All of the sad retail news of late has added a sense of urgency to our normal travel. Especially for me, out here in California, I’ve felt some degree of pressure to get out and photograph malls before Mervyn’s went away (a futile mission if there ever was one; there were just too many stores), and of course now I want to get shots of as many Gottschalks as possible.
What’s unusual about Gottschalks–and what makes this more urgent–is that they’re located in an awful lot of very marginal malls or, in some cases, are the only anchor for a small, rural mall. There was one mall in particular I knew I had to get to before it was too late–the tiny Carson Mall in Carson City, Nevada. As you’ll see from the photos, I’m sure glad I did! I really have no idea what is going to happen to this poor little place once Gottschalks turns out the lights for the final time.
Carson Mall is the only enclosed mall serving Carson County, Nevada, home of Carson City, the state capital. This is a fairly dusty, out of the way (though not exactly remote) region that still evokes a feel of the old west, even as Carson City itself has grown fairly explosively.
Many of the retail establishments lining the main drag along US 395/50 feel a bit forgotten–there were abandoned boxes for Super K and Mervyn’s, along with some other, less identifiable spaces, although there was also a shiny new center at the south end of the strip. The Carson Mall itself is no different. Anchored by a soon-to-be-dark Gottschalks and Boot Barn, this tiny mall was almost completely deserted on the Sunday afternoon I visited. I mean, literally, creepily deserted–see these photos? Notice that there’s no one else in most of them? Yeah, I was in there all by myself. There were a *few* other people; an older woman with a Florence Henderson haircut windexing the slot machines in a tiny slot parlor in the middle of the mall, a few oversized men pumping quarters into said machines, and one lone elderly gentleman limping down the center of the mall. Even the tantalyzingly-named “Get Nailed” nail salon didn’t waste any payroll on opening, there was no one puttering around except in Gottschalks, where a few dozen Nevadans were picking the bones from its not-yet-corpse. I got these photos and took a peek around, and ate some weird curry chicken at a Hawaiian place, and moved along. Truth be told, there was a creepy ennui about the area, a highly dramatic slice of “Nevada Noir.”
Truth be told, I can’t find anything about the history of this place. Maybe it’s too small and out of the way for anyone to care about it. Similarly, Carson City used to have another mall–the Southgate Mall–included in a few exterior shots here. The entire mall shut several years ago and was turned into a half-empty big box center, leaving only JCPenney from the original configuration. (Actually, Carson City’s other mall was the Silver City Mall. The Southgate Mall was never enclosed. ) Again, no clue what the place was like, or what used to be in either of these malls. Nevadans; if you can fill us in, please do.
Update 5/13/2009, 10:31AM PST: Scott Scrantz of AroundCarson.com paid us a visit and filled in a lot of details about the history of the mall. Apparently it was originally anchored–at both ends–by JCPenney, who stuck housewares on one side and clothing on the other, but moved to Southgate around 1990. He also had a set of photos of the old Silver City Mall from 2000, before it was demolished, and was kind enough to post these to Flickr to share with us.
More on Carson Mall: BigMallRat