It’s a known fact that Decarie Square has never realized the potential envisaged by its builder many decades ago. Today, one can find a Sears Liquidation store, a Winner’s and a Dollarama. Hurray! At one time it was a furniture destination but those stores moved out ages ago. I haven’t frequented many of the thirty stores although I have become a member of the very large gym that is found at one end of the second floor. The small sandwich stores seem to do OK. I spread my money between the one run by Koreans and the other run by Israelis.
I did go one time for a pedicure, jerking my foot away only when the Vietnamese pedicurist took out a razor blade in order to work on some dead skin swelling around my big toes. “No thanks,” I said. “Don’t like pain.”
One store, recently moved to a very quiet section on the first floor, not far from a usually empty rug store and the aforementioned pedicure salon has me scratching my head, however. It’s a (drum roll, please) souvenir store. I know, a souvenir store — possessing an unfriendly-Bill 101 moniker: Go Habs Go Souvenirs – in, of all places, Decarie Square!
Today, as I was leaving the usually pretty-empty mall, I spied the owner standing outside his store, of course sporting a well-deserved frown. After all, how much did he make today? Five dollars? Who buys souvenirs at Decarie Square? How many tourists end up there on any given day? Zero?
And with the Canadiens out early in the playoffs, the odds of selling even a highly discounted Canadiens jersey or pennant or t-shirt are very low even downtown, let alone in the west side of town.
And yet, that store was in its former location for quite a while, I believe. Somehow, like large cavernous Chinese restaurants that are often empty, this man somehow managed to make a living. Miraculously, really.
The man, short, Oriental, staring down the empty hall of the mall with a sad expression and deep lines under his eyes: Is he full of regret at this bad business project?
After quitting the mall this afternoon, I stopped by at Wilderton Shopping centre, a kilometre or so west of the border of Outremont, to do a little shopping. What a contrast! The lineups at all the cashiers at the Metro supermarket snaked into the store. The mall itself was a bubbling brook of humanity. The stores seemed busy (actually, the SAQ – the Quebec government-run liquor store where I buy my wine – was quite empty, and so was the pharmacy at the other end of the mall, but never mind) and the middle aisle of the mall was bustling with people of all ages, colours and religions.
Still, I don’t think that a souvenir store even at this mall at its busiest would do much, if any, business.