Mini-Mallism — What’s in a Name?


I might be the only person who’s tickled by mini-malls with names. The idea, I assume, is to create a sense of space… albeit for a place in which no one thinks of as a space. Aside from panhandlers, pimps, pushers, and prostitutes; I doubt that anyone has ever made a day of hanging out at a mini-mall. People drive or walk to them, do their business, and then drive or walk home. No one goes to a mini-mall with more than one purpose in mind. No one, in other words, does a load of laundry, grabs a bite to eat at 7-Eleven, takes care of business at the T-Mobile Store, has dinner at the Thai place, and then heads back to the 7-Eleven for a 40oz that they enjoy in the alley behind. It’s also almost impossible, then, to imagine anyone ever referring to a mini-mall by their pointless and comically pretentious names… although it amuses me to imagine a scenario in which someone asks what I’m up to and I reply, “Oh, just hanging out at Premier Plaza, you know” as if expecting them to know what I’m talking about.

Koreaone Plaza (Koreatown/Wilshire Center, 1921)
Kyungdong “K.D.” Plaza/경동프라자 (Koreatown/Wilshire Center, 1920)
Golden Plaza (Silver Lake, 1979)
Annies Plaza (Hel-Mel, 1966)
Los Feliz Plaza (Los Feliz, 1970)
Cypress Plaza
Cypress Plaza (Cypress Park, 1985)
pico plaza
La Pico Plaza (Wilshire Vista)
pico spaulding shopping center
Pico Spaulding Shopping Center (Wilshire Vista)
sawtelle center
Sawtelle Centre (Little Ōsaka)

Mar Plaza (Monterey Park, 1951)

…to be continued!

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in generating advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other varieties of spam. Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRWWhich Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of Brightwell’s maps are available from 1650 GalleryHe is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubiTwitter, and Weibo.
Click here to offer financial support and thank you!

2 thoughts on “Mini-Mallism — What’s in a Name?

  1. When I was about 10 years old we had a courtyard of mini malls in one place, and everybody actually did their business at several of the establishments. Granted, this is in a suburb called Somerset West in Portland, and sort idyllic community and that was the cluster of mini malls to service that specific suburb- and I understand the anomalous nature of that in the city- but it fascinates me that you could really spend a day doing all of that in one strange little mini mall. Do you think one day they’ll go the way of Drive Ins?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so charming, in a suburban way.

      Mini-malls are rarely constructed any more — especially not in cities — and I wonder if they’ll go the way of drive-ins. Some of the more urban ones have been given a second life by ethnic minorities, who’ve in some cases replaced old Radio Shacks and such with top-notch restaurants which aren’t mainstream enough to make big money (and thus pay the higher rents of spaces not in minimalls.

      I’m especially curious as to how soon before preservationists rally to save one threatened with redevelopment. Few have any sort of architectural or design charm but the really knee-jerk preservationists seem keen on preserving absolutely everything provided it’s suitably old. No doubt they’ll some day be trying to get Historic-Cultural Monument status for a smog check and add a parking lot to the National Register of Historic Places.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s