Zocalo: A Diamond Amidst the Rubble of the Ithaca Mall

Many Cornell students probably just know the Ithaca Mall for Target and maybe the Regal Cinema movie theater. Only the brave few wander into the underdeveloped center of the mall where dark, vacated stores outnumber thriving ones by a great magnitude. The food court is no exception. In the center of the mall, in a space that should be the beating heart of the mall’s lifeline, lies the grubby and dimly lit remnants of a once popular food court. All that remains now is a Sicilian Delight pizza joint, a Subway and an Auntie Annes, the latter of which only serves food that is best considered a snack. However, despite the darkness and dinginess of the mall, to the right of the abyss of the foodcourt lies a warmly lit establishment, a promising beacon of hope: Zocalo.

LAM | Retail Is Not Dead, Just Getting More Competitive

Ithaca Mall is a lot emptier these days, and for good reason. The entrance of Amazon have had many clamoring on about the “death” of the retail industry, a $900 billion sector which represents 5.9 percent of U.S. GDP. At the core of the business, these companies sell primarily merchandise they procure, rather than produce themselves —think of the traveling merchants of the 1800s, except now they reside at malls and strips instead of an ox-wagon. But because of overwhelming advantages that internet competitors possess, like convenience and leaner costs, brick-and-mortar retail seems to be doomed now. Recent second quarter earnings reports from the sector, however, prove otherwise.