Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bloomingdales, 10 years in the making

Long lines at the ATM. Long lines to get a bite to eat. Longer lines to the bathroom. This is like going to the ballgame. It's an absolute madhouse. This was, and still is, the scene inside the newly opened Bloomingdale's in San Francisco's shopping district. SF people call it 'Bloomies'.

It opened on 9/28 and the Salvadoran and I, as expected, were at the mall around lunch time that day. Having come from Manila where the city's past time is going to malls, pushing through glass doors gives me a natural high. It wasn't a surprise I was absolutely thrilled to walk on the pearly, shiny floors. Hear the noise of the crowd that is having an equal amount of high. And to smell the smell of a mall! Going to Bloomies, at least for me, is an endorphine inducer. (I don't know why I am embarrassed to admit that.)

Just like any other 'opening' in this city, it drew mixed reviews. Some folks say the city does not need another mall and it is just a glorified extension of Nordstrom. The media calls it 'Fashionistas and Foodies unite'. Others think it is what SF needs to revitalize the area between the Civic Center and Union Square. For me, it is just another means to spend money and be broke (read as 'I am going to look even better at work').

Honestly, I am quite impressed with the domed rotunda which has a lot of history in it and I think they did an excellent job with the neoclassical facade on the side of Market Street. Apparently, the facade is a remnant of the 1896 Emporium . As a matter of fact, I have never been to a more beautiful mall than this ( I have yet to see the one in Millan, Italy!) There were an orchestra playing classical music directly beneath the dome on the first day.

It is a feast for the eyes. That's literally true because I couldn't afford anything I like, not even that lightest checkered scarf or that stove top espresso maker. But that never stopped me from trying on an expensive jacket, a pair of Marc Jacobs boots and checked out two or three Jack Spade bags.

I almost shouted 'Amen!' when I overheard someone saying you have to own one expensive jacket and a pair of expensive shoes in your lifetime. Santa, can I have that 2K worth of wool coat?

Before the Bloomies opened, there were only two malls in the city - the San Francisco Center in Union Square and Stonestown Galleria on 19th Avenue in the Sunset district. I don't think I can count the Metreon as a mall. The Embarcadero Center is not enclosed so it is not considered a mall either.

I used to think this city abhors big malls and prefers the outdoor shopping just like it frowns at the giant restaurant and coffee chains and go for the mom-and-pop type of places. Bloomies is obviouly an exception.

I ran into a local KTVU traffic reporter (Sal Castaneda) inside the mall and he stopped and said hello to acknowledge my greeting.

In my ten years of living in the city, I had witnessed major events that added more pride to San Francisco and also totally changed the way we live - the SFO Airport BART station, ATT Park (the home of the San Franciso Giants), the world class De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, Conservatory of Flowers also in GG Park - and some minor earthquakes. Maybe I'll still be here when the city finally hosts the Olympics. For now, I am just going to wait and hope that the Giants and the 49ers clinch the World Series and the Superbowl respectively.

There is a tea store inside the mall called Lupicia that I would like to spend more time in. The upscale grocery place called Bristol Farm seems worth the exploration. Maybe the hype about Bloomies will die down in a couple more weeks and the Salvadoran and I can finally go back to check it out some more.


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