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Field Report from the Mall: Uh-Oh (Unless You're Apple)

You could have rolled a bowling ball down the wide corridors of FlatIron Crossing Mall in Broomfield, Colo., Monday night -- and not hit a soul.

Apple Store Genius BarIt was dismal, with one exception: the Apple Store. While most of the shop space was a bleak recurring story, the Apple Store was heaving, with lots of people hanging around the Genius Bar at the back of the store and others playing with iPhones and laptops.

First runner-up was Dick's Sporting Goods. At Nordstrom, two associates stood chatting at the accessories counter while I browsed handbags. I must have looked too impecunious to buy a $300 Monsac or Kate Spade -- truth is, my old Monsac and Kate Spade bags look too good to be replaced.

I walked the length of the mall, up and back. Store after store looked like this: one bored associate, few customers. J. Jill -- one bored associate, one customer (me, and I was returning something). Children's Place -- one bored associate, one family of customers who appeared to be following the alpha child, a girl, into the store. Bose -- one extremely bored associate, no customers at all. At least he had TV to watch.

OK, that's a Monday night. What concerns me is that I was also at FlatIron Crossing on Saturday afternoon with my 13-year-old daughter, tooling through Nordstrom and Macy's. Fall has fallen in Colorado, and cooler weather ought to be bringing in shoppers for jeans, sweaters, and closed-toed shoes.

Deep discounts advertised in every store window weren't enough to attract customers, except for the Apple Store, which was heaving. I've brought in my Mac for service at 9 a.m. at the Genius Bar, before the rest of the mall is even open, and the Apple Store is heaving. During busy times, you can barely move in the place. And yet Apple stock has lost half its value since the summer. Go figure.

"Is everything here on sale?" my daughter asked, leaving Macy's with two sweaters, a vest and a hooded jacket for $77. Pretty much, my dear.

Flickr image of the Second Life Apple Store by Torley Olmstead.

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