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Summit Up

Special to the Daily

Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the worlds only daily column perplexed by the existence of shopping malls.In the High Country we have no malls. Some people live here without ever setting foot inside one of the perfectly climate-controlled poly-retail monuments. Other Summit County dwellers eagerly look forward to regular treks (in their Subarus) down Interstate 70 to Cherry Creek or Park Meadows or, for the supposed low-brow, Colorado Mills.We ask ourselves: What do malls have that we dont have in our own backyard? Is Summit County somehow deficit because it has no glittering indoor collection of chain stores like PacSun, Bath & Body Works, Teddy Bear StuffN Factory and Spencers Gifts? We decided to do a little research and visit the only real mall in western Colorado: Mesa Mall in Grand Junction. Mesa Mall is, according to mall experts, a regional mall. It has five, count em, five anchor stores, including Sears, JCPenney, Mervyns and Target. Who could ask for anything more? If you cant find what youre looking for at Sears, surely you can find it at Penneys.And, as far as eating goes, the only distinct restaurant inside the mall is Chuck E. Cheeses (remember those?), but the classic food court caters to all types of palates. The discriminating diner can choose from A & W, China Pantry, Sbarro and Teriyaki Express, all within spitting distance of each other. And theres always Dippin Dots for dessert.We dont mean to be critical. Like most true Summit County denizens, we adore Target. Its like Disneyland with no admission charge. We love to walk around the store without ever buying anything. In fact, in Grand Junction, we found ourselves in the Mesa Mall Target. And for a split second we thought we were back in Silverthorne: same layout, same merchandise, same smell, same everything.Hmm, we thought, does the very predictability of the mall account for its appeal? We decided to leave that question to mall scholars. Dont laugh. The American Studies department at Eastern Connecticut University maintains an academic website on shopping malls. Do you ever wonder what happened to that old mall you went to as a kid? Check out Abandoned malls are evidently now a kind of art form.As usual, we felt nothing but gratitude as we headed back on I-70 and anticipated our return to a lifestyle organized around something besides shopping. We silently agreed with the slogan we saw on a vans bumpersticker in the Mesa Mall parking lot: The best things in life arent things.***Its Friday, and were out filling our hearts with holiday spirit by not shopping. E-mail us at summit with a list of things youre not doing these holidays.

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