Location: Phoenix, AZ, United States
Beginning in 2015, The Changing Landscape of American Retail is an ongoing documentation of the shift from traditional brick-and-mortar locations where we once socialized and interacted with our community to the stark and generic essential for e-commerce.
Like memories, familiar retail entities are fading away. Today, they stand as modern-day ruins and architectural artifacts that reach into the not-so-distant past of our own maturing interests and evolving identities.
Toys “R” Us brings back of memories of avoiding my brother’s aerial assaults of red dodge balls and Nerf guns. The Battlefield Mall was once a central meeting spot for my junior high peers—anchored by the food court and Aladdin’s Castle arcade. The arcade elicits a sensory transaction when I’m greeted by the flashing lights of Street Fighter II, manic electronic beeps, purple geometric carpet, and the oddly unique odor of stale popcorn mixed with the metallic scent of quarters, tucked into my front pocket. During high school and college, I spent hours at Best Buy and Circuit City listening stations, previewing new music releases from my favorite artists.
By 2012, Circuit City closed their doors. Toys “R” Us folded in the spring of 2018, and Best Buy continues to shutter underperforming stores. Additionally, arcades and food courts are endangered as “Class B” malls are closing all over the U.S.
Store closings feel like a continuation of our declining thoughtful conversations, empty playgrounds, and sense of community as we opt for a digital facsimile. We are no longer previewing music and getting recommendations on new releases in person and in retail shops. We will no longer meet our friends in food courts.
The Changing Landscape of American Retail is an exercise of looking to the past and peering into the future, serving as a metaphor of how technology is accelerating cultural change in the modern world. I know you can’t fight change, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be sentimental.
Collective or Agency Sunday Afternoon