Shopaholic Visits Wilmington: Review of Independence Mall

THE HEARTS: inside mall, lots of parking, good variety of stores, food court, clean, massage chairs, “resting station,” activities for kids, good rainy day activity

THE FARTS: cold pizza, odd layout

Young Old Fart says…

One of the few things I miss about NJ is the shopping. While Wilmington surpasses the Garden State in customer service and nearly everything else, fashion and a variety of size/shaped clothing is NOT one of them.

Being five foot ten and a size 12 in both dress, jeans, and shoe (Yes my foot is THAT big. No, Bigfoot is not a relative nor do I plan on becoming a clown), makes shopping difficult…to say the least. Honestly, I would rather do anything than go look for clothes. I’m not exactly sure what it is. Having to consistently take off and put on my clothes? Having to suck in my stomach to the point where I feel like I’ll pass out, just to learn that the jeans I was attempting to fit in were too short? Or, maybe it’s the unforgiving florescent lighting that reminds me of my many stretch marks (growth spurts and genetics…YAY!). D) all of the above.

Okay, I think I’ve made it quite obvious that malls are not my favorite place in the world. However, I am determined to give an unbiased and fair review of Wilmington’s Independence Mall, even if I’ve spent relentless hours there just to turn up empty-handed.

Right off the bat I appreciate the mall’s cleanliness and numerous parking spaces; I don’t see anyone having to battle over a spot. Good thing too, I’ve seen people lose body parts over more trivial matters courtesy Jersey attitudes and Black Friday outings.

The mall has four “main” shopping spots: Belk, JCPenny, Sears, and Dillards, with different wings leading to each destination. While Independence houses several stores, ranging from Forever 21 to Bath and Body Works to Victoria’s Secret, the layout is quite confusing. YAH and I often discuss how it seems that they had a normal X layout and then decided to add an additional wing later. Either way, it can be a hassle attempting to get where you want to be.

Like I said, the mall offers a pretty decent range of shops. However, my absolute favorite part is the food court. Mmmm, mall food courts. Where else can you get overly priced pizza and extra salty/soggy Chinese food? Okay, maybe the airport. But still, you don’t need a $200 ticket to experience this pleasantry. Pick your heart attack: Dairy Queen/Orange Julius, Starbucks, Auntie Anne’s, Chick-fil-A, Ming Tree, Sarku Japan, Sbarro, or Charlie’s Grilled Subs. On a tight budget (*cough* college students)? You can get all of this…

for the mere sum of $0.75 (there are two candy dispensers in the mall that offer a plethora of options, the above combo was reeses pieces and mike and ikes…I am pleased to say they were both very fresh and tasty!). Now that’s using your noodle!

Finally, I think EVERYONE can agree that they can’t stand when people go shopping with cranky and unruly kids (not blaming the kids…nobody wants to be there). Well, Independence obviously thought of this and smartly chose to house several activities to entertain the weebies.

Oh, and as for the unruly husbands who complain more than the two year olds, there is a “resting station” with tables, chairs, and soda machines. All a tired wife has to do is plop her husband down, buy him a Coke, pat him on the head, and tell him to be “a good boy.” Although, depending on the temperance of the husband, you may want to tie his leash to the chair.

Kittens and fudge,

YOF

Young At Heart says…

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring…what to do? Off to the mall to track down a fantastic sale. A fantastic sale on what you might ask? Well being the economy is out of gas lately, I do go with a list in mind. On this day I am hunting scent ports from Bath and Body Works. I tend to splurge on all things that make me feel good, including: smellies, food, and comfortable clothing.

Independence Mall is the only inside mall in the Wilmington area. So of course, during downpours, it makes sense to head to there. Although I have gone to Mayfaire Mall, I would not recommend it during inclement weather. I mean who wants to be wandering out in the rain from store to store?

This mall has a good selection of what I consider “affordable stores” (see YOF lists above) and one big plus, it does have a food court for refueling and some fun activities for the young at heart (tweenies and teens in particular for these activities): All About Jumping and Game On, an arcade place.

