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February 16, 2010

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dan reed!

Is the first photo actually of Wheaton Plaza, or was it taken somewhere else that just looks like it?

snoburbia

The first photo is from a Facebook fan group: "Wheaton Plaza (Wheaton, Maryland)". It is allegedly in front of the JC Penney store, next to the food court, sometime in January. http://www.facebook.com/search/?init=srp&sfxp=&q=groups&o=69&c1=4#!/group.php?gid=181049839142&ref=mf It is just illustrative of the stereotypes some people hold about Wheaton Plaza.

Tom A.

Great post. I'm surprised that you don't mention the race issue here. I don't think snobs feel unsafe at Westfield Wheaton, they just don't like to be in a 99% non-white environment where they won't be able to be "seen" by their snobby neighbors spending scads of money at Macy's. And yes, the white people do go to Target and then run away quickly. The same thing will happen if they put in a Costco there!

snoburbia

I actually think it's much more about social class than race. Upscale Columbia Mall is predominantly mixed-race/African-American but has a completely different feel from Wheaton Plaza.

Andrea G.

I have been told, by a Prince George's police officer, to stay away because gangs are prevalent in Wheaton and use the mall as their "territory". Reason enough for me to shop elsewhere.

Derbie

I go to Wheaton Mall all the time. I'm glad they spent the money to upgrade it, but remember that immediately after the construction was completed in 2005, there was a stabbing there. That event set the tone for the mall. You can upgrade the physical structure, but the people shopping there remain the same. And, Tom A., you're an presumptuous @ss.

L.

I love Wheaton Plaza! It is so close and convenient and if you go right when it opens, it's never crowded...you have the whole gorgeous mall to yourself! People just need to give it a second chance...its clean and new and you can't beat a convenient DSW!

dave d

Westfield Wheaton is really nice - they spent $180M redoing it just a few years ago. I shop there often and have never felt in any danger. There have been stabbing and shootings at Montgomery Mall ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/26/AR2005052600640.html ). Nice hearsay from a PG cop. This might surprise some in western MoCo but Wheaton isn't actually in PG county. Why don't you come check it out for yourself Andrea G and make up your own mind.

Kathy J, Washington Gardener Mag

Yes, what does a PG cop know about MoCo? Maybe he is trying to steer more customers to PG PLaza?

Derbie

The PG cop has plenty of reason to know what he's talking about. I think the stabbing was gang related, and PG County frequently works with Montgomery County on gang issues. (If you can imagine, gangs don't recognize county boundary lines and only operate intracounty.) At the time, I thought I had heard that at least one of the gangs involved in the 2005 altercation came from PG County.

CR

I've tried to be a lover, but no I'm a Wheaton Mall hater and I can tell you exatly why because it's not a safety issue: the stores completely suck. It make look nice up there, but where are the good stores? A real Border's? Gap? Ann Taylor? I'm not a teenager and don't have any, so strike Hollister, Forever 21 and the lot. The Macy's up there is a disastrous mess with horrible customer service (shopping in housewares and waiting at the checkout for 15 minutes because there is no clerk around is routine for me; and once I get a clerk, they are pretty inept and haven't a clue as to how to safely pack fragile merchandise.) Macy's Wheaton displays are a mess and the selection is limited--they only carry expanded clothing/merchandise at Metro Center, Tyson's or Montgomery Mall. There are very few "namebrand" stores at Wheaton. I would love for it to change because the women I see at Mont. Mall make me cringe and scare me more than any gang ever could.

Paul K

I live within walking distance of Wheaton Plaza and it is the most frequent place I go to make retail purchases. I agree with the other posters that Macy's is a big let-down (and I still miss the Hecht's, which I found to have much better merchandise). The quality of the sales staff is disappointing in terms of how helpful they are & how easy it is to find assistance.

On many occasions, I have taken visitors to run an errand at Wheaton Plaza and they almost always ask me, how come there are so few white people shopping or working there? I don't have an answer. I wonder the same thing myself. The JCPenney has a heavy Latino clientele, but maybe that represents the popularity of its brand & perceived value within that community. I don't see the same density of Latinos at Target.

I also think the Food Court is a disappointment. There is an opportunity to actually take advantage of Wheaton's strengths & make the Food Court different from your typical fare, but Westfield seemingly decided to play it safe.

Andrew

Agree about Wheaton Plaza. Mall is a 4-letter word for me, but at least Wheaton is local and presents no parking problems.
More at:
http://andrew.wandernote.com/2010/02/snoburbia-not-just-for-winter/

justafed

You raise an interesting point, but I would like to point out that Westfield runs at least two malls in snoburbia, and the other one in the area is the mall they now call on the web "Westfield Montgomery". (They apparently dropped the "shoppingtown" piece, at least from the website.) Neither mall has a decent bookstore, which is I think pretty much why we don't hang out in either place. But, interestingly, if you look at the webpages for both Wheaton and Montgomery, it's really obvious that Westfield is targeting different demographics in the two locations, and the additional clues in the store selections pretty much hammer the point home. So both malls have Macy's, but Montgomery also has Nordstrom. Both have Yankee Candle and a bazillion wireless oufits, but Montgomery has an Apple Store, a Bose store, Godiva Chocolatier, Caribou Coffee, and the most preciously named mall retailer I have seen in recent years, a place called "Teavana" (sic). One of these places also has a Legal Seafood and a California Pizza Kitchen, and it ain't Wheaton.

