Humorist Dave Barry once called the holiday season “a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.” Here in New Jersey the choices for observance of this holiday ritual are nearly endless, but the frustrations are pretty much the same no matter which mall you choose.
If you’re going to get the most from your pilgrimage, it’s best to map out the journey. Nearly every mall has its own website with a store directory. See our online mall directory at njmonthly.com. By checking the locations of stores and restaurants—and even bathrooms—in advance, you can plan your day so you don’t end up feeling like you’ve trekked the distance between Trenton and Newark.
Some experts suggest that you park closest to the last store you plan to visit, since, in theory, it’s easier to trudge to the opposite end of the mall at the beginning of your trip when your arms are empty. But if you just want to find a parking space with the least amount of aggravation, follow AAA New Jersey Automobile Club’s standard advice and park near a lesser-used back or side entrance, or in one of the outlying areas.
If you have to leave your vehicle somewhere out in Siberia, don’t worry. Often, a mall security officer will drive you to your car—especially if you’re shopping alone at night. And some mall concierges will hold your packages or even carry them to the curbside.
Speaking of the concierge, he or she can be your guardian angel come holiday time, so be sure to program into your cell phone the number of the mall’s customer service desk. At the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, for instance, you can call ahead to find out which parking decks are filled so you don’t waste time hunting for a space, or you can request that someone bring a Kiddie Kruzzer stroller to a particular store for your cranky toddler. The concierge also stashes snacks, balloons, diapers, and pacifiers behind the desk for frazzled parents and kids. “We try to keep everyone happy while they’re here,” says concierge Lucy Ross.
Now if only they’d stock Gummi Bears in the “cry room” at the back of the church.Click here to leave a comment