Sitting in my past’s present: A great weekend spent at the mall

Our table at Kentucky Oaks Mall
Our table at Kentucky Oaks Mall

This weekend has been a first for Abanathy Photography, LLC. We were (and will be through Monday Oct. 14 for those reading this later) one of the featured booths at Kentucky Oaks Mall’s Women’s Expo.

For me, it is quite a mixed bag of feelings. From a business perspective it has been great sitting at a booth adorned with our work promising a wonderful portrait session to all who look on. As such, I am looking forward to doing more of these! But on a personal note, this is quite the experience.

I remember first coming to this mall back in the 80s. Back when I was not allowed to leave my parents’ side for a second. To my parents, Kentucky Oaks Mall was an exciting, new something in place of what was once a farm house and a small pond on a two-lane road. To me, it was something new that was, just one day, simply there!

It had book stores, clothing stores, jewelry stores and, most importantly, TOY STORES! They even had a great selection of Atari 2600 games! As I grew, it became a constant quest and and exciting trip to make it to the mall. I had to do some begging from time to time to convince my parents, after a long day of working, to take me to the mall for just a little while.

I mean anything you wanted or “needed” was at the mall. Without the Internet, Walmart Supercenter, or a car, your options in Western Kentucky were limited. At that point, if the mall didn’t have it, you had best pick up the Sears catalogue and pray.

As the years went on, I gradually got to a point where I could leave my parents’ side and wonder the mall corridor alone. That was better than before, however, it did leave me with sore feet when it came time to ask for money to purchase something. It seemed my parents enjoyed their freedom within the mall as much as I did, thereby often leading to quite the journey to find them later on.

Eventually, I turned 16 and was able to make my way to the mall without parental guidance, save for permission to do so, of course. Things were different then. You had two music stores (Disc Jockey and Camelot), Two toy stores (Kaybee and K &K ), and an arcade (Jolly Time). There was Venture, Mays Wok, McDonald’s, and the list goes on! These are all gone now, as times and demand have changed in all their respective businesses. But, as I sit here at my centrally-located booth, my name on the banner above, I can’t help but remember those great times had here.

As I look at the Chinese restaurant where Jolly Time (later Pocket Change) once stood, I recall from where the crane machines and the ticket-dispensing “Lotto Fun” once called my name. Then I look across the aisle where Disc Jockey once stood. A great music store where one could tap a few keys on a touch screen and have the store order any CD you wanted. Can you imagine such a thing? A worldwide database where music can just be ordered on demand? It seems funny to look back on those things comparing to what we can do in our own living rooms today.

I sit here today with my wife and business partner, beneath a skylight (which did not exist back in the day), tapping away on the local Wifi, looking around at mostly new stores, and seeing people of all ages walking by enjoying everything this nearly 30-year-old establishment has to offer. I have to say my teenage self never would have believed it to be in the cards some 15 plus years from then.

At one time, this place was my whole shopping world, my outlet for great video game graphics, a place to meet friends, a Christmastime staple, and the place to make an appearance on Friday night. Today, in the Internet age, I can’t help but see the mall in a completely different light, but it will always hold that special place for me and I can’t wait to see what it will be like tomorrow. Luckily, looking at the foot traffic this weekend, it would appear the Internet has yet to kill this popular Paducah, Kentucky destination.

For those of you reading today or tomorrow, stop by and see our booth in the center court all the way up to 7 p.m. Monday! Also, don’t forget about our second of three Date Night Photo Booth sessions on Friday (Oct. 18) from 7-9 p.m. at our studio at 108 Rob Mason Road. Bring a date or bring your family! It will be great fun! I promise!

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