This closing, though, is even more bittersweet beside the closing of the town's only bookstore and the fact that it's yet another store to close in my economically drowning hometown. This store and I go way back. This store was one of the original tenants of the local mall when it opened in the mid-70's. My relationship with this store is longer than the one I have with my sis (who was born 2 years after the mall opened). When I was growing up, I spent many hours at this tiny little bookstore -- graduating from the picture book section to the young adult section to the front where all the grown-up books are. In my teens and even into my early 20's, I was a certified mallrat. Just about every Saturday of my youth was spent roaming the mall, and my journeys at the mall almost always began with a stop at Waldenbooks to check out the new releases, browse the magazines, and generally see what was out there. I almost always walked out with at least one book purchased.
Waldens is the last of my old mallrat haunts to abandon the local mall, which is on serious life support as more and more stores close due to the failing economy and a general lack of customers. (It's a vicious cycle here: people don't go to the mall because there are no stores left and there are no stores left because people don't go to the mall.) Gone are the McDonalds where I ate more Saturday lunches than I would care to admit, the Musicland where I built the music collection that defined my teens and 20's, the Spencer's where I bought cool stuff like my ceramic Beatles box, the Deb where my best friends from high school and I would spend hours trying on clothes, the movie theatre where I saw many of the films that defined my youth, and more.
And I admit my own guilt in all of this. As I grew older (and particularly when I returned to my hometown from my year spent living in Chicago), I realized how limited inventory was at Waldens, but the place held a soft spot in my heart. As more and more stores closed at the local mall, I found myself going to Waldenbooks less and less and purchasing more and more online since I was unable to find what I was looking for so many times when I did go to Waldens. But I always knew it was there if I needed it and now . . . . I guess it's true that you don't know what you have until it's gone. So long, my friend, and thank you for helping create the pretentious bookworm snob that I am.