Editor's Note, December 2014: Best of Indy

From Castleton Square to Greenwood Park, we are a metro area of shopping malls. But the mall as I knew it growing up—a hangout littered with teens picking out CDs at Camelot and cruising the parking lot—may be riding the escalator up to that big semi-annual sale in the sky, writes Megan Fernandez in this month’s Beat column, “Exchanges Welcome.” And Indy-based Simon, the largest retail real-estate owner in the world, is helping the institution change with the times.
These days, I have to admit, I do most of my shopping either online or at indie boutiques near my house, like Homespun or Silver in the City—both easier options when I work long hours. Or I’ll pop over to Circle Centre during lunch if absolutely necessary, but with my curly hair, the chances of pulling sweaters over my head in the middle of the workday without coming back to the office looking like Einstein are slim to none. As Fernandez discovered, though, it’s not necessarily online shopping that’s a danger to the future of malls—it’s a flimsy emotional connection with Millennials, the largest generation ever.
I didn’t have that problem. There was a time when I spent most of my free hours in that shrine to shopping. Regular trips with my parents meant a Nancy Drew title from the now-defunct B. Dalton, and a slice of pepperoni from Sbarro. And as soon as one of us could drive, my friends and I donned carefully selected outfits to do laps around the mall on Saturday nights like the senior-citizen power-walkers who haunted the hallways in the mornings.
Other than the putt-putt course or bowling alley, there just weren’t many other parent-approved places to congregate. Even the best movie theater in town back then was above the food court, ideal for sneaking in jelly beans from the Nutty Jim’s candy kiosk downstairs, where my best friend worked. Now, there are more options (and burdens) for teens—coffee shops, travel sports, AP classes, the Internet.
Of course, in the chaos of holiday shopping this month, it will be hard to imagine any aspect of the mall might be struggling. But before you pop an aspirin and head out to The Fashion Mall, check out our Unspoken Rules for a few tips on navigating the destination. We’ll have you covered, no matter your age.
Amanda Heckert is the editor-in-chief of Indianapolis Monthly.