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Paying my last respects to Staunton Mall…

December 14, 2020, 9:00 AM

On a recent trip to Augusta County, Elyse and I stopped over at Staunton Mall to pay our last respects to the place.  For those not familiar, Staunton Mall recently changed owners, and in late November, the new owners gave all of the remaining tenants a 30-day notice to vacate, except for Belk.  The last day of operation for Staunton Mall will be December 24.  So we stopped in and documented the place fairly extensively.  Before I get started, please note that this Journal entry will be a very high-level look at the mall.  I took over 1,200 photos of the interior and exterior of the mall, including at least one photo of every single storefront, and I’m going to give the place a more complete treatment as a photo set for Life and Times.  But this ought to hold everyone for now, because the more complete treatment is going to take a while to put together.

The thing about photographing retail settings is that stores typically don’t like it when you photograph in their facilities.  The usual reason cited is to protect trade secrets, which is usually bunk, because, as I understand it, a company has to put actual effort into keeping trade secrets a secret.  If it is in plain view of the public, then it is not a trade secret.  But that doesn’t stop stores from chasing off photographers.  After all, it is private property, and they can choose to exclude whatever activities that they want.  For my purposes, it just means that I have to be a bit more stealthy when I photograph, and shoot with my phone rather than with the big camera.  The way that I typically operate when I do this is to go from lower risk to higher risk as far as getting caught goes.  After all, once a place gets wise to me, the photo shoot is over, because they’ll never leave me alone again as long as I remain there.  In this case, since I had the drone, I considered the aerial photography to be the least risky as far as getting caught goes, since I could accomplish that mostly from off of the property.  Then after I finished flying around the mall, I photographed the exterior from the car with my real camera.  Then I went inside the mall and did my documentation of the interior with my phone.  I suspected that I wouldn’t have any issues with security personnel based on reports from others that there were no security people to begin with, and I was pleased that this ended up remaining the case.  I’ve seen so many cases where stores and/or entire shopping centers are closing, and employees still get on people about photography.  I can’t help in those cases but to think, why do you still care?  After all, the people in question are losing their jobs soon, and so they’re continuing to defend their employer because… why?  No matter what you do, at the end of the day, you’re still losing your job.  So why are you still loyal to and defending a company that clearly has no loyalty to you?  It doesn’t make sense to me.

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Staunton Mall sold for $4.5 million?

March 15, 2014, 10:16 AM

So according to The News VirginianThe News Leader, and WHSV, Staunton Mall has been sold to a Delaware LLC for $4.5 million.  Little is known about the new buyer or their intent, however, according to The News Leader, “The sale includes permits for development and land rights and assignment of leases, rents, deposits, profits and other agreements.”  This makes me wonder if someone is finally planning to redevelop Staunton Mall into something better and/or more modern.  At this point, we can only speculate. That said, Staunton Mall does look pretty dismal right now, shown in this file photo from January:

Staunton Mall, from center court facing south towards JCPenney, January 2014

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Categories: Staunton, Staunton Mall

“Oh, it’s terrible! The King has been transformed! Please find the Magic Wand so we can change him back.”

November 27, 2010, 4:31 PM

First of all, I admit – the title doesn’t mean much in relation to this entry, except that it perhaps reflects that I’ve been playing too much Super Mario Bros. 3 on my Super Nintendo lately. Regardless, this Journal entry has been a long time in coming, since this is about a trip I took to Stuarts Draft two weeks ago. All I have to say is, hey, I’ve been busy. But it’s also somewhat fitting that I post this entry this weekend, since this was “Thanksgiving” with the parents a couple of weeks ahead of the holiday. Traffic is a real pain, you see, and this obviates the need to mess with it. Have you ever driven US 29 in Virginia on Thanksgiving weekend? It’s no walk in the park.

On Friday the 12th, after driving perhaps a shade too fast the whole way down, I arrived at Stuarts Draft Middle School. After all, Mom was there, and I hadn’t seen her new classroom yet. Mom was recently switched from sixth to eighth grade, and so she moved rooms as a result, from Room 24 to Room 1. And here it is:

Mom's new classroom, Room 1

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So I am now the proud father of a Motorola Droid…

January 19, 2010, 12:27 AM

So I got my Droid today. I now have what I describe as the iPhone for people who don’t want an iPhone. This thing has the touch screen, it has Wi-Fi, it has downloadable apps and games, and it has a five-megapixel camera.

Yes, five megapixels. That’s right – my cell phone just out-megapixeled the late Big Mavica (which was four-megapixel). That’s obscene. My cell phone still slots below my real cameras, though. Duckie has six, and the Canon does ten. And take a look at a sample of its work:

Digging up the floor at Staunton Mall

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Categories: Cell phone, Staunton Mall

Okay, I’m calling it – Staunton Mall is toast.

May 2, 2009, 1:36 PM

Okay, I’m calling it. Staunton Mall is a dying mall, if not already basically a dead mall. I was in there on Friday with Katie, and I believe there are now more empty locations than there are full ones. Steve and Barry’s, in an anchor spot, is gone. Books-A-Million is gone, in another large spot. KB Toys is gone, as part of the chain’s complete closure earlier this year. The former Piece Goods location has never been filled for any appreciable length of time since Piece Goods left. The old CVS/Pharmacy location is still empty after more than two years since CVS moved to a freestanding location nearby.

