Where Subways Fear to Tread
The Sunday before last, I needed to kill time in Queens so I decided to check out Glendale’s mall-in-progress, The Shops at Atlas Park because I like going places where subways don't reach. I’d eaten lunch in Sunnyside and also had to eat dinner in Jackson Heights, but didn’t want to go all the way back home to Brooklyn to wait for my appetite to reappear (I have harbored fantasies about somehow being able to remove meals, without barfing, so you can immediately eat another).
I wouldn’t say I’m a mall connoisseur, but I do have my standards. And while I realize this shopping center isn’t fully realized, this one didn’t do much for me. Even though Atlas Park is brand new and ‘00s style, there’s something about it that reminded me of an old beat-up long gone Portland mall called Eastport Plaza. I took a bunch of photos of the raggedy half-empty collection of stores back in the pre-blogging, mid-‘90s but I’m sure what I did with them.
It had its hey day in the early ‘80s and was never much to look at even then. It was small (note that mall wasn’t in the name either) and had stores like Newberry (R.I.P.), Frederick’s of Hollywood, Doo-Da (a Spencer’s rip off) and Orange Julius. (I saw santa there when I was five or so and he said, “here’s a candy cane for your brother.” Hmm, I didn’t have a brother.) Now one of Portland’s only Wal-Marts (weird that both locations are on 82nd Ave.) is in the old space and they’ve completely remodeled the block into a strip mall, (is that website classy or what?) complete with an Izzy's, my favorite NW pizza buffet. I'd dare say it's the same clientele that was attracted to the old busted mall.
All that was open at Atlas Park was a J. Jill, an Amish Market (which I don’t think is Amish but merely a chain of overpriced midtown delis), California Pizza Kitchen and Stein Mart. I had been curious about Stein Mart because I’ve seen TV ads, but have never set foot in one (this is the only one in NYC). It felt like a pricier Marshalls, which is amusing because I used to think Marshalls was a more expensive Ross (which they don’t have in New York state). There’s nothing remarkable about Stein Mart unless you like decorating your home with 3-D wood cut-outs spelling inspirational words like “peace” and “family.”
The movie theater was also open and we did that thing that normally baffles me—just showing up with no plan and picking a movie on the spot. Little Miss Sunshine was the lesser of the cinematic evils on offer (I swear I’m not a snob, I just like movies with dialogue and regular kinds of characters where not a lot happens and you end up feeling kind of sad. I would like to see Half Nelson and Factotum in the immediate future). I will say that Regal Cinemas has insane customer service. Everyone’s cheerful and full of hellos and thank yous. No one talks, let alone yells, during the film. I was kind of scared. This is the anti-Court Street Stadium. Even the kid with a broom and dustpan who walked in front of our row during the movie whispered excuse me.
I wouldn’t mind paying The Shops at Atlas Park another visit in 15 years (oh my goodness, I just realized that would make me 49) and seeing if it has turned all ghostly and dilapidated like Eastport Plaza.
The Shops at Atlas Park * 8000 Cooper Ave., Glendale, NY