Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Gurnee Mills

One of the first significant outlet malls to open in Northern Illinois was Gurnee Mills. Easily accessible by I-94, it is shaped like a backwards N and is haphazardly filled with all sorts of stores ranging from the JCPenney Outlet Store to the Banana Republic Factory Store.

As part of the post-holiday shopping, yesterday was spent at Gurnee Mills. The last time I went up there, I was probably still in high school, head-over-heels in love with the newfound freedom of having a car. I don't remember what I bought then, but I do remember having sensation overload plus going through piles and piles of discarded merchandise. More than a couple of years later, I still have the same reaction.

Gurnee Mills has gone somewhat upwards in store names. They actually have Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger, Nine West, Nautica, Abercrombie, and Guess factory outlets. They also actually have regular stores such as Bath and Body Works, Archivers, Aeropostale, American Eagle, and a Kohl's. But they still have the stores where the merchandise is torn and the display itself is a mess, such as Rue21 and Deb. And of course, they still have those kitschy storefronts where the names are forgettable and the merchandise is questionable. Who buys those moving pictures? Is that not the tackiest thing you have ever seen?

A couple of ironies though, chief amongst them that Forever 21 here was much better organized than the one at Woodfield ever is. There is a roller/ice rink now by JCPenney. They also have shiatsu massage chairs interspersed throughout the mall. They also have huge shopping carts one can rent for the day! I saw a family with three of these shopping carts stuffed to the brim. Sometimes I wonder what people buy here...because I never find anything to amount to a big purchase. My purchase of the day? Some cardstock and 12x12 paper from Archivers. Puny, indeed.

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