Anyway, the place whose retail microclimate I find particularly fascinating is Downtown Silver Spring. The environs are rapidly snoburbanizing, and the expected retailers (e.g., Borders, Whole Foods, and for local chains, Austin Grill) ares staking out their turf. On average, this is a way more racially and ethnically diverse shopping area than either of the Westfield malls to the west. But that's only on average. True, you get the same mix in DSW or Borders or Office Depot, but not in every store. And what I find really interesting is that there is actually an enclosed mall in downtown Silver Spring (City Place Mall), but the place, despite some nice tile and polished brass railing and an objectively awesome location, is clearly being written off as the mostly low SES part of the shopping district. The "revitalization" of Silver Spring pretty much occurred in spite of the mall, despite the fact that you pretty much have to trip over the place to get to Pier One. It's pretty striking. Even in the recent weather, where being inside would be a decided advantage, there's a lot more foot traffic in the freezing cold than in City Place Mall, which is the only place in the area that could possibly sell you a decent winter coat. (American Apparel sells clothes to people who don't seem to wear many clothes, even when frostbite is a risk.)

I am sure there is a moral in here someplace.

Steve

Still disappointed Bagel City didn't work out here.

Marco

"Most people in snoburbia do not shop at the beautifully remodeled Wheaton mall."

As a police officer, I've found that people will indeed stay away from an area if it's perceived to be crime ridden. It doesn't matter what kind of stores enter the area, or how beautifully renovated it is.

I've never been to that specific area, but Andrea G. posted that a police officer warned of gang related activity in that mall...until that problem is dealt with, expect that pedestrian traffic there will not improve. I'm not saying that it never will, but why would a family go somewhere to shop knowing that there is a criminal element there?

Eve

I live near Wheaton mall, and I grew up going to Wheaton plaza, White Flint, and "Monkey mall" (aka Montgomery Mall). I don't like the atmosphere at Wheaton Mall, and -- as a previous poster said -- I generally go to the Target and leave. (Yes, I'm white.) That said, I did like Hechts and Bagel City, and it was a shame they had to leave. Overall, I wouldn't want my kids to hang out at Wheaton (or any mall, really), and Montgomery Mall is too crowded and far away from us. I prefer White Flint because of the Borders and PF Changs. Also, I remember when it was being built!

PGCist

I must say that PG Plaza (aka, "The Mall at Prince George's") has done a great job keeping the riff-raff out. The Target is pretty good, their food court has decent variety, and the Marshall's, Macy's & JCP's have come through in the clutch for us.

I really hope Wheaton Plaza improves. Marco is right - crime, or the perception of crime, will keep people away. Look at what happened to Landover Mall, Iverson Mall, Hampton Mall, Capitol Plaza, Landmark Mall, etc.

LoveVA

Wheaton Mall is totally ghetto. My husband and I lived in Wheaton while he attended Georgetown Law and Wheaton Mall was scary. In 2008, a woman was kidnapped at gunpoint outside the mall. I routinely saw gangs hang out there as I pushed my toddler through the mall... My husband once walked through a gang riot in the parking lot on his way home from the metro. I kid you not, for a week afterward they had riot police.. in full riot gear.. outside the Giant next door after 7pm. I hope things have gotton better after we left in 2008... but I would pay big money to never, ever, ever live in Wheaton again.

Doris

I used to go to Wheaton Plaza a lot when my middle daughter was china, crystal, & silver manager at Hechts, where BTW she once arranged a lovely bridal fair. That was about 18 years ago, before her own wedding. I remember the Lyons sisters disappeared from there the same day my oldest danced there with Montgomery Ballet. We went to the movies there & to eat at the Hot Shoppe (I miss them!). It must be at least 10 years since I've been there, however.

CCD

The Westfield Shoppingtown at Wheaton..for Target....really? True MoCo snoburbans make Target runs at either the hidden Target in Rockville or the one near the Rio in Gaithersburg.

I am in my late 30's and remember loving Wheaton Plaza as a child. The closest thing to crime back in the day was not being able to get candy from Farrell's/Fannie Farmer or trying on ugly shoes at Buster Brown's.

scoremore

People just need to give it a second chance, avoiding things that will make the mall unsafe.I like your blog, the information had helped me and also to others, and I find it very interesting, Please keep on posting the related information regarding this Article.

Jean

Wheaton Mall is very convenient -- Target, Macy's -- easy in, easy out. Not a replacement for Mont. Mall or White Flint, but it's in the rotation. Looking forward to Costco!

Nekole

I like the Plaza... and I can't really get any clothing there (I'm about 100 lbs overweight and 17)... but unlike most people, I go there because it's 'crime ridden'. The fact that it is crime ridden, keeps it from being overly crowded like Monkey Mall or Columbia.

I mainly use D.E.B, and Ashley Stewart and the accessories stores as well as the Beauty Supply store (which is awesome). They used to have a Borders Express which I would spend a good part of my mall outing in, but they got rid of it and put in a furniture store...

Wheaton is only scary if you care and worry about it. Don't pay attention to the other shoppers, because they are mainly teens who are trying to look gangsta but are all talk and no action. The real gangs do more... Wheaton Triangle stuff than Plaza stuff.

Rockville

This plaza is nice but then because of some incident happen just like in the picture we cannot hide to be worry.. To all shoppers just be careful.

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