Halfway point!

We’ve made it 5 1/2 hours! As a celebration, let’s go on a trip down memory lane…

In May 2004, we celebrated our dear friend Hannah’s birthday at Ballston Common. We met up in the evening but it was actually my second visit to the mall during the day. That morning, as a belated present for my 16th birthday, my mom took me to the Piercing Pagoda to get my second ear piercing.

That evening we took Hannah to Macaroni Grill, the fine Italian eatery on the first floor. I can’t remember if we got dessert ravioli, but that was our favorite thing on the menu. We bought her a smattering of weird gifts, including a Jesus nightlight from (surprise) the Dollar Store. We spent our time after dinner going around the mall and posing with weird stores, like “The Ink Store.”

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Then we went to see “Shrek 2.” In a packed theatre, we laughed along to the opening montage of Shrek and Fiona enjoying their nuptials to the Counting Crows “Accidentally in Love” when all of the sudden, the lights came on and the fire alarm went off. We left the theatre through one of those weird “Exit” doors that you always pledge to pay attention to but never do. We filed out onto Glebe Road where we were met with firetrucks.

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I don’t think we ever found out what set off the alarm, but we weren’t allowed back in the theatre, and I didn’t see Shrek 2 until at least 10 years later.

2:15

We’re sitting in Rock Bottom waiting for our second visitor of the day, Karen (only mom-types so far have been excited enough to take part in this adventure). A early 2000’s soft rock jam comes on, and it’s a good time for reminiscing.

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Catherine: I worked in the Hechts the summer it transformed into Macy’s. This was my section, formerly women’s dresses and swimwear. I stood at this register for 7 hours a day staring at the Raspberry Godiva bars by the card reader. The fitting room to the left of the register was the scene of the unofficial Macy’s Fight Club. The first rule of Macy’s Fight Club was also the only rule: I was to guard the room while my co-workers fought out of view of the cameras. The spat was over a handsome security guard, who sometimes would call my register phone and tell me to stop reading my paperback. My colleague Erin, who had been showing me the ropes all summer, thrust her earrings into my hand and pointed me to my post outside the doorway. I don’t remember how the fight ended, but I do remember buying a $6 Godiva bar that day.

1:00

It’s been an eventful hour and a half. We had our first visitor, my mom. A baby boomer, she was able to fill us in on some of the storied history of the Ballston Corridor/Parkington Place. Hopefully one day we’ll be telling future generations of the mall that once stood here.

Most of what we’re doing today is pointing at locations and remembering what used to be there. First floor gems include the poster store and that candy shop with the rocket inside. We are dismayed, DISMAYED, to find that neither Claire’s nor Wet Seal are on the second floor anymore. We’ll probably do an entire Claire’s post.

I should’ve noted a time stamp when we entered the Dollar Store, because those places are kryptonite for Catherine. Catherine spent $8 and got a bow and arrow, a hat, a bra, a keychain and a ring. I had to dissuade her from getting a lot more.

While in the Dollar Store, the ceiling began to shudder. No, they had not begun demolition. We surmised that it must be the gym upstairs. The ceiling tiles were undulating and it sounded like a train going overhead (that or a loud **love making** session). It was terrifying. If you are looking to buy a storefront in Ballston Common, do not buy any real estate below the gym.

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Below the gym. Related to the shaking ceiling?
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Above the gym

We then made our way down the hallway to “Bb Jeans” a store for all your clubbing needs. Catherine again, is keeping these businesses afloat, and bought a sweater with studs on the sleeves. The theme of the day is studs. We avoided the siren call of “J’adoube” perfume. Looking at the receipt we now know that “Bb” stands for “Brazilian Boosting.” This store is Ballston in a nut shell.

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Purveyors of “j’adoube”

While in the store we may have uncovered one of the things that makes Ballston so unique: The stores don’t play music. Except for the train/gym sounds coming from above, and the gentle encouragements from the lonely cashiers, the stores are eerily quiet.

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Flanked by empty storefronts