Wednesday, June 2, 1999 | 10:21 a.m.
Shopping early is the best way to beat the crowds during a holiday weekend. This week I visited the Meadows mall, at Meadows Lane between Valley View and Decatur.
It was Memorial Day, but there was plenty of parking outside and many unadvertised sales inside.
The Meadows mall is three levels, so there are a good number of shops. Macy's, Dillard's, Sears and J.C. Penney are the anchors. Penney has a separate catalog store connected to the main store. It can be accessed from the outside.
Although the Meadows mall attracts its share of visitors, it is mostly a neighborhood mall with more reasonably priced merchandise than the more upscale malls. Shopping here is pleasant, but hardly exciting.
Of course, there's very little that's new and exciting in malls today. Most have pretty much the same shops. We're lucky to have the Forum Shops at Caesars and the new hotel shops to break the monotony of the chains.
It's that way across the country. When I travel, I look for places we don't have here; there aren't many.
In the past few months I've been to Washington, Boston and Santa Barbara, Calif. Georgetown in D.C. had the most original and interesting shops; Boston was next. We've got most of the California shops.
As far as I know, the Meadows mall has the only Haagen-Dazs ice cream and yogurt counter. They make a decent sugar- and fat-free ice cream that's fairly close to the real thing. Flavors are limited for this specialty ice cream, but at least shoppers have a choice.
The food court sells everything from Hot Dog on a Stick to Renzio's Greek Restaurant. Cookies, candy, pretzels, Cinnabons, Schlotzsky's and much more are here. We have become a country of noshers. Give us anything that's quick, cheap and tasty and we're happy.
The Coffee Beanery was doing a brisk business with shoppers who had arrived early. Only Macy's was open at 9 a.m.; the tireless voting volunteers were already in place hoping to encourage shoppers to vote early. (Vote early at the Meadows mall through tomorrow. The voting booths are on the lower level near the carousel.)
Specialty carts and kiosks can be found on the lower and upper levels: Cool Shades (sunglasses), Sugar & Spice, Forever Carts, Metabolife, Desert Tee, Fantasia Jewels, Silver City and Avon (never saw Avon in a mall before).
There's a home remodeler's store between Penney and Dillard's that piqued my interest, but I was on the wrong level and ready to go home before I found out it was there.
Pick up a mall directory at the information booth before shopping, not after as I did. I did look for one when I entered, since I don't know this mall very well, but there were none to be found.
There are many services. Both Bank of America and Norwest Bank have ATM machines in the mall; there's a beauty supply store and salon and a MasterCuts. Both Towbin automotive and Saturn automotive showrooms are located here.
Shoppers can purchase stamps at the Hallmark Gold Crown shop and fax or photocopy at the Customer Service Center. Customer Service can also supply information about the mall walk from 7 a.m. daily, and the Wellness Connection, with free blood pressure screenings and fitness classes.
Meadows mall is an agreeable place to shop and a good neighbor.