Black Friday shopping may have been a controversial moment in 2013, when many stores around the country decided to open their doors on Thanksgiving, now known as Gray Thursday. One would naturally conclude that consumers flocked to the stores for those big after Christmas sales too. While I didn’t really participate in those early morning hours of Black Friday shopping, or late afternoon hours of Gray Thursday shopping, we managed to make a trip to Houston’s The Galleria, a 2.4 million square feet of retail space, on December 26th.
The Galleria I present in this post is a different Galleria from my childhood. Well, I actually didn’t shop at The Galleria probably until I was teenager when I purchased my senior prom dress. That statement alone tells you that I’m really a small town kind of gal who didn’t normally make a trek into the big city. I remember walking with some girlfriends who navigated around The Galleria like a cool group of mall rats, knowing the best routes to get from one location to another. I tailed them closely behind hoping to not get lost in the massive crowds of people who spoke in thick and very heavy Texas accents.
Contrast The Galleria from 20 years ago, today it’s a multi-level mall with shoppers from all around the world, speaking in different languages and in a few dialects that I can’t even recognize. On this visit, standing in an elevator as people piled in, I could hear strangers talking to one another in their mother tongue. I was quite impressed at how much had changed in Houston just from one elevator ride. Taking a look at The Galleria mall website, you can read the website in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese, which says a lot about Houston’s diversity and increase in global perspective.
Not only has the demographics of shoppers at The Galleria exponentially increased over decades but also so has its architecture, which has undergone several expansions since its first opening in 1970. Retail company mergers, buy outs, and close outs changed the internal and external shape of The Galleria, such as Borders closing down only to be replaced by H&M. Foley’s, my parents’ long-time go to department store from my childhood, was bought out by Macy’s, and now Macy’s has two stores (Macys, Macys’ at Sage) at the mall.
There are two Westin hotels, the Galleria Financial Center, and a walkway linking to a stand-alone brick and mortar Dillard’s, another major department store, from The Galleria. The hotel and business establishments, such as Merrill Lynch and Citigroup, probably add more foot traffic as well, especially for those who prefer to dine at the mall instead of the hotel or office workspace.
Personally, other malls in Houston, like Memorial City Mall, had a huge advantage over The Galleria because it lacked a children’s indoor play area. (Although, I find that Memorial City Mall’s massive indoor playground is a populated germ and dirt infestation zone.) Even the Mall of Cyprus, arguably one of the better malls in Cyprus, didn’t even have an indoor playground. For parents with young children, it’s a definite must because any parent will tell you, “If you’re going to bring your children at the mall, then you gotta give them space to call their own too.” Well, that is until they become teenagers. A few years ago, developers or owners of the mall must have heard the cries of many Prada and Louis Vuitton fashion-loving parents because Prof found a playground located nearby the old Borders bookstore a few years back. Eureka! And it’s been a lifesaver ever since.
The Galleria may have grown into this megalopolis, like Tysons Corner Center. But one thing that has remained the same is the ice rink. According to Wikipedia, The Galleria was the first mall to have an indoor ice rink attached inside. Memorial City Mall, which is located further west of Houston, added a comparable-sized ice skating rink several years ago; however, the ice rink is located at one end of the mall, like a poorly written after-thought. Nothing can compare to the beautifully designed skylight that shines down directly over the ice rink with a Rockefeller Center-like Christmas tree display for everyone’s enjoyment.
We like going to the Galleria, even when it’s after Christmas. There is so much vibrancy and life at the mall. And of course, like we always do, we stop by and marvel at the LEGO boxed sets at the LEGO store.
I had heard of this store, Madewell, from a few of my favorite fashion bloggers. While I didn’t have time to take a peek inside, maybe I’ll find to check it out another time.
When we visit Houston, it’s a must place to go no matter the time of year. How was shopping during those after Christmas sales in your hometown? Has the mall in your hometown changed too?