As you all know, the beloved Sears anchor store at the Avalon Mall has died. It is survived by its employees and several alarmingly earnest tweets about the Wishbook.
Personally, I will never forget the time I spent there paying too much for dress pants that I needed for an acquaintance’s wedding, that I avoided preparing for until the last minute. Magical times at a magical department store. The kids won’t know what they’re missing.
Anyway, the departure of Sears from the mall comes at a very exciting time in St. John’s. Recently, the city council became tentatively Not Trash. Suddenly our grey town of demoralizing wind and fog finds itself brimming with the utopian enthusiasm you’ll only find in municipal zoning policy.
In the old St. John’s, that large hangar at the mall would just sit empty for years like a funerary monument to economic failure, but in the new St. John’s, we could probably find a more forward-thinking and progressive use for the space.
Here, in no particular order, are some ideas for what we could do with the old Sears:
INDOOR THOMAS AMUSEMENTS ALL YEAR
Your standard mall is a relic of the 20th century – as is the travelling carnival. Why not kill two birds with one stone by converting the empty space from Sears into a year round, indoor amusement park? It would create a fun, family-friendly social space untouched by the weather, and mall workers can pop in to ride the Rock-O-Plane on their lunch break. Best of all: heaps of cotton candy served up with the refreshing smell of indoor diesel engines. Really can’t see any downsides to this one, if I’m being honest with you.
TECH STARTUP INCUBATOR
We all know that tech is the future. Smartphones aren’t going away: they will only become smaller and more ubiquitous. There will probably be holograms involved, and they may also shoot lasers. The only way to prepare for this future of laser phones is to build a dedicated space for our city’s tech entrepreneurs to synergize together. It will be like the Quidi Vidi Plantation for apps, except instead of using traditional techniques to create contemporary art and design in full glorious sight of the Gut, it will just be a windowless hangar in a parking lot.
Survey after survey has put Newfoundland dead last when it comes to curating elaborate displays about the history of waterfowl. A new Duck Museum would finally put these dark days behind us.
Leading Newfologists expect that by 2025 there will be approximately 5 pairs of Blundstones for every man, woman, and child on the island. All cultural traditions will gradually come to revolve around the giving and receiving and care of leather shoes. At Christmas, we will just give each other Blundstones and at Easter we will get our old ones repaired and wear them around as a testimony to the cosmic rejuvenation of Spring. Valentine’s Day will be basically the same day, except now you’re forced to buy cards expressing your Blundstone brand loyalty to your significant other. House parties will gradually become illegal after a series of riots break out in Georgestown because people keep unintentionally stealing each other’s shoes. The churches begin offering their community halls as collective house party stations, but an affray between the Orangemen and the Knights of Columbus leads to renewed sectarian violence and the imposition of martial law across the city. Eventually a group of rogue Anglican vestrymen and a small militia of nuns will join forces to drive the Canadian Forces out of Pleasantville and usher in the most terrifying theocracy ever seen in North America outside of those states in the Deep South where polygamous child marriage for Jesus or whatever still happens. Anyway, obviously we’re going to need a place to put all these shoes so we should put the warehouse in the empty space at the mall.
SECOND FOOD COURT
Make sure they bring back the Taco Bell that used to be in the movie theatre.