Right around the same time I found “springfield oregon how to tell if a beggar really needs money” in my search log, I spoke to my sister (who is now house-hunting in Eugene, but not so long ago was dwelling in an RV off a gravel road in Springfield) and she mentioned a busted shopping center called the Gateway Mall. Her description intrigued me.

It sounded like Eastport Plaza (for Portland old-timers) the kind of place in the ‘80s that had a Spencer’s, Doo Da’s (a crappier Spencer’s), Frederick’s of Hollywood, Mervyn’s, and at one time the Hydrotube, a scary water park that I was forced to try once with Girl Scouts. By the ‘90s, the place was half-empty and housed military recruiters, Weight Watcher meetings and functioned as polling precinct. When Newberry’s went out of business, well, that was it.

Once again, I’m bemoaning the analog photo-era because I took a bunch of Eastport Plaza pics in the mid-90s for a zine about malls with a name I can’t even remember, and I have no idea what I did with them. I also bemoan the analog self-publishing era because so much stuff is hidden away/thrown away while tumblrs will last forever. Which isn’t to say the internet is evil; it’s been a good friend to me. In my rss reader (which, fuck me, I refuse to believe is a dying format) I keep tabs on That Mall’s Sick And That Store’s Dead!, Labelscar and Deadmalls.

A quick skim of the Gateway Mall’s Yelp reviews (sure, I deride the site for dining, but I believe these people know their malls) tells you all you need to know. Only one woman out of 19 reviewers seems to be defending the place. Here are some highlights from her compelling argument:

We have kids. So perhaps that's why I can overlook the bad neighborhood, vacant spaces where stores used to be, and the once in a blue moon probably stoned wierdo you encounter while there.

The kids love the bumper car place (I think the guy who runs it is creepy, but whatever…)…

The kids also love that Dragon's Alley shop… it does have fun stuff in it. Like a Steampunk dress-up kit. That was a funny find… I guess steampunk has gone all mainstream now?

Let's talk when they start selling steampunk cupcakes. Other uses aren’t so sure:

Everyone keeps saying Ghetto GHETTO Ghetto about this place. And they are right. It's bad! Some guy asked me the other day if it was snowing outside… it took me 30min to figure out he was trying to sell me coke.

This is not a mall people. This is some other creepy thing all in one building, and I don't know what it should be called.

I hate this crap-hole of a mall.  Anyplace that has a Ross and a Christian Supply Store is definitely not any place I want to be.

We ate lunch at the mall's food court. Sbarro's is a chain restaurant usually so good that it was a big success in New York City where folks know good Italian food. But this Sbarro's was the absolute worst; the lasagna was so overcooked it had the consistancy [sic] of Campbell's soup but was completely inedible.

more like a 90's Kids Movie

Like the ‘90s movie called Kids or something like Andre or Baby Geniuses? Who cares? All I know is that I really, really want to see Gateway Mall in person. And I won’t give beggars any money.

Photo from KEZI 9 News

9 thoughts on “Mallrats

  1. We are called DragonVine, not Dragon’s Alley and have been there since 2009. Steampunk is only a wee fraction of what we have. We mostly have different lands focusing on Scifi (Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who…), light fantasy (Disney/Hello Kitty), Gothic (where Steampunk fits in), and Adventure (Indiana Jones & Science toys) with comics, superheroes, pop-culture shirts, and cartoon themed stuff as an addition.

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