were two babies, one row apart, that didn’t even cry a bit during the 4.5 hour flight. It was truly a miracle to behold. I also received my millionth pat down by TSA for wearing a maxi dress, prompting me to remind all you ladies out there, if you don’t want to get that friendly with TSA, leave the loose fitting skirts and dresses for while on your trip, not during the flight. I hope that you all enjoyed and learned something from Part 1 of the “Rewards Points-A-Palooza” series. Today we’ll go further into how to maximize your reward earnings. Just a reminder, these tips can be applied to almost any kid of rewards earnings, not just travel. Additionally, I often mention Intercontinental’s Priority Club, which we mainly use, as an example.  But many clubs use the same kinds of earning avenues as they do. Shop: It is amazing just how many points one can earn just by going through your preferred company’s “business partners” to shop for the services and goods that you already need. Many times going through a partner can also actually give you a greater discount on top of earning rewards points. With the Priority Club we have quite a few different avenues we take for this. First is their Priority Club Dining program. With this you register ANY credit card (regardless of if it’s their visa or not) and you earn bonus points for dining at restaurants that are partnered with the program. Now, we don’t actually go out of our way to go to these restaurants, so we don’t earn a lot of points this way, but a point is...

Dippin Dots – The Ice Cream of the Future Could Be a Thing of the Past [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Mar02

Dippin Dots – The Ice Cream of the Future Could Be a Thing of the Past [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe]...

Dippin’ Dots – those little balls of goodness, which market themselves as “the ice cream of the future”, has fallen on hard times. The company was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, despite turning a profit last year. Dippin’ Dots were invented in 1988 by Carl Jones, a microbiologist. Jones applied liquid nitrogen to ice cream, which cryogenically flash freezes, causing the mixture to break up into tiny balls.  The ice cream balls are stored at -40° below zero. Isn’t this what they did to Walt Disney’s head? Jones first tested the product with his family and friends before finally securing his original kiosk location at the now closed Opryland USA theme park in Nashville, Tennessee. The ice cream, sold in dozens of flavors, ices, and mixtures is available at amusement parks, boardwalks, sports stadiums, food courts, and movie theatres from coast to coast. I remember having my first taste at Idlewild Park in Ligonier, PA when I was a kid.  My family and I were mesmerized at the “ice cream of the future” and gave it a try. I had the Oreo cookies and cream, which are little chunks of Oreo cookies mixed in with vanilla ice cream balls. Some of the more exotic flavors offered include rainbow (which are several different sherbet flavor balls mixed together), Alien green (green colored vanilla dots with cookies), Liberty Ice (a blend of blue raspberry, cheery, and lemon frozen ices), and they’ve just introduced Rocky Road (a blend of marshmallow shaped balls, chocolate ice cream balls, and pieces of roasted almonds.) Any of their products can be ordered online and shipped to you in two days.  Prices start at $2.50 for a small package or $30 per gallon, plus shipping.  For the weight watchers, Dippin’ Dots...

JCPenney: The American Icon Goes Through a Big Change [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Feb17

JCPenney: The American Icon Goes Through a Big Change [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe]...

We’ve all shopped at a JCPenney at one point in our lives just as our parents did. The department store has been around for over 110 years and now the entire chain is undergoing a major change! Penney’s, as most of us call them, have anchored just about every mall built since the suburban population sprawl in the 50’s. The chain is well known for their clothes, makeup, and house wares; as much as they are known for their deep discount weekly sales. James Cash Penney opened his first store on April 14, 1902 in Kemmerer, Wyoming with help from two partners Guy Johnson and Thomas Callahan. The trio would open three more stores under The Golden Rule Store name, before the partnership was abandoned five years later. Penny would gain control and change the name to J.C. Penney Co. The chain grew very quickly and in 1928 opened their 1,000th store with profits of more than one million dollars per year. The chain held on, while many other companies folded, during the Great Depression and World War II. Most JC Penney Co. stores were open in downtown locations, but began to move with the invention of the Interstate Highway System. After the war, as more American’s purchased cars, the population began to move out of downtowns and into the suburbs. High speed interstate freeways not only linked states with fast, and convenient roads, it also linked city workers with their new suburban homes. With this population sprawl came the shopping mall. The shopping mall revolutionized the way Baby Boomers would shop.  They would no longer have to drive downtown, parallel park, feed a meter, and walk from store to store.  Now, everything they needed was under one roof; multiple stores, food courts, ample parking, entertainment and climate...

How Giant Ferris Wheels Will Change The World [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe...

Who doesn’t love a spin on a Ferris wheel? How about taking a ride high above the skylines of two popular American cities? A small Ferris wheel building boom is underway and the skylines of New York and Las Vegas could be in for a major change. While both projects have been on the table for years; our lagging economy has pushed back their opening dates. Recent developments have given them both a major step forward, reigniting hopes of taking tourists high in the air. I must admit, I get a little nervous about riding the super high wheels. I feel much safer on the ones with enclosed carriages. The one at Six Flags Great Adventure, and another on the amusement pier at Wildwood (both in New Jersey), are a little bigger than I can handle. When I was a kid, you couldn’t get me on one. I still shudder at the thought of riding one at some of the shady carnivals, but I’m more than happy to climb aboard the greatest of them all – The Wonder Wheel on Coney Island. Since the London Eye became a major tourist draw after opening in 2000, some US developers have added the wheels as a perk to some high profile construction jobs. Just a short train ride outside of Manhattan, is the new Meadowlands Sports complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, currently home to the New York Giants and New York Jets. As part of the redevelopment of the area, along with the new stadium, came construction of the IZOD Center (a concert venue and arena) and the Xanadu Meadowlands (a giant shopping mall.) The stadium and the arena opened to much fanfare in both 2010 and 2009 respectively. But, the mall that is a...