Open Season

Looking for an excuse to go for another long walk on another pleasant spring morning, I sauntered over to the Riga Plaza shopping mall, which opened yesterday.

While they were cooking up this 50,000 square metre pleasuredome, the people behind Riga Plaza could barely have considered the economic circumstances into which they would be launching. But these days Riga feels like it already has rather too many of these angular consumerist behemoths ringing it.

Some of the existing malls are shortening their opening hours, and it seems likely that the opening of another one will simply steal a bit of business from the others, plus drive a few other local shops out of business. In Riga Plaza’s case there aren’t actually many small shops in the immediate area to be affected, but the medium-sized Maxima store on the other side of the Salu Tilts roundabout was probably looking across the flyover rather nervously at its flashy new neighbour.

But all that glitters is not gold, and inside Riga Plaza there are still plenty of vacant shops. Nevertheless, there was a fair number of people milling around, though I suspect quite a large proportion of them were mere gawpers such as myself rather than purchasers.

After all, there’s almost nothing Riga Plaza offers that can’t be found elsewhere, with the emphasis strongly on the boring international brands that are turning city centres around the world into one monotonous Main Street.

After a few minutes’ aimless wandering I found myself humming an infuriatingly catchy tune that my subconscious had hauled out of memory. A tortured half hour later I remembered what it was – ‘The Gonk’ from George Romero’s classic horror satire Day Of The Dead...

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