Additionally, Peebles, while open, is in deplorable shape, with visibly worn tiles, stained and worn carpet, and stained ceiling tiles. That location needs to be renovated badly, but I doubt that Stage Stores (which owns Peebles) will invest in it, considering that all they did when it changed to Peebles from Stone and Thomas was change the nameplate, change some interior signage, and wall in a gift-wrapping counter. Meanwhile, the Belk store in Staunton Mall has never been remodeled since I’ve been there, aside from changes related to when the store changed its nameplate from Leggett to Belk in 1997 or so. It, however, looks to be in better shape than Peebles, but partly because the lighting is somewhat darker in there, and thus it hides the aging. Still, it certainly says a lot about what a company thinks about certain locations when they don’t bother to ever remodel or update them, while remodeling and updating other locations, sometimes multiple times.

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So Katie and I had fun yesterday…

November 26, 2008, 5:23 PM

Katie and I went out and about in Staunton and Waynesboro yesterday, and we had fun. I can’t believe it had been three months since last I saw Katie, but indeed that was the case. But of course, that doesn’t mean we had any less fun.

First thing we did was go over to the nTelos store, since it was just about time to upgrade Katie’s cell phone, and so we were seeing what the scene looked like. I think Katie’s going to get a really good phone this time around – one with an on-board camera, and one that can do all of the cool things that cell phones can do nowadays. And I demonstrated the picture feature on one of the demo phones:

Katie at the nTelos store

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As you can see, “moon shoes” are not exactly something we can balance on…

June 3, 2007, 10:19 AM

I don’t know if you saw the splash page or not yet, but it shows me balancing on “moon shoes”…

Balancing on moon shoes

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I’ll bet you had no idea that the Blue Line ran to Staunton…

October 23, 2005, 6:59 PM

Yes – in this very strange dream that I had, Metro runs to Staunton, near where I live. Specifically, Staunton Mall. And specifically, the Blue Line.

In this dream, Mom and I were at Staunton Mall at night. We were out shopping, and I discovered that there was a Metro station at Staunton Mall. It was an elevated station, with side platforms similar to Eisenhower Avenue or West Hyattsville. So while Mom was telling me to hurry up and such, I went up and visited the station. Somehow, in this dream though, I wasn’t on the platform. I was in the trackbed. There were no “third rails” in the trackbed, for some reason. Go figure. After I’d crossed from one track to the other, Mom shouted to me that I was in the tracks and what if a train was coming. That’s when I decided to climb up onto the platform opposite where I originally was (which I was now standing next to). Then I noticed something to my right:

Train similar to the one in my dream

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Categories: Dreams, Staunton Mall, WMATA

It’s nice to just kind of go out on the town for a bit… the local town, that is.

January 14, 2005, 5:25 PM

It’s nice to go out on the town a bit. That’s what I did today. I had some errands to run, and went to both Staunton and Waynesboro in the process.

Note I say “local town”. You may recall that I go to Washington DC a lot, and spend a lot of time in that town, which hopefully will be my local town before too long. So I draw that distinction.

But anyway, I went out and about, which was fun. Went to Staunton Mall. I had lunch at “Hot Wok”, a Chinese restaurant in the mall. I’d never eaten a meal at Hot Wok before. It was good.

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A mall trip with Katie…

December 2, 2004, 10:50 AM

It’s very amusing what happens when two friends go to the mall sometimes. Take for instance, Katie and I, who are also coworkers at Wal-Mart. We went to the Staunton Mall, and basically had a blast.

One thing we did was have our pictures taken with Santa Claus:

Ben and Katie with "Santa Harry"

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Categories: Katie, Shopping, Staunton Mall

Unexpected things…

August 16, 2004, 8:57 PM

First of all, I did not expect for one of the nose pads on my glasses to give out on me while I was at work. So after work I went to LensCrafters to get my glasses adjusted. That took me to Staunton Mall.

After I got my glasses worked on, I decided I wasn’t ready to leave quite yet, and so I decided to walk a lap around the mall. So I headed towards the JCPenney end of the mall. So who did I run into near Penney’s? Marie (a coworker) and her significant other (I want to say he’s her fiance, but I’m not for certain). The two of them were enjoying a massage in these automated massage chairs. $1.00 buys you three minutes. They told me that it was really good. So we got to talking while they got the massage done. Talked about the massage, and how nice it would be to have this at home. I chimed in that as nice as it would be, the really good massage chairs are pricey. At Brookstone at Pentagon City near DC, they sell the high-end models, and they cost a few thousand bucks. A little out of range.

Then when they finished, I parked myself in one of the chairs and gave it a whirl. It was a pretty good massage. Not the best I’ve had, but pretty good. It uses vibration, heat, and something that goes up and down your back in a few different motions. Pretty good massage. The only downside to it was when the back massager got down low on its track. There instead of working my back it was working my hip-bone. And that massager rubbing against bone is not comfortable. But usually on its first cycle, once you figure out where the uncomfortable zone is, you can adjust to avoid it.

Still, it did feel good as it vibrated and heated, and as the back thing pressed, kneaded, and pulsated. And it’s surprisingly addictive. I got the three-minute massage, and then the 15-minute massage. The 15-minute massage was SO good… so relaxing that I actually fell asleep in the chair! That was an odd experience, to wake up in the middle of Staunton Mall. I hope no one saw me napping in the mall…

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