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  • Writer's pictureTimothy Davis

Dead Malls: Is There Life Left in the Lebanon Outlet Mall?

Updated: Oct 23, 2022

A dead mall [1] (also known as a ghost mall, zombie mall, or abandoned mall) is a shopping mall with a high vacancy rate or a low consumer traffic level, or that is deteriorating in some manner.[2] Many malls in North America are considered "dead" (for the purposes of leasing) when they have no surviving anchor store or successor that could attract people to the mall. (Wikipedia)

Pressed for time due to an urgent errand and a new job starting the following day, the necessity of the shopping mall prevailed over an online order for a pair of slip resistant work

shoes; two day shipping, even one day shipping can seem like eternity at times. The Lebanon Outlet Mall happened to be the most convenient choice for me, so off I drove, wondering if there were any shoe stores still open there.

It was emptier than I had remembered; it was a Friday afternoon, and I noticed about two dozen other cars (probably belonging to the few remaining employees) in the nearly deserted

parking lot, an asphalt prairie, free of designated parking slots, as the white lines had obviously faded away. Down the long awnings, joined by a castle-like tower at every corner, that covered the walkway alongside the vast amount of vacant segments of The Lebanon Outlet Mall, I saw no other shoppers, no evidence to explain how the few businesses left were still there.

The Lebanon Outlet Mall was opened in 1998, at an extremely unfortunate time in shopping development within the Nashville area; Opry Mills opened only two years later, stealing away all the consumer attention from the now unappealing and obsolete outlet mall in Lebanon.

Additionally, the massive growth within the Providence shopping center in Mt. Juliet further shoved The Lebanon Outlet Mall into a path of extinction. I observed the dilapidated directory with its plastic case cracked and shattered, revealing the numerous store names covered with white tape: the ones that would not be coming back. But found that both Famous Footwear and Rack Room Shoes were still open. What an unexpected delight; I had my choice! Because it was within sight, I chose Famous Footwear. As soon as I pulled the door, the lone employee running the store empty of customers, cheerfully greeted me in complete defiance of the overcast day displaying all the depressing flaws of the dying outlet mall. After eagerly (but not obnoxiously) using discovery questions to best direct me to ideal pair of shoes I needed and even showing genuine interest in the job I had to have the shoes for, I was

dumbfounded over possibly the finest customer service I had ever received.

On my way out, past the quirky landscape murals on the concrete exterior, I halted my stride and stared at the pristinely trimmed boxwood bushes in the courtyard; Yes indeed, there are a few lively aspects of The Lebanon Outlet Mall that refuse to give up.

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