Alright, buckle up buttercup, because this ain't your first rodeo, I know. You've been in that nightmare scenario. One minute, you're on the I-820, humming along to the radio with your cinnamon Dolce Latte from Starbucks, the next, you're cruising in the vast concrete desert, fighting for a parking spot at the North East Mall in Hurst, Texas.
Trust me, I feel you. An oasis in the suburbia which is very close to Fort Worth, this place is a mixed bag of swanky high-end stores, your average shopping mall staples, and yes, a place where you could potentially lose your sanity. So, let's pull ourselves together, because let's be honest, you're not here for a mundane experience. You're here for retail therapy. And I've got your back. Here are some choice stores you won't want to miss.
Dick's Sporting Goods: The Colossus of the Sporting Universe
Aaah, Dick's Sporting Goods, the only store at the North East Mall that could compete with the gravitational pull of a black hole. You step in, and boom! You're sucked into a universe teeming with sports gear that could run their competition right outta the shopping cosmos. It's like being an astronaut on a mission, except your mission is to find the perfect pair of running shoes or that elusive yoga mat.
Now, if you're wondering why the competition folded faster than Superman on laundry day, it's simple. The combination of Dick's variety, quality, and service is like the Golden State Warriors of retail – practically unbeatable. No one else on the court (or in the center of the mall, in this case) stands a chance.
Pro Tip: Unless you want to be sucked into a black hole of indecisiveness, have a game plan ready. Know what you want before you step in. Be the LeBron James of shopping. Attack the hoop, score your gear, and make a swift exit. (aka...the place is too damn big)
Dillard's: The Other 'D' Store You're Likely to Mistake for Harrod's
Don't feel bad if you've ever confused Dillard's with Harrod's. I've done it too. Something about that D, you know? Maybe it's just our hopeful brains wanting to teleport us to the Queen's land, or maybe it's that both stores bring a certain level of class that's hard to resist. While Dillard's may not have Harrod's footmen, it does have a certain je ne sais quoi about it.
(NOTE: Apparently I'm the only one who has this confusion. Ok, back to the program...)
Dillard's is right here in the heart of Texas, delivering fashion-forward pieces and home essentials to us everyday folks. And guess what? They do it in style. From the perfect dress that'll make you the talk of the town to the comfy recliner that your better half won't leave all weekend, they've got it all.
Note to Self: Next time you're at North East Mall, and you find yourself staring at Dillard's thinking, "Is that Harrod's?", pinch yourself. You're in Texas, my friend. And Dillard's is your next stop for the retail therapy you desperately need. Trust me, it's not a bad place to be.
Penney's: A New Old Logo or an Old New One?
Okay, can we talk about Penney's? And specifically, that logo. Is it new? Is it old? Is it having an identity crisis? Seriously, it's like a vintage trend that can't decide if it wants to be bell-bottoms or high-waisted jeans. One day it's classic, the next it's contemporary, and then suddenly it's a vintage throwback. It's enough to give anyone whiplash. But hey, don't let the logo tango distract you.
Inside those doors is a wonderland of affordable clothes, jewelry, home goods, and other odds and ends that seem to always find their way into your shopping cart.
Pro Tip: Despite the logo confusion, Penney's sales are legendary. It's like a perpetual Black Friday in there. So, grab your shopping bags and indulge without guilt.
Buckle: Where Your Wallet Begs for Mercy
Now let's mosey on over to Buckle. Ah, Buckle, where jeans cost as much as a tiny island in the Pacific. Well, not quite, but you get my drift. Here's a store that believes denim should be a luxury. But oh boy, do they do luxury well. They've got every type of jean you could dream of - skinny, bootcut, straight, relaxed, distressed, dark wash, light wash, no wash (for those adventurous at heart).
And let's not forget the jewel-studded, embroidered, and painted options for those days when regular jeans just won't cut it. They're like the Rolls-Royce of jeans - sure, you could get from point A to point B in a regular pair, but where's the fun in that?
A Word of Caution: If you choose to venture into the exotic world of Buckle jeans, beware. Your wallet may never forgive you. But your bottom? It will thank you every time you strut down the street.
Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop: Well, We Are in Texas After All
Well, well, well, if it isn't the Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop, the most predictable store in the North East Mall. I mean, we are in Texas, aren't we? It would be borderline sacrilegious not to have a shrine to the state's religion – football. Enter the Pro Shop, and you're instantly surrounded by everything a Cowboys' fan could dream of. Shirts, hats, foam fingers, face paint – you name it. It's like walking into a Cowboys-themed Narnia, where instead of a witch and a wardrobe, you get a star-spangled jersey and a foam finger.
Pro Tip: Go in with a spending limit or be prepared to walk out broke and your body draped in Cowboys' merch from head to toe. I'm not kidding, they'll get you, those star-spangled salespeople.
Nordstrom: The Ghost of Malls Past
Ah, Nordstrom. It's a tale as old as time. Well, as old as 2020, but who's counting? Once the epitome of style and elegance at the North East Mall location, now a whispered memory among the other stores. Its doors closed in 2020, and honestly, who's surprised? Amid a pandemic and with Amazon at everyone's fingertips, even the behemoth of fashion retail had a hard time keeping up. It's like the mall's version of a dodo bird - a glamorous, high-end dodo bird.
