Soda, toys, and a Kroger like no other…
April 6, 2017, 2:07 PM
So, as promised, here’s the rest of the trip to Richmond that Elyse and I made.
After leaving the Science Museum, we headed over to Carytown. Elyse wanted me to see Rocket Fizz, which is where she got some bottles of “Stalinade”, a strawberry-flavored soda that, as I said on Instagram at the time, was “Communism in a glass. Definitely tastes the way that I would expect communism to taste: red.” They have a very large selection of unique sodas, and some with novelty flavors, and some with novelty names. I ended up buying a six-pack of novelty flavors. Here was the take:
Sweet corn, ranch dressing, butter, San Francisco fog, grass, and bacon with maple syrup. Should be interesting to try. I imagine that some of these, like butter and ranch dressing, typically being heavier than your typical soda, will be interesting flavors. Meanwhile, the clerk told Elyse and me that San Francisco fog has a marshmallowy taste, and that the grass soda tastes “exactly like you would expect”. So this should be fun. As of this writing, we have not yet tried any of them.
Then after the soda place, we headed over to World of Mirth, which is a nearby toy store. Fun place, but this Giant Microbes toy gave me pause:
This is a stuffed HPV, aka Human Papillomavirus, aka genital warts. With eyes. It’s a strange combination of cute and disturbing all at the same time. It actually reminded me of a video that they showed us about herpes in family life (i.e. “sex ed”) in seventh grade. That video characterized the herpes virus as a red demon-like character called “Herpie”. Yes, it was exactly as cheesy as it sounds. I suppose that if those same people made a video about HPV, this little guy would be called “Pappie”?
We later found our way over to Regency Square Mall, which is in Henrico County just west of Richmond. I had first been to this mall in 1998 on a field trip with school, where we saw Disney on Ice at the Richmond Coliseum, and then went over to Regency Square afterwards in that classic cut-the-kids-loose-for-a-while thing that school group leaders tend to do, unleashing a bunch of overbearing and overemotional humans on the innocent shoppers of a shopping mall. Back in 1998, my shopping mall experience was limited to small, single-level malls like Staunton Mall and Charlottesville Fashion Square, so Regency Square Mall, with two levels, was a big deal for me. Two stories was a big mall, plus it was filled with all kinds of interesting stores. I had a field day with it, enjoying the mall more than the main part of the trip, which was Disney on Ice. Fast forward to 2017, and the mall was a shell of its former self. It also seemed much smaller than I remembered. The mall had four anchor stores, but only two – Sears and JCPenney – were operational. The other two stores were both Macy’s, which had recently pulled out of Regency Square and looked like this:
Considering that of the two remaining anchors, Sears has already admitted that it’s near death, and Penney’s recently announced a round of store closings (though Regency Square was not part of it), it’s quite possible that Regency Square could lose all four anchors before it’s all over.
Then on top of that, Regency Square had a lot of inline store spaces that were empty, and many, if not most, of those inline store spaces that were occupied were filled by what I would call “second tier” tenants, i.e. stores that move into an existing space without doing a buildout first.
So all in all, Regency Square seems to be well on its way to being a dead mall. There is a redevelopment planned, but we’ll see how that pans out, I suppose.
Then our last stop in the Richmond area was a “Kroger Marketplace” store on Staples Mill Road that Elyse found when she was in Richmond a few months ago. Many of you are probably familiar with Kroger, which is a grocery chain that operates in 34 states under a number of different nameplates. Richmond is a big Kroger city, with many locations all over the city and surrounding area. Kroger typically runs conventional grocery stores, but this is a bigger concept, basically a “Supercenter” version of Kroger, but unlike Walmart, which added groceries to a general merchandise store, Kroger went the other direction, and added general merchandise to a grocery store. Take a look:
Jewelry department. This section is branded as Fred Meyer, which is another Kroger nameplate.
Apparel section of the store. This was probably the largest single section of the general merchandise areas of the store. It’s a smaller amount of floor space than you might find in a Walmart or Target store, though.
I was definitely surprised to see such a thing in a Kroger store. I just hope that they have a good returns department, because while you almost never get returns on groceries, you do get returns on a lot of the general merchandise items that they’re selling – particularly clothes.
So that was our Richmond trip. Fun little adventure. Now Elyse and I just have to try the sodas.