BEST MALL - 2004
Midway Shopping Center
It used to be that forgetting where you parked was the most common form of shopping-mall amnesia. These days, the interiors and inhabitants of most near-suburban enclosed malls are so interchangeable--excepting, of course, MOA's shrieking Camp Snoopy centerpiece--that it's often a struggle to remember where you are, let alone where your car is. Urban strip malls, on the other hand, thrive on a naked sense of neighborhood orientation. And if St. Paul's University Avenue is the strippiest strip in town, then Midway Shopping Center is its most practical consumer nexus. Let Banana Republic, Williams-Sonoma, and the Museum Company keep their frivolous little footholds in overpriced, climate-controlled purgatory. Here at Midway, Bush-whacked denizens can stretch their paychecks to the fullest at Rainbow Foods, Fashion Bug, and two different dollar stores. Sneaker freaks can keep it bourgeois at Foot Locker while misers and moms grab two-for-ones over at Payless. Indeed, if malls are loved best by hardworking mothers, this one has outlets for cheap grooming (Great Clips), school supplies (Office Max), cold medicine (Walgreens), clothing/costume repair (Jo-Ann Fabrics), and perennial take-home diversions (Hollywood Video, McDonald's drive-thru), not to mention a little something for after the kids fall asleep (Big Top Liquor). Meanwhile, the Motor Vehicle Services office can spare you the pain of downtown parking, and Apollo Locksmith offers a notary public onsite. Note to Snoopy and the 'Dales: What have you done for me lately?