Chain Store Massacre: Alternative Biz Revived This Mall

Chain Store Massacre: Alternative Biz Revived This Mall
Jason Nark/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J.—As Christmas break up at my parents' house stretched on, I decided to check out a local dying mall that, after a surprise announcement on Christmas Eve, is slated to shut down by the end of January. Or at least evict all its tenants, which may be a distinction with a difference; Phillipsburg Mall's status has been in the air for some time and it might just hang on a little longer.

Some of it has already bitten the dust. Two department stores, a Sears and a Bon-Ton, have been razed in the past year; curiously, the floors remain intact and are not blocked off. I walked across the old Bon-Ton, and it was possible to identify the main corridors, the bathrooms, the footprint of the supporting columns, and some electrical sockets built into the floor. There is something deeply unsettling—almost apocalyptic—about standing out in the winter sunshine on these intact but desolate floor tiles. This sort of thing is the closest suburban America has to ruins. The lone and level asphalt stretches far away.  

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