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Places We Go : Reviving the American Mall

When P & I lived in San Francisco in the early 1990's, we would frequent Stonestown Mall, just next door to San Francisco State University. The mall was anchored by Nordstroms and Macy's. After all, didn't we all spend time in malls back then? A few weeks ago, Sally and I went to "J-Town" (Japan Town) in San Francisco. Last week, Jayne and I went what's called "J-Mall." Let's see what happened.

The 804, 000 square foot mall is now anchored by Target and Whole Foods. In between are some of the most popular Asian stores, mostly for teens and Generation Ys. Just for fun, I've included some of the stores net income. To put it into perspective, Target's net annual income is $4.14B and Whole Foods is $30.4B.

Pop Mart is a robo shop that sells "blind box" products. You buy a package but you don't know what's inside. It's best selling series features aliens with puffs of cotton-candy shaped hair. Most retail for about $8. It's a public owned company but the 37-year old Chinese founder owns 45%. His net worth is estimated $2.6B. The company's net income was $6.3B last year.

Stonestown Galleria offers lots of food options, including Marugame Udon which appeals to shoppers of all ages.

We ate curry chicken katsu with handcrafted made-to-order udon noodles at Marugame Udon. The chain has 1700 stores worldwide including 800 in Japan. The company's annual net income is $89.9B.

You can buy Japanese cheesecake at Uncle Tetsu. Founded in Hakata, Japan in 1985, the cheesecakes are light and airy due to cooking on low heat and high air circulation. With locations worldwide, they have a $6.94B net income.

Popular flavors include black sesame, matcha, ube and original. They also sell madeleines.

These guys seem to represent the demographic for Gashapon robot stores. Teens add to their collections of plastic figurines.

Insert your money and out pops a capsule filled with a collectable. Teens say they love the randomness of buying something unknown. One of their Japanese stores includes 3000 vending machines.

Daiso's 100th store opened in the Stonestown Galleria last year. These stores appeal to all ages. I always find something I want. This time I bought old school wood pencils and greeting cards. Most items are $1.75.

Only Daiso would sell this "piggy" bank.

The Japanese clothing store, Uniqlo, is a popular stop in this maize of stores. I bought a t-shirt. I could have got $5 off by installing their app but they wanted me to create a uniqlo email address, ie (your name) That seemed like too much.

Miniso is a world-wide variety store. It's Chinese owned but follows a Japanese esthetic. With locations 4200 stores worldwide plus in seven US states, annual revenue is $1.85B.

I asked Jayne to stand against one of the mall's murals so you could see how big they are. So cute!

This summer, the popular Japanese Round1 Bowling and Arcade will be coming to J-Mall.

I saw this sign in the mall and have to agree. By the time we left about 2 pm last Wednesday, the mall was jumping. Good for them to figure out how to keep us engaged and shopping. This definitely isn't your 1990's mall. Enjoy your Sunday!

Stonestown Galleria, 3251 20th, San Francisco, 94132


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