For the older Young At Heart, such as myself, one can equip themselves with walking sneakers and hit the air-conditioned trails. I saw several people doing just this! And for those of you that don’t want to exercise, one can also find a massage (both for pay and for free). (Check out the massage chair in Brookstone!) And yes, frugal readers, you can do a cheap date…they have two chairs. I’m just not sure whether they allow you to bring champagne and strawberries on this free date.

And last, I did break down and hit their refueling station, I opted for pizza. I have yet to find a New York style pizza to my liking in Wilmington (not that I am done looking). So I stayed the course and went with something safe (Sbarro) but unfortunately is was a tad cold : (

Saucy KISS,

YAH

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Living Like The Locals: Common Stores In The Cape Fear Area

Young Old Fart says…

Whether you’re visiting, relocating, or attending college in the Cape Fear area, there are several things you must become accustomed to. While I’ll tackle other norms another day, I want to focus on the types of stores you’ll see around here.

I spent the majority of my childhood and angsty years in Edison, NJ where Applebee’s was the Friday night hotspot and chillin’ at Menlo Mall (until it became all ritzy and too expensive for my broke bum) was the place to meet new friends and wreck havoc. Basically, I knew where to go, what to get when I got there, and the specials of the day. When I first moved to Wilmington and started attending UNCW, I underwent “culture shock.” Who the heck were these happy people that called me “ma’am” and offered to help me with my groceries? Why was everyone always smiling and asking me about my day? (I doubt natives to the Cape Fear area understand my confusion, but notherners get where I am coming from). Worst of all, I was missing the stores and restaurants I had gotten used to, I missed my “homes away from home.” Ultimately, I had to suck it up, get over my losses, and embrace my new area like a true local.

Here is just a sampling of what you may find in the Seahawks’ hometown:

  • While I was used to Starbucks being located on every corner, the most popular coffee chain down here is Port City Java. But do not fear Starbucks lovers (fyi they are SOME Starbucks locations around here), PCJ  offers the same types of caffeine-induced concoctions that are just as overly priced. The one difference: you can actually pronounce the names of these products.
  • My favorite “fast food” place in Edison was my beloved Baja Fresh. Notherners, don’t even ask natives about this place, they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. Instead, they’ll refer you to either Moe’s Southwest Grill (which we also have in NJ) OR the collegians’ absolute fav Flaming Amy’s.
  • The one way to truly torture me was to force me to go grocery shopping on a Sunday in NJ. It was an experience that guaranteed to supply an elbow to the face, poor customer service, ten naughty curse words, and at least two cart-to-ankle run-ins. While Shoprite, Pathmark, Stop and Shop, and Wegmans were the destinations of my Hell…Food Lion, Lowes Foods, and Harris Teeter are the pleasant grocery stops of Wilmington.
  • Finally, one of the saddest losses of living in NJ IMHO were the few happy memories I would have during the Christmas season. One of my fav holiday activities was going to Macy’s and checking out their Xmas department after dropping off my letter to Santa (don’t judge, Santa’s my homeboy). Unfortunately, Wilmington does not have a Macy’s and there doesn’t seem to be any in the neighboring towns. While you can find JCPennys, Sears, and Kohls, the next closest thing to Macy’s is Belk. Sadly, I went there this past Xmas and was highly dissapointed…it just ain’t the same : (

Well, while there are many other things newbies will need to learn about Wilmington, the above list will just have to do for now. Until then, A WARNING TO ALL NEW JERSYANS: If a Cape Fear native offers to help you with your bags, or gives a cheery “hello”…PLEASE bite your tongue and force back the urge to give them the one-finger salute (it gives everyone from the Garden State a bad rep…

unlike the popular NJ-based reality tv shows, Jersey Shore and Jerseylicious, they just make us seem so clASSy).

Kittens and fudge,

YOF