My Corner Shop

Rex's USA Diary

Mill Shopping Concept

One thing to appreciate about shopping in Maryland is the concept of the Mill. As you would expect, a mill could typically have processed wheat into flour and have been located near a river to allow water energy to be diverted to operate machinery. Wipe this idea from your mind!

While vacant and redundant mills may have had something to do with the origin of mill shopping, they have nothing to do with what one finds when going to the local mill. Think of a mill as a mega-palace purpose designed to allow you to spend money as easily as possible, but not necessarily on the basics for sustaining life. Take my corner shop as an example - the Arundel Mills Shopping Mall.

Tranquility at the Mill

I wandered down to the Mills one Sunday morning to record some parts of it. Parts, because it tends to spread over many acres of ground, then it has giant car parks surrounding that main shopping block. I just concentrated on the front door, below. This picture should be recorded in history books for years to come. Why? Because there is only one car showing in the car park - mine! That situation will probably never happen again.

Muvico 24-screen megaplex

My corner shop has a movie complex built into it called Muvicom 24 - which means they have 24 theaters. That really surprised me - things are built to cater for the millions of people occupying the eastern seaboard of the US, but they must draw the line somewhere. The more interesting feature is the entry to the theater and shopping complex.

The Mill front door

If you notice some similarity to a building style associated with a Mediterranean part of the world, you wouldn't be far wrong. These ancient pillars of sandstone show cracks from generations of wear and tear. Wind-blown sand has smoothed the pillars so you could almost be excused for thinking you were looking at smooth plaster over polystyrene columns, painted by a master to give aging effects. But of course, I can see this is the real thing.

Ancient sand-polished pillars!

And of course, every theater should have a doorman ...

The Mill doorman

How may I be of service, little one?

How may I be of service

Historically the Arundel Mills shopping center is quite young, having been opened about January 2001. To create it they bulldozed down a forest which was apparently the home of some black bears. Two bears got run over while trying to cross a motorway to get away to new territory. The Mill caters mainly for shops selling products with designer labels (clothes, shoes, sports gear, cell phones) but I have used it a couple of times. I bought some household bedding and bathroom bits once, had lunch in a restaurant with friends and recharged my cell phone at the cell phone shop. It also has a mega book store which I will visit some time.

In six weeks I saw changes. A Mill shop appeared out of nowhere, situated by itself out in an area of bare earth. The next evening a small forest of trees had been planted around it and a few days later a motorway off-ramp opened next to it. At this rate they might even build some vital facilities for living such as a computer store or bike shop. (Bike shop is a joke. Very few people bike here. My guess is .001% of the population - about 8,000 people in the US of which I have seen 10 bikers in Maryland. There may be a couple I have missed somewhere. Basically, the rules are if you want to go anywhere you have to join the lemmings on the motorways.)

The impact of my corner store was huge on me. After having lived in the US for a few months I remember waking up one Saturday morning and thinking 'What can I go and spend money on today?' That caused a jolt, and an understanding of the pressures that must be a part of daily life for many Americans.