Let's have a moment of silence for the store we once knew and loved. The one we'd wander into, hoping to find the latest designer handbag or the perfect pair of shoes. Sure, we've still got Dillard's and Penney's, but let's be honest, it's just not the same.
A Haunting Reminder: The empty space where Nordstrom once stood serves as a haunting reminder of the merciless business and ever-evolving world of retail. Change is inevitable, my friend. Embrace it or become a ghost of the mall's past.
Celltech: The Pricy Phone ER and Cheesy Case Emporium
Ah, Celltech. The place where phones go to heal and wallets go to cry. You know the drill. You drop your precious smartphone one too many times, and the screen cracks open like an abstract work of modern art. Suddenly, you find yourself at the mercy of Celltech, praying they can breathe life back into your device. But, just as you're feeling the sweet relief of a screen resurrection, you see the bill. Bam! It hits harder than the floor your phone bounced off.
Then there's the cell phone case section - an Aladdin's cave of cheap plastic and neon colors. If you've ever dreamed of a phone case with a unicorn drinking a frappuccino, Celltech is your paradise. Or perhaps you prefer a bit of bling? They've got diamond-encrusted cases that would make Liberace weep.
A Little Wisdom Nugget: If you find yourself at Celltech, take a breath. Remember, your phone is just a piece of technology. The world will continue to spin if you don't have it for a couple of hours. And as for the case? Well, life's too short for boring phone accessories. Go for the unicorn.
The Gap: It's Just 'Gap' Now, and Surprisingly Still Kicking
Ah, The Gap. Or, as they'd like us to call it now, just 'Gap'. They're not just a store, they're a cultural icon. Remember those funky commercials from the 90s with people dancing in khakis? And guess what, much like a particularly stubborn houseplant, they're still here. Who would have thought, right?
Despite all odds and the onslaught of fast fashion, they have managed to hold its own. Like a grandparent that's suddenly become cool again, they're sticking around, winning hearts with their timeless denim and subtly stylish clean basics. Yes, they've faced their share of challenges. We all remember the logo debacle of 2010. Or was it 2012? Or was there another one in 2016? Oh, who can keep track?
An Unexpected Revelation: If there's one thing we can learn from them, it's that resilience is key. Like a cockroach in a nuclear apocalypse or Keith Richards after, well, everything - the chain has proven that it can stand the test of time. And for that, we have to give credit where credit is due. Way to go. Keep doing your thing.
Macy's: The High-Roller Trying to Keep It Real
There's a certain prestige that comes with the name Macy's, isn't there? It's like being at a cocktail party with a martini in one hand and a plate of canapés in the other. You know, all sophisticated and highbrow. But let's get real, we're in a mall in Texas, not at a Manhattan soirée. Still, there's something to be said for that touch of class Macy's brings to the North East Mall.
They've got it all: clothing, makeup, home goods. You name it, they probably have it. They're like the department store equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife – versatile, reliable, and always ready to impress.
A Word to the Wise: If you're on a budget, steer clear of the perfumes and cosmetics sections unless you want to end up spending your mortgage payment on a bottle of Chanel No. 5.
Macy's Backstage: The Lesser Known Stepchild
Then there's Macy's Backstage. It's like Macy's had a midlife crisis and tried to reinvent itself, but didn't quite manage to stick the landing. It's the discounted, less glamorous version of its snooty older sister. The store that makes you think, "Maybe I don't need that high-end mascara. This one for half the price is probably just as good." Spoiler alert: it's usually not.
Backstage is like a treasure hunt. If you're patient and willing to sift through the clutter, you might find something good. Or you might find a lamp shaped like an aardvark. It's a gamble.
Reality Check: When you can't find something good, you pivot to the store that has something...uh, not so good? Hey, sometimes the budget just doesn't stretch to cover Macy's prices. And for those times, we thank our lucky stars for Backstage.
And Onward We Go in to Retail Oblivion
And there you have it, dear reader, an unofficial, unfiltered tour of the North East Mall. We've navigated the concrete jungle, sidestepped the logo confusion at Penney's, braved the prices at Buckle, bowed down to the shrine of football at the Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop, and mourned the loss of Nordstrom. We've gritted our teeth at the Celltech bills, raised an eyebrow at Gap's persistence, and felt the weight of our bank accounts in Macy's and its stepchild, Backstage.
Through it all, we've laughed, we've cried, we've probably spent too much on a pair of jeans. But such is life, and such is the adventure of the North East Mall. So, go forth, brave shopper. Take on the mall with all its highs and lows, its good, bad, and ugly. Who knows, you might just find a piece of clothing you didn't know you needed or a phone case that makes you smile. Just remember to hold onto your wallet. It's a wild ride out there.
[All images by Kenneth Holland unless he says 'that ain't mine!' (but it really is...he's just embarrassed by the shoddy pic taking)]