This is a tale of two malls, Chadstone in Malvern East and Westfield at Doncaster. Chadstone is bigger and has recently undergone a makeover. Parts of it are quite elegant because the owners wanted to attract the expensive brands such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton, but the rest is pretty daggy. The bits downstairs in economy remind me of a jumble sale. How can this be left unfinished? And as I have written before there are few facilities for the shoppers. Lavatories are always dirty and there are no paper towels for those customers who hate the hand-dryers that don’t dry. I hate jobs that are half done. If you are going to do something then do it properly.
To think that we are stuck with second-rate is pretty annoying but if I want to cheer up I take the longer trip to Doncaster where Westfield renovated their mall last year. What a difference! Facilities are good. Digital information signs are frequent. Even when you enter to park in the parking area you are informed how many car parking spaces are left. That is a big help on busy days such as the ones at Xmas time. In Chadstone you just keep going around in circles or in long lines and never know whether your search will lead to a parking spot.
The ambience at Doncaster is much more pleasant. There is dappled light on the roof of the mall. There are frequent resting places with plush armchairs and elegant tables. And as for the eating areas, well, there are coffee shops scattered all over the mall and the designated food hall is much better than the one at Chadstone. Quite frankly it is just better all over because it caters to the customers and their comfort.
I write frequently about malls because I have seen so many in my travels overseas. The reason for this is that malls reflect the culture of the country that one is visiting. They are the agora or forum of antiquity in which people met and socialised.
When I think of what could be and how much we have been short-changed by lazy, greedy or simply incompetent mall proprietors, I become very disappointed, especially when malls like Chadstone claim to be the biggest. Well, perhaps it is, but so what?
It would be better if the developers of the Chadstone Mall aimed to be the best at servicing customers’ needs. I guess they are leaving that to Westfield.