Atlanta Reimagined

Mike and I are in Atlanta for a few days. Mike has a three-day meeting at the Georgia World Congress Center. We are staying outside of town, so I have been dropping Mike off in the morning and picking him up at the end of the day. I am using these three days to do something I love to do, shop. And by shopping, I am referring to more window shopping than buying. This is day 2, and I have not bought anything yet, other than less than $5.00 of food and drink.

Yesterday, day 1, I went to Phipps Plaza, and today I am at Lenox Square Mall. The main reason I came to the malls is to get my daily walk inside where the 80 plus degree humid temperature does not interfere. Both days I made myself get my hour walk in before doing anything else. Then I enjoyed the shops.

I love Lenox Square Mall and Phipps Plaza, but I haven’t been to them in years, and not just because of COVID. Years ago when I traveled from Alabama to Virginia and then to North Carolina I would often stop in Atlanta for a shopping excursion at these malls. Breaking up my eight to ten-hour driving trip with a couple of hours at Saks and Neiman Marcus and other loved stores was a treat. Through the years these malls changed. A few years ago (I am not sure exactly how many years ago) Lenox acquired a bad reputation. There were reports of violence and other unseemly behaviors. For this reason, I went to Phipps first, expecting it to be the “better” of the two malls, and also because that is where my favorite department store, Saks, is located.

Phipps was fine, Saks is still there, but not as much else. Lenox has definitely changed for the better. Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales are its two anchor stores. There is also a Macy’s at Lenox and many other stores. There are more high-end designer stores at Lenox, and there is a two-level Apple store. There is also a Capital One Café, where Capital One customers receive 50% off of all purchases, with a wonderful seating area and free Wi-Fi. This creates a very relaxing way to write this week’s blog!

A few insights from my two-day shopping experience. Retail is not dead in Atlanta, quite the contrary. The malls, especially Lenox, are full of people during the day. There must be plenty of money in Atlanta, for the abundance of higher-end goods is amazing. If these items did not sell, they would not be filling the stores. This is good news for Mike’s industry; apparel, textiles, and fashion.

The healthy retail economy in Atlanta is also good news for those with disposable income. It remains to be seen given the price of gas and the overall U.S. economy whether the sale of these upper-end items will hold. The current health of my favorite stores in Atlanta makes me sad for my favorite local Belk’s in Raleigh. Belk’s Crabtree has changed from a high-end department store with many designer brands to a store that looks more like a discount chain store with very few designer brands. Whereas I used to do most of my regular shopping at Belk’s, I do not shop there much anymore, and never for clothes, since they no longer carry the brands I wear. I will be very surprised if Belk’s survives another year, and not just because of their brands.

Why do I refer to“designer” brands, especially upper-end designer brands?  I have long since known that I have a “need” for quality and beauty. It is a need, not a want. While one can find quality and beauty in lower-priced items, it is not common. Quality and beauty usually cost more money and are more often found in designer brands. Having said that, there is a limit to what I will (usually) spend, even for quality and beauty. I have found that I am able to buy items I like on sale, and since quality results in items living on for a very long time, they are not replaced as often as lower quality items.  

Other observations of my shopping experience in Atlanta. Security is very prevalent at Lenox especially, perhaps because of the past, and maybe even due to the recent shootings around the country. And the security presence is not just for looks. I was stopped by a security guard and asked about a small bag I was carrying, which only had my Ipad in it. When it was clear that I wasn’t carrying anything else, the security guard was satisfied.

Although I haven’t bought anything (other than food,) I have been tempted. There are some good sales, and on brands I wear. I have talked myself out of several things because I do not need anything. I struggled about not buying a black Eileen Fisher (my favorite designer) top that is on sale for a very good price. Then I remembered organizing my closet last week and that I have several black Eileen Fisher tops. I do want (note I did not say “need”!) a pair of white linen pants, and if I find them for a good price, I may buy them.

Being a bibliophile, the absence of bookstores at both malls is troubling. Are books not selling? Since I brought at least ten books with me on this trip, I do not need to buy any books, but I love to wander through bookstores.

Other than spending time at Lenox and Phipps, I have not done much else. Mike and I did attend a lovely reception and dinner at the World of Coca-Cola Museum, where I had not been before. The food was delicious, and included Coke floats for dessert, from which I successfully abstained. I remembered walking an hour each day and decided the Coke floats, even as good as they probably were, could not be worth the calories/WW points.

My time in Atlanta has been delightful. I feel energized by being here, able to experience the city, or at least the shops, leisurely. I concur with the Capital One staff person next to me who just said, “I love Atlanta!”   

About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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