Puget Sound malls have changed for the better | Wally’s World

At the outset, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I certainly encourage all of you to Christmas shop in Enumclaw because, believe me, our local merchants need all the support they can get.

Yet, I’d also make a second thing perfectly clear: Enumclaw has become a bedroom, suburban community whose residents work and travel every day to other regions within the vital sphere of Greater Seattle. And many, if not most, of these residents also shop in Seattle and the surrounding retail complexes and malls because these retail centers are an intrinsic part of their daily lives.

Places like Southcenter.

Through the years, I’ve often complained about Christmas shopping in such an enclosed, insulated bubble. Of course, Southcenter’s Christmas decorations and displays are quite colorful and attractive, but I don’t like the fact that it’s climate-controlled; that is, you can wander leisurely from store to store and not be exposed to the wet and freezing weather of the season. Call me Old School if you will, but for me an important part of Christmas is bundling up in heavy clothing, hugging your lover close to your side and darting through the chill and slush between Macy’s and Nordstrom, reminding you that it is, after all, a winter holiday. Of course, between stores you can also scurry into Oliver’s or some other warm, convenient lounge to ward off the shivers with a hot buttered rum. (You should never go Christmas shopping until you’re in the proper frame of mind.)

Perhaps that was the most intolerable aspect of Christmases past at Southcenter;  you couldn’t get a drink anywhere. However, I’m happy to report – just in case you haven’t been there for a few years – it’s different today.

Indeed, during the last decade Southcenter has gone through a major transformation. Not only have occupants like Nordstrom and Sears extensively remodeled, but the entire promenade has been overhauled. There’s a comparatively new AMC theater complex, a revamped food court and several new clients like Chico’s and H&M. And chief among the relatively new businesses are four large, modern and innovative restaurants. Not only are their menus rather refreshing and novel, but they offer fully-stocked bars and, though the settings may be a bit too bright and harsh, I hesitate to criticize such a “revolutionary” change. The old Rain Forest restaurant – a place that will surely delight your children – now boasts a “safari” lounge that may not offer the secluded intimacy you’re looking for but at least the lighting is kind of dim.

Even Nordstrom has welcomed the conversion. It’s third floor now boasts a pleasant little cafe that has wine and beer. In fact, though you may find the tables are a bit cramped, I think it’s the most comfortable place in the mall.

Happy holiday shopping, everyone!