15 May 2006

The Post-Mall Era

Friday marks an important day in the millennia of the history of the Bulgars. Before 12 May 2006, there was no purpose-built edifice dedicated to consumerism that we all know and love as “the mall” (мол in Bulgarian.) I know this sounds bombastic, but it’s actually quite significant* and especially poignant for me, an American. I am no mall rat, but as I wandered through “City Center Sofia” on the first full day of shopping on Saturday, I felt the palpable warmth, familiarity, and comfort of this temple of capitalism, even when looking out of the 4th floor windows on the distinctively Bulgarian scenes on Cherni Vrah Blvd. Later this month, another high-rise, downtown mall is scheduled to open in Sofia—no doubt the beginning of a new era of shopping in Bulgaria. Understand, I am not disparaging nor exulting this—just making an observation. I'm glad they have this new choice, while at the same time lamenting some of the inevitable changes it will bring.

*Well, actually there is a multi-story shopping center with all kinds of high-end boutiques smack in the middle of town called ЦУМ (TzUM.) However, since this is the old (communist) “Central Universal Store”, Bulgarians don’t consider this a real mall. Other Eastern European countries (especially Poland) have taken to malls like fish to water, and the trend extends to all kinds of rising economies around the world according to a Newsweek International article I read a couple of months ago.
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