Where are all the shoppers?
TWO O’CLCOCK TUESDAY afternoon. Eight days before Christmas.
The chronically struggling Westwood Mall in Marquette Township has nearly 200 cars in its snowy parking lot. Well, that’s encouraging. Maybe the mall’s making a comeback.
You walk inside, shake the snow off your boots, and immediately you hear the festive Christmas music over the sound system…and there’s a colorful Christmas tree up ahead…and pretty decorations adorn the walls. Nice.
And there’s the bell-ringer dutifully doing his job, not letting up for even a second.
But then you notice: There is nobody walking around the mall. You could set up a bowling alley here and not worry about hitting anyone with your ball.
You walk by the new furniture rental store–nobody inside but the salesperson. Triple A–one customer. The new UPAWS store (there only for the holiday season)–nobody. The ladies’ nails store–nope, nobody. The Hallmark store–four customers. The women’s clothing store–nope, just the salespeople. The shoe store? Nope.
And so it goes until you come to the space occupied by the bridge club. They’re busy here–seven tables occupied by 28 players who clearly aren’t here to buy Christmas gifts.
The gift-wrapping station? It’s closed.
All told, ten storefronts are occupied, more than twenty are vacant, and nobody’s bustling around, laden with bags and packages, anywhere. A ghost mall. So what happened to all those people in the 200 cars out front?
And then you walk next door to Kohl’s, and there you see them. Christmas shoppers everywhere–women’s clothes, men’s clothes, kitchenware, jewelry, waiting in line at the cash registers. It feels like Christmas here.
As for the mall next door, under different ownership from Kohl’s, and recently bought by an out-of-state developer known for purchasing low rent, struggling malls, it’s a sad, sleepy, distinctly unChristmasy scene. The developer has promised us a revival here, but we certainly haven’t seen it yet.
Maybe we’ll find it under the Christmas tree.
Closed until Spring?
STILL NO SIGN of activity at the I Love Marquette store downtown which has been shut down since September.
The Closed sign remains posted on the door. The store is dark, but merhandise remains in the window displays and on the shelves. A recording on their phone says “We can’t take your call now but leave a message…” Two messages left have yielded no responses yet.
Is the store closed for the winter? Is it simply a “tourist season” store? Is it actually closing for good?
The store is part of an “I Love….” franchise from out of state. The closure can’t be pleasing to other merchants who struggle to stay open and keep downtown vibrant during the mostly sluggish, snowy days of winter.
Attendance has been way up
IT’S BEEN TWO years now since Temple Beth Sholom made its debut as the center of Jewish activity in Marquette.
The building, formerly known as the Citadel, had previously been a Christian Science church as well as a Bed and Breakfast and a residence.
Its new iteration as a synagogue has been a success.
“Our membership has crept up a little,” says Dr. Cary Gottlieb, the Temple treasurer, “but what’s gratifying is that our attendance has really increased.”
More members driving in for services from around the county, along with some tourists who’d heard about the temple’s renovation.
At a time when most (but not all) religious institutions are seeing a decline in attendance and membership, Temple Beth Sholom is swimming against the current.
A mecca for snowmobilers
THE HEAVY SNOWFALL and cool temperatures so far this winter have been good for skiers and snowboarders, and for snowmobilers, as well.
The latest online issue of TripSavvy touts the Upper Peninsula as one of the “8 Best Places to Go Snowmobiling in North America.”
The entire state is praised as a haven for snowmobilers but “To truly get away from it all, ‘cross the bridge,’ as the locals say, and head upstate for some truly amazing riding…”
3000 miles of groomed trails here in the UP. Wild and remote. A snowmobiler’s dream.
Other regions on the Best Eight list? Camp Hale, Colorado, Yellowstone National Park, and the Adirondack Mountains in New York.